Are Propane Heaters Safe for Indoor Use?

Margaret Wack
Written by Margaret Wack
Updated September 12, 2022
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While propane heaters come with some inherent risks, certain types of propane heaters are safe to use indoors

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Propane heaters are a great way to banish winter chills and stay warm indoors and out. But you may be wondering about their safety risks and for good reason. While propane leaks can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning if undetected, indoor propane heaters are safe to use, as long as you exercise caution. We’ve broken down everything you need to know.

What Are Propane Heaters?

In practice, propane heaters work in much the same way as natural gas-powered heaters, except that they use propane as fuel instead of natural gas. Propane is stored as a liquid in a propane tank, which is then attached to the heater. Propane is then converted into a gas and burned to generate heat.

Are Propane Heaters Safe to Use?

Like natural gas, using propane to heat your home comes with a small amount of risk, including the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire. That said, propane is a relatively safe way to heat your home, as long as you use your heater properly. Some homes are even heated entirely using propane. You can also use propane heaters outside to make your outdoor living space cozier during cool temperatures.

Can You Use Propane Heaters Indoors?

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Photo: Drobot Dean / Adobe Stock

You can use some types of propane heaters indoors. Indoor propane heaters, which are designed to be used, as their name suggests, indoors, are safe to use inside your home. On the other hand, you should never use an outdoor propane heater inside. 

Indoor propane heaters have an automatic shutoff mechanism that turns the heater off if too much carbon dioxide accumulates, while outdoor propane heaters do not have that feature. You can still use outdoor propane heaters outside in an area with good air circulation.

Risks of Using Propane Heaters Indoors 

The main risks involved when it comes to using propane heaters are fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Like natural gas, burning propane results in carbon monoxide. Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it can be difficult to detect carbon monoxide poisoning until it’s too late. That’s why it’s essential to have working carbon monoxide detectors in any house, especially one that’s heated using propane. 

You should install working carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your house, particularly near bedrooms, and test them regularly.

Fires

Propane is also extremely flammable. If there’s a leak in your propane tank, there’s a serious risk that a fire could break out in your home. Because propane is heavier than air, it tends to sink to the ground and stick in the nooks and crannies of your home and can be ignited by flames, sparks, or even static electricity.

Tips for Using an Indoor Propane Heater Safely 

Before you can enjoy the toasty-warm heat your new propane heater provides, there are some safety tips you should know.

  • Make it a practice to shut the heater off before going to bed. 

  • Keep kids, pets, and household items 3 feet away from the heater at all times. 

  • Do not store items on top of the heater. 

  • Avoid spraying hair spray, aerosol sprays, or perfume in the room where the heater is in use or was recently in use.

  • If your heater has a weird smell, turn it off immediately and contact a furnace repair person in your area.

  • Clean your heater regularly to keep it working properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Indoor propane heaters are safe to use in a garage. You may be able to use an outdoor propane heater inside a garage in some instances, as long as the garage door remains open and there’s constant airflow to allow the carbon dioxide to escape. Other garage heaters include electric heaters and gas heaters.

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