best rv heaters

Best Heaters For RVs, Campers: Stay Warm and Cozy on Your RV Trips!

Peter Wade

Camping in the snow guarantees spectacular scenery and a unique experience, given that you can survive such harsh weather in your RV. Having the best RV heater on hand will ensure that your rig always stays warm and toasty, even if you prefer boondocking without easy access to electrical hookups at RV parks and campgrounds. 

Most RVs today come pre-built with propane heating systems. However, owners of custom built rigs might not have a factory-installed heater, or the factory-installed furnace might only keep certain parts of your motorhome warm. For many reasons, campers might choose to buy portable heaters that run on a variety of energy sources for their unique benefits, either in place of or in conjunction with the pre-built furnace. For whatever reason that you’re hunting for a solid portable RV heater, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide on the best heater for RV. 

best rv heaters
CREDIT: GETTY

To make your purchasing decision as stress-free as possible, we have shortlisted the best electric heater for RV and the RV propane heaters on the market, with something for every camper with different needs and budgets. Each model will come with an in-depth review with key buying criteria in mind, as well as highlighted pros and cons for your easy comparison. In addition, if you’re not familiar with the vast and diverse world of camper heaters, you will also find useful information including how a travel trailer heater works, different types of heaters, important buying criteria, pro tips on preserving battery power while running the heaters and answers to FAQ by fellow campers. 


Comparison Chart of Best Heaters for RVs

NoBest Electric Heaters For RVsPricesOur Ratings
1Lasko 754200 $$*****
2Caframo True North (9206CABBX)$$$****
3Heat Storm Phoenix (HS-1500)$$$*****
4GiveBest HTBT0910$$****
5AmazonBasics DQ1928-Y$$*****
6Lasko MyHeat 100$$*****
7Lasko 751320$$$*****
8andily A750/1500$$*****
9Trustech PTC903$$****
10Lasko CD09250$$*****
NoBest Propane Heaters For RVsPricesOur Ratings
11Mr. Heater F232000$$$*****
12Camco Wave 8 (57351)$$$$$*****
13Mr. Heater F274800$$$$****
14GreenTech pureHeat SNUG$$$****
15Mr. Heater F215100$$$*****

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RV Heater Basics

What is An RV Heater and How Does It Work?

An RV heater is a heating system that helps keep your vehicle warm. It makes use of a centralized heating device that produces the heat whenever the air in your RV falls below the temperature on the thermostat. When talking about “heaters for RV”, it is either referring to the pre-built, factory-installed “furnace” that comes with your rig, or portable models that are often used in conjunction with the existing furnace for some extra warmth in extreme winter conditions. 

1. Pre-built Furnace

To avoid confusion further on, you will often hear the term “RV furnace” when researching RV heaters, which often refers to the pre-built heating system in your rig, to be distinguished from portable models which we’ll discuss in depth later on. A new RV will most likely come with a ducted furnace that uses both propane gas and electricity. 

The heated air then flows through ducts and is blown through vents placed around your motorhome, thus keeping your whole RV warm. 

Although it is called a propane furnace, it also uses electricity: the propane heats the furnace while the electricity turns on the furnace and operates the blower fan to circulate the heat into the rig’s interior. 

Ducted Furnace

Most modern RVs these days come with a ducted propane furnace. A ducted RV furnace works very much the same as the one in your home: it has a central heating system, usually a propane heater, which heats up air. These full propane heaters have several ducts and vents placed strategically inside your RV for optimal heat distribution throughout the entire rig. 

When the inside of your RV drops below a certain temperature, that is the temperature you set your thermostat to, the full propane heater will generate hot air using a flame fed by propane.  The system then uses a blower fan to force this hot air through the ducts and vents and into the living space. 

A full propane furnace generates hot air relatively fast, and the ducts and vents ensure that the entire RV gets warmed up quickly, which is important in extreme winter conditions. In addition, because the hot air is also circulating through ductwork under the floor, or the basement of the rig, it also helps keep the pipes and tanks from freezing. 

Another benefit is that this type of furnace has an external vent, preventing moisture buildup and condensation within the living space.  

An RV furnace will cycle on and off as needed to maintain the ideal temperature. It takes a few seconds to turn on after the thermostat is switched to the “on” position. Once it does come on, another 15–30 seconds before the flame ignites and warm air comes through the vents. The blower will run for several seconds after the desired temperature has been met and the flame goes out. 

Air flow is necessary for your RV furnace to work properly. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to keep your RV propane heater vented to the outdoors and ensure the air intake is unobstructed. Additionally, vents should be kept uncovered while the furnace is on.

One question that campers often have regarding RV propane heaters is how much propane do these heaters consume on average. Surely, the amount of propane you’re going to consume on a daily basis will vary widely based on the outside temperature, the temperature your thermostat is set to, how big your RV is and how well the vehicle is insulated. 

That said, as a rough guideline, the average camper propane heater uses around a third of a gallon of propane when running continuously for an hour.

One downside to this type of pre-built furnace is that it consumes a lot of propane. If you run out of propane, the furnace will not work, even though it’s hooked up to electricity. Thus, you will need to watch your fuel consumption and plan your trips to refill your propane tank in time. 

Another downside of furnaces is its installation and maintenance requires a qualified RV technician. 

A full propane furnace consists of the thermostat, flame, fan, circuit board, sail switch, safety limit switch, ductwork, and intake and exhaust vents. 

Ductless Furnace

If you have an older RV, then you most likely have a non-ducted furnace. This is a dated style of heating system and generally isn’t as efficient as the ducted version. 

Firstly, they don’t take advantage of electricity for heating but instead only use up propane. In addition, there is no central control panel and no floor or ceiling vents, only one square vent that supplies heat to the entire cabin. With a ductless furnace, the hot air will immediately be blown through the vent without traveling through the ductwork. Therefore, a ductless system cannot achieve fast and even heat distribution like the ducted furnace.

Generally, if you have a large rig, a ductless system is not ideal as they take considerably longer to heat up the entire RV. However, since they do not require the complicated ductwork and corresponding expensive installation, in the case that you have a custom-built RV with no air conditioning or heating system, you can have a non-ducted furnace installed without too much trouble.

And yes, RV furnaces run on batteries

Do note that the furnace will run on your batteries. Heat is actually produced from propane, but the 12-volt blower fan runs on battery. The typical furnace will draw about 8 amps of power, which can be negligible or considerable depending on your average power consumption. 

That said, you’ll be able to heat your RV while you are off grid. But to stay on the safe side, when you’re not connected to shore power, it is recommended that you have solar or generator power to top off your batteries.

The 12 volt battery system in your RV runs many of your electronics, typically anything except for the power-hungry appliances like air conditioning unit, TV, or other 120-volt plug-in items.

2. Portable RV Heaters

If you’re not satisfied with your existing pre-built furnace, one easy option is to supplement it with one or more portable heaters. If you are using a portable heater, it only releases warmth in the specific and limited area where the heater is located, which is actually very energy efficient if you travel alone or do not need to heat the whole rig at once. 

How a portable RV heater works actually depends on the type of heater that you are using. More about how each type of heater works further below. 

In comparison, pre-built full-range propane heaters offer far superior heating power. They can warm up your entire motorhome quickly,  thus they are popular with full-time RVers, especially large families that require heating at various spots at the same time.

However, these full propane heaters are surely much more expensive to purchase and install than portable heaters, especially systems with the duct work, so that might not be ideal for every camper. Do note though that pre-installed furnaces are cheaper to use and maintain in the long run. 

Benefits of Portable RV Heaters

  • Comfortable camping: In extreme winter, your travel trailer’s pre-built furnace might not provide enough heat. This is where a small portable heater can make all the difference. 
  • Versatile and portable: These compact and lightweight units are portable. This allows you to bring portable RV heaters with you to the house or office if you want to use them in a different space, or easily stow them away for storage in off-seasons.
  • Open up new travel opportunities: Without having to worry about whether you can survive boondocking in harsh winter, you are free to explore more places and fully enjoy the spectacular view that ice and snow have to offer.
  • RV maintenance: Extreme cold can also damage the RV slowly in the long run. Thus, having an RV heater is one way to prevent mold or mildew from forming in and around the camper, or damage to the pipes and tanks from freezing and unfreezing. 

Without further ado, below are our handpicked list of the best portable electric heaters and the best portable propane heaters for RV, the two most affordable and popular types of portable heaters for camping. There are a few more types with unique characteristics to choose from, which will be discussed in the section following these two lists.


Types Of Heaters For RV

propane rv heater

Reviews on Best Electric RV Heaters

Portable, lightweight and easy to use, electric space heaters are ideal choices for smaller RVs and are highly energy efficient when used for heating up specific spots in your motorhome. 

Below is our handpicked list of the very best RV heater models on the market, with a good mix of types, features and price points. There is something for every camper, so if you want to fast-track your purchasing experience while making sure you’re getting great value for your money, dive right in and find the model that best suited your fuel source and heating needs. 

That said, if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for in an electric space heater, skip to the section to learn the most important buying criteria, including a few technical specifications that you must be aware of.

1. Lasko 754200 Ceramic Space Heater

Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater, Silver 754200
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,118 BTU
  • Dimensions: 6.0 x 3.7 x 9.2 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.7 Pounds 
  • Fully assembled
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Integrated carry handle

Why We Love It:

Versatile, compact and long-lasting, Lasko 754200 is held in high esteem by RVers around the globe, from novices to veterans alike. Thanks to its humble build and light weight, plus an integrated carry handle, this Lasko electric RV heater can fit in the tightest spaces in recreational vehicles and you can easily relocate it as your heating needs arise. Needless to say, owners of small rigs that travel extensively deem Lasko 754200 as among the best RV heaters on the market. 

Boasting a handy adjustable thermostat with multiple settings, 754200 will bring interior temperature to desired levels quickly and conveniently. For a fuss-free and safe operation, in addition to a low noise level, 754200 is designed with a cool-touch exterior surface to remain cool even on high settings. 

Available at a reasonable price, Lasko 754200 fit the shopping budgets of most campers. To reassure customers, Lasko backs its electric heater for campers with a three-year warranty.

I live in a 40ft camper and bought this heater to use in my bedroom which is about 12ft x 15ft with the slide out. It will keep the entire area warm on a 40-degree night set about 1/3 of max on high setting. It’s a very small heater and works tremendously well! It’s also very quiet with a minimal amount of hum that emits from the heater. I’ve been using it for 2 years now.

Shared by Chris D. Faulk

Pros:

  • Inexpensive 
  • Dependable and reliable
  • Reliable
  • Intuitive control interface 

Cons: 

  • A couple of users notice parts melting over time 
  • Customer service is mediocre 

2. Caframo Limited True North Space Heater

Caframo Limited True North Space heater
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,200 BTU
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 11.0 x 4.5 Inches 
  • Weight: 5.2 Pounds 
  • Overheat protection
  • Anti-freeze
  • CSA-approved

Why We Love It:

With a solid steel body construction, Caframo True North (9206CABBX) deals well with physical impacts and that makes it particularly well-suited for off-roading. With a low power consumption, it is also ideal for boondocking. 

Moreover, as it incorporates overheat protection and anti-freeze, True North (9206CABBX) offers consistent performance in different weather conditions. In addition to superior adaptability, this model is extremely quiet, so running it at night would not disturb your good sleep. 

Owing to its low profile, the chance for this Caframo heater to be tipping over and potentially causing a fire is pretty low. Another safety feature is if air circulation gets blocked for some reason and internal temperature exceeds the predetermined threshold, 9206CABBX would automatically shut down. Unsurprisingly, this Caframo True North is often considered to be the best RV heater at its price range regarding safety.

As proof of confidence in such well-rounded performance, Caframo offers a five-year manufacturer warranty with its portable electric heater for RV.

We are full-timing it in our RV and wanted a small space heater to minimize the use of propane while sleeping in locations with electrical hook ups. We started by putting the space heater in the bedroom and found that, even at the lowest setting, the room got a little too warm. So, we placed it in the living area of our 36 foot fifth wheel, set it on a medium setting, and found that it keeps the RV at a good temperature for sleeping. During the day, we turn it up to about 3/4 and it keeps the RV nicely warm. The only downside is that it draws a fair bit of power so we have to turn it off in order to run the microwave, coffee pot, or other high energy appliances. Overall, this is an outstanding product.

Shared by Buzzroll

Pros:

  • Economical
  • Safety features
  • High endurance for off-roading and varying weather conditions
  • Heat output is decent 

Cons:

  • Occasional reports about damage upon arrivals
  • Smoke is noted

3. Heat Storm Phoenix Infrared Space Heater

Heat Storm Phoenix Infrared Space Heater
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,200 BTU
  • Dimensions: 18.7 x 4.5 x 12.7 Inches 
  • Weight: 9.0 Pounds 
  • Tough control interface 
  • Remote control
  • Mountable 

Why We Love It:

Engineered with the latest technologies and materials, Phoenix (HS-1500) from Heat Storm generates a lot of heat for its size. Unlike many of its competitors, the heater can provide heat without reducing the oxygen and humidity level in the surrounding, thus maintaining a comfortable living space for you and your companions. Also, Heat Storm Phoenix (HS-1500) is energy efficient, which should save you money in the long run.

Depending on the vehicle layouts and individual liking, you can fix Phoenix (HS-1500) to the walls or set it up on the grounds using removable feet. Either way, the installation should take just several moments and there is no need for special tools. 

In use, the LED display, touch control interface and a remote control allow for easy monitoring and temperature adjustments from afar. 

In terms of post-purchase support, Phoenix (HS-1500) of Heat Storm comes with a one-year warranty that covers defects.

I’ve been fooling around with several different types of space heaters for my RV to save on the expense of propane and none of them were able to keep up with the demand in colder weather. Additionally it’s difficult to find a heater with a built in thermostat. Well this one has it all. It is efficient. It keeps us very warm and it regulates beautifully. This far I am more than satisfied. I’ve only used it on one trip but do use it regularly as I keep the camper heated Year round. If anything changes I will update but as for now this is the best heater ive used so far and the list is long and expensive of the ones I have tried prior to the Heat Storm.
BTW I bought 2. One for the living room and one for the bedroom.

Shared by rick b

Pros:

  • Noiseless 
  • Instantaneous installation 
  • Light and compact 

Cons:

  • People complaint receiving units with loosed parts 
  • Output fluctuates now and then 

4. GiveBest Portable Electric Space Heater

Portable Electric Space Heater 1500W/750W
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,100 BTU
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 6.3 x 8.3 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds 
  • PTC ceramic
  • High-speed fan
  • Two-pronged plug 

Why We Love It:

Created with portability in mind, the small and lightweight GiveBest HTBT0910 could be relocated to anywhere in your rig in a matter of seconds, partly thanks to the handy inclusion of a long power cord. Equipped with a two-pronged plug, this GiveBest space heater is compatible with almost any outlets on recreational vehicles. Coupling with its safety features, the GiveBest HTBT0910 model with thermostat is highly sought after by no-nonsense RVers who want a straightforward heater in a hurry. 

As the GiveBest heater employs a combination of first-class PTC ceramic and high-speed fan, it’s capable of heating up to two hundred square feet in a flash. Compared to typical heaters for RV, HTBT0910 is quiet and highly energy efficient. 

Regarding safety features, HTBT0910 is made from flame-retardant materials with virtually zero fire hazards. Furthermore, if it somehow tips over or overheats, the heater will auto-stop.

Pros:

  • Affordable 
  • Fast setup process 
  • Various temperature setting 

Cons:

  • Trip breakers on occasions 
  • Quality control still needs to be improved 

5. AmazonBasics Heater with Adjustable Thermostat

AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,000 BTU
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 6.3 x 10.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.5 Pounds 
  • Oscillating
  • Adjustable output 
  • LED indicator light

Why We Love It:

Being an oscillating model and come equipped with a quick-heating ceramic element and three output options, DQ1928-Y of AmazonBasics distributes heat equally and steadily throughout its surrounding space, providing for a comfortable increase in ambient temperature. In addition,  tip-over auto shut-off switch and overheat protection ensures a high level of safety. For those that seek a well-rounded heater for RV, AmazonBasics DQ1928-Y is unrivaled.

DQ1928-Y is light, slender and comes with a built-in carry handle for easy relocation into any corners in your rig. When DQ1928-Y is plugged in, its LED indicator light is going to light up to let you know it is ready.

Amazon sells its electric heater in black and silver, so you choose the version that matches the colour theme of your vehicle. Like many products from AmazonBasics, DQ1928-Y is backed with a one-year manufacturer warranty and easy free returns. 

Pros:

  • Competitive price 
  • Good warranty 
  • Circulation of heat is superb 

Cons:

  • A bit noisy
  • Users intermittently notice smell of burned plastic

6. Lasko MyHeat 100 Ceramic Heater

Lasko 100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater, Compact, Black
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 682 BTU
  • Dimensions: 3.8 x 2.8 x 6.1 Inches 
  • Weight: 2.8 Pounds 
  • Fan-powered delivery
  • Optional colors 
  • ETL-listed

Why We Love It:

Want a small heater that you could set up and put away at short notice? You’ll like MyHeat 100 from Lasko. With a compact body, MyHeat 100 takes up minimal space so it sits nicely on desks and tables. Since its heating technology warms up individuals instead of the entire room, this Lasko heater is energy efficient and is ideal for boondocking and for campers who are conscious about long-term operational costs.

Coming fully-assembled, Lasko MyHeat 100 is ready to use the moment it leaves the packaging. With the use of self-regulating ceramic heating elements, the heater manages to remain cool to the touch, so you can pick up and move it around at any time without the risk of burns. While the blower fan is fairly powerful, it nonetheless works quietly so there’s no problem using it at night.

Upon purchase, Lasko MyHeat 100 comes alongside a three-year warranty, which is fairly decent. On the downside, the model features a simple on/off button with no temperature adjustments.

Pros:

  • Portable and versatile
  • Quiet
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • Gets clogged from time to time 
  • No temperature control 

7. Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Space Heater

Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Space Heater with Remote Control
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,000 BTU
  • Dimensions: 7.2 x 7.4 x 23.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 7.4 Pounds 
  • Electronic controls
  • Timer 
  • Cool-touch housing

Why We Love It:

Once it comes to space heating, 751320 of Lasko is usually regarded as one of the top-rated RV electric heaters. Possessing widespread oscillation, the heater would warm up a large space in no time. As for safety, Lasko 751320 comes with built-in features such as overheat protection, cool-touch housing and self-regulating heating element. Naturally, for large families travelling in larger rigs that need safe and fast heating all throughout, 751320 is the best RV heater money can buy.  

Designed with intuitive electronic controls, multi-function remote control and digital display, 751320 is a breeze to program to specific preferences and to monitor the interior temperature. The timer allows campers to conveniently set the working hours without having to keep an eye on it all the time and worry about fire hazard in case someone forgets to turn it off when going out. 

This Lasko model is not only affordable but is also energy efficient, thus it will be suitable for boondocking and for the budget travelers. 

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Energy efficient
  • Safety features and timer
  • Hassle-free maintenance 

Cons:

  • Delivery service is less than ideal
  • A few units come with flawed control boards

8. andily A750/1500 Electric Space Heater

andily Space Heater Electric Heater for Home and Office Ceramic Small Heater with Thermostat, 750W/1500W
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,100 BTU
  • Dimensions: 6.2 x 4.7 x 8.3 Inches 
  • Weight: 2.8 Pounds 
  • Power indicator 
  • Tip-over switch 
  • Portable 

Why We Love It:

Utilizing an innovative design that emphasizes functionality, Andily A750/1500 never fails to meet the expectations of RVers, novices and veterans alike. Thanks to the ceramic heating elements, this Andily heater generates abundant amounts of heat in no time. Comes with a built-in adjustable thermostat, you should have an easy time keeping your living space warm and toasty. 

For safety, this electric heater features a bottom tip-over switch that immediately shuts down operation if disengaged. If the temperature gets too high, the overheat protection would kick in, protecting you and your companions from fire hazards. Lastly, this Andily heater is pretty portable for easy relocation to the specific spots that you need to warm up. 

For budget-minded RVers, A750/1500 is the best RV heater in terms of value for money. The model is backed with a one-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Heats up fast
  • Low price 
  • Space-saving 
  • Outstanding structural integrity

Cons:

  • Kind of loud 
  • Heat distribution is slightly uneven 

9. TRUSTECH PTC903 Space Heater

TRUSTECH Space Heater, 1500W Portable Heater
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,115 BTU
  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 7.1 x 9.1 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds 
  • Tip-over and overheat protection 
  • Adjustable thermostat 
  • Carry handle 

Why We Love It:

Capable of superior heat generation and distribution, PTC903 of Trustech is known as the all-time favorite of full-time RVers. In spite of its unassuming appearance, PTC903 could heat up huge rooms in mere seconds. In addition, with three operating modes and an adjustable thermostat, Trustech PTC903 is simply one of the best RV heaters out there it comes to the ability to regulate temperature. 

Slim and sleek with a lightweight construction, the heater fits well in narrow corners and can be moved around at ease. Another plus for the light sleeper is its quiet operation. As for safety, this model comes with both tip-over protection and overheat protection. 

For such well-rounded performance, you might be surprised to find out that PTC903 comes at an affordable price. Regarding post-purchase support, Trustech backs its heater with a one-year warranty that addresses issues caused by manufacturing defects.

Pros:

  • Fast heating
  • Highly portable 
  • Interface is user-friendly

Cons:

  • Quality control should be improved 
  • Users report irregular tripped breakers 

10. Lasko Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Heater

Lasko Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Tabletop or Under-Desk Heater, Black CD09250
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 5,118 BTU
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 5.7 x 9.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.5 Pounds 
  • Built-in safety features
  • Various temperature setting
  • Fully assembled

Why We Love It:

If all you need is a robust heater for desk and counter use then you would undoubtedly like the Lasko CD09250. With its small build and carry handle, this model could be moved into position and set up in no time. With overheat protection and cool-touch exteriors, it is safe to use this heater on high-traffic surfaces like desks and counters even after being left on for an extended period of time. 

Packing plenty of temperature settings and a powerful fan that facilitates the circulation of warm air, CD09250 makes for convenient adjustments to ensure the most comfortable living space. It is highly energy efficient, therefore, it’s one of the best RV heaters for rigs with modest battery banks. 

Compared to its contemporaries on the market, the Lasko heater features rather simple maintenance, so you can spend less time on keeping it in working order and more time on enjoying the outdoors.

Pros:

  • Low profile
  • Energy efficient
  • Excellent heating 
  • Many temperature settings

Cons:

  • Some complaints about smoke 
  • Thermostat needs to be tweaked

Reviews on Best Propane RV Heaters

Despite not being as easy to use as electric space heaters, portable propane heaters provide faster and superior heating, thus are ideal for colder climates and larger rigs. Given their reasonable operational cost in the long run, they would never become obsolete and will always be loved by the veterans and the novices alike. 

If you do not want to spend many hours comparing hundreds of models out there, check out the most functional, efficient, safe and durable RV propane heaters below.

11. Mr. Heater F232000 Portable Propane Radiant Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 4,000 – 9,000 BTU
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 5.7 x 9.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.5 Pounds 
  • Swivel-out regulator
  • Oxygen depletion sensor 
  • Clean-burning

Why We Love It:

For heating enclosed spaces like the interior of recreational vehicles, Mr. Heater F232000 is by all accounts second to none. Featuring an outstanding heat output which is adjustable, the heater of Mr. Heater constantly keeps its users warm and cozy as the temperature drops low. Furthermore, with an efficiency of nearly one hundred percent, F232000 burns cleanly and that earns it positive remarks from reviews. With F232000 of Mr. Heater, RVers could reduce heating costs and prevent accumulations of toxic fumes at the same time. 

In terms of handling, F232000 is created with a fold-down handle so enthusiasts of RVing would be able to move it between locations easily. The heater from Mr. Heater runs on one-pound canisters so it still remains highly portable with a canister attached. To turn on Mr. Heater F232000, RVers just need to turn and push the lighting knob then leave the rest to the Piezo sparking mechanism. If set at the highest output, the F232000 is going to run for roughly three hours with a full gas canister. 

Since Mr. Heater F232000 contains an oxygen depletion sensor, it could monitor the oxygen level in its surroundings and cease operation as worrisome signs appear. A tip-over shutoff is present too so the heater made by Mr. Heater is well-liked by those that need a good RV propane heater and care about safety.

We have a 45 foot RV toy hauler and the rear garage isn’t very well insulated and the heating vents don’t work so well back there. I bought two of these for Christmas and put one back there and used the other next to my son’s bed. These things were amazing. With two of these running on low (so the fuel would last most of the night), the thermostat almost never flipped on and our furnace hardly ran. It was down below freezing over the New Year weekend and these heaters kept us comfortable. We were camping for a week and I was afraid we would burn through our large LP tanks if we ran the furnace too long. These really helped us conserve LP. I bought a big case of the smaller fuel canisters at Home Depot and we used one apiece every night. Perfect.

The only drawback is the exposed flame in the element. Our family has always had Australian Shepherd dogs and they are very bright. We inherited my mother in-law’s Golden Retriever and it’s the first time we’ve ever had a dog with a tail. She is completely loyal and a great dog, but she’s as dumb as a bag of hammers. She loved the comfort of lying in front of these heaters, but twice on this trip she caught her tail on fire. Nothing very bad happened, but it seems like this could cause something horrible. Or maybe I worry too much.

Shared by Dave Edmiston

Pros:

  • Nice price 
  • Well-built and rugged 
  • Aesthetically pleasing

Cons: 

  • Control knob sometimes get stuck 
  • Barely acceptable customer service 

12. Camco Wave 8 Gas Catalytic Heater

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave-8 8000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 4,200 – 8,000 BTU
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 5.7 x 9.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.5 Pounds 
  • No electrical drain
  • Piezo electric sparker
  • Adjustable output

Why We Love It:

As with most Camco products, you know you are getting good value for money for many years down the road, and this portable heater is no exception. Being a catalytic gas heater with no electrical drain, Camco Wave 8 (57351) proves to be the best heater for RV boondocking. The heater’s Piezo electric sparker guarantees smooth ignition for years as well and that ensures constant access to warmth on the road. 

Wave 8 (57351) directs heat toward people, walls, floors and other objects instead of the surrounding air. As a result, RVers would feel warm as soon as this Wave 8 (57351) is turned on. This heating technology allows for high energy efficiency. This will help you cut down considerably on heating expenses in the long run too. 

Powered by low-pressure propane gas, Wave 8 (57351) could be used either as a wall-mounted heater or a portable one. In addition to such versatility is quietness: the absence of fan and blower means Wave 8 (57351) of Camco is almost noiseless in the course of operation.

The heat output of the model is fully adjustable, so you can easily set the temperature to always maintain a comfortable living space. As this Camco catalytic gas heater comes with a safety shutoff valve, it superbly tackles the issue of non-ignition fuel discharge.

At first glance, Wave 8 (57351) of Camco indeed seems to be expensive but the values it offers justify the price tag, as raved by countless reviews by seasoned campers.

Before building our home, we lived in a 5th wheel. This heater was our main source of heat. We have used it every day during the late fall through the early spring for the last two years. It has been everything we had hoped for and has been totally reliable. I will say that when the outside temperatures drop down to freezing temps, one heater was not able to keep the 5th warm enough to be comfortable. We then purchased another one for the winter cold. The heater/heaters are in a 33 ft trailer to give an idea of the sq ft they were heating. One heater kept the 5th very comfortable in the 45 degree temperature range. We never had one problem with propane leakage and carbon monoxide was never an issue. One heater has over four thousand running time hours on it and the second has roughly two thousand. They’ve worked flawlessly. We recommend them highly.

Shared by Guy

Pros:

  • Adaptable 
  • Resilient body  
  • No-nonsense maintenance 

Cons:

  • Steep price 
  • Performance is affected by attitude 

13. Mr. Heater F274800 Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F274800 MH18B, Portable Propane Heater
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 4,000 – 18,000 BTU
  • Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.0 x 17.7 Inches 
  • Weight: 2.7 Pounds 
  • Integrated fan 
  • Auto-shutoff 
  • Customizable heat level 

Why We Love It:

If you camp in really extreme temperature, you should add Mr. Heater F274800 into your travel inventory at the earliest opportunity. Capable of delivering an output between four thousand and eighteen thousand BTUs, this Mr. Heater model could meet the heating needs of any campers, no matter where you travel. Boasting an integrated fan, F274800 quickly fills its vicinity with warm air and raises ambient temperature in just a flash. 

Employing two swivel regulators, Mr. Heater F274800 accepts gas canisters as well as remote gas supplies with a hose and filter. That is why F274800 works pretty well in a wide range of applications and keeping it running is a cakewalk. Similar to many propane heaters for RV, this model utilizes a Piezo spark that provides reliable ignition. Plus, with a combination of tip-over shut off and oxygen depletion sensor, F274800 is quite safe to use. 

As its efficiency approaches one hundred percent, this Mr. Heater powerhouse burns cleanly. Unsurprisingly, in numerous discussions about the most efficient and green heating system for an RV, F274800 is mentioned from time to time with excitement.

Pros:

  • Superior heating capacity and speed
  • Safety features
  • Stable and sturdy 
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Impressive handling characteristics

Cons:

  • A number of units arrive without fan 
  • Lingering gas fumes 

14. GreenTech pureHeat SNUG Space Heater with Cord

GreenTech Environmental pureHeat SNUG
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 3,500 BTU
  • Dimensions: 5.0 x 4.7 x 14.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 3.3 Pounds 
  • PTC heating element
  • Side receptacles
  • Programmable

Why We Love It:

Basic and practical, pureHeat SNUG of GreenTech is a must-have for Rvers seeking a solid, easy to use and easy to maintain heater. For its size, this heater has surprisingly decent heating capacity, so a lot of bang for your buck there. 

Designed to mount directly onto three-prong outlets, pureHeat SNUG lets you save space inside smaller rigs. It’s noteworthy that this model from GreenTech packs side receptacles and comes with a power cord attachment too. Thus, depending on the situation, owners of recreational vehicles could use this pureHeat SNUG as a standalone heater as well as a wall-mounted one. 

The heating element of this GreenTech heater is constructed using PTC ceramic which steadily generates heat in plenty of environments. Even with the element working at full swing, pureHeat SNUG remains safe to handle thanks to its cool-tough housing. 

One convenient feature is the timer. It automatically ceases operation following a predetermined amount of time, so you won’t have to bother shutting down the heater manually; this is also a safety feature to guard against overheating and fire risks. As for maintenance, GreenTech pureHeat SNUG only requires rudimentary care to stay operational, so all in all, this heater is very versatile and easy to use.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Overall easy to use and maintain
  • Setup process is undemanding 
  • Marvelous output for its size

Cons:

  • Several units short-circuit in use 
  • Quality control still leave something to be desired  

15. Mr. Heater F215100 Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 3,800 BTU
  • Dimensions: 12.0 x 9.0 x 11.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 5.8 Pounds 
  • Angled heating 
  • Tip-over shutoff
  • Oxygen depletion sensor 

Why We Love It:

Though its output and heating range appear unimpressive compared to some of the best RV heaters, Mr. Heater F215100 nonetheless comes in handy in a number of applications. In addition to high portability, with angled heating, Mr. Heater F215100 is able to keep space up to ninety five square feet well-heated. Unlike typical models on the market, Mr. Heater F215100 is odorless so enthusiasts of RVing don’t have to endure unpleasant gas smells. 

For fuel, F215100 draws gas from widely available one-pound propane cylinders so keeping it running is no headache. If paired with a full canister, the heater made by Mr. Heater should run for roughly six hours without interruptions. 

Do note that Mr. Heater F215100 needs a vent area of at least four inches in order to maintain proper ventilation. In terms of safety, F215100 possesses both tip-over shutoff and oxygen depletion sensors so it keeps the odds of accidents to the bare minimum. 

One downside reported by some campers is the model’s ability to withstand shock and vibrations on rough terrains; that said, if you do not travel a lot on bad road conditions, this might not be a deal breaker. Upon purchase, the heater of Mr. Heater would come alongside a three-year manufacturer warranty.

Pros:

  • Angled heating
  • No gas smell
  • Safety features
  • Uncomplicated installation

Cons: 

  • Pricey 
  • Shock and vibrations tolerance is mediocre

Types of RV Heater

1. Gas Heaters (Pre-built or Portable)

A pre-built RV furnace most often uses propane, however there are also portable RV propane heaters for heating smaller rigs, or for heating certain spots in a very big motorhome, like a Class A, which would consume a lot of energy to keep warm. Portable propane heaters fall under the bigger category of gas heaters, which can either use propane or natural gas. 

Propane is a man-made gas stored in a tank or canisters. The advantage of RV propane heaters is that it does not release harmful greenhouse gases when it burns while natural gas does.

Regarding how they work, gas heaters make use of combustion to generate heat. An ignition, either a pilot or electric light, fires up several burners located in the combustion chamber. The heat produced by these burners then flows to the heat exchange chamber, where it builds up and heats the air inside. Once the temperature in the heat exchange chamber reaches the level the thermostat is set to, the hot air is blown into the living space via the vent. 

Thanks to this mechanism using the burners, portable gas heaters heat up fast and many models don’t require electricity to operate. They provide an excellent alternative for boondockers who don’t want to waste battery reserve by using their pre-built furnace.

Note that unlike electric heaters, camping at very high altitude above 7,000 feet might impede the efficiency of gas heaters. The best portable gas heaters would specify if they are engineered to work well even at high elevations. 

Pros

  • Less expensive to operate: Almost everywhere around the globe, natural gas is significantly cheaper than electricity. If you often camp in cold climates and need to run your heater a lot during the winter, a gas heater can save you money over the long run.
  • Faster heating: Gas heaters tend to heat up faster than electric heaters because maximum heat is achieved quickly as soon as the burners start running.
  • Propane is environmentally friendly and safe for you, although natural gas is not. 
  • Many portable propane heater models do not require electricity to run.

Cons

  • Highly flammable: An RV propane heater with thermostat is not as easy to handle and safe as an electric heater for RV, since a propane leak can be deadly. Therefore, if you opt for this type of heater, it’s crucial to invest in both a carbon monoxide detector and a propane detector, as well as properly maintaining them by checking the batteries often.
  • Gas smell: Sometimes you might detect the smell of propane if your fuel is running low. If that is not the case, the culprit is likely propane leaks in the tank or the tube. Stop the flow of gas, open the windows and doors for good ventilation, and perform a thorough inspection for leaks.
  • Fuel consumption: Propane heaters use a lot of propane, plus if you run out of propane the furnace will not work, even though it’s hooked up to electricity. This means you’ll have to keep track of your propane supply, dedicate extra space in your rig for those fuel canisters, and plan your trip to allow for fuel refill.
  • Altitude: Many models might not work as well at high altitudes.
  • More maintenance: In comparison with portable electric heaters, gas heaters require more maintenance in order to stay safe. Because they run on combustible fuel, gas heaters need to be maintained yearly to ensure safe operation. Skipping regular maintenance could increase the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide gas.  
  • Shorter lifespan: Even with proper maintenance, you can expect a gas heater to last up to 10 years, which is generally not as long as an electric unit.

Pro Tips On Using Propane

If you own an RV propane heater with thermostat, always run on one propane tank if you have dual tanks instead of both. Therefore, if you run out of fuel in the middle of the night, you can simply switch to the other reserve tank on the regulator and get a refill the next morning. 

2. Electric Heaters (Portable Space Heaters)

If you often camp in RV parks and campgrounds, owning an electric heater for RV would be convenient and economical, given that you can freely access electrical hookups, which are usually included in the camping fee. Or if you do have access to a generator, bringing along an electric heater to supplement your furnace in extreme winter conditions is an efficient and economical way to camp. 

Electric heaters come in handy for the smaller camper trailers and Class B vans, which require less heat. Or you might want to consider these portable RV heater if you don’t want to heat your entire RV but only need to warm a specific space at a time, especially if you have something like a Class A. At night you may need to just run a small electric heater in your bedroom and not run the whole furnace wasting propane on unnecessary spaces.

Electric heaters work by converting electricity into heat. Essentially, an electric current passes through a resistor, which converts electricity to heat. This heat is released through the open vent with the help of a blower fan, just like with portable gas heaters.

Do note that an electric heating system does not have ducts and vents, so heat distribution can sometimes be slower than gas heaters. Electric fans are used to aid the spreading of heat. This can be ideal for less extreme cold, since this slow mechanism provides for very comfortable releases of heat. Some might not like strong, instant, more drying heat, so this is not exactly a disadvantage. 

Unlike gas heaters, the electric counterpart does not have any harmful byproduct for you and the environment. 

In general, electric RV heaters are small, portable, easy to use and safe; you don’t have to worry about flammable gas and regular maintenance. Simply plug them into any outlet and turn them toward the space you need to warm up. The best electric heater for RV allows you to set a temperature and will cycle on and off as needed to maintain an ideal temperature. 

One thing to remember about an electric heater is that you can only power up one space at a time, hence they are also called “space heaters”. This can be an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time, depending on how you typically camp. 

Focusing on the area you need heated is a smart, efficient and economical choice if you travel alone in a smaller rig. In contrast, this might not be ideal if you travel with many companions and need to heat up the entire motorhome. That said, many campers who love the fuss-free, user-friendly features of portable electric space heaters opt to buy more than one unit to facilitate their rig. 

Despite their generally being easy and safe to use, electric heaters can tip over and cause a fire. Electric space heaters can also start fires by causing cords, power outlets, and the wiring inside your walls to overheat, so sure to keep them away from the flow of traffic, walls and furniture. This is where having a full-range gas heater is less messy: they only become a fire hazard when there’s a leak in the tank.

If you’re going to use an electric space heater for your RV, it’s a good idea to have your outlets, breakers, and wiring in your motorhome checked out to make sure they can handle a space heater. A qualified electrician can help you with this and with any adjustments you need to make.

If you’re using solar power in your RV, keep in mind that electric heaters might use a lot of energy, depending on the electric heater you buy. Make sure your solar power system can carry this load side by side with your other appliances such as electric coolers and cookers.

Pros

  • Many types and designs to choose from to best fit your RV’s limited space.
  • Easy to use.
  • Long lifespan.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Does not require frequent storage and refills of fuel like gas heaters.
  • Relatively safer than gas heaters.
  • Require less maintenance than gas heaters.
  • Slower and more comfortable release of heat, which is ideal for less extreme cold. 

Cons

  • Limited heat distribution: Warm up one space at a time.
  • Slower heating: An electric heater must spend some time powering up the heating element before it can start to release heat. This might not be ideal in very cold weather, unless you own a very small camper van or teardrop travel trailer. 
  • Fire hazard: Can cause a fire if fall over or placed near walls and power outlets.

Owing to increasing popularity, the market for electric heaters have seen continuous introduction of different types with different working mechanisms and a variety of designs and materials to cater for different spaces and camping needs. You have a lot to choose from. 

Some models come with timers, temperature controls and remote controls. Some even offer oscillation for dispersing heat around the room, but don’t expect them to heat up large spaces. Lastly, the best space heater for RV of the type would have a built-in thermostat and will automatically shut off it if overheats or tips over.

Fan-Forced Heaters

Fan-forced heaters circulate heat by forcing air through a heated electric element, thus heating up the air that passes through. This makes for a much slower and comfortable release of heat, which many campers prefer. They gradually warm up a small space rather than heat it instantly. 

  • Ceramic Space Heaters:
    Ceramic fan-forced heaters are one of the most popular electric space heaters. They are safe around children and pets because the outside housing stays cool even when running.

    Ceramic heaters work by running an electric current through wires that pass through ceramic plates. These plates get warm and heat the air around them through convection, and a fan blows this air into the living space. If you’re looking for a cheap, fuss-free, lightweight space heater for occasional use only, a portable ceramic heater is totally sufficient. 
  • Faux fireplace heaters:
    A lot of RV’s come with a pre-installed electric heater designed to look like a fireplace, most of which are ceramic heaters. Otherwise, if you like the cozy look, you can opt for a portable space heater that looks like a small wood stove, also an affordable and popular choice.  
  • Tower heaters:
    This type is also extremely popular in the home, thanks to their tall and lean design that allows them to be fit into the tightest corners. Most tower heaters are ceramic heaters.  

Infrared Heaters

This type of space heaters emits powerful infrared rays to heat up an area, thus providing warmth more quickly than fan-forced space heaters. This way of heat generation is very similar to the sun: while they don’t warm the actual air, their energy is focused on heating objects. Infrared technology is different from both convection and conduction transfer methods of heat.

In other words, the invisible infrared light gets absorbed by our skin, clothes and other objects, which is how things around an infrared heater warm up. This type of heating mechanism is highly energy efficient, as it warms up your clothes and skin instead of heating the air around you. Also, there is a low risk of heat escaping through your windows. This might be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how many companions you travel with and thus, whether you would like to heat up a space or just yourself. 

Infrared space heaters do not use fossil fuels, and will not cause fires and explosions due to a flammable fuel source like gas heaters. That said, in a high heat setting, you should monitor it how you should with electric space heaters, especially around children. 

Other benefits of this heating technology is it doesn’t stir up dusty air. Furthermore, an infrared heater’s size is smaller than a regular space heater, thus more ideal for smaller rigs. Plus, .

Convection Heaters

Also called radiant heaters, convection heaters work much like convection ovens, which use convection currents to heat up spaces super fast. While fan-forced and infrared space heaters rely on the movement of air for heat transfer, convection heaters transfer heat via the movement of liquid or gas. 

The main benefit to convection heaters is that they transfer the heat they generate directly to people and objects, thus they warm up an entire room quickly for an extended period of time. They are the best choice in rooms where people can remain within the line of sight of the heater. That said, this heating technology makes them a fire risk for children and rooms with low ceiling levels.

Usually, radiant heaters come with glowing elements and reflectors, thus emit some visible light that might affect quality sleep for some and might not be ideal for bedrooms.

Oil-filled Heaters

Like other electric heaters, an oil-filled heater converts electric power into heat with an electric resistor. It has a built-in radiator fins for storing a special diathermic oil. The larger radiator fins are, the faster the heater will warm up a space.

These oil-filled heaters don’t technically “burn” oil. Oil-filled heaters don’t require refilling the radiator fins with diathermic oil. This oil is not a source of fuel for the space heater, but a heat reservoir. The oil absorbs the heat that has been converted from electricity. Consequently, there will be a rise in the oil’s temperature, causing the oil to flow in the panel. 

As the heated oil circulates, the heater diffuses steady, radiant heat that warms you gradually, which comfortably feels like sunbathing. There’s no blower fan, so don’t expect instant heat, but once it warms up, it is effective in maintaining the ideal temperature with the help of a thermostat.

An advantage of using oil is oil heats up as fast as propane and natural gas, but it doesn’t get used up as quickly. Furthermore, oil is considered to be greener and safer than gas because it does not produce carbon monoxide and is not combustible when released into the air.

Micathermic Panel Heaters 

The hybrid micathermic heaters use a combination of radiant and convective heat. Sheets of mica are warmed through convection, and these emit radiant heat, similar to that emitted by the fins of an oil filled heater since no fan is involved. The slim, flat panel-like design of a typical micathermic panel heater would make it the ideal choice for small spaces. 

Safety Tips When Using Electric Space Heaters

  • For ease of use, choose the best RV heater with a thermostat, auto shut-off, overheat protection and tipping-off protection.
  • Make sure the heater comes with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Electric heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from the walls, power outlets, and anything that can burn, including people. 
  • Keep the space heater away from the flow of traffic and away from children.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface to avoid it falling over.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.

3. Diesel Heaters (Requires Installation)

Although this type is not portable, they are still popular thanks to many benefits. For on, if your camper runs on diesel, the diesel heaters can run directly off your main tank so there’s no need for separate storage for different fuel types. 

In addition, regarding operational cost, diesel is cheap, readily available and because they’re so efficient, the running costs of a diesel heater are very reasonable in the long run.

Heat from a diesel heater is a slow, steady and comfortable waft of warm, dry air. Because it has an external vent, it doesn’t add any moisture to the van and lowers the relative humidity. 

How diesel heaters work

A diesel heater consists of a controller, a diesel tank, fuel pumps, exhaust parts, gaskets and ducting vents. 

Via an external outlet pipe mostly from the floor, the cold air inside the cabin is sucked into the heater’s combustion chamber by blower motors and then mixed together with diesel. The air and fuel mixture is then ignited like what happens in a car’s engine, thereby heating up the whole surface of the thermal exchanger.

The now heated exhaust air is temporarily separated in another part of the combustion chamber so that it will not mix with the cabin air. The now warmer air is emitted back into the cabin through an exhaust pipe by a system of blower fans. 

Pros

  • Fuel efficiency: Consumes less fuel than gas heaters.
  • Cheap to operate: Diesel is readily available in most parts of the world, is cheap and is more efficient than gas.
  • No need for separate storage like gas heaters, as diesel heaters can run directly off your main tank.
  • Superior heating performance for warming up the whole rig.
  • Little pollution.
  • External vents prevent condensation and carbon monoxide build up.

Cons

  • Like gas heaters, diesel heaters can be problematic at high altitudes above 6,000 feet above sea level. The best diesel heaters for RV would have features that change the mix of air & fuel so they still run well at higher altitudes.
  • Diesel heaters can be pretty noisy. They make most noise on their highest settings and when going through their startup and shutdown cycles.
  • While not exactly a disadvantage, depending on your typical energy consumption, it’s worth bearing in mind that the initial start up takes a good surge of power of up to 15 amps for a few seconds, then drops to below 5 amps.

Things To Consider When Buying A New Camper Heater

With the amazingly vast and diverse sea of RV heaters, you need to consider different aspects of your typical camping to determine what you prioritize, and which should be the best RV heater for those needs. The heater that offers the best value for money in your circumstances need not be the most expensive one there is. 

To get a happy, fuss-free camping experience from your portable heater, you must pay attention to the following specifications while comparing different models of heaters for RV. 

Capacity 

Rated in BTU (British Thermal Unit), the capacity of a heater essentially shows the amount of heat that it’s capable of delivering in use. To deduce the ideal capacity for your heater, it’s important that you take the size of your rig and the range of temperature you experience while traveling into account.

In the case that you don’t head out in extreme conditions or if you have a smaller RV, you may not need a powerful heater. On the other hand, if your RV is big and you have to deal with fluctuations in temperature on the road, prioritize high-capacity heaters. However, if you look hard enough, there are also compact heaters that can put out a surprising amount of power and heat to warm up large spaces.

Heating Speed & Intensity

In extreme winter conditions, you will want to find a heater that warms up quickly and provides strong heat. That said, many campers who travel in less extreme cold prefer less expensive heaters that take a few minutes to release heat, but once they do, they release a steady waft of warmth, which might feel more comfortable and less drying.

Safety & Other Features

All in all, since you can never be too careful around heat and the fuels that produce it, safety features are a key buying criteria. The best RV heaters often come with overheating protection and tip-over protection, the two most important safety features. 

Another handy safety feature that you can expect from the best RV heaters is automatic shut-off, which kicks in when the temperature reaches a dangerously high level or after a specified amount of time. With an automatic shut-off, you don’t have to worry about turning it off after a certain time.

The very best heaters for RV tend to also come with cool-touch surfaces in addition to overheat protection and auto-shutoff. An RV heater with these options, such as a high-quality ceramic space heater, will lower the odds of starting a fire. 

While most models have dials or buttons for control, higher-quality models often have remote controls for convenience. 

By evaluating the aspects of your travels, you can decide which features are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves. 

Power Consumption 

In general, it’s nice to have a powerful heater onboard but if your heater requires excessive resources to stay on, you would have a hard time with trip planning. In order to avoid headaches, you must pay special attention to consumption rate as you assess models on the market.

Usually, by checking out the owner’s manual, you could get some ideas about how much electricity, propane and gas that particular models go through in a period of time. That being said, for good measure, it’s suggested that you take a close look at customer reviews as well. 

Endurance 

RVing often involves continuous shocks and bumps, as a result, you should think about endurance as you seek the best RV heater for your camper. You have no need for a flimsy model that falls apart shortly after purchase and forces you to spend even more money on a replacement.

To determine how well a model holds together, it’s strongly recommended that you inspect the designs, constructions and materials. The best RV heaters should have a tough shock resistant exterior housing and a durable heavy-duty grid protecting the heater tiles, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. 

Price 

Unless you have specific demands, you don’t have to empty your entire wallet to pick up first-class heaters. Assuming that you look around, you should be able to find high-quality models that also come at affordable prices.

However, the “you get what you pay for” rule of thumb is applicable to many things including heaters for RV. So it’s probably best that you stay away from models that have unbelievably low price tags as their makers likely resort to cutting corners to keep manufacturing costs down. Below is a general price guidelines for your reference:

  • Under $30: You’ll only find a very small number of RV heaters in this price range. Most will be fan-forced heaters, but you can also find other types. Do not expect to find enduring constructions and many safety features in this range. Heaters of this range are not popular with the full-time and veteran campers, since it’s not worth sacrificing safety and endurance for a cheap price tag. That said, for short trips and occasional uses, you might find a model with good value for money. 
  • $30-$100: For a few tens of dollars more, you will find a wider selection of heaters, including infrared and fan-forced models. Models in this price range generally include more bang for your buck such as a heavy-duty casing, safety features and added convenience like remote controls. 
  • Over $100: This price point is popular with campers who camp full-time or often in very cold climates, those travel with companions and thus need to heat a larger space quickly. These heaters are similar to heaters found in your home: powerful, robust, heavy, and a bit less compact.

10+ Pro Tips: Preserve Heat & Battery Power While Running The Heater

When you are boondocking or not connected to shore power, it is important to try to preserve heat efficiently to avoid draining your battery and your fuel tank. Below are 10 plus effective ways to make your heating power last longer, most of which are easy to do while some would require a DIY project.

Buy higher amp-hour batteries

If you often boondock or travel off the beaten path without access to electrical hookups to top off your battery, you should replace the standard batteries that come with your RV with higher amp hour batteries, depending on your average power consumption. Higher amp hour batteries will provide more power and last longer. 

Make sure ductwork connect properly

If your heating ducts were not actually hooked up, you might be getting heat out of the unit, but it was also circulating heat behind your cabinets and water heater first.

Manually turn your thermostat on and off 

One simple and easy way to save battery power from running the power-hungry heater is to manually turn the heater on and off as needed so as to not keep heating unnecessarily when we are actually warm for the time being. In addition, while you are off on an adventure, make sure you turn your heater and other devices off. This is also for safety reasons. 

Set your thermostat back at night

Typically sleeping in a cooler environment provides a better sleep, also while sleeping the warmth is trapped in blankets or sleeping bags, so you wouldn’t need as much heat. Try setting your thermostat back at night to whatever you feel comfortable with.

Position RV to get maximum direct sunlight

You would be surprised at how much heat you can get even in the winter if you are positioned in direct sunlight. Simply positioning your RV so that the largest windows point to the south and west to maximize your RV’s exposure to direct sunlight definitely will warm your RV up.

Insulation

With winter camping, insulation is key. There may be areas where the factory skimped on insulation on your RV, such as the floor on the slide out or under the folding part on the bed which goes into the passthrough storage. Using closed cell foam insulation to add to these spots can effectively trap the heat in. 

1. Hatch vent insulator

The covers of your RV’s hatch vents, roof and wall vents are usually made from thin plastic, which is not reliable at all in preventing cold air from leaking in. Thus a simple yet super effective passive heating tip is to equip them with extra protection by adding another layer of Styrofoam right below the covers. You just need to cut the Styrofoam fit precisely and secure it in place with tape or another adhesive.

The second option is to get a vent insulator, a large piece of insulated foam that may or may not come with a reflective surface. Like Styrofoam, vent insulators are affordable and are also handy in the summer: it traps in cold air from your air conditioner. 

2. Reflective insulation

Another simple method that is handy in both winter and summer, Relectix is a reflective insulation accessory consisting of an aluminum foil, which covers all your windows to rebound most of the heat that travels to them. Thus the existing heat will be trapped or condensed inside your RV while only a small amount will escape, thereby more effectively maintaining the ideal temperature. 

These rolls typically cost only around $15-$30 each. Simply attach these rolls to cover the whole area of each window and the shower skylight.

Fixing air leaks

Before trying to do anything to more effectively trap warm air inside your RV, you must make sure cold air cannot leak in from all the nooks and crannies first. 

Tiny air leaks from the rubber gaskets around your exterior windows, doors and vents. If they are worn, repair or replace them. Next, inspect the edges of cabinets, closets and appliances, which are surprising places where cold air can leak through.

Solar panels 

Keeping your batteries topped off can be accomplished with some rooftop or suitcase solar. Solar heating alone might be sufficient in milder winter, or along with your conventional heating methods, would save you a lot of money in the long term, all the while being friendly to the environment. 

Thanks to the increasing popularity of this sustainable energy source, you can now choose from a wide variety of solar panels regarding power output and price. A panel typically costs between $500 and $300, depending on the durability, efficiency and size of the panel. The bigger the panel, the more green energy it can produce to heat your RV without electricity. 

If you have about 200 watts solar, you may start off the morning recharging your batteries at 2-3 amp hours and in the afternoon at 4-5 amp hours depending on the sun. If your heater uses 8 amp hours and you use it for 2 hours per day, you may need 4 hours of sunlight to recharge it depending on the light. 

Bring a generator 

If you like to boondock, it is always best to bring along a generator to keep your batteries topped off. A 2,000 watt generator is generally sufficient to power an air conditioning unit plus many electrical appliances. You might have to run the generator only 1-2 hours a day using the onboard charger to recharge your batteries. 

Layer up + Electric blankets

Always make sure to bring enough warm clothes and blankets to keep the thermostat a little lower. In addition, if you’re looking for a way to supplement your RV heater in chilly weather, an electric blanket is an affordable, versatile and energy efficient option.


Bonus: Safety Tips for RV Pre-Built Furnace

Ducts cleaning

Since some of the full propane furnaces run on propane only and some on both propane and electric, there is no filter in either the ducted and non-ducted systems because it could catch fire. Therefore, you need to keep all ducts clean for the air to flow and to prevent overheating.

Vents cleaning

To keep the ducts clean, you must make sure nothing is covering the floor and/or ceiling vents, like a trash can in front of a wall vent or the return vent. Also, it is common for bugs or spiders to inhabit the outside vent, so clean it periodically and make sure nothing is blocking it. 

If a spider gets in this vent, they will spin a web that blocks the air from venting. This could also create a potential fire or cause the propane to release back into the cabin of the RV. 

Another tip is to vacuum all vent covers inside the cabin, i.e. the vents on the floor and ceiling and vacuum around the furnace itself. The vent cover that hides the unit is easy to remove. Once removed, vacuum around the unit but be careful to not disturb the unit. This is important to remove all dust and hair build-up that could be blocking the ventilation, especially if you have a pet with you.

Propane leaks

If you ever smell propane, shut the propane valve off immediately, as there is likely a leak somewhere or a blockage. This is very dangerous and could create a fire, an explosion, or cause serious health risks. Professionals and full-time RVers would recommend that you purchase a carbon monoxide detector for the cabin.


FAQs About RV Heaters

1. How does an RV heater work?

The pre-built, non-portable full propane furnace that comes with most RVs has a central heating system, usually a propane heater, which heats up air. When the inside of your RV drops below a certain temperature, that is the temperature you set your thermostat to, the full propane heater will generate hot air using a flame fed by propane.  The system then uses a blower fan to force this hot air through the ducts and vents and into the living space. 

Regarding portable heaters for RV, the mechanism of the gas and electric types differ, and different types of electric space heaters work differently, too: 

Portable gas heaters make use of combustion to generate heat. An ignition, either a pilot or electric light, fires up several burners located in the combustion chamber. The heat produced by these burners then flows to the heat exchange chamber, where it builds up and heats the air inside. Once the temperature in the heat exchange chamber reaches the level the thermostat is set to, the hot air is blown into the living space via the vent. 

Portable electric heaters for RV work by converting electricity into heat. Essentially, an electric current passes through a resistor, which converts electricity to heat. This heat is released through the open vent with the help of a blower fan, just like with portable gas heaters. 

2. Is ceramic or infrared heater better?

Both types are electric space heaters, and are compact, lightweight and easy to use. The way infrared or radiant portable heaters generate heat allows them to provide warmth more quickly than ceramic heaters, which are often the fan-forced type. An infrared heater’s mechanism for heat generation is very similar to the sun: while they don’t warm the actual air, invisible infrared lights get absorbed by our skin, hair and clothes. 

That said, this mechanism means you might have to monitor them more closely, especially around children, than ceramic space heaters. The obvious advantage of the best ceramic heater for RV is the safe and kids-proof cool-touch casing that stays cool even when running. Furthermore, although they technically heat up more slowly, many campers who travel in less extreme cold might prefer a slow and steady waft of warmth than fast heat.

3. Which type of heater is cheapest to run?

In general, the heaters that are cheaper to run the long term should be energy or fuel efficient, that is they produce more heat but consume less energy or fuel in return. Or, they provide long-lasting heat, thus do not need to cycle on as often. 

Therefore, it is impossible to pinpoint one type of heaters as the cheapest to run. Also, how energy efficient a particular model is depends not only on its type or heating technology but also, well, the model you have. 

If we’re talking about low up-front purchasing cost, ceramic space heaters probably provide the highest efficiency among the electric space heaters. Meanwhile, if you do not need to warm up an entire space but only yourself, infrared heaters generally consume the lowest wattage per heat provided as they directly warm objects, making these cheap to run as well. Oil-filled heaters offer long-lasting heat that makes the most out of the electricity, thus is also efficient.  

4. How Long Does an RV Heater Take to Heat Up? 

The answer to this question varies widely based on the outside temperature, the temperature your thermostat is set to, how big your RV is and how well the vehicle is insulated. While some heaters will begin to warm up shortly after you plug them into a power source, others can take several minutes before reaching the desired temperature.

5. How Long Do Heaters Retain Heat After They’re Turned Off?

Camper heaters can retain heat for a short time after they’re powered off. Some may remain hot for between 15 and 30 minutes. This time frame also fluctuates depending on the outside temperature, how big your RV is and how well the vehicle is insulated. Eventually, they will cool off, allowing you to freely move them and store them.

6. Is It safe to use a space heater in an RV?

Using a portable heater in an RV poses certain risks, such as an overheated heater tips over or is placed too close to the walls or power outlet, making cords, power outlets, and the wiring inside your walls to overheat and causes fires. 

That said, the safest space heater for RV are equipped with an automatic shut-off timer to prevent them from reaching dangerously hot temperatures. However, heaters that remain on indefinitely have the potential to reach high levels of heat. If one feels hotter than it should, turn it off and unplug it. The best space heater for RV are typically also equipped with tip-over protection.

Below are some tips for safe and happy heating:

  • Choose a heater with a thermostat, auto shut-off, overheat protection and tipping-off protection.
  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • When you are not using the RV heater or leave the room, make sure to turn it off and unplug it. It is not advisable to leave it on without supervision for safety reasons.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface and away from traffic to avoid it falling over.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including people. Keep children away from the space heater.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Many heaters can be mounted on the wall or ceiling to keep them out of the way of pets and people.
  • Monitor the heater regularly to ensure it is in proper working condition. A malfunctioning heater can quickly lead to a potential fire.

7. Is 112-volt battery enough to power a RV furnace?

A 112 volt battery would be enough to power an RV furnace, but it would be better to have two. If your one battery has 100 amp hours, you can safely draw it down to 50% or 50 amp-hours. This would give your RV 6.25 hours of heater runtime without any other draws to spread over the days of your trip.

8. How long can an RV heater run on battery?

The furnace in your travel trailer will run without being hooked up to electric as long as you have appropriate battery power. It is almost impossible to calculate how long your batteries will actually last because there are so many variables: outdoor temperature, desired indoor temperature, amp draw of furnace motor, size of RV, insulation used in RV, solar heat gain, etc.

For a good rule of thumb, if you are planning on going camping over 3 days and you have two healthy 12-volt batteries, plan on another way to charge your batteries if you are in need of heat such as solar or a generator. 

Do note that typically, you are not supposed to draw down over 50% of capacity on lead acid batteries giving you 100 amp hours of usable capacity. Drawing your batteries down past 50% can cause permanent damage and will surely shorten the lifespan of your battery as well as deteriorate its capacity to hold a full charge.

For example, let’s say you have two healthy 12-volt 100 amp-hour batteries, providing a total of 200 amp hours. The blower fan of a typical space heater uses 8 amp hours. If there is no other draw on your batteries, you can expect your heater to run continuously for about 12.5 hours.

Even though this doesn’t sound much, remember that your heater is never on 100% of the time but cycles as needed, say 20 minutes every hour to keep your rig heated. Then, it would last almost 38 hours. This number will differ as you may set your thermostat back at night, or turn your heat off when you are not in your trailer or off on a hike.

9. Can I convert my gas furnace to electric?

Gas furnaces cannot be converted to electric systems. A true furnace conversion is designed to keep the primary components of the furnace but change a few smaller parts so a different fuel can be used. 

A common type of conversion is when a propane furnace is converted to a natural gas furnace. Otherwise, you can invest a reasonable amount in one or two portable electric space heaters, which should be affordable, convenient and versatile.

10. Do RV furnaces run on batteries?

An RV furnace runs on your rig’s batteries. Heat is actually produced from propane, but the blower fan runs on battery. The typical furnace will draw about 8 amps of power. It is a good idea to have solar or generator power to supplement the charging of your batteries when not connected to shore power.

11. Do RV furnaces run on electricity?

Yes, RV furnaces will run while you are plugged into electric. Your furnace will still run off of your 12 volt power, but your batteries will be charged from your on board charger. If you do have access to electricity, it may be a better benefit to invest in a small RV heater

12. How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity?

In extreme winter, you would most likely need gas, electrical or propane heaters to stay comfortable in your RV. That said, in case you want to camp in hard-to-get places without easy access to fuel stations to refill your fuel tank but need to keep your RV warm and toasty, there are several useful “passive heating” techniques that you can apply in addition to your heater. 

Apart from solar heating, the remaining methods are called “passive heating” as they effectively trap the heat inside your RV and prevent icy cold air from leaking in.

Solar Heating

Solar heating alone might be sufficient in milder winter, or along with your conventional heating methods, would save you a lot of money in the long term, all the while being friendly to the environment. Solar panels work by generating photons while sitting in the sun for hours. The photons can be converted to be used as electricity for your RV.

Thanks to the increasing popularity of this sustainable energy source, you can now choose from a wide variety of solar panels regarding power output and price. A panel typically costs between $500 and $300, depending on the durability, efficiency and size of the panel. The bigger the panel, the more green energy it can produce to heat your RV without electricity. 

Hatch vent insulator

The covers of your RV’s hatch vents, roof and wall vents are usually made from thin plastic, which is not reliable at all in preventing cold air from leaking in. Thus a simple yet super effective passive heating tip is to equip them with extra protection by adding another layer of Styrofoam right below the covers. You just need to cut the Styrofoam fit precisely and secure it in place with tape or another adhesive.

The second option is to get a vent insulator, a large piece of insulated foam that may or may not come with a reflective surface. Like Styrofoam, vent insulators are affordable and are also handy in the summer: it traps in cold air from your air conditioner. 

Reflective insulation

Another simple method that is handy in both winter and summer, Relectix is a reflective insulation accessory consisting of an aluminum foil, which covers all your windows to rebound most of the heat that travels to them. Thus the existing heat will be trapped or condensed inside your RV while only a small amount will escape, thereby more effectively maintaining the ideal temperature. 

These rolls typically cost only around $15-$30 each. Simply attach these rolls to cover the whole area of each window and the shower skylight.

Fixing air leaks

Before trying to do anything to more effectively trap warm air inside your RV, you must make sure cold air cannot leak in from all the nooks and crannies first. 

Tiny air leaks from the rubber gaskets around your exterior windows, doors and vents. If they are worn, repair or replace them. Next, inspect the edges of cabinets, closets and appliances, which are surprising places where cold air can leak through.

Getting maximum direct sunlight

You might think that trying to get exposure to sunlight when it’s snow and ice outside would not do much, but you would be wrong. 

Simply positioning your RV so that the largest windows point to the south and west to maximize your RV’s exposure to direct sunlight definitely will warm your RV up. It is one useful tip on how to heat an RV that many new RVers do not know or underestimate.

Also in RV Appliances, we’re providing thorough reviews and buying guides which help RV campers have peace of minds choosing the best RV air conditioner, best RV microwave convection oven, best RV vacuum, best RV dehumidifier, pop-up camper air conditioner, best RV washer dryer combo, best 12V refrigerator, best RV refrigerator, best RV refrigerator fan, best RV vent fan, best RV coffee maker on the market today.

Last Updated on December 23, 2020

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