If you are camping off the grid and are looking for battery powered heater for a camping tent that you can just turn on, well you are almost at the right place. Why do I say ‘almost’? You will find out.
When it comes to portable heater for camping tours, our options are quite limited. The problem here is not the companies that make camping gear but it’s “Physics” really. Turns out, storing energy is quite difficult and inefficient with batteries so they are not the most efficient source of heating up your large tent space.
But still, we have some options that can work if you don’t have any other option to heat your tent.
Battery operated heater for camping – what are our options?
First of all, do note that any battery operated heater for your tent is not going to be heavy duty. Most of the camping heaters we will discuss below will have a power rating of 150Watt to 300Watt and work with a 12v power source. These 12v heaters for camping plug directly into your portable camping battery.
So, first, we need to find a suitable camping battery that is portable yet store enough power to heat up our tent space.
Portable battery for camping
Camping batteries are rechargeable power sources mainly designed as a power bank to top off your electronics and while staying off-grid. However, you can use the same battery to power your portable heater for camping.
If you are going to power your heater, you will need the biggest battery you can find to heat your tent for at least a few hours. The good news is that these batteries can be easily charged using solar panels even if you are staying completely off-grid.
Here are a few batteries that are suitable for operating a 12v camping heater (they can also be used to power other things like battery operated kettles or even small battery operated air conditioners). Keep in mind these are NOT cheap as batteries have always been expensive power storage devices.
- Yeti 1500X Portable Power : This monster power bank has a total capacity of 1516Wh. It can charge all your devices and run your electric heater for a good few hours. It has a standard 120W power supply that can charge it in 14 hours. You can also charge it in just 4 hours with 400W solar panels. Its a good option for total offgrid camping.
- Jackery Explorer 1000 : With 1002Wh capacity, this is the 2nd largest bank I have seen in the market that is still portable. You can charge this via standard power outlet as well as via solar panels. The 2nd option is going to take a long time but if you are out in the sunny wild, hook it up to your panels outside and get a fully charged battery in the evening.
- BALDR Portable Power Station : You will store 461Wh with this battery pack which is not as high as the previous two but still pretty good. Remember that with smaller batteries, you also get a smaller charging time specially with solar panels.
If you don’t want to carry around huge rechargeable batteries, another way to power your portable heater is through camping generators. Although the camping generators are quite noisy they do provide uninterrupted power that can run a high wattage space heater for a long time.
Once you have sorted out your power source, it’s time to find a suitable battery powered heater. Let’s see what our options are
120v / 12v battery powered tent heaters
If you have been using electric space heaters at home, do remember that these small tent heaters are not exactly like them. Since you are going to operate them on a battery bank, they are quite low powered and some of them are even designed as car heaters and defoggers. On your battery bank, you will have outlets for both 12v and 120v so you can use either type of heater.
Your regular electric space heater has a power rating of 1500W to 2000W. Compared to them, these portable electric heaters are only 150W – 300W. So, if they don’t perform as well as your regular space heater, don’t be disappointed.
Our first battery operated heater option for camping is from Honeywell. The Heat Bud is a 250W personal space heater originally designed to heat up your office desk but it can work well within your small tent when connected to your power bank’s AC adaptor.
This heater is easy to use. It is just the size of your hand and features ceramic technology for fast and even heating. The heater features two heat settings, an easy-to-use tip-over switch, cool-touch housing, and overheat protection.
If you have a small one-person tent that is well insulated, this heater is enough to keep you warm for a good few hours on a battery power station.
If you use this with the Yeti 1500X portable power station, it can last as long as 6 hours. Which is pretty sufficient for a night’s sleep. But I would recommend turning it off before you sleep to make sure it doesn’t create a fire hazard. Check out its availability, user reviews, and latest price on Amazon.
My 2nd pick would be the Lesko space heater. It’s a similar device like the Honeywell’s but with a slightly lower 200W rating. The lower rating allows for a bit longer use on the same battery but will have slightly less heat output as well.
When you plug this into the Yeti 1500X battery bank, it can last for 7.5 hours. Since it’s a low-rated filament heater, the heat will be just enough to keep you from freezing but won’t give you a fully heated tent. If your tent is small, you might be able to keep yourself warm all night long.
One neat trick that I have used many times is putting the heater under my blanket for 10-15 minutes to warm up the air bubbles inside the blanket stuffing. It greatly helps when it’s too cold outside and your body isn’t generating enough heat to warm up the bulky blanket. Make sure you do this very carefully to avoid any fire risk. These 200W small heaters are perfect for this hack.
Check Lesko space heater on Amazon for the latest prices, availability, and user reviews.
This one is slightly different from the previous two heaters we listed. The Back Seat Heat Plus is a 12v heater designed to heat up the backseat of your car or truck. But with slight modification in wiring, you can use it with your battery power station.
It is a 300W heater with impressive 1100BTU heat output. When coupled with the Yeti 1500X battery bank, it can last up to 4 hours. If you keep the thermostat setting on low, it can last a few extra hours as well. Again, this is a very small heater designed to heat up a closed cabin so your tent must be small one-person to be effective.
Since this operates on 12v instead of 120v, you have to connect it to the battery 12v DC output pins. Since this will be drawing a high ampere current, make sure the wire clips are tightly closed and there is no sparking or overheating at wires.
Check out the Back Seat Heat Plus on Amazon for the latest price, availability, and user feedback.
How long will battery operated heater last?
This question is best answered if we know which battery are we going to use and which heater are we going to run. To calculate the number of hours your battery will run a certain space heater, you will have to divide the capacity of your battery in Watt-hours by the power rating of your heater in Watts.
Heater run time (hours) = Battery Capacity (Wh) / Heater rating (W)
For sake of example, the below table summarizes the run time of all three heaters we discussed above on each of the batteries.
|Heater/Battery||Yeti X500||Jackery Explorer||BALDR|
|Honeywell HCE100B||6.2 hrs||4.0 hrs||1.84 hrs|
|Lasko Heating||7.8 hrs||5.01 hrs||2.3 hrs|
|Back Seat Heat Plus||5.2 hrs||3.34 hrs||1.5 hrs|
Alternate portable heater for camping
If you are not happy with your battery powered heater you can go for a more traditional heating option. Below are a few portable heaters for camping that you can use.
- Propane heaters
- Heated stone mass
- Hot water bottles
- Candle lanterns
I have written a comprehensive blog on how to heat your tent during winter camping that you can go through for details of the above options.
Happy and warm camping!
Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page