Skip to Content

Buddy Heater Run Times | 1 LB or 20 LB Tanks (With Charts)

Most people warm their homes using their furnaces, but a winter storm can cause a power outage, which is where a Buddy Heater can save the day. But how long can you run one for?

Buddy Heater run times range considerably between 1lb (9kg) or 20lb (0.45kg) propane tanks and whether you set the heater to low or high. In particular, Big Buddy Portable Heater and Portable Buddy Heater give the longest run times on low depending on the size tank used. 

This article will explain Buddy Heater run times on high and low and which model is best for your needs. I have also provided helpful charts, when possible.

Buddy Heater Models 

To get a better idea of run times for your Buddy Heater, let’s look at the various Buddy Heater models and how they work. 

There are four main heaters in the Buddy Heater range from Mr. Heater. The main differences between these models include their BTU rating (the amount of heat they can produce) and size:

  • Portable Buddy Heater: This popular Mr. Heater product has a BTU rating of 4000/9000 per hour and can heat spaces up to 225 square feet (21 square meters). It’s an excellent option for warming up RVs or small cabins.
  • Big Buddy Portable Heater: As the largest model in the Buddy Heater range, the Big Buddy provides heat for spaces of up to 450 square feet (42 square meters). Its BTU rating is 4000/9000/18000 per hour, and it can provide sufficient warmth for large, open-plan living spaces and big cabins.
  • Hunting Buddy Portable Heater: The perfect companion for hunters, the Hunting Buddy Heater has a BTU rating of 6000/12000 per hour and can heat a space with an area of up to 300 square feet (28 square meters). This makes them suitable for warming up hunting blinds, cabins, and treetop hunting lookouts.
  • Little Buddy Heater: With the ability to heat spaces of up to 95 square feet (9 square meters), Little Buddy Heaters have a BTU rating of 3800 per hour and are ideal to use in small spaces such as tents. 

In general, Buddy Heaters are lightweight, portable, and durable space heaters that provide instant heat. You connect them to a propane tank that provides fuel to power the heater. Once the propane in the tank has run out, the heater will no longer provide heat. 

Depending on the size and capacity of your Buddy Heater, it can provide heat for rooms ranging in size from 95 square feet (8.8 square meters) to 450 square feet (42 square meters).  

Buddy Heaters are simple to use, and you turn them on by pushing and rotating the knob. There’s no need to light Buddy Heaters, as they come with in-built Piezo sparking mechanisms

These heaters have excellent safety features, including the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), which will automatically switch the unit off if it detects low oxygen levels in the room. They also have safety shut-off valves to help prevent accidental fires resulting from your heater tipping over. 

Buddy Heater Run Times on Low

Running your Buddy heater on low is an excellent idea if you’re experiencing a power outage in freezing weather and you’re not sure when it will come back on again. 

Although this won’t provide as much warmth as running it on high, it conserves propane and will last longer. Some Buddy Heater users believe it’s better to wear a few layers of clothing and have your heater on low. Typically, this takes the edge off the cold and gives peace of mind that you won’t run out of propane too soon. 

Below is a helpful chart explaining Buddy Heater run times on low:

Buddy Heater ModelRun Time On Low (1lb / 0.45kg Propane Tank) in HoursRun Time On Low (20lb / 9kg Propane Tank) in Hours
Little Buddy Heater5.6Cannot use a 20lb/9kg tank with Little Buddy
Portable Buddy Heater5.4108
Hunting Buddy Portable Heater3.572
Big Buddy Portable Heater11*108

*Note: The Big Buddy Portable Heater takes two 1lb (0.45kg) propane tanks, and this figure accounts for this. 

The Verdict

Although it uses two tanks, Big Buddy Portable Heater provides the longest run time on low with a 1lb (0.45kg) tank. It ties with the Portable Buddy Heater for the longest run time when using a 20lb (9kg) heater. 

Buddy Heater Run Times on Medium

Big Buddy Portable Heater is unique in that it can accommodate two 1lb (0.45kg) propane tanks, and it’s the only Buddy Heater with a medium setting. This gives you much more flexibility with the amount of heat it can produce. 

Big Buddy Portable Heater can run for 4.8 hours on medium when connected to two 1lb (0.45kg) propane tanks and for 48 hours when it’s connected to a 20lb (9kg) tank. 

Buddy Heater Run Times on High

If you know for sure the power outage won’t last long, or you’re spending only a few hours in an RV or cabin, it can be much more comfortable to run your Buddy Heater on high. 

Here is a handy chart showing how long you can run your Buddy Heater when set on high: 

Buddy Heater ModelRun Time On High (1lb / 0.45kg Propane Tank) in HoursRun Time On High (20lb / 9kg Propane Tank) in Hours
Little Buddy Heater3Cannot use a 20lb/9kg tank with Little Buddy
Portable Buddy Heater2.448
Hunting Buddy Portable Heater236
Big Buddy Portable Heater2.8*24

* This is applicable for two 1lb (9kg) propane tanks. 

The Verdict

Little Buddy Heater boasts the longest-running time on high with a 9lb (0.45kg) tank, followed closely by Big Buddy Portable Heater. 

If you use a 20lb (9kg) tank, your best bet would be the Portable Buddy Heater, as you can use it for two days.

The Correct Size Propane Tank For Your Buddy Heater

Before using your Buddy Heater, you’ll need to connect it to a propane tank. All Buddy Heaters can be connected to a 1lb (0.45 kg) tank, but if yours is compatible with a 20lb (9 kg) tank, you will need to buy a Mr. Heater-authorized hose and filter to connect it. 

The size propane tank to choose for your Buddy Heater depends on how long you plan to use the heater each session. The larger the tank, the more fuel it can provide, and the longer your Buddy Heater will operate. 

According to the Mr. Heater website, connecting any unauthorized accessories or attachments to your Buddy Heater is prohibited as this may cause injury or death and void your warranty. When connecting a propane tank to your Buddy Heater, you should, therefore, follow the instructions in the user manual. 

Mr. Heater recommends using 1lb (0.45 kg) tanks with the entire Buddy Heater range. However, Portable Buddy Heaters, Hunting Buddy Heaters, and Big Buddy Portable Heaters can also use 20lb (9 kg) propane tanks. 

Big Buddy Heaters can accommodate two 1lb (0.45kg) propane tanks, giving them additional fuel capacity. You can connect 1lb (0.45 kg) propane tanks directly to your Buddy Heater, but you’ll need a hose assembly if you want to connect a 20lb (9 kg) tank. 

Mr. Heater sells hose assemblies in varying lengths, depending on how far away your propane tank is. As with propane tanks, it’s best to use Mr. Heater-approved hose assemblies for maximum safety and maintain your warranty. 

It’s important to ensure your indoor space is well-ventilated when using your Buddy Heater. Propane gas can easily displace the oxygen in the air and cause respiratory problems or asphyxiation. 

When storing your propane tank, ensure it has a sturdy base to prevent it from falling over, becoming damaged, and starting to leak. It’s also important to keep your propane tank clean by gently wiping off any dirt. Dirty tanks can’t release excess gas, and a build-up of gas can be dangerous and result in an explosion.  

Determining How Much Fuel Is Left in Your Propane Tank

It’s always a good idea to prepare ahead for potential winter storms and power outages by ensuring you have enough propane in your tank to power your Buddy Heater. 

If you’re not sure how much propane is left in your tank, below are a few easy ways to check: 

  • Use the gauge on the propane tank. Some propane tanks have gauges indicating how much propane is left. These gauges typically express the amount of propane remaining as a percentage. 
  • Weigh your tank. All propane tanks have labels showing the empty (or tare) weight. When weighing your propane tank, subtract the total weight from the tare weight to determine how much propane is left. 
  • The warm water method. A simple way of finding out how much propane is left in your tank is to pour some warm water over it. Run your hand along the tank sides–you’ll find the propane level when your hand senses cold. Although not an accurate method, it provides a tough yet reasonable idea of the propane level. 

Determining The Best Buddy Heater for Your Needs

Buddy Heaters can keep your indoor space warm during a power outage and keep the chill away when you’re hunting or vacationing in an RV. 

The best Buddy Heater for your needs depends on how you’ll be using it, how fuel-efficient you want it to be, and your budget.

Best Budget Option

The Little Buddy Heater, which can be found on Amazon, is the most inexpensive option and best for those on a budget. 

Not only is it the most affordable option, but it also has one of the most extended run times on low and high. As a result, you won’t have to replace the propane tank as much. 

If you want to heat a space larger than 95 square feet (9 square meters), though, you might want to consider a more powerful heater. 

Most Fuel-Efficient Heater

The most fuel-efficient heater for you depends on the size of your space and how much heat you need it to produce. 

If you plan on running your heater on low and have a small space, the Little Buddy is an excellent option. 

However, a Big Buddy Portable Heater is the most fuel-efficient when set on low for larger spaces. You need to use two 1lb (0.45kg) tanks, but it has a slightly longer run time than the Portable Buddy Heater. Together with the same heater, it’s the most fuel-efficient with a 20lb (9kg) tank on low. 

Regardless of whether you use a 9lb (0.45kg) or 20lb (9kg) tank, the Portable Buddy Heater is your best bet for the most fuel-efficient model when running on high.

Top Heater for Small Spaces

The Little Buddy Heater is the top heater for small spaces. It’s inexpensive, fuel-efficient, and can easily keep you warm (as long as the room is no larger than 95 square feet/9 square meters). 

This makes it perfect for heating a small RV, a room in a cabin, or your hunting blind.

Best Heater for Larger Spaces

As the largest Buddy Heater with the most heating capacity, the Big Buddy model is the best heater for larger spaces. 

It can provide warmth for indoor spaces of up to 450 square feet (21 square meters), making it excellent for open-plan homes or large public indoor spaces.

Final Thoughts

The Buddy Heater range from Mr.Heater works with 1lb (0.45kg) or 20lb (9kg) propane tanks. Mr.Heater doesn’t advise using other size tanks as they pose a potential safety hazard and void your warranty. 

Big Buddy Heater provides the longest run time on low with two 1lb (0.45kg) tanks. However, it ties with the Portable Buddy Heater using a 20lb (9kg) tank on low. 

Notably, the Little Buddy Heater offers the longest run time on high with a 1lb (0.45kg) tank. Whereas, with a 20lb (9kg) propane tank, the Portable Buddy Heater features the longest run time.

For more, check out How to Store Small Propane Tanks | Essential Guide.