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Martin Heaters Review | Everything You Need to Know

7 min read

table of Martin heater specifications

When it comes to wall heaters, electric heaters dominate the industry. Currently, 1 in 4 homes the United States uses electricity for their heating needs, which is unreliable during an outage, not to mention costly. For those living off-grid, it isn’t even an option.

Luckily, with advancements in technology, there are options for propane and natural gas heaters both on and off-grid. Well, one name stands out in the industry. Let’s talk about Martin heaters and see if they’re right for your needs!

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Martin Heaters Guide

Before we discuss how these heaters work, let’s first understand how to read the model numbers for each Martin heater. Let’s start with a popular model, the MDV8P. The M stands for Martin, so you can ignore that.

The “DV” stands for direct vent, meaning these are two-part heating systems with both air intake and exhaust systems. Outside air is pulled in, and the toxic exhaust fumes will leave through the exhaust system.

The number 8 refers to the 8,000 BTUs (British thermal units) it offers, which measure heat output. The most popular model for home use is the MDV20VPs, which offer 20,000 BTUs. 8,000 BTUs is enough to heat around 200 square feet (18 square meters), which is perfect for a small cabin or workspace.

Any Martin heater ending with the letter P is a propane-powered heater, and any model ending in the letter N is powered by natural gas. While 48% of homes are heated with natural gas, only 5% of homes in the US are heated with propane, which is just as reliable as a heating source. Propane offers more clean energy and better access off the grid, but natural gas is more accessible to most households on the grid.

Martin Propane Heater Features

Martin wall heater with glass-ceramic window

Whether you’re using propane or natural gas versions of these heaters, they all essentially work the same. We will note any of the subtle differences between the two as they arise, but they both come with a Piezo igniter, meaning neither will require electricity to start or run. Overall, both will use essentially the same features.

Safety Features

Martin propane wall heaters are widely regarded for their safety and control. Propane and natural gas are both less combustible than other flammable materials, and there is no intake or exhaust into your room, meaning there won’t be any risks of carbon monoxide or bad odors.

In the event that you do smell gas, that’s an indication that something is wrong with your system, which means you should contact Martin right away.

Other than that, as long as your heater comes with a tip-over safety switch, then you shouldn’t have to worry. The only concern with propane heaters causing fires is if they tip over, but with an automatic safety switch, it will cut off the supply at its source.

Easy Installation

Direct vent heaters are easy to install, and they come with an instruction manual and kit to help you do so. All you need is enough wall space for your system, which will only stick out 7 to 8 inches from the wall, and an opening of 3 to 6 inches for your piping.

Once you have that, the installation will take less than an hour, and your system can run smoothly. If you’re uncomfortable installing them yourself, it should be very fast and affordable to hire a professional!

Thermostat

Martin heaters come with a built-in thermostat, allowing for easy-to-use temperature control for your room or workspace. These are also programmable to allow for nighttime and daytime temperature transitions. This way, you can set it and forget it all winter long!

Visible Flame

Any model that has a “V” before the P or N indicators means that it has a sleek fireplace design with a visible flame through a glass-ceramic window. This is great for the fireplace feel that so many of us crave during cold nights.

Portability

Ordinary wall heaters rarely allow for easy transportation, but Martins are no ordinary wall heaters. If you have an off-grid cabin where you want to travel on the weekends, you can easily transport your heater and install it when you’re there. 

The systems will weigh anywhere from 23.1 to 47.4 pounds (10.5 to 21.5kg), and any system will fit into the trunk of a small sedan, making these heaters easy to transport.

Martin Direct Vent Heater Performance

Now that we understand the features offered by the system, how well do Martin wall heaters perform? For the price, better than you may think!

Startup Time

No space heater or wall heater can fill a large room with heat at the snap of a finger, so startup time is an important metric for any heater you purchase. Most systems will get up to temperature and start pumping optimal heat within only a few minutes.

Generally speaking, if you buy the right system for your room size, you should have no trouble raising your space by 20 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour. Bringing a temperature from below freezing to a comfortable 65 degrees may take as long as three hours for a larger room, which is important to note for second homes upon visiting.

Energy Efficiency & Fuel Cost

All Martin heaters are CSA certified with an AFUE rating of over 80% efficiency, meaning you’ll barely waste any fuel.

For the medium-sized MDV12P, the system can run for 2 hours per pound of propane on average. The average cost per pound is between $0.70 and $0.94, so you will spend a maximum of $0.46 per hour while running the system. Keep in mind that once your room is brought up to temperature, these costs will decline dramatically.

For the natural gas equivalent (MDV12N), expect to pay even less, as natural gas is cheaper per pound and more efficient.

Longevity

If there’s something wrong with the system for any reason, you will have a 1-year limited warranty on any Martin product. However, Martin wall heaters have a reputation for durability, longevity, and low maintenance. You can expect a purchase to last you for over a decade, with a minimum of 7 years with heavy use.

Martin Heaters Review

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Overall, Martin heaters of all sizes and fuel types are excellent options for safe and efficient heating. For the same safety and portability, you’d only be able to use an electric space heater, which can cost thousands of dollars to run in one season and would require you to be on the grid.

However, Martin heaters are more ideal for some customers than others. Let’s talk about how they work in different living situations.

Off-Grid Living

If you are trying to heat an off-grid cabin or a home with an unreliable power source, then Martin heaters are an excellent choice. They require no electricity to run, they’re affordable, they offer excellent efficiency and safety features, and they’re easy to install.

Even if it’s a second home and you plan to use the heater in both locations, Martin heaters are ideal for off-grid life. If you learn how to install it yourself, the set-up will be quick and easy during transitions.

At-Home Use

If your home is already equipped for propane or natural gas heating, then Martin heaters are an excellent choice. However, if you need to upgrade your system to install these, then it may not be worth it

For larger houses, you will need multiple heaters with access to both air intake and exhaust, which isn’t right for many homes. If you’re looking to heat a basement, attic, garage, or specific room within the house, then Martin heaters are an affordable and safe option to do so.

If you need supplemental heat for a living space or your work spaces, this is the perfect option for you. Supplemental heat can save you money, and a direct vent wall heater is safe and easy to install.

Tips on Using Your Martin Wall Heater

Lastly, let’s go over some quick tips on how to get the most out of your system and how to optimize it for safety. Check out our other Martin heater safety tips for more information.

Ventilation

Always ensure that you’re following installation instructions, especially when it comes to exhaust and intake. While there are limited risks and plenty of safety features, you still want to ensure that there is proper ventilation at all times. Again, if you smell something, shut off your propane immediately and call Martin for help.

Carbon Monoxide Detection

On that last note, don’t rely on your nose. If you ensure that the back of the unit is flush against the wall and the vents are hooked up appropriately, then there is little to no risk. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Whether you have a wall heater or not, you should always have carbon monoxide detectors working in your home or your off-grid cabin. Using your stove, running a generator, having an open fire, and so much more can lead to poisonous amounts of carbon monoxide, so it’s important to have an alarm running at all times just in case.

Use a Large Enough Tank

home propane tank

To get the most out of your system, limit one of its largest drawbacks; the need for propane or natural gas.

The only real downside of the system is having to install and have fuel delivered. However, if you have a large enough tank, you can save a lot of time and hassle on refills, and you may even save money by purchasing fuel in bulk!

Buy the Right System

Using the chart at the top of this page, determine which system is right for your space. If your space is less than 200 square feet, then an 8,000 BTU wall heater will be enough.

However, if you want it to heat up faster, or if you’re worried about your high ceilings, or the space is just slightly out of that range, then an 11,000 BTU system will put your mind at ease. Choosing the right system for your needs is essential for preventing waste and getting the most out of your system!

Optimize Location

Finally, install your heater in the optimal location for the best results. For example, you'll find better heat flow in a more open space, allowing for more heat dispersion throughout the home. If you're using the system as supplemental heating, make sure you position it for optimum use of the generated heat.

Light It Up

Now that you know what Martin Heaters can do for you and your living situation, buy one today and see for yourself. For the low upfront costs and efficient fuel use, you won’t find a better alternative on the market for off-grid living.

Also, if you decide to shop with us, you can enjoy the best prices and free shipping, and our lowest price guarantee!

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