The 8 Best Tiny Home Heaters of 2022

Stay warm this winter with an energy-efficient heater.

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Person installing radiant floor heating

Liudmila Chernetska / Getty

Tiny home dwellers have an important decision to make when it comes to finding an energy-efficient method to heat their homes during the colder months. Those living on the grid have several electric options ranging from cost-efficient portable heaters to pricier heat pumps. Wood stoves are another popular heater, especially with off-grid homes, and many people use a combination of more than one option. Whether you're searching for an all-in-one solution or something to supplement your existing heating system, there's an option available for your specific situation.

We’ve gathered the best tiny home heaters, some of which are also suitable for campers and micro apartments.

Best Overall

SunTouch TapeMat Electric Floor Heating Mat

4.9
SunTouch TapeMat Electric Floor Heating Mat

Courtesy of Amazon

Radiant floor heating is a popular choice among tiny home dwellers because it does not require additional space and is reasonably priced. The right radiant heater can be extremely efficient, quiet, requires no maintenance, and provides uniform heat throughout your home, making it our top all-around choice for tiny homes.

SunTouch TapeMat Electric Floor Heating Mats are ideal for tiny homes that are under construction or in the process of a remodel because installation requires removing floor tiles or panels. Depending on the size and number of rooms, installation may require more than one underfloor mat. But while they may take a little more effort to install than freestanding space heaters, the SunTouch mats make the process easy by providing flexible sizing options, beginning with minimal 10-foot-square mats.

"In-floor radiant heat can be a great, comfortable space-saving alternative, but you do have to be plugged into the grid," Mat of Exploring Alternatives—a social media project dedicated to tiny homes, off-grid living, green building, and other alternative lifestyles—told Treehugger. "You’re actually heating up the floor, so the structure of your tiny house is getting hotter, as opposed to just blowing hot air."

Best Budget

Envi High-Efficiency Whole Room 120v Plug-In Electric Panel Wall Heater

4.8
Envi High-Efficiency Whole Room 120v Plug-In Electric Panel Wall Heater

Courtesy of Amazon

For a space-saving and affordable electric heater, the Envi High-Efficiency Whole Room Electric Panel Wall Heater is a great option for existing tiny homes thanks to a quick-and-easy installation. The unit weighs just 10 pounds and only extends 2 inches out when mounted to the wall, leaving floor space wide open. The Envi is ideal for smaller rooms between 130 and 150 square feet, uses just 500 watts of power for conventional heating. Designed to be extremely quiet, the heater also has a built-in thermostat and a safety sensor that powers the device down if it comes off the wall.

Best Splurge

Carrier Infinity Heat Pump with Basepan Heater

Carrier Infinity Heat Pump with Basepan Heater

Courtesy of Carrier

Dual-use appliances are a key to consolidating tiny home necessities, and a heat pump (mini split) can provide both heating and cooling, making it is a worthwhile, albeit costly investment. The ultra-efficient, Energy Star-certified, Infinity Heat Pump by Carrier has a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rating of up to 42—more than double the rating considered to be high efficiency. While many heat pumps are not as efficient in extremely low temperatures, the Infinity has a heat output up to 75% in temperatures as low as -22 degrees. The indoor portion of the unit can be mounted on a high wall and is extremely quiet when running.

Best Portable

Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater

4.9
dr-infrared-heater-portable-space-heater

Amazon

Portable space heaters are ideal as supplemental heat or for heating a room while a person is occupying it. The Dr. Heater Infrared Portable Space Heater can heat larger rooms than most portable heaters and includes overheat protection and an energy-saving mode. Infrared heaters, which heat objects in a room, are considered more efficient than conventional heaters (that warm the air instead). The 5,200-BTU heater features a convenient 12-hour, automatic shut-off timer, so heat doesn’t go to waste if you forget to turn it off. It’s also whisper-quiet and includes a remote control to customize the temperature. 

Best Wood Stove

Morsø 1410 B Squirrel Sides

4.5
Morso 1410 B Squirrel Sides

Courtesy of Morso

Although iconic and cozy on cold nights, classic wood-burning fireplaces aren’t an efficient way to heat the home in part because most of the heat is lost up the chimney. However, wood-burning stoves are significantly more efficient, with the Morsø 1410 B Squirrel Sides stove producing the equivalent of 5 kilowatts of heating power (or between 9,600 and 22,000 BTUs). With a vintage cast-iron look, coupled with modern features, the Morsø Squirrel can provide heating for spaces up to 1,000 square feet.

The Morsø Squirrel stove also burns cleanly and is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency for low particulate emissions, another substantial advantage over a wood fireplace. Additional features include an "air wash" system designed to always keep the glass front clear, along with a removable ashtray for easy cleaning.

Best Solar

Arctica Solar Furnace

Arctica Solar Furnace

Courtesy of Arctica Solar

Arctica Solar offers an innovative, self-contained solar heater that’s ideal for off-grid dwellers looking to supplement their heating system. Originally developed for use at a camp in Antarctica, the solar panel system employs a simple design that uses heating vents to move air in and out of the home.

The solar furnace can help reduce overall heating costs and can take the chill out of small spaces, bringing indoor temperatures up to a comfortable level. However, a solar furnace can only be utilized during daylight hours; so, another heating source will be needed for cold nights.

The Arctica Solar Furnace system includes a thermostat and is sold either as a DIY kit or as a factory-built unit.

Best Hot Water Heater

Rinnai RL75eP Tankless Hot Water Heater

Rinnai RL75eP Hot Water Heater

Courtesy of Amazon

Tankless water heaters are perfect for small living areas because they can be installed on any exterior wall, allowing occupants to save valuable space inside. By warming the water that’s moving through the pipes, tankless hot water heaters also alleviate the risk of “using all the water up” (a common problem with traditional water tank heaters). By only heating the water when needed, they’re also more energy-efficient than water tank heaters—the Rinnai RL75eP Tankless Hot Water Heater is Energy Star certified.

With twice the lifespan of a classic tank, this durable heater can generate hot water for up to four appliances (such as a dishwasher or shower). The Rinnai also includes smart Wi-Fi technology, as well as automatic safety settings that will shut the unit down if it leaks or if unauthorized temperature changes are detected.

Best Propane

Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU Vent Free Radiant Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MHVFRD30LPT 30,000 BTU Vent Free Radiant Propane Heater

Courtesy of Walmart

If you’re living off-grid with limited heating options, propane heaters are one way to help you stay warm in the winter. If you can’t plug in, the Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU Vent Free Radiant Propane Heater is designed for spaces up to 750 square feet. This Mr. Heater model includes both a battery-powered electric ignition and a thermostat for precise temperature controls. Included fasteners allow for floor or wall mounting.

While liquid propane primarily releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct, incomplete combustion can also produce carbon monoxide and greenhouse gases like methane, making the 30,000 BTU Mr. Heater far from an eco-friendly solution. Because of carbon monoxide's potential for causing birth defects and other reproductive complications, California warns against improperly installed indoor propane heaters in accordance with the state's Proposition 65.

Final Verdict

If you’re in the process of building a tiny home, the SunTouch Radiant Floor TapeMat is our top overall pick for new builds. Existing tiny homes will want to check out the ultra-efficient Infinity Heat Pump with Basepan Heater from Carrier instead. If you’re on a tight budget, we suggest the Envi High-Efficiency Whole Room Electric Panel Wall Heater.

What to Look for in a Tiny House Heater

Heat Output

An easy way to determine how much heat output you’ll need is to with an online BTU calculator that factors in the size and type of room (the most important element), as well as insulation, sun exposure, climate, and number of people using the space (for the most accurate readings). 

“The first thing you’re going to want to do is size your system. You’re going to want to calculate how many BTUs your space requires.” — Mat from Exploring Alternatives, Exploringalternatives.ca

Type of Energy

It’s important to consider what type of energy source is being used and if it’s right for your tiny home needs. There are multiple sources for generating heat including solar, propane, electric, and wood. Each comes with advantages and disadvantages, ranging from installation difficulties, cleaning, maintenance, efficiency, lost space, and costs—both to buy and to operate. Some may require staying “plugged in” to the grid while others can be used in remote areas.

For example, wood stoves are a popular off-grid choice because they provide ample heat, but you'll have to be more hands-on than with electric options because they require feeding a fire. This brings in additional trade-offers. Smaller wood stoves are great for tiny homes, but the smaller logs going into the stove will mean a faster burn time and more effort maintaining your heat.  

“It (a wood stove) can also be challenging if you’re in a really cold climate… If you’re always getting up at night and maintaining the fire, that can be pretty exhausting. So, it’s definitely something to consider.” — Mat from Exploring Alternatives, Exploringalternatives.ca

Installation

Are you looking for a solution to heat the home for several years, or just want a temporary solution to get you through a winter? Some heaters (like portable space heaters) require no installation, while others, like radiant floor mats, are more involved.

Some heater installations are DIY projects, but depending on your experience level, you still might need to hire a professional. Professional certifications, like those issued by the National Fireplace Institute, can ensure your installation goes smoothly.

Space and Size

Heaters come in a variety of mounting options, including on the wall, outside, or under the flooring. Some bulkier units are freestanding and can even serve as a design centerpiece of your home. Wood stoves can be an attractive option, but be sure to account for the minimal clearances from walls and ceilings required by each model before committing to an installation in your tiny home.

Certifications and Safety Features

To help find the most energy-efficient products, look for Energy Star-certified heaters or EPA-certified stoves whenever possible. 

Depending on the type of heater, you’ll want to ensure it has required safety features such as overheating prevention, an automatic shut down if it tips or falls over, a fire-resistant base, or oxygen depletion sensors.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What off-grid heater options are emissions-free?

    Solar heaters are emission free. However, an individual solar heater may not enough to heat an entire home overnight (they only work during the daylight hours). Those investing in solar heaters will want a secondary heat source during the evenings. Another option is to install enough solar panels and energy storage to power an electric space heater. For more information about renewable heat, visit the EPA’s website

  • What tiny house heater is the most efficient?

    Electric heat pumps are an extremely efficient, cost effective, and practical way to heat a dwelling, particularly those that are Energy Star rated. While more energy efficient options exist, such as geothermal heat pumps, they can be very expensive to install or inaccessible for certain home situations (and still require electricity to run the fan, compressor and pumps).

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger is committed to helping readers reduce the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives, with years of research, testing and real-world experience in alternative and eco-friendly modes of living.

The author, Amber Nolan, lives off-grid and uses solar energy to generate heat on her houseboat.

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