The first cold season in a tiny house is exciting. To make it through the winter, you will need a heat source.
There are dozens of options for tiny house heating. From expensive custom-made stoves to cheap electric space heaters.
In this article, we will boil down tiny house heaters to a selection of a few core heaters that are affordable / reliable / simple to install – without being sidetracked to overly complex or even risky heating solutions.
In this article, we’re going to find out about 5 reliable tiny house heaters that you can depend on during your first winter as a tiny house beginner.
These heaters need:
- no installation skills
- no large upfront expenses
- no permit from local authorities
And these heaters are perfect for your first winter, because:
- you learn the fundamentals of heating a tiny house with a safe & reliable heater
- you see how your tiny house responds to heat (moisture buildup etc.)
- you can easily switch between heaters since all of the recommended heaters are quick to install
5 Best Tiny House Heaters
Let’s have a look at the 5 best tiny house heaters for your first winter.
1. Dyna-Glo Wall-mounted Propane Heater
The best tiny house heater is a wall-mounted propane heater. In particular, I recommend this 30,000 BTU Dyna-Glo heater (click to view it on amazon).
Propane heaters are the best overall choice for most tiny houses, because they are cheap to run, simple to maintain & repair, and easy to install.
Also, this propane heater requires no electricity to run.
A wall-mounted propane heater doesn’t take up precious floor space and you can integrate it in any room.
And if you add on the base legs (sold separately), you can easily take it off the wall and move it wherever you need it.
With a heating power of 30,000 BTU/h, the Dyna-Glo heater can easily keep your entire tiny home warm & cozy.
Actually, this unit is designed for up to 1,000 sq.ft. living spaces. So, it can heat spaces larger than the average tiny house (< 400 – 600 sq.ft.). But that’s an advantage: The increased heating power makes up for a lack of insulation.
And, of course, you can always adapt the heat setting using the heat knob on the heater. You can pick one of 5 heat output settings.
Propane heaters, of course, require a propane supply. Ideally, you get a 100lb propane tank that lasts you several weeks.
( But of course, bigger is better, if you can manage transport / refills )
To sum it up, wall-mounted propane heaters are simple to install and require only a propane tank to run. You are independent of the electric grid. And cost-wise they are cheaper than electricity, but more expensive than wood.
I think propane heaters hit the sweet spot in most categories, and I can not think of a single drawback to getting one for your first cold season!
2. Wood Burning Stove
If your tiny house is completely off-grid, there’s no better option than a good wood-burning stove.
Wood is the cheapest heat source, especially if you prepare firewood yourself. Generally, the more work you put in yourself, the cheaper the heating gets.
This stove model is designed for spaces up to 900 sq.ft., so it is more than enough for most tiny houses. With a maximum heat output rating of up to 54,000 BTU (in perfect conditions, with dry wood), it is the strongest tiny house heater in this list.
Since it’s a cast iron stove, it’s practically indestructible and lasts a lifetime.
Also, the heat it outputs is completely dry. This keeps mold away, and you can even dry laundry inside.
However, a cast iron stove is not ideal for every tiny house. It takes up precious floor space. You need to clean the ashes every day. You need to drill a hole through the wall to install a stove pipe. And preparing firewood is a lot of effort.
A wood-burning stove is a great choice for a cabin-like off-grid lifestyle. But anywhere within the confines of civilization, I’d rather get a propane heater.
3. Dr. Infrared DR-998
The least maintenance of all is an electric space heater. I recommend this Dr. Infrared DR-998 heater (click here to view it on amazon).
It’s an infrared heater that outputs directional heat. An infrared heater radiates its heat in one direction (ideally at you), which makes you feel very warm while consuming very little electric energy.
You can learn more about how infrared heaters work here.
The Dr. Infrared infrared heater requires no setup and no installation. All you need is a wall outlet to power it from.
Also, the heat an infrared heater outputs is just as dry as that of a wood stove. Which is an advantage in humid climates.
Electric heaters generally have the highest running cost due to high electricity rates. Also, they don’t output nearly as much heat as gas or wood-based heaters.
Infrared heaters are limited to a maximum power output of 1,500 Watts (which is equivalent to 5,120 BTU/h).
I recommend an electric space heater for tiny house sizes up to 400 sq.ft. For tiny houses larger than that, a propane heater would be the better choice.
Anyways, an electric infrared heater requires virtually no time investment, no maintenance, no refills (as in gas or wood heaters), and no cleaning. But it is more expensive to run.
The DR-998 is a great choice for your first tiny house winter.
My recommendation: Get one and just try it. It’s the simplest solution of all. And if your energy bills get too high, you can switch to a propane heater anytime and keep the infrared heater as a backup heater.
4. Dr. Infrared Wall-mounted Heater
Positioning matters, especially in a tiny house. The Dr. Infrared heater in the previous section is a great heater choice. But since it’s a free-standing heater, it takes up some floor space.
In case of floor space is limited, you should get a wall-mounted infrared heater that radiates heat downward and into the room.
I recommend getting this wall-mountable Dr. Infrared heater (click to view it on amazon).
It also comes with a tripod, so you can take it off the wall and freely place it wherever you need it.
But if you only want to wall-mount the heater, you can also order the heater-only version that does not include a tripod and save some money.
This infrared heater outputs 1,500 Watts (~5,120BTU/h) of heating power and is strong enough for most moderately sized tiny homes.
5. Dyson Hot+Cool Heater
Last on this list is the Dyson Hot+Cool HP07 (click to view it on amazon).
I have a love-hate relationship with Dyson heaters.
First and foremost, I hate their prices. Many Dyson Hot+Cool models are $500 and upwards. That’s a huge expense.
But I love the value Dyson packs into their heaters. With the Dyson Hot+Cool, you not only get a 2,000 Watts heater, but also a fan with an integrated air purifier, and detailed air quality and temperature monitoring.
And it’s not like Dyson just jumbles up features and creates a half-baked product. Dyson Hot+Cool fans are fundamentally good heaters, good air purifiers (with the best air quality monitoring out there), and good fans.
If you value design and engineering, a Dyson Hot+Cool fan is for you. It’s a complete solution for your tiny house’s interior temperature and air quality.
If you have extra money to spend, the Dyson is for you. A Dyson Hot+Cool fan takes care of your tiny house’s temperature and air quality, removes smells, and looks good.
By the way: Removing smells comes in handy in a tiny house. You don’t want guests entering a swamp of kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom smells.
But you might as well get a separate heater and air purifier and save some money. Find the best tiny house air purifiers here.
Which Heater is Best For Your Tiny House?
I’ve picked the best tiny house heaters. Now it’s up to you to choose one from the list. But let me simplify the decision for you.
These 3 heaters are risk-free choices:
- If you want no maintenance and little cost, get the Dr. Infrared-DR998.
- If you want an all-in-one heater, air purifier (for smell removal), fan, and air quality monitor, get the Dyson Hot+Cool.
- If you want high heat, independent of the electric grid, get the Dyna-Glo propane heater.
Wood, Propane, or Electric: Should You Pick a Tiny House Heater Based on Running Cost?
It does not matter which heater you pick. Regardless of the heater, in a tiny house you save heating costs as compared to a regular-sized house. Picking a specific heat source (electric, wood, propane) is merely an additional optimization.
Tiny houses are – as the name suggests – tiny. And so is their heating cost.
Due to the limited space to heat, the heating cost is also very limited.
In a large family home, the choice of heater has a significant impact on monthly expenses, in a tiny house. Over the course of a year, in a regular family home, your choice of heater makes an annual expense difference in the range of thousands of dollars.
But in a tiny home, it does not really matter whether you heat with wood, electricity, or propane.
Surely, wood remains much cheaper than electricity. But heating a tiny home using an electric heater is not as expensive as heating a regular-scale house.
For your first winter, don’t focus on heating costs. First, just get any heater as a starting point.
And based on the experience with your first heater, adjust for the following seasons.
The best tiny house heaters are Dyna-Glo propane heaters and electric Dr. Infrared heaters.
They require next to no maintenance and are strong enough to heat a tiny house.
While a propane heater does not strain your tiny house’s electric circuitry, it does require occasional propane refills.
An electric infrared heater requires even less maintenance. You just plug it in a wall outlet and it’s ready to heat.
Electric heating is more expensive than propane-based heating. However, electric heaters save you time and come with more safety features.
It does not really matter which heater you pick. Any of them will work. Just pick one and start heating.
And don’t worry about heating expenses. In a tiny house, they will be tiny as well. Picking one heater over the other because of heating expenses is more than often a waste of time. At least in your first winter.
More important is reliability and ease of use.