Best Tabletop Heaters. Portable Outdoor Heaters for RVs & Camping

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Tabletop heaters are an essential spring and fall camping accessory. If you find yourself wrapping up warm to make the very most of your RV patio area on cooler days, then you need to invest in the best tabletop heater for your RV.

A good tabletop heater will enable you to sit out and enjoy the extra space when you’re parked up even when it’s not the middle of summer. Some models are even suitable for heating up your RV screen room for year-round usage – here’s everything you need to know about choosing the best model.

What is a Tabletop Heater?

A tabletop heater is a lot like a regular patio heater, except much smaller. Designed to sit on top of your outdoor table giving out warmth and light, a tabletop heater will enable you to enjoy evenings sitting, dining, or entertaining outside your RV when temperatures start to drop.

Tabletop heaters are compact and much more portable than full-sized models. While they are also less powerful, as you’ll be sitting nearer to a tabletop heater, they can get you feeling just as cozy as larger versions but in an easier-to-store and set up format.

Best Tabletop Heaters

To help you to find the best tabletop heater for use in your RV patio area, we’ve reviewed the very best models on the market. Here are our top-rated tabletop heater reviews for RV use.

Best Stainless Steel Tabletop Heater

Fire Sense Stainless Steel Tabletop Patio Heater

Fire Sense Table Top Patio Heater

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The stylish Stainless Steel Tabletop Patio Heater by Fire Sense is a popular choice given its good looks, space-saving design, and very reasonable price. Simply install a one-pound gas cylinder inside the unit via the easy access door and place it directly on your tabletop to enjoy an increase in temperature from 10-25 degrees with its 10,000 BTU heat output.

Thanks to its adjustable heat settings you can find the right balance between warmth and gas consummation, with an approximate runtime of three hours, or you can purchase an adaptor for use with your 20lb propane tank. Lightweight and portable at 17 pounds, it’s easy to set up and get in and out of your RV basement, although the sturdy weighted base ensures it won’t easily knock over when in use.

CSA-approved, this compact tabletop features a protective heat guard for your safety, plus auto tip protection, and an oxygen depletion sensor. Piezo ignition makes for matchless lighting, although bear in mind that getting the unit lit can take a little while. The main drawback to this unit is its assembly which can be long depending on your familiarity with putting together this type of product.

Pros – Things we liked
10,000 BTU output
3 hour runtime on high
Piezo ignition
Stainless steel body
Lightweight – 17lbs
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Time-consuming assembly
Can take a while to light

Best Pyramid Tabletop Heater

Hiland Portable Propane Tabletop Pyramid Heater

Hiland Portable Propane Table Top Heater

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With its hammered bronze finish and mesmerizing flickering flame, the Hiland Portable Propane Tabletop Pyramid Heater sure is an eyecatcher. It has a comparatively good 9,500 BTU heat output, on a par with most tabletop versions, and takes a one-pound propane cylinder or you can use an adaptor with a 20-pound tank.

Standing tall at 39-inches, this tabletop patio heater is best reserved for RVers with plenty of storage space. Also, while its quartz glass tube gives a beautiful effect when the unit is lit, unfortunately, it is fragile and expensive to replace. So, for this reason, we do not recommend this type of tabletop heater for general RV use. However, if you are extra careful and have dedicated storage available, it could work for you.

Thanks to its electronic ignition, this model lights easily without the need for any matches. It also benefits from a thermocouple and anti-tilt protection for your safety. Given its pyramid design, while visually stunning, it does not put out quite as much heat to the sides, with most of the heat going up top.

All in all, while this isn’t the most practical tabletop heater unit for RVing, if you are careful and want an attractive feature piece heater to watch while sitting outside your RV, this could be one to consider.

Pros – Things we liked
9,500 BTU output
Attractive design
Electronic ignition
2-3 hours on high
Thermocouple & anti-tilt protection
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Fragile quartz glass tube
Doesn’t put out much heat

Best Propane Tabletop Heater for RV Screen Room

Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater

Mr Heater Buddy Portable Heater

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Worried about using a tabletop heater in your RV screen room? The Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater is an all-around great choice for RVing thanks to its robust, durable construction and high portability. Designed for use in tents, unlike most other tabletop heaters, you can use this model inside your RV screen room on chilly fall nights without fear.

Featuring a high and a low heat setting, this unit puts out 4,000 or 9,000 BTUs, making it a great choice for heating spaces up to 225 square feet. If you are using it without a screen room, it still heats up the space in front of it very effectively, making it a good choice for couples. The swivel-out regulator connects to your propane tank with a three hour run time at maximum heat output, with a 0.099 gallon per hour flow rate.

Purchase an additional hose and filter to connect to a 20-pound propane tank for longer periods of use. Almost 100% efficient, this clean-burning portable tabletop heater features an auto shut-off tip and low oxygen level sensor. Care is needed as the protective grill cage is very wide, so make sure you don’t have any potential burn hazards in the immediate vicinity.

Thanks to its robust construction, compact size, and fold-down handle, little surprise this tabletop heater is a popular choice for RVing that can be easily transported and stowed away.

Pros – Things we liked
Approved for indoor & outdoor use
4,000 or 9,000 BTU output
Piezo igniter
Highly portable with a fold-down handle
Heats up to 225sq feet
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Wide grill cage

Best Budget Tabletop Heater

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

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If you are looking for a budget tabletop heater for RVing, the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is a good choice.

Capable of taking the edge off cooler mornings and evenings, this lightweight and highly portable model comes with a steel carry handle. Made mainly of durable steel, with copper hardware, you won’t have to worry about it living up to life on the road.

With its 2,980 BTU heat output, this RV tabletop heater won’t keep you as warm as the vast majority of other models. However, thanks to its lower output, it does last a lot longer, over six hours off a one-pound tank when on low. This makes it a good buy for mild climates where you just want a little extra warmth when you’re sitting out in spring or fall.

While it is not the best looking of models, the large plastic base helps to prevent it from tipping for extra security. It also has a safety auto shut-off valve, so should your flame go out the unit will automatically shut down. However, note that you will need to manually light this tabletop as there is no electronic ignition.

On the whole, if you need a little extra warmth for sitting outside your RV, this is a good budget choice. While it doesn’t put out a huge amount of heat, if you are traveling to warmer climes, it is a basic yet effective model to take off the evening chill.

Pros – Things we liked
Durable steel & copper construction
Auto shut-off valve
Large plastic paddle base
Runtime over 6 hours on low
Steel carry handle
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Low 2,980 BTU output
Needs manually lighting

Best Tabletop Heater For Cooking

Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

Campy Gear Portable Table Top Heater

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The 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater and Stove by Campy Gear would make a great buy for your camper or pop-up trailer – saving you space with just one appliance for keeping warm outdoors and cooking. It has a good 13,000 BTU heat output, although due to its 360-degree radiant heating, you will have to get fairly close to feel the warmth as it rapidly dissipates all around without a reflector.

This compact model measures just 10.2 inches wide at the base, so you’ll have no problems fitting it on your outdoor camping table or cook station. Unlike most other models, it comes with a complementary hose for use with 20-pound propane tanks, although you will need a propane regulator if you want to run it off your RV supply. A 20-pound tank should last for up to 42 hours at maximum, just be careful with the switch as it can be a little fragile.

When used as a stove, this unit can accommodate your RV cookware sized between 3.9 and 12 inches, taking approximately 5 minutes 12 seconds to boil water for your morning coffee. Lightweight, at just 7.78 pounds, this tabletop heater also has a convenient carry handle and electronic ignition to make setup on arrival at the campground even easier.

Complete with sensitive tip-over protection, plus an oxygen depletion sensor, this tabletop heater is a good choice if you need a small stove for cooking and heating when RVing.

Pros – Things we liked
2-in-1 outdoor heater & stove
13,000 BTU heat output
Tip-over & ODS protection
Hose included for 20lb propane tank
Lightweight – 7.78 pounds
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Fragile switch
Need to be very close to feel the warmth

Best Easy To Use Tabletop Heater

Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater

Hampton Bay Tabletop Gas Heater

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With its easy-to-use push-button ignition system, the Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater is a popular choice. Thanks to its 21-inch diameter and up to 11,000 BTU heat output, you can feel the warmth it generates up to 15 feet around the unit. This makes a good choice for larger rigs with bigger awning patio areas.

Adjust the heat level to suit your needs and the climate via the dial knob. Its durable stainless steel construction makes this a sturdy piece of kit that will last. Thanks to its safety tilt-switch, this tabletop heater will automatically shut down should it fall over – essential if you are traveling in areas prone to sudden, strong gusts of wind.

Unfortunately, the main drawback to this unit is that it has been designed to take one-pound propane cylinders, making it a space-saving model. However, it is recommended by the manufacturer that you purchase an additional hose to use it with 20-pound tanks. After 30 minutes or so, the small one-pound propane tanks tend to freeze up, making the extra hose essentially compulsory for using this product for any decent length of time.

What’s more, the assembly instructions for this tabletop heater are particularly confusing, which could be a major disadvantage if you are not familiar with putting this kind of article together. These issues aside, it is a good-looking heater that gives out a decent amount of heat for a tabletop model.

Pros – Things we liked
11,000 BTU heat output
Adjustable heat level
Push-button ignition
Safely tilt-switch
Durable construction
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Poor assembly instructions
Recommended for use with large propane tanks only

Best Electric Tabletop Heater

Tectake Electric Patio Heater

Electric Patio Heater

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If you are looking for an electric tabletop heater for when you’re hooked up to shore power, this model by Tectake is a good budget choice. It benefits from low 750W and high 1500W power settings, plus you can also use it as a fan only. As it is electric, no problem using it inside your RV either.

This ceramic electrical fan heater also has an oscillating mode so it can keep more than one person warm when installed outside your RV. Easy to use and lightweight, you’ll have no problem setting it up and packing it away. It also has an adjustable thermostat that is really handy for indoor use.

Complete with a long 70-inch power cord, this electric tabletop heater has built-in overheat and tip-protection. While it won’t stop working in windy weather, unlike some propane models, unfortunately, its high 1500W heat setting works out at just 5,115 BTUs, making it considerably less powerful than a lot of the other tabletop heaters in our selection.

Inexpensive and very easy to use, if you are looking for an electric tabletop heater for your RV patio, this model could be just what you need.

Pros – Things we liked
Low and high heat settings
Oscillating mode
Indoor and outdoor use
Overheat and tip-over protection
Adjustable thermostat
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Lower-than-average 5,115 BTU output

Best Mini Tabletop Heater

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater

Mr Heater Little Buddy Propane Heater

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Short on space? The Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater by Mr Heater is small but mighty. Best put to use heating up RV screen or awning rooms up to 95 square feet, you can also sit out next to it in your RV patio area. Bear in mind that this is a small unit at just eight inches across at its stand, so you’ll have no trouble finding a good location for it.

However, as this is a very small tabletop heater, it has a low 3,800 BTU heat output designed for raising the temperature in an enclosed ventilated space, rather than blasting out huge amounts of heat. It connects directly to your one-pound propane cylinder, saving you more space and has a quiet, odor-free operation. Just be aware that it only functions with flat-bottom cylinders and the entire unit is a little top-heavy.

Fitted with a low oxygen shut-off system and an anti-tip over safety shut-off, this compact model is also lightweight and very easy to carry with its large integrated handle. Given its robust construction, easy one-button ignition, and Mr. Heater’s excellent reputation, if you have a small RV screen room or are looking for a compact, highly portable mini tabletop heater, you can’t go wrong with the Little Buddy.

Pros – Things we liked
Compact design – 8” round stand
One button ignition
Low oxygen shut-off system
Can be used in RV screen rooms
Integrated handle
Cons – Things we didn’t like
3,800 BTU output
Top heavy design

Best Bio Ethanol Tabletop Heater

JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace

JHY Tabletop Fire Bowl

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The Tabletop Fireplace by JHY Design would make a great feature when sitting outside your RV with its flickering flame and modern styling. As it does not require venting, you could also use it inside your RV during colder times of the year when you make less use of your RV patio area.

Thanks to its compact 6.5 inch diameter, you’ll easily find space to position this tabletop heater for maximum effect, both indoors and outdoors when you’re RVing. As it weighs just 2.64 pounds, it’s easy to carry and set up takes just moments.

While this is a nice visual feature with a flickering flame that will add ambiance to your RV patio, it is not really that suitable for providing any heat with its small 500 BTU heat output. Also, fuel can be hard to source for it, although you could also use it as a tea light holder while you are waiting.

If you are looking to create a cozy seating area outside of your RV, this model makes a great option that can also be used indoors.

Pros – Things we liked
Nice visual feature
Compact 6.5” diameter
Can be used with a tealight
Does not require venting
Lightweight – 2.64lbs
Cons – Things we didn’t like
Very low 500 BTU heat output
Fuel can be hard to source

Compare the Best Tabletop Heaters

Table Comparing the Top 9 Tabletop Heaters
Image Title Price Rating Buy
OpenFire Sense Table Top Patio Heater Compare Fire Sense Stainless Steel Table Top Patio Heater
$$$$
84
Buy on Amazon
OpenHiland Portable Propane Table Top Heater Compare Hiland Portable Propane Table Top Pyramid Heater
$$$$$
80
Buy on Amazon
OpenMr Heater Buddy Portable Heater Compare Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater
$$$
94
Buy on Amazon
OpenTexsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater Compare Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
$$
90
Buy on Amazon
OpenCampy Gear Portable Tabletop Heater Compare Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove
$$$
92
Buy on Amazon
OpenHampton Bay Tabletop Gas Heater Compare Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater
$$$$
84
Buy on Amazon
OpenElectric Patio Heater Compare Tectake Electric Patio Heater
$
84
Buy on Amazon
OpenMr Heater Little Buddy Propane Heater Compare Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tabletop Propane Heater
$$$
92
Buy on Amazon
OpenJHY Tabletop Fire Bowl Compare JHY Design Tabletop Fireplace
$$
84
Buy on Amazon

Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Tabletop Heaters

Wondering which is the best tabletop heater to choose for your RV patio area? Check out our guide to buying the best tabletop heaters and find out which features you really need to look out for.

Price

Whereas a full-sized patio heater will set you back several hundred dollars at least, tabletop versions are much more reasonably priced. Budget models start at around $50, with $100 being a pretty reasonable figure. You can find more expensive models that retail between $150-$300 upwards.

While more expensive versions may be easier to use and made from more robust materials, price alone doesn’t always guarantee that they will be better suited for the road, especially as some more expensive designs may in fact be heavier, bulkier, and require more fuel.

Our advice, $100-$200 should be plenty for an average tabletop heater that will be suitable for use outside your RV. If you are on a tight budget and don’t mind getting a less durable model, opt for a lower priced heater between $50-$100. First and foremost, make sure that your chosen model corresponds with the following essential criteria.

Temperature Control

Units with higher BTU heat outputs will often have more than one temperature setting. While some units have a high and a low setting, others have adjustable dials to allow you to alter the temperature to your liking.

If you are going for a powerful tabletop heater, you’ll want to have more control over the amount of heat that it puts out, especially if you will be using it over several seasons. For smaller models with lower levels of heat, it is less important to be able to control the temperature as you are more than likely going to want to have it on full anyway to be able to feel it working.

Heat Output

Tabletop heaters vary considerably in terms of heat output. Unlike full-sized standing models that tend to put out around 40,000 BTU, tabletop models tend to provide anywhere between 3,000-12,000 BTU on average. Obviously, you will be much closer to a tabletop heater and they are usually used for smaller spaces and fewer people – ideal for RVing.

If you are looking for an RV patio heater to use in cold weather, rather than just taking off the chill late on a summer’s night, opt for a model with a high BTU output. Otherwise, if you are using your in your RV screen room and tend to travel during months with milder weather, you can opt for a tabletop heater with a lower heat output.

Area of Coverage

Most manufacturers will suggest a maximum area of coverage which is usually linked to the heater’s maximum BTU output, as well as its design.

For heaters with a BTU of around 5,000, you should expect them to be able to heat up areas of around 100-150 square feet. 10,000 BTUs should be adequate to heat up areas of around 400-450 square feet.

Consider how sensitive you are to the cold when taking these figures into account. Also, whether or not you have a screen room. Obviously, if you have an enclosed RV patio area, it will be much warmer than running a heater in an exposed area.

Portability – Size and Weight

Portability, especially size and weight are always important factors to consider when choosing equipment and accessories for your RV.

Not only do you want to keep your weight down, it also makes it easier to set up your RV patio seating area on arrival, as well as making it easier to pack it away. Most tabletop heaters are designed with portability in mind and some models geared to the camping market even have integrated handles.

The size of your tabletop heater needs to be carefully considered before you make your purchase. Not only will you need to make sure that it will fit with your outdoor furniture, you’ll also have to consider the height available under your awning once it is placed on a tabletop.

Aside from outdoor space, you’ll also need to decide where you will store your RV tabletop heater when you’re on the road. This will be less problematic if your RV has a large basement compared to trying to squeeze another item into a heavily loaded camper.

Safety Features

To make sure that your tabletop heater is safe to use, you’ll want to look out for models that have the following safety protections. Remember, you should never leave your tabletop heater unattended when in use.

Anti-tilt

All heaters should come with an anti-tilt design feature to prevent them from tipping over. Often, this takes the form of a wide or weighted base. If tilted at an angle of over 45 degrees, your heater should automatically cut out if it is fitted with safety tip over protection.

This will prevent your unit from continuing to burn in an unsafe position where it could easily start a fire.

Flame Failure Device

A flame failure device, also known as a thermocouple, is another essential safety protection feature. This cuts the flow of gas should your flame go out.

Otherwise, with a gust of wind, for example, your flame could easily be extinguished, but the gas would continue to flow. This will create a potentially hazardous situation, especially if you later attempt to reignite your heater or there are any naked flames in the vicinity.

Burner Guards

Burner guards help to prevent objects from coming into contact with your burner, preventing fires and serious burns from occurring. While burner guards will still allow small items or fingers to pass through, in most cases they will help to prevent larger items from accidentally coming into contact with a direct flame.

Shut Off Valves and Stability

As we mentioned earlier, it is important that your tabletop heater has a stable base to prevent it from tipping. Weather, children, pets, agitation, there are plenty of potential tip hazards, even if your heater is securely weighted down.

An auto shut-off valve will provide you with extra protection and peace of mind. Should your tabletop heater tip over, for whatever reason, the shut-off valve will automatically cut off the gas supply, switching off your heater.

Cables and Hoses

Make sure that any cables or hoses have the correct fittings for your specific model to ensure correct functioning and prevent any gas leaks. Most tabletop models can be converted for use with larger propane tanks, however, you’ll need to make sure that you choose the correct type of hose and fitting fixtures for your specific model.

Stays Cool Underneath

Check the base material of your tabletop heater as some models can get very hot during use. You may want to invest in a fire-resistant mat to place between your table and your tabletop heater.

Fuel Type

Make sure that your tabletop heater uses the most suitable fuel for your needs, RV, and travels.

Propane

Propane is a popular choice for tabletop heaters and patio heaters in general. It is particularly useful for RVs that already have a ready propane supply, as well as RVers who like to stay off grid. In general, propane heaters are such a popular choice as they put out more heat than their electric equivalents.

Electric

If you tend to spend the vast majority of your time in your RV hooked up to shore power, then an electric tabletop heater could be the best choice for your RV patio. While electric heaters put out lower levels of heat than propane models, they do not need venting, meaning you can also use them indoors.

Bio Ethanol

Bioethanol fuel is more environmentally friendly but can be hard to come across, especially if you need to top up when you’re RVing far from big stores.

Also, bioethanol heaters cost a lot more to run than other types. However, they can be used both indoors and outdoors, plus they require very little maintenance.

Light Output

Light output is important to consider when you’re choosing which tabletop heater is best for your RV. Are you looking for gentle ambient lighting that you can relax by? Would a bright infrared light detract from your evening relaxing?

While you can always add an RV patio for reading or entertaining, the gentle flicker of a tabletop heater can provide you with enough light to relax in relative obscurity, ideal at a busy campground.

Propane Gas Heater Vs. Electric Vs. Bio Ethanol

To help you to decide which is the best type of tabletop heater for your RV, here is a simple comparison between the three main fuel types.

Propane

Pros
Don’t need shore power
Puts out more heat
Propane is readily available
Cons
Cannot be used inside
Need refilling

Electric

Pros
Do not need venting – suitable for indoor use too
Easy to use
Inexpensive
Cons
Need to be hooked up
Less powerful than propane models

Bio ethanol

Pros
More environmentally-friendly alternative
Can also be used indoors
Use wherever you park up
Cons
Can be hard to source
Expensive to run

Tabletop Heater Vs. Full-Size

Wondering whether you should choose a tabletop or a full-size heater? In almost all cases, a tabletop heater will be the best choice for RVing.

Tabletop models are more portable, so they are easier to set up and pack away when you hit the road. They also take up less space, so they are easier to store, as well as weighing less.

In pretty much every case, a full-size heater is going to be tricky to move in and out of your RV everytime you visit a new place. While tabletop heaters won’t give you the same amount of heat as full-size models, their portability more than compensates. For larger RVs with more users and a larger patio area, you could always utilize two or more tabletop heaters if one is not quite strong enough to make a lot of difference.

You could also consider purchasing an RV screen room for extra warmth and privacy.

Final Thoughts

While there are plenty of tabletop haters on the market, not all of them are suitable for RVing. Make sure that you take all of the previous advice into consideration when making your choice and you are sure to find the right model to heat up your RV patio area.

If you are looking for a stylish tabletop heater that makes a great all-rounder, take another look at the Stainless Steel Tabletop Patio Heater by Fire Sense. With its 10,000 BTU heat output, Piezo ignition, and sturdy weighted base, this model is a highly popular choice made from high quality materials.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a rough and ready tabletop heater, check out the Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater by Mr. Heater. Manufactured specifically with outdoor adventures in mind, this tabletop heater is robust and highly durable. It is also highly portable, complete with a fold-down handle. This model can be used in your RV screen room and has a respectable top setting of 9,000 BTU heat output.

Lastly, if ease of use is your priority, the Hampton Bay Tabletop Propane Gas Patio Heater deserves a second look. With its powerful 11,000 BTU output, this model has an extra-easy to light system combined with adjustable heat levels, numerous safety mechanisms, and a durable construction.

About Brian Hamilton

Brian is an outdoors enthusiast and loves BBQing, camping, hiking, kayaking, and of course RVing. Brian runs his own site called OutdoorsmanToolkit.com and is about great gear for all types of outdoor activities. He uses this knowledge for many of our camping and cooking guides.