Freezing to death in a cold house is likely not a goal on your list of things to do. So, how do you stay warm inside your tiny space?

Get yourself a tiny house heater. But what kind? There are so many. No worries!

Finding out how to heat your tiny house is crucial for comfort and efficiency, but the options can be overwhelming.

This no-fluff guide will walk you through tiny house heating options, which include wood stoves, electric heaters, propane heaters, and heat pumps.

The goal is to balance space-saving designs and cost-effectiveness while ensuring the warm air in your cozy home stays warm throughout the seasons.

Key Takeaways
  • Efficient heating in a tiny house requires assessing the space and climate, balancing heater size with efficiency and space usage, and choosing between grid-tied and off-grid energy solutions.

  • The best heating systems for tiny homes are electric heaters, propane heaters, and wood stoves.

  • Some tiny homes choose to have two sources of available heat to ensure enough heat for grid-tied power or when completely off-grid.

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Understanding Your Tiny House Heating Options

Having laid the groundwork, we can now examine the best heating systems for tiny homes.

Here are the heat options available:

  • Wood Stoves (great for off-grid)

  • Propane Heaters (great for off-grid)

  • Electric Heaters

  • Heat pumps

These are tried and tested solutions that many tiny homeowners swear by.

Wood Stoves

man in front of a wood stove

Put some wood in a stove, and it’s called a wood stove. Wood stoves are the most popular option for off-grid heating for a tiny house.

Besides providing warmth, a wood stove infuses your tiny home with a rustic allure by burning wood to heat your space.

You can use chopped firewood, pellets, or smaller wood chips.

They’re ideal for off-grid living and cost-effective if you can access free or inexpensive firewood.

Propane Heaters

propane wall heater

Propane heaters are popular for heating spaces due to their efficiency and portability.

They operate by burning propane gas to produce heat, making them a convenient option for areas without access to electricity.

Tiny house heaters, especially propane heaters, are known for their clean burn and energy-saving potential.

Electric Heaters

An electric heater is a device that converts electrical energy through electric heating coils into heat to warm up a room or space.

Electric heating is favored for tiny homes because it is adaptable, provides energy-efficient heat, and is inexpensive compared to other sources.

You can choose the size of the tiny house heater to heat your tiny space.

  • Radiant Heat

  • Forced Air Heat

Radiant Heaters

They emit heat waves that directly warm up objects and people in a room. This helps avoid wasting energy on heating unused space.

4 types of radiant heat

Forced Air Heaters

Forced air heating involves a central heating unit, like a furnace, that heats air.

This air is pushed through ducts and vents to heat the entire space surrounding the air itself.

Minisplit Heat Pumps

minisplit amazon

A minisplit heat pump for tiny houses is an efficient heating and cooling solution. A heat pump transfers heat from the outside air or ground into the tiny house heaters during winter.

The heat pump system reverses the process of cooling the house during summer or in a warm climate.

It is important to note, if you are completely off-grid, you will only have two options: Wood Stoves or Propane Heaters unless you have a large solar power system to be able to run the electric heater option.

How to Choose the Right Heat Source for Your Tiny Home

Choosing the best heat source for your tiny home will weigh the benefits and drawbacks.

There is no one size fits all as each tiny house and owner has different needs. Let’s check out the details of each heat source.

Wood Stoves

Benefits

  • Ambiance: Offers a cozy and warm atmosphere unique to wood burning.

  • Eco-friendly: Using renewable resources like wood is better for the environment.

  • No electricity needed: If the electricity goes out or you are off-grid, you can always stay warm.

  • Multi-purpose: Your wood stove can be used to boil water quickly or for heating food.

Drawbacks

  • Maintenance & Ventilation: Requires regular cleaning and maintenance.

  • Heat Circulation: The areas around the stove will get hot, leaving someone in a loft or back room chilly.

  • Space: Takes up more physical space and requires storage for wood. You also need enough clearance for the stove

  • Safety: If you have pets or small children, the safety of a hot surface may be a concern.

Propane Heaters

Benefits

  • Affordable: This option is affordable.

  • Portability and Convenience: Easy to use and move around.

  • Cost-Effective Fuel: Propane is generally cheaper than electricity and can be stored in tanks.

  • Quick Heating: Provides immediate warmth, making it efficient for cold days.

Drawbacks

  • Safety Concerns: Risk of carbon monoxide poisoning without proper ventilation.

  • Fuel Storage: Requires space for storing propane tanks and getting tanks refilled.

  • Environmental Impact: This option uses fossil fuels and is less environmentally friendly.

Electric Heaters

Benefits

  • Affordability: They are generally less expensive to purchase and install. You can easily find electric heaters for less than $50.

  • Ease of Installation: Electric heaters can be easily installed without professional help. Plug it in, and you are done.

  • Energy Efficiency: Typically, they are more efficient than other heating options and don’t require ventilation.

Drawbacks

  • Takes up Space: This heater will take up floor space.

  • Operational Cost: The cost to run electric heaters can be high, depending on local electricity rates. If you are off-grid, this will eat up any battery or solar storage.

  • Dependence on Electricity: They may not be reliable in areas with frequent power outages and will draw a lot of electricity.

Mini Split Heat Pumps

Benefits

  • Energy Efficiency: Heat pumps are highly efficient, using less electricity to produce heat.

  • Dual Function: Can heat and cool a space, offering a versatile climate control solution.

  • Long-Term Savings: Despite higher initial costs, they can lead to savings on energy bills over time.

  • No Floor Space: This unit won’t take up floor space.

Drawbacks

  • Initial Investment: Higher upfront costs for purchase and installation.

  • Maintenance: Requires regular servicing by a professional to maintain efficiency.

  • Complex Installation: Installation is more complex and needs to be done by professionals.

  • On-Grid: This is certainly not an option for off-grid.

Comparing Tiny House Heating Types

FeatureWood StovePropane HeaterElectric HeaterHeat Pump
Energy SourceWoodPropane gasElectricityElectricity
Installation CostModerate to highModerateLow to moderateHigh
Running CostLow Moderate to high Moderate to high Low
EfficiencyModerate to highHighModerateVery high
MaintenanceHigh ModerateLowModerate
Environmental ImpactModerate to highHigh Moderate Low
Suitability for Tiny HousesGood Good Good Excellent

3 Considerations for Understanding Tiny House Heating Needs

Besides budget being a huge factor in deciding on a heat source, there are a few other considerations to remember.

Here are key considerations to help you choose the best heating system, focusing on comfort, efficiency, and the unique challenges of limited space.

If you are traveling in your tiny house, you must be prepared for all weather. You do not want to discover that your heat source can’t keep up and must endure a cold night.

understanding tiny house heat needs

1 . Deciding Between Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solution

Grid-Tied Systems

These require access to the power grid and include options like electric baseboard heaters. Luckily, on-grid houses have lots of options.

Off-Grid Solutions

Unfortunately, Off-grid houses have fewer options. The go-to options are wood stoves and propane heaters.

Options like wood stoves and propane heaters provide flexibility but may cost more due to the need for backup energy sources.

An On-grid System with Off-grid Option

To get the best of both worlds, someone living in a tiny house that could benefit from a blended option will want to choose an on-grid option with an off-grid option.

This will allow flexibility in travel and weather conditions.

2 . Assessing Your Space and Climate

Understanding Your Environment

Know the size of your tiny house and the local climate to choose an appropriate heating source.

If you travel to harsh arctic conditions or places that often stay below freezing, the systems you choose will look very different than those that never get under freezing.

Space and Temperature Needs

Consider the square footage you need to heat and whether certain spaces, like sleeping areas, require higher temperatures.

3 . Balancing Heat Efficiency with Living Space

Efficient Use of Space

Ensure your heating system doesn’t take up too much space or room or waste energy. This is where choosing the right heat source matters. More on this later.

Optimal Heating Solutions

Radiant floor heating, for example, offers even heat distribution without occupying additional living space.

Safety Considerations when Heating a Tiny House

tiny house heating safety

Heating a tiny house safely is crucial to ensure both comfort and security. Here are a few key things and safety considerations to keep in mind:

Proper Installation

  • Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Always install heating units according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

  • Professional Help: For complex systems like heat pumps, seek professional installation to ensure everything is set up correctly.

Ventilation

  • Ensure Adequate Ventilation: This is especially important for wood stoves and propane heaters to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.

  • Regular Checks: Make sure ventilation systems are clear and unobstructed to maintain good air quality.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Install Detectors: Place carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas and living spaces to alert you to dangerous gas leaks.

  • Regular Testing: Test your detectors monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.

Fire Safety

  • Clearance: Maintain a safe distance between heating units and flammable materials.

  • Fire Extinguishers: Keep a fire extinguisher accessible in your tiny house.

  • Smoke Alarms: Install and test smoke alarms regularly to ensure they work properly.

Maintenance

  • Regular Maintenance: Keep heating systems well-maintained to prevent malfunctions. This includes cleaning filters, checking for leaks, and ensuring all components are in good working order.

  • Annual Inspections: Have your heating system inspected by a professional at least once yearly to ensure it’s safe and efficient.

Educate Yourself

  • Understand Your Heating System: Know how your heating system works and how to use it properly.

  • Safety Precautions: Be aware of the specific safety precautions related to your type of heater.

Always prioritize proper installation, ventilation, and regular maintenance year heating to mitigate risks associated with heating.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We’ve covered a lot of ground, exploring the unique challenges and exciting solutions for heating tiny homes.

From understanding your specific heating needs to exploring top heating systems, choosing a heat source for your small space is important.

But remember, every tiny home is unique, and the best heating solution for you depends on how much heat you have and your specific circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you heat a small house?

Install a properly sized heating system, such as a furnace or a heat pump, to warm the small house. Ensure the heating system is properly maintained and functioning efficiently.

What is the best heating source for a tiny house?

Some popular options for heating a tiny house include electric heaters, wood stoves, propane heaters, and mini-split heat pumps.

How can I heat my tiny house without electricity?

You can heat the entire space of your tiny house without electricity by using wood stoves or propane heaters.

Author
  • Erin Hybart

    Meet Erin, a real estate enthusiast with a wealth of knowledge and an insatiable curiosity for all things Real Estate and living with intention. She passionately advocates for alternative, affordable, and eco-friendly housing solutions. She believes in pushing the industry's innovation boundaries and thinking outside the box. As a licensed real estate agent in Louisiana, Erin dedicates herself to assisting clients in buying and selling properties and mentoring fellow agents to succeed in their own Real Estate businesses. In addition to her professional pursuits, Erin channels her expertise into captivating house-flipping adventures.

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