How to Start a Propane Heater: A Comprehensive Guide

Starting a propane heater can seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and a few simple steps, you can have your heater up and running in no time. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a propane heater, covering everything from ensuring a secure connection to adjusting the flame for optimal performance.

Preparing the Propane Heater

  1. Verify the Propane Tank Connection: Before attempting to start your propane heater, it’s crucial to ensure that the propane tank is properly connected to the heater. Check the connection for any signs of damage or leaks, and make sure it is secure and leak-free. Propane tanks typically store liquid propane at a pressure of 100 to 200 psi (pounds per square inch) at 70°F (21°C).

  2. Connect the Heater to a Power Source: Propane heaters require a 120-volt electrical power source to power the fan. Ensure that the heater is properly connected to a suitable power outlet.

  3. Inspect the Igniter: Carefully inspect the igniter to ensure that it is functioning correctly. The igniter is responsible for sparking the pilot light, so it’s essential that it is in good working condition.

Igniting the Propane Heater

how do you start a propane heater

  1. Turn the Gas Control Knob: Locate the gas control knob on your propane heater and turn it to the “Pilot” position. This will bypass the gas valve and allow gas to flow into the system.

  2. Activate the Igniter: Press and hold the igniter button while keeping the gas control knob in the “Pilot” position. This will cause the igniter to spark and ignite the pilot light. It may take several clicks of the igniter before the pilot light ignites.

  3. Hold the Control Knob: Once the pilot light is lit, continue holding the control knob down for up to 30 seconds to ensure that the pilot light remains lit. This allows the thermocouple, a safety device that senses the pilot light, to warm up and keep the gas valve open.

  4. Release the Control Knob: Slowly release the control knob, and if the pilot light stays lit, turn the knob counterclockwise to the “On” or “High” position to start the main burner.

  5. Adjust the Flame: Adjust the gas control knob to the desired temperature setting. Propane heaters can emit between 5,000 and 45,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour, depending on the size of the heater.

Safety Considerations

  1. Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS): Propane heaters are equipped with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), a safety feature that shuts off the heater if oxygen levels in the room drop below a safe level. This is an important safety measure to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

  2. Ventilation: Ensure that the area around the propane heater is well-ventilated and free from any combustible materials. Never use a propane heater in a small, enclosed space.

  3. Maintenance and Inspection: Regularly inspect and maintain your propane heater to ensure it operates safely and efficiently. Check for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks, in the propane tank and hoses.

  4. Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Always refer to the user manual for your specific propane heater model and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines when operating the heater.


Starting a propane heater may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and a few simple steps, you can have your heater up and running safely and efficiently. Remember to always prioritize safety, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and regularly maintain your propane heater to ensure its optimal performance.


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