Can I Use a Space Heater in My Car?

Using a space heater in a car can be a viable option for keeping warm, especially in extreme cold temperatures or for those living in their vehicles. However, there are several safety concerns and technical specifications to consider before doing so. This comprehensive guide will provide you with the necessary information to safely and effectively use a space heater in your car.

Safety Concerns

Fire Hazard

Space heaters can pose a significant fire risk if not used properly. Ensure that there are no flammable materials, such as clothing, blankets, or paper, within a 3-foot radius of the heater. Additionally, opt for a space heater with a built-in thermostat to prevent overheating and automatically shut off the device if it reaches a dangerous temperature.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Using a gas-powered space heater in a car can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly. To mitigate this risk, it is recommended to use an electric space heater instead, as they do not produce any harmful emissions.

Electrical Load

Powering a space heater in a car can put a significant strain on the vehicle’s electrical system. Before using a space heater, ensure that your car’s alternator and battery can handle the additional electrical load. As a general rule, a space heater should not exceed 20% of the car’s total electrical capacity.


A space heater can quickly heat up a small enclosed space, such as a car, leading to potential suffocation or carbon monoxide buildup. Ensure that your car has adequate ventilation, either by opening a window or using the car’s ventilation system, to maintain a safe and comfortable environment.

Smoke Inhalation

In the event of a fire caused by a space heater, the resulting smoke can be extremely hazardous. Install a battery-operated smoke detector in your car to alert you of any potential fire hazards and allow you to take immediate action.

Technical Specifications

can i use a space heater in my car


Space heaters typically range from 750 to 1,500 watts in power. For use in a car, it is recommended to opt for a lower wattage model, as it will put less strain on the vehicle’s electrical system. A 750-watt space heater should be sufficient for most car-based heating needs.


Most space heaters are designed to operate on 120 volts, which is the standard household voltage. However, some models are specifically engineered for 12-volt DC power, making them more suitable for use in a car. Ensure that the space heater you choose is compatible with your car’s electrical system.


A space heater with a built-in thermostat can help prevent overheating and reduce the risk of fire. The thermostat will automatically shut off the device when it reaches a pre-set temperature, ensuring a safe and consistent heating environment.


Compact space heaters are ideal for use in a car, as they will take up less space and be easier to store when not in use. Avoid bulky or oversized models, as they may interfere with the driver’s visibility or create a tripping hazard.

Cord Length

Ensure that the space heater’s power cord is long enough to reach a suitable power source in your car without creating a tripping hazard. If necessary, use a heavy-duty extension cord to provide additional reach.

DIY Considerations

Permanent Power Outlet

For a more seamless and secure power solution, consider installing a permanent power outlet in your car specifically for the space heater. This will eliminate the need for extension cords and provide a dedicated power source.

Window Awning

To protect the power cord from precipitation and potential damage, use a window awning or other weatherproofing solution to shield the cord as it runs from the power source to the space heater.


When using a space heater in your car, position it away from any sleeping areas or high-traffic zones. Ensure that the heater is placed on a stable surface and cannot be easily knocked over or moved.


Using a space heater in a car can be a practical and effective way to stay warm in cold weather, but it is essential to prioritize safety and follow the appropriate technical guidelines. By understanding the potential risks and implementing the necessary precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of a cozy, heated car without compromising your safety.


  1. Can This $12 Walmart Heater Heat My Car in Winter? – YouTube
  2. How Your Car’s Heater Works (Or Doesn’t) | AC Pro®
  3. Your Best Portable Car Heater Options – Lifewire