Ice fishing heaters – Buying Guide, Reviews, and Comparison
If you are looking for the best ice fishing heater but don’t have the inclination to go through dozens of pages of product descriptions, then we’ve got you covered. One of America’s most popular propane heaters, The Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy is very easy to recommend, with hundreds of reviewers and satisfied customers praising its near perfect functionality which leaves for little to be desired. At only 9 pounds in weight, it can generate as much as 9,000 BTU of radiant heat on the maximum setting which gives it a remarkable power to size ratio. The advanced safety features will let you sleep easy, since the unit shuts itself off if low oxygen is detected or if tipped over. If the Mr. Heater Buddy isn’t available, or you are adamant on a smaller unit, then the Texsport 14215 will work well outdoors as well as indoors.
3 Best Ice Fishing Heaters (Reviews) in 2023
To help you make a choice from the wide range of heaters available, we’ve consulted a large number of ice fishing heater reviews and customer reports to arrive at a small selection of top rated products currently for sale. These are showcased below.
1. Draper 17111 Infrared Diesel/Kerosene Space Heater
This is one of the best rated and sought after portable heating units out there, with a good track record for safety, functionality, and impressive heating performance.
Connected to either a disposable propane tank or a foreign source (through an adaptor that is sold separately) it can give out either 4,000 or 9,000 BTU in either of its two settings, which will prove enough to heat up spaces as large as 225 square feet in the harshest of weather conditions.
It’s reported to be very efficient, burning through nearly 100% of the fuel, which means it won’t fill the room with an unpleasant odor that might also constitute a fire hazard at a high enough concentration.
Safety-wise, it’s been outfitted with a full range of features, such as an oxygen detection sensor that automatically shuts the unit off if the oxygen levels drop beneath a certain value. The heater will also turn itself off if the pilot light goes out, or when placed on a sloped surface, to prevent accidents if tipped over.
To better move its compact, 9 lb frame around, the Buddy has a fold-down handle so it might be carried much like you would briefcase during short hikes.Buy from Amazon.com
2. Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
More of a burner than a domestic heater, the Texsport Portable will offer a wide range of functionality for both outdoor and indoor use while delivering enough heat for a sizable fishing tent or shack.
It feeds out of either a 16.4 oz or a 14.1 oz propane tank, and once its control knob is driven all the way, the heating element will produce as much as 2,890 BTU. This is plenty to properly warm up an ice fishing shelter or to fry a marshmallow if held close enough.
Since it’s using a convection system that doesn’t dissipate the heat, this unit will be as useful in the outdoors as a small fire, meaning you can warm your hands and nose by getting closer to it without having to worry about the wind putting it out.
Appropriately, it’s made out of stainless steel and doesn’t feature any moving parts such as a flexing head that can become points of failure. A base and low center of gravity should provide it with some support on uneven terrain, although using it on a flat surface is always recommended.
For added safety, the unit automatically turns off if the igniting flame is extinguished.Buy from Amazon.com
3. Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor-Safe
The appropriately named Little Buddy is intended as the compact and easy to carry model from Mr. Heater. Just like the Texsport we looked at, it’s light and small enough to be carried inside your luggage, but it can adequately heat up to 95 square feet of surface area, enough for a small tent, shed or ice fishing shelter.
Judging by customer reports, it seems to be as odor free as its bigger brother, and it also contains some of the same safety features, with the obvious exception of the pilot light due to the different construction. It has an integrated oxygen sensor that shuts it off in potentially threatening situations, and the same thing happens when accidentally tipped over.
We found some complaints regarding the size of the item which seems to be a little on the hefty side for the purpose it’s supposed to fulfill (for comparison, the Texsport is 1.5 lb vs. the Little Buddie’s 5). However, it does somehow make up for it with a corresponding increase in heat output, at 3,800 BTU placing itself in the upper ranges for small units.Buy from Amazon.com
When purchasing a good ice fishing heater, someone must first consider his own needs and proclivities, such as the amount of space that needs to be heated and the ventilation available, the outside temperature expected, but also less obvious criteria like how accident prone the person is or what type of floor he expects to be using the heater on. What we found to be the most important functionality and safety considerations are detailed below.
Heat output and how to calculate it
A heater’s output is traditionally measured in BTU, or British Thermal Units, and using a calculator you can easily extrapolate how the raw number provided by the manufacturer translates to your day to day needs.
For this, you need to know the volume of the room where the heater will be working and to have a figure for the desired temperature increase, which is the difference between the outside temperature and the temperature you want in your room.
For temperatures in Fahrenheit use the following formula to give you the required BTU: Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase x .133; where the last value is always a constant. If you’re using Celsius, then replace .133 with .2394.
Convective vs. radiant heat
Until recently, so-called “radiant heating” was only associated with floor or wall integrated household systems, but the term also came to refer to portable heating units with certain properties.
What it tells you is that the heating element acts indirectly, transferring its energy to a ceramic plaque instead of the air, which in turn radiates it to the entire room. This is more efficient per energy used than more conventional methods and also contributes to a more even heating of the entire room. The clearest drawbacks are cost and the inherent fragility of ceramic material.
To add to this, the plaque will never get as hot as a direct heating element, which makes it less suitable for outdoor use, where a regular heating element will do a better job.
The heater burning up all the oxygen in a poorly ventilated room is always a danger, so a unit that automatically shuts down before this happens will prove to be a good investment.
Another thing to consider is how well protected the heating element is against impact, or how close will it get to the floor in case it gets flipped over. A good metal cage, which keeps it well away from contact with the potentially flammable material is a thing to look for.
The best heater for an ice fishing shelter should ideally turn itself off when not on an even level since a lot of these tents are made of heat sensitive synthetic material.
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