Off-Grid Heating: Propane VS. Wood Burning

If you are looking to heat your tiny home with an off-grid heater, the two big power players are PROPANE and WOOD BURNING.

Let’s compare the most popular off-grid heaters for tiny house RVs: the Dickinson Marine P9000 and the Kimberly Wood Stove.

PROPANE: Dickinson Marine P9000

The Dickinson has been the leader in tiny house heating for some time because of its sleek look and compact size.

Christopher Smith from the film TINY installing his Dickinson in his Colorado tiny home. Photo credit here.


Space Saving. This tiny heater can be installed directly into your wall. The body of the unit is only 8.5″ wide x 14″ high x 5.5″ deep. 

Affordable. Off-grid appliances, especially those made for boats, are expensive. The Dickinson P9000 is $1145.15, including the chimney. Cost of fuel is not included.

Beauty. No one can deny that this is a good looking appliance. The glass door allows you to watch the flames flicker as the heater warms your tiny space.

Venting. Can be vented through the wall or ceiling.

Lightweight. Weight is always an important consideration when it comes to tiny house RVs.

Tiny House Heater

Brittany’s Bayside Bungalow with the Dickinson in her Washington state tiny home. Photo credit: Chris Tack


Fuel Expense: This stove burns 1 pound of propane every 5-7 hours. A 20 pound propane tank will cost about $15-20 to refill. Depending on your climate, this can be a huge expense.

Running Constantly Not Possible: This stove needs to be used under supervision. Which means turning it off while you sleep or when you leave the house may cause your home to return to a frigid temperature, depending on your choice of insulation.

Fan Requires 12v: Wiring needed for the fan to spin and heat to circulate.

Lower BTUs: Depending on where you are located, this heater may not be enough. On HIGH the heat output is 4,500 BTUs.

Doesn’t Dehumidify: Propane stove tops produce excessive moisture, which can be difficult to maintain in a tiny space. If you already have a propane stove planned for your tiny home RV, you might want to purchase a dehumidifier or use a heat source that acts as a dehumidifier. Wood stoves will dehumidify as well as heat, where as the Dickinson will not act as a dehumidifier. *As a note, the Dickinson will not produce extra moisture because it is a vented appliance.

The Kimberly is compact, burns extremely clean for a wood burning stove and vents through the floor, making it the most popular choice for tiny home owners who prefer wood burning heat.


Dehumidifier: Wood burning stoves act as dehumidifiers, which is a good thing for tiny spaces that often struggle with moisture control.

Fuel Cost: Wood is easily obtainable and if you have your own wooded property, it can be free. Also check Craigslist for “free firewood.”

High BTUs: This wood stove can burn up to 42,200 BTUs. On low, this stove can burn up to 8 hours on a single load of fuel, providing a good night’s sleep without having to refuel.

Beauty: Like the Dickinson, this stove is also very attractive and provides a glass window for fire viewing.

Cook top: As an added bonus, you can cook on top of this stove.

No additional power needed. This stove is operational without the need for 12V.


Space Requirement: Although the Kimberly takes up far less space than most wood stoves and allows the use of a 3-inch pellet stove pipe, it will still require more space and clearance than the Dickinson and cannot be installed into the wall.

Cost: At $4,495 for the stove, pipe and floor pad, the Kimberly is an investment.

Too Much Heat: Depending on your location and climate, this stove might be too much for your tiny space, even when on low.

Weight: The Kimberly weighs 56 pounds, which isn’t very heavy for a wood stove but heavier than the Dickinson.

Ella & Zach with the Kimberly in their Northern California Tiny Home
Wood Burning Stove in a Tiny House

Jenna & Guillaume‘s Kimberly wood stove in their traveling tiny home

For our tiny home, we went back and forth between the Dickinson and the Kimberly. Eventually we decided on the Kimberly. We plan on taking our tiny home to ski resorts, so an efficient high BTU heat source was necessary. We also have a three burner propane cooktop, so moisture control was a factor in our wood stove decision. The extra money and space requirement was worth it to us.

Read other articles about Winterizing Your Tiny House

By |2020-12-01T17:59:01-07:00February 3rd, 2015|Categories: How To Build a Tiny House|Tags: |4 Comments

About the Author:

Jenna Spesard built a Tumbleweed in 2014 and traveled with it for one year. She clocked over 25,000 miles, and now parks in a Tiny House Village. She writes about the Tiny House Movement on her blog Tiny House Giant Journey.


  1. dave jorgenson November 12, 2016 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Why do you think that woodstoves dehumidify, and propane stoves do not. Propane cooking burners produces a lot of water in open combustion, but if the propane stove draws outside air and has an external chimney, then all you’re doing is heating metal to heat a room. If the wood stove draws outside air and has an external chimney, then all it’s doing is heating metal to heat a room. The ONLY reason a wood stove would dehumidify a room that I can think of, is if it drew combustion air from inside the room, requiring that it is replaced by leaks or drafts from your house itself, and thereby sucking moisture out of the house. This was the traditional method of installation of older wood stoves, but your stove gets external air. This could be accomplished with any source of heat which draws air from a room. If there is a scientific claim for your disadvantage/advantage of propane/wood, regarding humidity I’d love to read it.

    • Travis April 16, 2017 at 5:38 am - Reply

      Dave, this is an excellent point! If either heat source is vented properly, there should be no impact with respect to humidity to the heated area. I am thinking of getting a Kimberly wood burning stove but considering that I live in the Phoenix metropolitan area, I am concerned that it would be overkill being that the coldest it gets in the winter is 40 degree F.

  2. Skyval March 6, 2017 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Maybe you’ve heard of them but just in case , you can get very serviceable little propane heater stoves for only $139 from L&M Fleet Supply or other places , not quite the huge investment as Dickinsons .. they’re for ice fishing shacks or hunting blinds or tiny homes , etc.

  3. k July 24, 2021 at 11:52 am - Reply

    These are very dangerous taking up oxygen in the room abd carbonoxude poisoning
    In case you arent aware

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