Dyna Glo Vs Mr Heater (Portable Propane Heaters Compared)
UPDATED 17 MAY 2023
by Robert Ceran
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If you’re like me and like to ice fish for many hours at a time, then a reliable source of heat is essential for staying warm while jigging through the ice in freezing temperatures.
Portable propane heaters are a great option for providing heat out on the open ice or inside your ice fishing shelter.
For this article, my team and I tested the two most popular brands of portable propane heaters: Dyna Glo and Mr Heater, and compared them side by side.
Read on to get the full scoop!
Mr Heater vs Dyna Glo portable propane heaters compared side by side
The table above compares the key performance capabilities and features of Dyna-Glo portable heaters vs Mr Heater portable heaters that we tested.
All of these propane heaters can be used either outdoors or inside ice fishing shelters, but they each come with different capabilities and run times.
Before we look at each of these units more closely, let’s examine their main similarities and differences revealed by our testing.
BTU per hour
An important criterion for choosing the right portable heater is the amount of heat it generates, which is calculated in BTU per hour.
Both brands offer a wide range in this regard, with the Mr. Heater Little Buddy starting at the lower end (3,800 BTU), and the Dyna Glo HeatAround 360 Elite and Mr. Heater Big Buddy at the upper end (18,000 BTU)
The number of BTUs per hour determines how big of a space a given heater can heat.
So if you need a heater for a small space (such as a tip-over shelter), then the Little Buddy is a great choice, while you’ll need one of the larger models for a more spacious ice fishing house.
As mentioned before, the area that a heater can heat is directly proportional to the BTU generated per hour.
While the two Dyna-Glo heaters can heat a floor area between 250 and 450 square feet, the Mr. Heater Buddy heaters cover a wider range, from 95 to 450 square feet.
While the two brands of portable heaters are roughly similar in this regard, based on our testing, two of the Mr. Heater Buddy models come with a longer run time if you choose their low setting: the Portable Buddy (up to 6 hours runtime) and the Big Buddy (up to 11 hours runtime).
Both brands use liquid propane or natural gas as their fuel source, and both can be hooked up either to 1 lb propane cylinders, or to larger gas tanks with a hose and regulator.
Both brands of natural gas heaters come with very similar safety features. These include an automatic tip-over shut off mechanism that cuts off the gas if the heater is knocked over on your ice fishing shelter floor.
In addition, they all also have an automatic low oxygen shut-off switch that cuts off the gas if the ambient oxygen levels fall below a certain threshold.
This is important because indoor propane heaters use up oxygen, which can put you at risk if you don’t have effective ventilation.
However, none of them have a carbon monoxide detector, which is something that you might want to consider getting separately.
Dyna-Glo heaters are slightly more competitively priced, starting at less than 100 dollars and going up to about 140 for the high end model.
In contrast, the smallest Mr. Heater model, the Little Buddy, starts at over 100 dollars, and the larger models cost almost 250 for the Big Buddy and Buddy Flex.
So if you’re on a small budget, that would make the Dyna Glo portable heaters more attractive.
While these brands are very high quality, during our testing we found that both of them sometimes have issues, such as a Mr Heater unit not lighting, or the pilot light not staying lit on Dyna-Glo units.
However, in my personal experience there is no clear difference between the two brands in this regard.
Now let’s take a closer look at each of these portable heaters.
Dyna Glo HeatAround 360
The most prominent feature of the Dyna-Glo HeatAround 360 is its omni-directional heating technology, which radiates heat in all directions.
During our testing we found that this sets it apart from most Buddy heaters, which radiate their heat in one direction only, and makes it well suited for a tent or shelter with several persons sharing the same heat source.
The Dyna Glo HeatAround 360 runs on a 1 lb propane cylinder, though you can also use the swivel-out regulator to attach it to a hose from a big gas tank.
Similar to most portable propane gas heaters it uses piezo ignition to start the pilot flame, which has the advantage of requiring no electricity, and hence no batteries to work.
The two heat settings of the HeatAround 360 generate either 7,500 or 10,000 BTUs per hour, and when we put it to the test, we found that the latter is enough to heat up to 250 square feet in about 15 minutes.
Similar to all Mr. Heater models, the HeatAround 360 comes with two safety systems: a low oxygen shutoff system that turns it off if it depletes oxygen indoors, plus a tip over switch that turns it off if it falls over on the ground.
Our testing revealed that the run time is about 2.7 hours on high setting, and 3.2 hours on low setting, which is not quite long enough to last for a whole ice fishing trip, so you do need to bring along one or more spare cylinders of gas.
Dyna Glo HeatAround 360 Elite
While the overall design of this heater is similar to the Dyna Glo HeatAround 360, when we put it to the test, we found that the Elite generates more BTUs and is hence capable of heating a larger area of up to 450 square feet.
The performance capabilities of the HeatAround 360 Elite are roughly similar to those of the Big Buddy, so if you’re interested in this category, then these are the two units you need to compare.
While the HeatAround 360 Elite comes with the advantage of being more competitively priced, our testing revealed that the Big Buddy offers longer run time on its low setting.
Mr Heater Little Buddy
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is a small portable heater that produces 3,800 BTUs per hour, and according to Mr. Heater, this is enough to efficiently heat a space up to about 95 square feet.
But based on our tesing, the Little Buddy is more of a direct heat source than it is a room warmer, though it can warm a 2 person ice shelter in a few minutes.
The Little Buddy has a single heat setting, and when we put it to the test, we found that it runs for about 5.6 hours on a single 1-lb propane cylinder.
In terms of safety features, it has an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and an accidental tip-over shutoff.
While I do appreciate the safety features of the Little Buddy, I find that the accidental tip-over shutoff is a little too sensitive. When using the heater on an uneven surface, the slightest nudge can cause the switch to turn the heater off.
Also, if you want to run the Little Buddy for a long period of time in a confined ice fishing shelter, make sure you have good ventilation, as the ODS will shut off the heater if you don’t.
Although it’s a small heater, the Little Buddy is still surprisingly bulky, weighing 5.85 lbs with the propane cylinder attached (though it comes with an integrated carry handle).
Overall, our test results showed that the Little Buddy is easy to use, durable, and one of the most affordable small propane heaters on the market.
Mr Heater Portable Buddy
The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is a more powerful heater than the Little Buddy, as it has two heat settings and when we put it to the test, we found that it can efficiently heat a room of up to 225 square feet.
It also has a low-oxygen safety shutoff, allowing you to leave the heater on overnight or when you’re not in the room without worrying about depleting the oxygen.
The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is designed with portability in mind, featuring a fold-down handle that reduces its storage space. This makes it easy to transport or store when not in use.
Its heating surface is built with a durable ceramic burner tile, which helps to distribute radiant heat over a wide area evenly.
The Portable Buddy is a clean-burning and efficient heater, and during our testing we found that it is capable of running for three hours at maximum output, and up to six hours at low heat.
In my experience, it can quickly heat an ice fishing shanty, and you can focus on catching fish through the ice without having to constantly check on the heater’s status.
However, if you’re using a large ice fishing house, or a Fish House RV, you may find that this heater on its own is a little too small to heat it, and you should consider either using one of the larger options, or two heaters.
Mr Heater Big Buddy
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy is effective for a portable heater. It can heat a 420 square foot room in as little as 15 minutes on its high setting, which is faster than any electric heaters I’ve come across.
The run time varies depending on the size of the propane tank and how often it is used. When we put it to the test, we found that with two single 1 lb propane cylinders, it generally lasts about 3 hours on its high setting, but this can be stretched to 10-11 hours on low setting.
And when we hooked it up to a 20 lb propane tank, we found that the heater can be used for several weeks with high usage, and for a month or more with normal or low usage.
The Big Buddy doesn’t have a thermostat, but instead comes with 3 temperature settings (Low, Medium & High). But keep in mind that you need to calculate the run time you can expect based on the temperature setting you choose.
Overall, our testing showed that the Big Buddy is a great option for heating an ice fishing house or Fish House RV, as well as coming handy for heating a garage or hunting cabin.
And by the way: not only does a propane heater help conserve your vehicle battery, it can also save you money compared to using an electric heater.
Mr Heater Buddy Flex
Similar to the Dyna-Glo units reviewed above, the Mr. Heater Buddy Flex system comes with a 360 degree burner that radiates heat in all directions.
Another advantage of the Buddy Flex system is that it’s not only a heating unit, but also provides an optional cooking component, which allows you to prepare a warm meal inside your ice shanty without having to sacrifice your heat source.
The Mr. Heater Buddy Flex Heater is designed for both outdoor and indoor use, and comes with up to 11,000 BTU output energy.
It is also equipped with a wind shield for the pilot flame to ensure that it can start and stay lit even in windy conditions.
Similar to all other Buddy heaters, the Buddy Flex Heater is compatible with either small propane cylinders or larger grill tanks.
Unlike the other Buddy models, however, the Buddy Flex uses electrical ignition instead of piezo ignition.
When using a small propane cylinder, our testing revealed that it can run for around two hours on high setting, and 3.5 hours on low setting. But if you hook it up to a large gas tank, it can run for weeks.
And just like the other Buddy heaters, the Buddy Flex system has both a tip-over shut off switch, as well as an oxygen depletion sensor that turns it off if the oxygen levels fall below a critical threshold.
This concludes our article comparing Dyna Glo vs Mr Heater portable propane heaters.
Both Dyna-Glo and Mr. Heater offer high-quality portable propane heaters that are well-suited for ice fishing, as well as a variety of other purposes, such as winter camping and hunting.
Ultimately, the choice between the two brands depends on your specific needs and preferences. Hopefully our comparison will help you choose exactly the right model for your specific needs.
Tight lines and see you on the ice!
Methods and gear used for testing
For consistent testing results we tested all portable heaters covered in this article on their ability to heat a Clam Kenai Pro 1-person ice fishing shelter (11 sq. ft. floor area), an Otter Vortex Pro Resort portable ice fishing shelter (103 sq. ft. floor area), or a Forest River Grey Wolf 17 MP Fish House RV (208 sq. ft. area) in mid February at 25°F air temperature.