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You may be hesitant about heading out for a camping trip when the nights are a little colder. Thankfully, there are several ways to ensure your tent has a comfortable temperature.
This article explains how best to use an electric fan in a camping tent.
The challenge isn’t just ensuring an adequate power source and retaining the heat inside the tent. You must also ensure a safe installation. Read on as we get into the details.
Can You Use An Electric Fan Heater When Camping?
You can use an electric fan heater in a tent if it has adequate safety features, such as tip-over and overheating protection.
You also need a power supply. If you don’t have your own, check in advance that your campsite has power facilities reasonably close to your tent.
There are three options when sourcing power for electric fan heater inside a tent:
- Campsite electricity outlets
- Generator or power station
- Battery operated
Each setup calls for different systems and accessories. Let’s start with the grid at a campsite.
Campsite Electricity Outlets
You can use campsite electricity outlets to run an electric fan heater. But the first challenge is finding an outlet that’s close enough to your tent.
If you’re looking to purchase one, I recommend you check the description for these qualities:
- Adequate length (you can get some at 50 ft or 100 ft)
- Corrosion-resistant pins
- Invulnerable to kink, and abrasion
In all likelihood, you’ll need an extension cord. This won’t be the usual one you use inside a house or apartment. You will need something more heavy-duty and weather-resistant.
The next thing to check in advance is that your tent will be in reach of a receptacle. I advise that you ring the campsite in advance.
The other challenge is that some campsites have fluctuating voltage or limited amperage. Again, it’s worth asking on the phone.
I find that camp staff will freely admit if they are not well equipped, despite some investment in power facilities.
Bring a backup
I recommend preparing more than one type of setup if you plan to camp a long time in a cold tent. If the campsite power outlets let you down, then you have a backup.
So, if you’re bringing your heavy-duty extension cord, have one of the next two alternatives to hand.
Generator or Power Station
In the absence of campsite electrical outlets, you need a generator or power station to run your fan heater.
And you must have one that’s powerful enough for the appliance.
Let’s say you have a fan heater that requires 1500W on a high setting. This information is available on the packaging.
You will need a generator that delivers 1,500 running watts of power.
If that seems a bit much – well, many fan heaters come with multiple settings. The lower end tends to be 750W. That will bring the cost of a generator down.
You can pick up cost-effective portable power stations that run on either gas or propane. In general, gas generators tend to provide higher watts.
Battery Operated Power Source
You can use RV or car batteries to run an electric fan heater in a tent.
The battery connected to the system can power the appliance if you have a solar panel installation. However, car or RV batteries are 12V DC, whereas electric fan heaters run on 120V AC.
So, things get a little more complicated as you will need a converter. Be sure to bring one with a capacity that is sufficient to power your heater.
I suggest you look for a unit with 2,000W capacity.
If you’re not sure about what this means in terms of electric power, check our our article on how much electricity is typically used by fan heaters.
Pros And Cons Of Camping With An Electric Fan Heater
There are plenty of great advantages that come with these appliances:
- Electric heaters don’t combust anything, so there are no exhaust gases.
- There’s no burning flame or fire in the tent where so much is flammable.
- An electric fan heater won’t deplete the oxygen level inside your tent.
- Good quality appliances come with all the necessary safety features.
There is a misconception out there that electric heaters reduce oxygen or somehow produce gases like carbon monoxide. That’s just not true.
If you want a clear explanation why, check out our article on why they don’t burn oxygen at all.
However, the rapidly warming air can sometimes make people experience dry mouth or itchy sinuses. We’ve got plenty of tips on avoiding this in our article on fan heaters drying the air.
Most common problems
On the flip side, electric fan heaters can be a challenge to run in a tent or at a campsite. The most common problem is related to power.
Here’s a typical scenario you may encounter at a campsite:
A 120V electric fan heater needs 12.5A of current to operate at 1,500W. But campsites don’t always have circuits supporting a steady 12.5A supply.
Also, campsites with voltage fluctuations will spike the amp requirement.
In high mode, an electric fan heater draws 13.63A at 110V and 15A at 100V. But the campsite electricity outlet may not be able to supply 15A or even 13.63A.
This means that your electric fan heater won’t heat effectively due to low power (watts).
Tips On Safety
Here are a few safety tips when you use an electric fan heater in a tent:
- Don’t operate an electric fan heater with unrated extension cords and uncertified plugs.
- Only use heavy-duty and weather-proof cables, whether outdoors or inside the tent.
- Keep the electric fan heater away from all flammable materials, including the tent.
- Don’t run the appliance when you sleep or if no one is inside the tent to intervene. Avoid the temptation to leave the fan heater running all night.
- Use an electric fan heater with overheating protection and a tip-over shut-off feature only.
- Avoid running the appliance during rains and whenever it may get exposed to water.
Tips for Retaining the Most Heat
Here’s how you can retain the most heat in your tent:
- Insulate the tent and seal any gaps to ensure it is as airtight as possible.
- Use thermals, rugs, and sleeping bag liners or infills to trap more heat.
- Keep the tent small for the number of occupants but have enough space for the heater.