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Heating a tent

Redpoint Welder | Posted in General Questions on

I use foil-faced bubble wrap inside a “Wildernest.” A “Wildernest” is a tent that pops up out of my pickup truck topper.

I heat this ~200 ft³ area with a propane radiant heater. My thought was the foil would bounce the heat in to objects that could absorb it. Also this is a tent, so the R-1 value is appreciated.

The bubble wrap also folds up with the tent when the tent is stored inside the topper.

This product seems perfect to me but now, I have been reading about “reradiating energy.” Do you have any advice or product ideas for my unique situation? Heating with propane adds a lot of moisture so condensation is a huge concern.

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  1. brendanalbano | | #1

    Maybe look into resources from vanlife folks. In many ways, what you're doing has more in common with someone who's insulated their cargo van than the wall assembly in a full on house. Yurts might be another thing to look at as far as insulating fabric structures.

    Maybe some GBA posters have van conversions or heated popups like you do though!

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    My first reaction is that operating an unvented propane heater in this space might be a health hazard, since you will be inhaling the products of combustion (which in some cases may include dangerous carbon monoxide). You also mentioned another downside: the condensation.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "re-radiating energy." Any object that is warmer than absolute zero radiates energy. Your propane space heater radiates energy, and so do you.

  3. Redpoint Welder | | #3

    The propane heater is an indoor safe radiant heater (the ceramic style) with a low oxygen sensor. I leave multiple vents open in addition so CO is not an issue.

  4. user-2310254 | | #4


    Even so, I would never leave the heater on why sleeping. Vents have a way of becoming obstructed, and sensors fail.

  5. Redpoint Welder | | #5

    I'm glad everyone is concerned about my safety (surprised nobody said anything about burning up) trust me my safety is well taken care of. My question is about better product ideas, reradiation and condensation. The following is from a website concerning reradiation, I don't understand what it is saying.
    TempShield® is an excellent reflector of all long wave radiant heat that strikes it - reflecting up to 95% of all radiant heat.
    TempShield® will reradiate only 5% of heat in which it comes in close physical contact, compared with the approximate 90% reradiation of ordinary building materials,

  6. user-2310254 | | #6

    I would be suspicious of any bubble insulation products. Martin has an article on this "technology."

  7. brad_rh | | #7

    There reradiation talk sounds like marketing. It may not be any better than any other foil faced insulation. The thin bubble insulation isn't usually the best product to use, but in your case it may be. Since you have a radiant heater in a small space a reflective insulation would work pretty well.
    Condensation will be a problem with an unvented heater. There isn't much you can do about that except open a window, or use a vented heater.
    A better solution for heat would be somethin like an Espar, but they are not cheap.
    Do you use a warm sleeping bag and turn it off at night?

  8. Redpoint Welder | | #8

    Thanks Brad, for a solid answer. That is what I figured it was also, gimmicky advertising. I do have a warm sleeping bag so I turn it off until it gets below 0° then I run it. I have never heard of an Espar, I will look at those.

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