The 4 Best Heaters for Truck Caps – Reviews 2024

truck topper heater, heater for truck cap, truck cap heater

Photo by Zombieite  / CC BY

So why get a heater for your truck cap? Well, if you use the back of your truck for camping when the weather is cold outside, you should consider adding some form of heat lest you wake up like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. The right truck cap heaters will provide the heat you need without burning, scalding, or damaging the cap itself. The last thing you need is a truck cap heater that ends up damaging your cap, truck, and most importantly, you!

With so much at stake, it’s vital you choose a heater that meets the necessary criteria. The best truck cap heaters will keep you warm without causing you to overheat, do not emit carbon monoxide, and are easily portable. With these thoughts in mind, here are top-rated portable propane heaters that you can use in your truck, tent, even in your RV.

These our recommendations for the 4 best heaters for truck caps on the market:

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Heaters don’t come much simpler than this one, from Texsport. To use, screw onto a 1lb. disposable propane tank and follow the lighting instructions. At maximum setting, this heater pumps out a steady heat of up to 2,890 BTUs. It will heat the back of your truck in minutes and keep it that way for hours.

The heater is protected by a tip-over safety device that also shuts the unit off if you run out of fuel and equipped with a stand that will help keep the heater from tipping. When set on the lowest heat setting, a 1lb. bottle of propane should last up to 8 hours, which is enough for plenty of sweet dreams.

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

If you’re in the market for a compact heater that puts out up to 9,000 BTU but sips of fuel, this might be a perfect choice. The MH9BX (see full specs) can be used with individual 1lb. bottles or a tank of propane (you’ll need an adapter hose). Once you’ve heated the back of your truck and turn the heat down on low (4,000 BTUs), it will continue keeping you warm for up to 3 hours.

If for any reason the pilot light goes out or the unit is tipped over, the automatic safety device will turn it off. There is a built-in oxygen level sensor, which in the event of low oxygen levels, will turn off the heater as well. With these safety measures, this is easily among the heaters for truck caps around.

Mr. Heater Portable Propane Buddy Heater

F215100 MH4B Little Buddy by Mr. Heater

The head of this “Little Buddy” sits at a perfect 45 degrees, designed to provide maximum radiant heat spread. At 3,800 BTUs, it’s one of the best small truck cap heaters available. Made to use disposable 1lb. propane canisters, it runs for approximately 5.6 hours. It’s equipped with low-oxygen and tip-over sensors for your safety.

The Little Buddy light (see full specs) is much like your favorite gas grill, you turn on the gas, hit the red spark button and hold it down until the pilot light remains lit. It will heat the back of your truck quickly and keep you snug all night long on a single 1lb. propane bottle.

Mr Heater Little Buddy Portable Heater

OPOLAR 1500W Ceramic Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat

While most people tend to look for a compact propane heater, some keep a small generator with them for camping. If this is you, then you should consider the Opolar ceramic space heater. At 1,500 watts, it will warm the back of your truck in minutes thanks to its “quick heat” feature. Set the built-in thermostat and forget it.

Safety features include overheat and tip-over protection for your safety and with an electric heater there are no open flames or worries about CO or CO2 buildup. As a side benefit, you can use it to warm up your garage or any small room in your home.

OPOLAR HE03 1500W Ceramic Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat

What to Know When Buying Heaters for Truck Caps

Now that we’ve looked at four of the best truck cap heaters, it’s time to take a look at what you need to know before you spend any money. There’s nothing worse than investing in something like a truck cap heater only to find out on the first cold night you bought the wrong one!

Safety, Safety, Safety

The word “safety” cannot be said enough when it comes to putting a heater in the back of your truck. Even the top truck cap heaters can be dangerous if they don’t have the appropriate safety devices and are not used properly. Since you are essentially buying a heater for indoor use, you should look for one that is UL certified for indoor use.

Typical safety devices found in propane include:

Tip-over protection – This is a built-in device designed to shut the heater off instantly in the event it gets knocked over. In propane units, this means shutting off the gas. You should NEVER buy any type of propane or for that matter, electric heater that is not equipped with tip-over protection.

Low-oxygen sensor – In the event that oxygen levels in the back of your truck drop to an unsafe level, the sensor will turn the gas off. Any type of combustion involves the consumption of oxygen as part of the burning process. As oxygen is depleted, it is replaced by both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the “silent killer” as you can’t see it or smell it, but nonetheless, it can kill you.

It might be the dead of winter and below freezing outside of your truck, but if you plan to use a propane heater, you must leave at least one window cracked open about an inch. You would be better off to leave two windows cracked open to allow for more “cross” airflow. At no time should you ever run a propane heater with the windows closed, you’d be amazed at how fast the oxygen inside can be depleted.

Operating Space

Although the back of your truck may not be the most spacious accommodations you’ve ever slept in, you still need to make sure you leave room around any type of heater. If you leave clothes, blankets, or any other flammable items nearby, you risk waking up to a burning smell, if you wake up at all. One of the best ways to avoid this is to add a “heater shelf” that keeps your heat source high enough to avoid this situation.

Source of Ignition

Like any gas-fired appliance, you will find some with a built-in igniter, while others must be lit with one of those “stick” lighters.

Automatic ignition – automatic igniters offer the most convenience as you typically turn on the gas and press the igniter until the pilot light is lit or there are flames at the burner. Piezoelectric igniters do have the convenience of push-button operation. However, if you camp out in the back of your truck often, you may find the igniter wears out and must be replaced.

Manual ignition – also known as using some form of external flame such as an extended lighter to fire up the burner. Despite the slight inconvenience of manual ignition, the only thing likely to wear out will be the lighter, which is easily and cheaply replaced.

Adjustable Temperature

The last thing you want is to run your heater at full blast all the time. While some of the less expensive models only allow you to manually adjust the temperature, the best truck cap heaters have built-in thermostats. Even if all they offer is multiple output settings, at least you are the one who will be in charge of the temperature in your truck.

With a thermostat you can simply set it and forget it, knowing you will stay warm without roasting or without running out of fuel. Spending the extra money for a heater with a thermostat is more than worth it in the extra comfort and convenience it provides.

Final Thoughts

If you want true portability and value for your money, the best heaters for truck caps all run on propane. While most are designed to run on disposable 1lb. canisters, you can buy an adapter hose that will let you connect to a 20lb. cylinder for longer times between changing bottles.

Although electric heaters do have their place, they lack the portability of an indoor-safe propane heater. Unless you happen to be parked near a power outlet every time you plan to camp out, you’ll need a generator. Not only will a generator take up more room in your truck, but you have to buy fuel for it, and you have to put up with the noise of it running next to your truck all night long.

Providing you invest in one of the best truck caps heaters fueled by propane and pay close attention to all safety protocols, you can enjoy the safe comfortable heat all night long! Good luck!

  • Founder of Mechanical Caveman, Beau is an unrepentant tool enthusiast and, sporting deadlift-callused hands and an incongruous beer belly, all-around macho guy. When he doesn’t know re tools, he consults with his handyman and car-repairman buds to give you well-reasoned and cutting-edge info.

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