Heating A Tent With Electricity

by Derrick | Last Updated: August 2, 2023

Camping allows you to escape the daily grind and reconnect with nature.  But just because you’re sleeping outside doesn’t mean you have to freeze during the night.  Various options are available if you want to heat your tent with electricity at your campsite.  Don’t worry if you don’t have access to electricity. We must cover; check out our article about heating a tent without electricity.

An electric-powered heater is an effective, safe, and easy option for staying warm inside a tent – even during freezing weather.  Here’s an in-depth look at how electric heaters warm a tent and how to buy the right one for your needs.

Benefits Of Heating A Tent When Camping

Heating a tent when camping can provide several benefits, especially during cooler weather or in environments where nighttime temperatures can drop significantly. Here are some of the advantages:

  1. Increased Comfort: The most apparent advantage is increased comfort. A heated tent can create a warm, cozy atmosphere contrasting the cold outside. This makes the camping experience much more pleasant and relaxing, especially after a long day of outdoor activities.
  2. Better Sleep: Cold can significantly disrupt sleep. When your body is cold, you may find it hard to fall asleep or wake up frequently at night. A heated tent ensures a comfortable temperature for sleep, which can lead to better rest and more energy for the following day’s activities.
  3. Prevents Hypothermia: If camping in cold weather, heating your tent can be a matter of safety rather than just comfort. Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia, a potentially dangerous condition. Having a heat source in your tent can prevent this risk.
  4. Drying Wet Clothes and Gear: If you’ve been hiking, fishing, or exploring in the rain or snow, your clothing and gear may have become wet. A heated tent can provide a space to dry off these items, which can help prevent dampness and the potential growth of mold or mildew.
  5. Cooking and Melting Snow: A heat source can melt snow for drinking water in colder, snow-covered environments. Some tent heaters are also safe for cooking, providing a dual-purpose tool.
  6. Mood Improvement: Camping in the cold can be a fun adventure, but persistent colds can dampen spirits over time. A warm tent can boost morale, making the camping experience much more enjoyable.
  7. Increases Duration of Camping Season: With a heated tent, camping isn’t limited to the year’s warm months. It lets you camp comfortably during fall and winter, expanding your outdoor adventure opportunities.

Portable Electric Space Heaters

Electric heaters are designed to provide direct heat to a specific area.  They’re powered by an electric cord, meaning an electrical outlet has to be available nearby for them to work.

There are two types of electric heaters:

  • Convection
  • Radiant

Convection types blow air across a heated surface.  Usually, these heaters will have a fan, although fan-less options are also available.  They can heat an entire room, although they’re not very precise.  If you have a large tent, these are often the best choice.

Ceramic heaters are a relatively new type of convection heater.  They use ceramic plates and aluminum baffles.  Electricity heats the ceramic.  The aluminum absorbs the heat, where a fan blows the hot air into the room.

Radiant heaters direct heat toward a specific area.  They’re better for smaller spaces.  While they’re effective for small tents, you want to be careful.  Focused heat against a tent wall can be a potential fire hazard.

Extension Cords

Finding an electric outlet in the woods is no easy task.  In most cases, the power supply will have to come from an RV, gas-powered generator, or other power source you’ll bring.

An extension cord is typically necessary.  Only use extension cords suitable for outdoor use.  They’ll be able to function safely in wet conditions.

Electric Heaters We Recommend

Here are three popular electric heaters which are worth your consideration:

Dr.Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater

Portable, durable and easy-to-use, this space heater is powered by an infrared quartz tube plus PTC.  This heater uses infrared heat, which warms people and objects instead of the air.  Warm air doesn’t just risk to the top.  Instead, the entire tent is kept toast and comfortable.

Plus, weighing just 24 pounds, the heater is easy to transport.  Also safe for in-tent use due to both tip-over and overheating automatic protection.  It only makes 39 dB of noise, allowing you to sleep peacefully while enjoying the outside sounds of nature.


  • 1500-watt infrared heater
  • Thermostat range from 50 to 86 degrees
  • Sleek, lightweight, and portable design


  • It can sometimes create an electrical smell
  • Included remote control can be easy to lose

Lasko Ceramic Space Heater

This tall, thin space heater from Lasko doesn’t take up a lot of space but still quickly and easily heats the entire tent.  The 1500-watt ceramic heating element includes high and low heat settings.  The heater can be operated by remote control and programmed to a built-in timer.


  • Ceramic heater, which doesn’t take up much space
  • Two heat settings
  • Anti-tipping and overheating automatic safety features


  • Cord can become warm
  • Not safe for use in wet areas

DeLonghi Mica Panel Heater

Sleek and stylish, this heater provides 1500-watts of heating power.  An adjustable thermostat keeps the entire tent warm even in frigid temps.  Plus, the ten is easy to transport with a handle and wheels.


  • Adjustable thermostat and multiple heat settings
  • Wheels and handle for easy mobility
  • Whisper-quiet hands-free operation


  • Wheels require a smooth, level surface

Extension Cords Safe and Suitable for Outdoor Use

Southwire Outdoor Extension Cord

This heavy-duty, three-prong extension cord is safe for outdoor use.  A flexible vinyl jacket protects the cord from moisture, sunlight and other damage.  Cord is 50 feet long with a highly-visible yellow color.


  • Easy to see even in low light conditions
  • Tough enough for use in wet and cold weather


  • 50 feet might not be long enough for camping purposes

Coleman Cable Outdoor Extension Cord

This extension cord has a heavy-duty jacket that protects it from moisture, dirt and other outdoor debris.  Cord is available in 20, 40 and 80-foot lengths.  The cord is an Army green color which is designed to blend in with the natural world.


  • Heavy-duty cord
  • Available in 20, 40 and 80-foot lengths
  • Flexible and tangle-free


  • Green color can make cord very difficult to see

AmazonBasics 16/3 Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord

Highly visible, this bright orange extension cord provides power while also protecting against harsh environmental conditions.  This is a 16-gauge cord with all-copper wire and a three-prong grounded plug for added safety.  The cord is 100 feet long and allows you to camp significantly far from your power source without sacrificing reliable heat.


  • 100-foot cord allows for plenty of camping freedom
  • 16-gauge cord with three-prong ground plug
  • Easy-to-see bright orange


  • Sheathing is relatively thing compared to similar cords

Heat Lamps

Regular light bulbs, like the kind throughout your house, use a tungsten filament to produce light.  While these bulbs are great at increasing visibility, they don’t produce any heat.

Heat lamps are different.  They use a quartz filament that produces light and emits large amounts of infrared radiation.  This is a type of energy that can directly warm the human body.

Because the filament in a heat lamp is solid, the light emitted is usually very bright.  Generally, a red filter is used to reduce the light’s intensity.

Heat lamps typically consume between 200 and 250 watts of power.  They’re a very energy-efficient source of heat, requiring far less power consumption than a bar heater.

Heat lamps can be divided into three parts:

  • Lamp
  • Bulb
  • Extension cord (if necessary)

Designed for use around the house, heat lamps can be mounted on a wall or otherwise permanently installed.  But they can also be portable.  Many heat lamps will have a large clamp which allows them to be attached just about anywhere.

Aside from heating people, heat lamps are also used in chicken coops and other livestock situations.  Additionally, they’re also often used to warm food in commercial kitchens.

Heat Lamps We Recommend

Philips Heat Lamp Bulb

This indoor heat lamp has a 250-watt bulb that uses infrared technology to provide steady warmth throughout a small, directed area.  The bulb shines for approximately 5,000 hours.  Sturdy glass construction makes the heat lamp very durable and easy to transport.


  • Warms entire tent
  • Bulb has about 5,000 hours of life


  • Requires clamping for placement

Woods Clamp Lamp

This is an indoor clamp-on lamp which allows you to easily direct light toward a specific area.  A metal guard keeps the bulb protected.  Spring-clamp grips won’t damage surfaces while still keeping the lamp securely in place.  Also includes a six-foot extension cord.


  • Metal guard protects bulb from damage
  • Includes six-foot extension cord
  • Spring-clamps are secure but gently on surfaces


  • Six-foot extension cord probably is too short to be useful when camping

AmazonBasics 16/3 Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord

This 16-gauge cord is durable and designed for outdoor use.  Fifty feet long, the cord has three conductors and a three-prong plug.  A vinyl covering insulates and protects agains moisture, sunlight and other potential environmental hazards.

Rated 13 Amps, 1625 watts and 125VAC, cord is a bright orange for easy visibility even in low-light conditions.


  • Tough and flexible 16-gauge cord
  • Bright orange color is easy-to-see even outdoors


  • 50 feet is on the short side for camping

Safety Measures

Electric heaters are generally pretty safe, but there are a few issues you’ll want to be aware of.

Avoid Water

First you’ll want to keep the heater away from water.  While an outdoor extension cord is typically safe to use in reasonably wet conditions, the heater itself can’t be exposed to water.

Even when the heater is safely inside the tent, you probably want to avoid using it during rain and snow storms.  Water can build up underneath the tent, which can be hard to see.

Also, watch out for condensation.  During the night, exhalations from sleeping campers will often cause moisture to form on the tent’s interior walls.  If too much condensation forms on the electric heater, the unit can short out or potentially catch fire.

Keep Away from Flammable Items

All heat sources should be kept away from potentially flammable objects such as paper, clothing and even the tent walls.  Always keep as much airflow as possible around the entire heater.  Never allow the unite to press up agains the sides of the tent.

Be especially careful when using a heat lamp inside a tent.  They pose unique risks because they create such a focused beam of heat.  Never point the heat lamp directly at the tent’s walls or floor.  Instead, aim the lamp towards the open middle area of the tent.

Always Check Heater and Cords for Damage

Camping isn’t always easy on your equipment.  Before using your electric heater, make sure it’s in safe working condition.  Check the unit for any signs of malfunction or damage, including:

  • Burn marks near the heating element
  • A frayed electrical cord
  • Unusual noises during operation

Also check the electrical cord.  Generally, they’re pretty durable.  But fraying can still occur.  If an electrical cord is frayed, you’ll want to throw the cord away entirely.  There’s no particularly effective way to repair a damaged extension cord.

Non-Electrical Options to Stay Warm

Electric heaters aren’t the only way to stay comfortable in a tent.  Low-tech options also work well, too.  Simply adding a few extra layers of clothing will help keep you warm during the night.  Long underwear, a wool shirt, extra socks and other accessories are simple, effective and don’t pose any safety risks.

Final Thoughts

Electric heaters are an effective way to stay warm when you’re camping in a tent.  But you’ll want to take a few precautions to stay safe.  Avoid using an electric heater in wet conditions.  Also, make sure to allow plenty of airflow around the entire unit.

Just because you’re spending the night outdoors doesn’t mean you need to be uncomfortably cold.  By following the tips above, you can find the perfect electric heater to take with on your next camping trip.