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Mr. Heater Buddy vs Big Buddy vs Little Buddy Reviews

⭐ Best Overall ⭐🥈 Runner-Up 🥈💵 Best Value 💵
Mr. Heater MH9BX-Massachusetts/Canada approved portable Propane Heater 18,000 BTU Big Buddy Portable Propane Heater (No Fan),Red, Tip-over Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane
Mr. Heater Portable BuddyMr. Heater Big BuddyMr. Heater Little Buddy

There are three heaters in the Mr. Heater Buddy series: the Portable Buddy, the Big Buddy, and the Little Buddy. In an effort to help find the right heater for your needs, we reviewed each one in depth and created a comparison table. We took into account the heating area, runtime, price, and user reviews during the review process.

⭐  BEST OVERALL  ⭐

The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is the mid-sized heater in the Buddy series. It uses radiant heat (no fan) to heat up to 225 square feet, which is perfect for tents, deer blinds, or ice fishing shelters. It produces 4,000 BTU/hr on its lowest setting and 9,000 BTU/hr on its highest setting.

The swivel regulator on the side of the heater is designed for 1 lb propane cylinders, but it’s also able to accommodate a 20 lb or 40 lb tank with the use of a regulator hose. The 1 lb cylinders allow for maximum portability at the cost of heating time, whereas the larger tanks allow for maximum heating time at the cost of portability.

The heater is built for durability and ruggedness by using a combination of metal and hard-molded plastic for its shell. Attached to the shell is a metal cage that protects the heater’s open flame.

As an added bonus, the Mr. Heater Buddy is the only heater in the Buddy series that has a folding handle. You won’t have to worry about the handle getting too hot from the radiant heat.

Check out this great review below:

Heater Hacks

One of the coolest things you can do with your Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is to use it to cook food when you’re ice fishing or camping. You can purchase a cooking grate (ebay link) or cooking griddle (ebay link) that’s compatible with the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy and Big Buddy, or you can make your own.

To make your own, all you need is a paint grate and metal wire to assemble it. This hack is great because it saves you from having to carry a portable cooker with you. Watch the video below for assembly instructions.

Another way to get the most out of your heater is to attach a non-electric stove fan to the top. Made from metal, they’re often used on wood-burning stoves to disperse the heat throughout the room. They use heat to power a thermal electric generator that spin the blades. No electricity or batteries are required.

We can use this same heat dispersion technique with the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy. As we all know, heat rises, and if you’re using your heater outside then most of the heat will go to waste. With a stove fan, you can save that wasted heat. You will need to cut a notch into the metal fan, so be sure you have the tools to do this.

ProsCons
✅ Handle folds down when not in use❌ Pilot light is exposed to the elements
✅ Swivel regulator for easy fuel installation
✅ Compatible with larger propane tanks
✅ Durable design
✅ Up to six hours of runtime
✅ Heats a small room
✅ Safety tip over switch with audible click
✅ Safe for indoor use
✅ Fan and cooking modifications can be made

Dimensions: 14 ¼” x 9” x 15”
Weight: 10.6 lbs
Heating Area: 225 sq. ft.

🥈  RUNNER-UP  🥈

The Mr. Heater Big Buddy is the largest heater in the Buddy series. Unlike the other heaters, it holds two propane cylinders instead of one. This is a huge advantage as it gives you the option of either heating a larger area or prolonging the runtime of the heater.

The heat output is as follows:

  • Low: 4,000 BTU/hr, 12 hr runtime
  • Medium: 9,000 BTU/hr, 6 hr runtime
  • High: 18,000 BTU/hr, 3 hr runtime

As you can see, the Big Buddy doubles the power of the Portable Buddy and dwarfs the power of the Little Buddy. It can heat up to 450 sq. ft., which is about the size of a two car garage.

While this isn’t the best garage heater (check out our garage heater review), it’s great in a pinch. If you’d like a more permanent solution than 1 lb cylinders, you can connect a 20 lb or 40 lb tank to the inlets using a regulator hose.

The Big Buddy is built similarly to the Portable Buddy, with the exception of the handle. The handle on the Big Buddy does not fold down, it’s fixed in place. Other than that, it’s built with the same durable construction and protective metal guard on the front – it’s just larger in size.

Check out the video below for a good review of the Big Buddy:

Heater Hacks

The Mr. Heater Big Buddy used to have a built-in fan, but it’s not made with one anymore. You can, however, use the stove fan hack we mentioned earlier in our Portable Buddy review. The video below shows you how to attach the fans to the heater without cutting or grinding into them:

Just like the Portable Buddy, you can use the Big Buddy to cook food. You can make your own out of a paint grate and some metal wire or you can purchase a cooking grate (ebay link) and a cooking griddle (ebay link).

ProsCons
✅ Heats up to 450 sq. ft.❌ Expensive
✅ Lasts up to 12 hours❌ Does not ship with a built-in fan anymore
✅ Holds two 1 lb propane cylinders
✅ Compatible with 20 lb or 40 lb propane tanks with a regulator hose
✅ Three heat settings
✅ Tip over safety shutoff
✅ Can be modified to power a fan
✅ Swivel regulators for easy propane installation

Dimensions: 19” x 12” 19 3/4”
Weight: 17.1 lbs
Heating Area: 450 sq. ft.

💵  BEST VALUE  💵

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is the smallest heater in the Buddy series. It measures 11” x 11” x 11” and is much smaller than the Portable Buddy and the Big Buddy.

It’s fueled by a 1 lb propane cylinder which screws into the bottom of the heater. The bottom of the cylinder then fits into a small base, allowing the heater to stand upright and disperse heat at a 45º upright angle.

It’s only rated to heat a 95 sq. ft. area, so it won’t heat a regular size room very effectively, but it’s great if you want to keep warm in a small tent or shanty. It won’t be as powerful as a Portable Buddy, especially in an uninsulated shelter, but it will make a world of difference and keep you relatively comfortable. It also lasts for six hours, which is plenty of heating time.

Check out a review of the Little Buddy heater below:

Heater Hacks

One minor complaint with the Little Buddy heater is that the base is unstable. The propane cylinder has a tendency to move around, especially when bumped. This can be dangerous if you’re sleeping in a tent and accidentally bump the heater over, which may cause a fire.

A solution to this is to drill a couple of holes into the base and use some small bungee cords to stabilize the cylinder. Watch the video below for instructions:

ProsCons
✅ Small and portable❌ Base is somewhat unstable
✅ One button ignition❌ Does not heat a large space
✅ Very affordable
✅ Heats up to 95 sq. ft.
✅ 1 year warranty
✅ Quiet operation

Dimensions: 11” x 11” x 11”
Weight: 5.85 lbs
Heating Area: 95 sq. ft.

Comparison Table

We pored through user manuals, specification sheets, and user reviews to create a comparison table in an effort to make your buying decision easier.

⭐ Best Overall ⭐🥈 Runner-Up 🥈💵 Best Value 💵
Mr. Heater MH9BX-Massachusetts/Canada approved portable Propane Heater 18,000 BTU Big Buddy Portable Propane Heater (No Fan),Red, Tip-over Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane
ProductMr. Heater Portable BuddyMr. Heater Big BuddyMr. Heater Little Buddy
Price$ $ $$ $ $ $ $$ $
Heating Area225 sq. ft.450 sq. ft.95 sq. ft.
Heat TypeRadiantRadiantRadiant
Fuel TypePropanePropanePropane
Fuel Canister Size1 lb Cylinder or 20 lb Tank w/ Hose2 x 1 lb Cylinders or 20 lb Tank w/ Hose1 lb Cylinder
BTU/hrLow: 4,000 BTU
High: 9,000 BTU
Low: 4,000 BTU
Medium: 9,000 BTU
High: 18,000 BTU
3,800 BTU
Run Time (Max BTU)3 Hours3 Hours5.6 Hours
Run Time (Min BTU)6 Hours12 Hours5.6 Hours
ModelMH9BXMH18BMH4B
Dimensions (L x W x H)14 ¼” x 9” x 15”19” x 12” x 19 ¾”11” x 11” x 11”
Weight10.6 lbs17.1 lbs5.85 lbs
Indoor SafeYesYesYes
IgnitionPiezoPiezoPiezo
Maximum Elevation7,000 ft.7,000 ft.7,000 ft.
Regulator HoseSold SeparatelySold SeparatelyNot Compatible
Safety Tip Over SwitchYesYesYes
Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS)YesYesYes
Warranty1 Year Limited1 Year Limited1 Year Limited

How To Find The Best Mr. Heater Buddy Heater – Buying Guide

Since all three heaters on our list are made by Mr. Heater and are part of the Buddy series, they have lots of similar features. Instead of repeating them in each review, we’ve listed the similarities below.

Operating Instructions

To connect the propane cylinder to the heater, do the following:

  • Locate the regulator on the heater.
  • Swivel the regulator outwards to allow for clearance for the propane cylinder.
  • Press the cylinder against the regulator and turn clockwise, ensuring a tight seal.
  • Check for leaks before turning the heater on by spraying soapy water on the tank’s connection and watching for bubbles.

Once the propane is connected, follow these steps to light the heater:

  • Locate the control knob.
  • Turn the knob to the pilot setting and press down for 20-30 seconds. This releases propane from the tank to the heater.
  • Release the knob.
  • Press and hold down the knob again in the pilot position. You should now see a pilot light.
  • Keep the knob held down for another 20-30 seconds.
  • Release the knob and the pilot light will stay on by itself.
  • Turn the knob to your desired heat setting (low or high).

The videos will walk you through the operating process for each heater:

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater:

Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater:

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater:

Safety

All of the Mr. Heater Buddy series heaters burn propane, which means there is an open flame. It’s very important to keep a close eye on the heater and never leave it unattended.

Clearance To Combustibles

To avoid accidental fire, you must keep the heater away from combustible materials. Follow these clearance guidelines:

  • Top: 30”
  • Front: 24”
  • Sides: 6”
  • Rear: 0”

Tip Over Sensor

Each heater features a tip over sensor, meaning that the heater will turn off should it fall over. You will hear an audible click to alert you that it has shut off.

Low Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS)

During the combustion process, the heater absorbs oxygen in order to fuel the fire. If the oxygen level around the heater drops below a certain amount, the heater will shut down to avoid dangerous oxygen levels.

Please note that the Mr. Heater Buddy series heaters are not designed to be used over 7,000 ft. above sea level, as the ODS mechanism will not work properly and may cause the heaters to shut down prematurely.

Cleaning & Maintenance

In order to keep the Mr. Buddy heaters performing at their best, you will need to know how to clean and maintain them.

Before starting, make sure it’s turned off and cool to the touch. Next, clear the vent areas with canned air and inspect the pilot light. If the pilot flame is not blue, the pilot tube will need to be cleaned.

To clean the pilot tube, you will need isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. Remove the front grate of the heater and dip the cotton swab into the alcohol. Slide it into the pilot tube about two inches and clean it thoroughly. Follow up by spraying the canned air into the pilot tube to remove any remaining debris.

Once the pilot tube has been cleaned, check the vents and grates for spider webs or lint and remove it with a vacuum or canned air.

Finally, when you’re ready to store your heater, disconnect the propane cylinders from the heater. This will save the gaskets on the cylinder from deteriorating and causing a leak. Make sure the heater has cooled before disconnecting the propane.

The maintenance video below is for the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, but it applies to all three heaters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

woman thinking

Can the Mr. Heater Little Buddy be used as a golf cart heater?

Unfortunately, the Little Buddy does not make for a very good golf cart heater. It has a fairly sensitive tip over safety shutoff, so it will shut off frequently during a bumpy ride. If you’re able to secure the base somehow, then it may work as an effective golf cart heater.

Does the Mr. Heater Big Buddy have a fan?

The Big Buddy used to come with a built-in fan, but Mr. Heater no longer makes them with a fan anymore because there was a tariff issue with one of the parts.

Can I use a Mr. Buddy heater indoors?

All of the Mr. Heater Buddy heaters are safe for indoor use. They have a built-in oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and do not produce carbon monoxide.

Do Mr. Buddy heaters need a regulator?

The Buddy series heaters have a regulator built into the heater, so you will not need one for 1 lb propane cylinders.

Conclusion

So which heater should you choose? That really depends on what you’ll be using it for.

The most important feature to consider is the size of the area you want to heat. The other thing to consider is how long you want the heater to stay heated. You can extend the heater’s runtime by bringing an extra propane cylinder, but you can’t change the heating power of the heater.

The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is our top pick. It’s their mid-sized heater and it’s perfect for heating a regular size tent or room. It’s portable, has two heat settings, has a foldable handle. It can even be modified to cook food or power a stove fan.

Our runner-up is the Mr. Heater Big Buddy. It uses two propane cylinders for twice the power and heat. It heats up to 450 sq. ft., lasts up to 12 hours, and is compatible with larger propane tanks.

The best value is the Mr. Heater Little Buddy. It’s a great personal heater and is best used in a one person tent or a small shanty for ice fishing. It’s small and portable, has a one button ignition switch, and is very affordable.

Mr. Heater makes great portable heaters and we hope this article helped make your buying decision easier. Thanks for reading and stay warm out there!