How To Set Up an Outdoor Propane Heater

Propane Heater 2
Photo courtesy of Flickr user garyjwood.

Brrr! Is it cold where you are? Sadly, it’s not that chilly here in Phoenix. Definitely not cool enough yet to need a heater. But, soon. Very soon. Until then, the colder parts of the world will benefit from these tips on how to set up an outdoor propane heater. First, let’s get the safety rules out of the way.


  • Make sure your heater is placed at least six feet away from any walls, doorways/exits or areas with heavy foot traffic.
  • Make sure the area where you place your propane heater is well ventilated.
  • Surfaces of propane heaters can get very hot. Keep an eye on children, pets and intoxicated friends and relatives.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), keep all propane tanks that are not in use at least 20 feet away from the propane heaters that are in use.
  • Try to use an outdoor propane heater that has an automatic shutoff if it’s tipped over.
  • Make sure your propane tank is in good condition: no rust or dents. Check to make sure your tank’s valve is operational and in good condition.
  • Never leave a propane heater unattended.
  • Never smoke around a propane heater.
  • Never place a propane heater near an open fire or grill.
Photo courtesy of newtown_grafitti.
Photo courtesy of newtown_grafitti.

Every propane heater is different, which makes giving specific instructions difficult. But, here are some guidelines to help you set up most outdoor propane heaters.

How to Set Up

  1. Refill your propane tank before use to ensure your heat won’t shut off during your outdoor gathering.
  2. Consult the instruction manual for the installation and setup of your specific propane heater. Follow the instructions carefully.
  3. For propane heaters that use a 20-pound propane tank, use the pressure regulator and hose assembly supplied with your propane heater.
  4. Check the condition of your propane tank. Again, you’ll want to make sure the regulator valve is operational and the tank has no rust or dents.
  5. Attach the hose and regulator to the propane tank according to the directions for your specific heater.
  6. Once that is complete, perform a leak check by mixing one part liquid dish detergent and three parts water. Apply that solution where the hose attaches to the regulator and the tank. If the solution bubbles, there is a leak. Tighten the connection and check for leaks again until there are none.
  7. Follow the instructions for your specific heater to light it.

When you’re ready to turn your heater off, make sure all knobs are in the off position and the pilot light (if any) is extinguished. Allow your heater to cool before moving or covering it. Store your propane heater outdoors, out of direct sunlight.

Portable Fire PitIf you have a propane tank and all of this sounds like too much work for you, maybe a portable fire pit is more your style. Plus side of this option is making yummy winter treats.

We’d love to hear about how you’re staying warm during the winter. Do you use a propane heater, fire pit or something else to keep cozy? Tell us about your winter adventures below.