Your Ultimate Campervan Heating Solutions Guide
Your family vacation just got a whole lot more interesting if you’ve chosen to hire a campervan. It’s undoubtedly going to be cheaper than a hotel and probably a lot more convenient, too.
However, while some of the essentials of your vacation may be taken care of by the rental company, heating in your campervan may not be one of them.
Before you hit the road in winter, make sure you’re all set to stay warm when it gets cold at night. There are several methods of heating a campervan, but knowing which one to choose for your specific situation can be tricky.
Firstly, we’re going to take a look at what sort of heaters you should use in the confined space of a campervan, then a roundup of some of the best models of campervan heaters to try this winter.
Different Types of Camper/Campervan Heaters
There are many different types of campervan heaters. However, before fitting one, you need to consider the space available in your van and how much noise you are prepared to put up with during quiet night stops. These types of heaters include:
Gas and Propane
These heaters operate from a gas bottle to a fan, which forces hot air into the van through vents on the floor. This type of heater is perfect for heating your van quickly and efficiently. However, getting them going can be difficult if they aren’t turned on and off frequently when it’s cold.
These heaters are also more likely to produce a smell, and the fanning of the hot air may blow dust around your interior.
These are similar to in-home electric heaters as they also come with fans. However, the heating elements are located at the top of the unit instead of in an enclosed compartment near the floor.
These heaters usually have a more even circulation of air. They won’t blow dust around your interior like gas/propane heaters. However, they are generally slower to heat your campervan, and the cost of running them for long periods could be expensive.
They rely on your campervan having an electric hook up, or you’ll drain your battery, fast!
These types of heaters burn wood or other solid fuels to produce a large amount of heat. They are generally very good at heating your van but have the disadvantage of being difficult to get going and keep going due to the need for dry fuel.
These stoves also must be vented out of your campervan, so they wouldn’t be suitable for camping in windy conditions. These heaters also require a high level of maintenance and cleaning to operate well and reduce the risk of chimney fires.
We’re goi8ng to focus on the first two types of campervan heaters.
11 Best Campervan Heaters in Winter 2022-23
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1. Our Top Pick For All Campers: Mr. Heater Buddy
The Mr. Heater Buddy is a portable propane heater with a built-in fan that provides a powerful heat output, ideal for use inside your campervan. Built for use both indoors and outdoors, it has a swivel-out cylinder connection to refuel the unit easily and a high-temperature wire guard for safety.
It comes with a built-in automatic shutoff feature, which will turn itself off if left unattended. Another great feature is that you can use it both indoors and outdoors, so if the power fails or your campsite has no electricity, you will still be able to stay warm. It comes with a 1-year warranty for your peace of mind.
- 4,000-9000 BTU heat output
- Can heat areas up to 225 sq ft
- Heavy duty design
- Automatic shut off if tipped
- Swivel-out cylinder connection
- Easy grip handle for portability
- A high-temperature wire guard
- Run time of 2.4 hours on high or 5.4 hours on low
- Weight: 9 pounds
- You’ll need a good supply of 1lb propane cylinders (sold separately)
- Not recommend for use above 7000 feet
If you want to heat an even larger area, we suggest you upgrade to the Big Buddy by Mr. Heater – it can heat areas up to 150 sq ft and lasts over 10 hours if run on low.
Next up, the Olympian RV Wave is a gas heater that can heat your camper up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 15 minutes. It has a maximum output of 33000BTUs but an adjustable flame which allows it to be turned down for use as a 12000 BTU heater. The heater has a shutoff safety feature that automatically turns off the gas supply to your unit if it is knocked over or gets too hot.
It also uses a piezoelectric sparker (similar to those found in lighters) which means less trouble starting up and maintaining your heating appliance. It comes with adjustable heat control, is designed to be used inside your van or cabin, and can heat an area to 300 square feet.
- 3,000 BTU heat output
- Safety shutoff valve
- Automatic piezoelectric sparker
- Catalytic heating
- Dimensions: 5 x 12 x 15 inches
- Weight: 6.9 pounds
- Recommended for 130 sq ft coverage
- Can be hard to start up when cold
- Piezoelectric sparker may fail after a few months of use
The Dimplex DGWH4031G is a plugin electric heat source that can warm your camper up fast. Dimplex comes with a built-in fan that blows hot air into your van or cabin for immediate warmth upon entering the room.
It has a bracket that allows you to mount the heater onto the wall or ceiling, and it has a swivel head to direct the heat where you need it most. It comes with a built-in thermostat that enables simple control over your heating system and has a fan delay setting, which means it will turn off automatically after heating the room.
This is a great campervan heater when you own your own van and want to set it up with some more permanent homely touches, such as built-in heating.
- 4000 Watt Forced Air
- Dimensions: 11 x 7.25 x 9 inches
- Weight: 12.1 pounds
- 6 foot long electric plugin cord – 240V
- The bracket that allows ceiling or wall-mounting, plus swivel and pivot
- Automatic overheat protection
- Thermostat control
- Good heat output
- Balances well on its stand
- Some users complain of a rattling noise
- Not always safe to use in high damp conditions
If you’ve only got a small space to fill, this Pro Breeze 1500W Mini Ceramic Fan Heater is designed for those who need an extremely quiet heater that will not disturb their campervan sleeping space. It emits a maximum heat output of 1500 Watts high and 750 Watts low.
It has an adjustable thermostat and comes with a tip-over switch that cuts off power from the unit if it accidentally gets knocked over. The heater is made from high-quality ceramic elements for efficient heating but can cause damage if touched directly.
- Ceramic 1500 Watts Forced Air
- High and ow power modes
- Dimensions: 7.09 x 5.83 x 9.65 inches
- Weighs 1.3 kilograms
- Electric plugin 120V
- Adjustable thermostat
- Built-in overheat protection
- Fan only mode
- Anti-tip-over switch
- It can be operated with one hand for convenience
- The small amount of heat output means it will take a long time to warm up a cold area, which may not be suitable for larger campers
The Dreo Radiator Electric Heater is a sleek-looking 1500W electric heater designed to be used in your van or campervan.
Ideal for larger campervans, it comes with a digital thermostat for temperature control and remote control, which means you can change the temperature without getting up. It has a timer setting that lets you pre-set when you want it to start up, automatically switching off when necessary.
This heater provides four different modes of heating: fan only, eco, heat one, and heat 2, so you can choose the best setting for your requirements. It is a remote unit and is lightweight. It has an overheat protection system and comes with a tip-over switch to prevent damage when it falls or tips over accidentally.
The slim design on wheels makes it easy to stow away in your camper when not in use.
- 1500W Electric
- Remote Control
- Overheat and Tip-Over Protection
- 24h Timer
- Electric plugin
- It is slimline and lightweight
- It comes with a digital thermostat
- Four modes of heating
- Can heat up to 300 sq ft
- After use, the heater has been known to develop a rattling noise, so it may not be the best option for quiet sleepers.
With a stylish external design, the Lasko designer oscillating heater is a great choice for heating your campervan. It comes with a built-in thermostat that will automatically regulate itself to maintain the temperature of your van and has an adjustable dial on it so you can make the heat as intense as you like.
The unit also features wide-spread oscillation for a comfortable and even heat across the whole room. It has an automatic tip-over switch and safety-conscious grill design to ensure that it is safe to use inside your campervan, along with the added feature of a child lock. It comes with a two years warranty, too.
- Oscillating heated air circulation
- Adjustable thermostat for maximum comfort levels
- Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 16 inches assembled
- Weight: 6.5 pounds
- Electric plugin
- Self-regulating element
- Comes with a timer
- Safety grill design
- Good range of power settings
- Quiet fan operation
- Some purchasers claim the construction is a little flimsy
The Costway oil-filled radiator heater is a great solution for heating your van and is an easy way to add some warmth in the winter months. The unit is designed with an oil-filled radiator style, which gives you the benefit of even heat distribution. It will also automatically sense when it needs to turn back on once the room has reached the desired temperature.
It comes with a digital thermostat to adjust the heat settings as you see fit and features overload protection and a child lock. The heater is lightweight and easy to move around your van for maximum comfort; it won’t take up too much space when stowed.
- 1500W oil-filled Radiator
- Overheat protection
- Child lock
- A digital thermostat
- Power cord plugin 120V
- Oil-filled radiator style design
- Dimensions: 10 x 13.5 x 25 inches
- Item weight: 19.3 pounds
- Good heat output
- Overload protection
- Quiet fan operation
- No thermostat on power
Kismile Portable electric heater has a reputation as one of the quietest small fan heaters. It’s convenient to be carried anywhere, for outdoor use at the campsite, cabin, garage, or in your campervan! The electric heater has three heating modes: fan mode, low heat mode, and high heat mode. The fan can be used alone or with either of the two heating modes.
Another feature is the adjustable thermostat which you can adjust according to your preferred temperature level. It automatically shuts off once it reaches the set temperature levels for safety reasons. The overheat protection uses a microprocessor that detects any temperature rise and turns it off automatically.
- Ceramic Heater Fan
- Adjustable thermostat
- Tip-Over protection
- Overheat Protection
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 6.5 x 9.65 inches
- Weight” 3.47 pounds
- Heating with 3 modes – fan, 950W and 1500W
- Electric Plugin 120V
- Only portable outdoors with a long power lead
The Camp Gear Portable Dual Fuel Propane & Butane Heater is an excellent choice if you are looking for a dual gas stove that can be used as a small camp heater. It has two burners and is designed with a large window that lets you keep an eye on your cooking. It has a large firebox made from high-quality stainless steel, which is highly durable and easy to clean.
You can cook or heat your van simultaneously, giving you more options when camping. The Campy Gear comes with three adjustable flames for different-sized pots and pans, which is helpful if you cook for more than two people.
- Dual function camping gear
- 13,000 BTU
- 360 degree heating
- Enough warmth for 3-4 people
- Dimensions: 6.7 x 10.2 x 11.4″
- Weight 7.8 pounds
- Adjustable flame control
- Requires LPG gas cylinder (not included)
- Must only be used in a space with proper ventilation, cannot be operated in a fully enclosed camper
Campy Gear stoves come in several different sizes depending on how much heat and cooking space you need. The larger models “Hunky” and “Wiry” (pictured) need LPG and can work in heat and cook and heat modes; the smaller models “Chubby” and “Little Guy” can work with propane cylinders and work with heat and cook only modes independently.
After a small but cost-effective campervan solution? The Mini Desk Heater from Brightown is an efficient, compact heater that you can use both indoors and outdoors. It has a low wattage of just 400W, which makes it energy efficient, and the oil-filled radiator is designed for fast heat-up and low running costs.
It is fast and quiet, making it ideal for use in a van, and it has a simple, easy design. It can be used as an emergency backup heater if the power goes out and also features a timer that you can set up to 2 hours or turn off entirely if you don’t want it running all night.
- 400W Low Wattage = Less energy used
- Tip-Over protection
- Corded Electric power source 110V
- Single on/off switch
- Oil-filled radiator
- Quiet and fast heating
- No wall mounting option available
This oscillating space heater is compact, lightweight, and easy to use. With a convenient carry handle, you can easily carry it from one space to another to keep your camper warm during the winter months. It has an adjustable thermostat and an adjustable fan speed to control the temperature.
It also has a low oxygen shutdown mechanism for your safety and overheating protection. The oscillating fan will efficiently keep your van warm and comfortable.
- Tip-Over Cut-Off
- Overheat Protection
- Electric plugin
- 72 degree oscillating fan
- Remote control for added convenience
- Adjustable thermostat with low and high ehat modes
- Some users report a plastic smell on inital use but this should go away
Key Features to Look For in a Campervan Heater
When looking for a campervan space heater, the features you seek may differ slightly from what you’ll look for in a home heater.
- How much space needs heating. There’s no point buying a campervan heater that’s much too powerful for the amount of space that needs, check the square footage you need to heat to decide on the size of heater you will need.
- Floor or Wall Mounted. While a small floor heater might work great with just one or two of you in a campervan, with kids, infants, and dogs wandering around, you may prefer a wall-mounted heating unit. Always look for tip cut-out features in a campervan heater.
- Oil Radiator vs Fan. Generally speaking, oil radiators are a little larger and heavier, but they are less noisy to operate, particularly if you’ll be running the heater all night.
- Altitude. It’s not just our bodies that can feel the effects of high altitudes; air contains less oxygen at high altitudes so the right mix of fuel (propane) and air are needed. If you’ll be heading to the mountains ensure you’ve bought a heater model that has adjustable air intake.
Interpreting Campervan Heater Jargon
- BTU stands for British Thermal Unit – it is basically a heat output measure. While Fahrenheit or Celsius might tell us how hot or cold, the air feels, a BTU tells you how much heat is needed to change the temperature.
- Watts (W) is the power used. Most small space heaters are around 1500W.
- A really basic rule of thumb, a space 150sq ft needs 1500 watts – larger campervans and RV’s you will want to look for higher wattage.
- Most plugin electric heaters operate on 110-115 volts (v); in country’s outside the US, you may find voltage different – careful if you travel internationally with electronic items such as heaters; step down converters may be required).
Safety Precautions Using a Campervan Heater
These campervan heaters have several safety precautions and procedures to follow. A few general guidelines before using any sort of campervan heating system:
1. Do not smoke anywhere near any heating appliance.
2. Ensure the heater is correctly installed and does not touch any flammable materials.
3. Follow the safety instructions for each type of heating appliance, including how to use it correctly, what area of your van is covered by the heat output, where the hot air comes out of the heater, what areas are ventilated by it, etc.
4. Check that you have an appropriate ventilation system installed to ensure the hot air is vented outside your van.
5. Ensure you have a fire extinguisher somewhere in your van and that it is accessible at all times.
6. Make sure children are not left unsupervised near any heating appliance.
The safety precautions for using a campervan heater are fairly simple. Still, they should always be followed to ensure you are kept safe when using a heater.
More Campervan & Road Trip Essentials
Before heading off on a long campervan road trip with your family, you may also be interested in:
- The most comfortable car seat cushions for long distance driving.
- These are the best toys for entertaining kids on road trips.
- Travelling with an infant? You might want to try one of these portable bottle warmers for meals on the move
- Keeping an eye on what’s happening behind you while driving is tough! If you like to keep an eye without turning your head, these are the best baby monitors for the car
- Looking for campervan gift ideas, or wondering what would be useful to ask for Christmas? We’ve got you covered with these awesome gift ideas for campervan owners
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