Reviews

LAST UPDATED: October 10, 2019

Best RV Heaters: Keep Your RV Warm, Dry, and Mold-Free

Love RVing all year round? A spare or backup RV heater is a must

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The Review Team

  • Product Network

    23 Products

  • Clock

    12 Hours

  • Reviews

    10 Reviews

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PUBLISHED ON October 10, 2019

RVs, campers, and boats are notorious for attracting mold. A good RV heater is a must for keeping your RV dry and cozy in cooler weather. An RV heater is also important in protecting your appliances from damage due to condensation and below-freezing temperatures. Check out some of the best RV heaters on the market.

  • Best Overall
    Camco Olympian Wave-3
    Summary
    Summary
    The Camco Olympian operates on low-pressure gas. It can be wall-mounted or used as a portable unit. No electrical drain or battery connections make it ideal for an RV.
    Pros
    Pros
    It’s very efficient. On its maximum heat setting, a 20-pound propane tank lasts around 160 hours. On the low setting, it runs for around 300 hours. Since it’s a non-powered radiant heater, it’s perfect for going off-grid.
    Cons
    Cons
    Might emit a chemical smell during the first few uses. With a large RV in colder conditions, two units may be required.
  • Best Overall
    Camco Olympian Wave-3
  • Best Value
    Mr. Heater Buddy
    Summary
    Summary
    Don’t let the small size of this heater fool you: while it only measures 15 by 11.5 by 9.6 inches, it provides enough heat to warm up 225 square feet. It is safe and quiet.
    Pros
    Pros
    Mr. Heater has an easy-to-use digital dial. Included are convenient handles for moving it around. There is an auto shut-off if it’s tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or if it detects low oxygen levels. A great optional air purifier is available.
    Cons
    Cons
    A common problem is issues with the filter system. Some users complain of poor customer service.
  • Best Value
    Mr. Heater Buddy
  • Honorable Mention
    Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater
    Summary
    Summary
    This personal space heater is great for small areas. It comes fully assembled. It has a 1,500-watt ceramic heating element with 11 different temperature settings. Features a cool-touch exterior.
    Pros
    Pros
    Its compact size and convenient carry handle allow it to be easily moved from the kitchen to the bedroom or anywhere else. An overheat protection feature ensures this heater does not overheat.
    Cons
    Cons
    It does not have a safety off switch in the event it tips over. It’s not suitable in large spaces at high heat.
  • Honorable Mention
    Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater

    RVs, campers, and boats are notorious for attracting mold. A good RV heater is a must for keeping your RV dry and cozy in cooler weather. An RV heater is also important in protecting your appliances from damage due to condensation and below-freezing temperatures. Check out some of the best RV heaters on the market.

    Best RV Heaters Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    The Camco heater is powered by low-pressure gas and produces 1600 to 3000 BTUs. It generates sufficient heat to warm a 100-square-foot space. The heater has a built-in Piezoelectric sparker that works automatically and can last for 20,000 starts. You can use the unit as a supplementary heating source in your RV. 


    Here’s how this catalytic heater works. It uses a hot catalyst and oxygen to ignite the gas. This causes a flameless reaction that produces heat. Since the heater doesn’t require a battery connection, it does not cause a parasitic battery drain and is ideal for dry camping and boondocking. It has a shut-off valve, which enhances safety by preventing accidental fuel discharge.


    This is a wave heater that operates quietly without noise. It can be mounted on a wall or used as a movable heater. However, the heater may produce a chemical smell during the first few days of use. And if your RV is not well-insulated, or you’re out RVing in cold weather, you’ll need two of these heaters. 

    Best Value

    This compact heater can heat up a 225-square-foot space. It is a great heating solution for RVing enthusiasts and those who love camping outdoors. It is powered by liquid propane and connects to a one-pound cylinder. The manufacturer has equipped it with an auto shut-off valve and an oxygen-depletion sensor. If it tips over, it switches off immediately. It also goes off if the sensor detects low oxygen levels or if the pilot light turns off. 


    The swivel-out regulator allows you to connect the heater to a remote gas supply source. All you need to get is a hose and a filter. To switch it on, choose the pilot setting, then push. The heater’s piezoelectric sparking mechanism will turn it on. The heater comes with a fold-down handle that makes it easy to carry. It may be small in size, but it puts out a lot of heat (up to 9,000 BTUs).


    If you want a heater that will make your RV feel like a comfy home, this may be it. When putting out the maximum BTUs, it can run for three hours. But it shuts off when used at altitudes higher than 7,000 feet above sea level. Also, its filter system doesn’t always function as expected. 

    Honorable Mention

    Specifically created for small spaces, this heater is great for warming RVs. Its compact size and carrying handle make it portable, so you can use it in different rooms. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and is ideal for RVs with limited space. It is also user-friendly and features straightforward manual controls. It has three quiet settings: fan, low heat, and high heat.


    Lasko puts safety first by integrating different safety features. The overheat protection feature switches the heater off if you leave it on for too long. Also, the heater doesn’t overheat when you use it for extended periods of time. It has a cool-touch exterior and stays cool no matter how long you use it. Its adjustable thermostat has 11 different temperature settings, and it allows you to regulate the heat and save energy.


    This heater comes fully assembled; you only need to plug it in to start enjoying the warmth. It has a ceramic heating element and draws 1500 watts of power. But its biggest drawback is it doesn’t have an auto shut-off valve. In case it tips over, it can be a hazard. What’s more, it is unsuitable for warming large spaces, even when on the high-heat setting.

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    Benefits of an RV Heater

    • Keep your RV warm. An RV heater keeps your motorhome warm, ensuring you, your family, and friends don’t freeze when it gets cold. Maintaining warmth inside your RV is also important because the heat prevents your appliances and the RV from getting damaged by condensation and cold temperatures.
    • Travel in any weather. When you have a good RV heater, the fun never stops. You can explore new places even when the weather is not so friendly. A heater allows you to enjoy RVing during the winter and have adventures in places with low temperatures.
    • Variety of options. RV heaters come in different types and can either be electric, gas-powered, or oil-powered (oil furnaces), which we detail below. With so many options, you can buy one that suits your needs and fits within your budget.

    Types of RV Heaters

    Gas Heater 

    Gas heaters use two types of gas: natural and propane. Propane gas is manmade and doesn’t discharge toxic gases when it burns, so it's kind to the environment. Natural gas releases greenhouse gases, which can cause global warming. The major drawback of gas heaters is that they need to be refilled in order to keep working. Also, gas is highly flammable, therefore any leakage can be extremely dangerous. Gas heaters cost more but are cheaper and easier to maintain. And they may require minimal electricity to operate. 

    Electric Heater

    This heater transforms electricity into heat. It doesn’t produce any byproducts and is safer than a gas heater. It is slower at dispensing heat because it doesn’t have vents and ducts. To boost its performance, you can use a fan to spread the heat. Many electric heaters are lightweight and portable, which is convenient. The downside is they can only heat one space at a time. And since the heater is not built into the RV, it can tip over and potentially cause a fire. 

    Oil-Powered Heater (Oil Furnace)

    This heater operates like a gas heater and heats up just as fast. However, its heat lasts much longer. Oil-powered heaters are safer than gas heaters because they don’t produce carbon monoxide. However, these heaters also have their shortcomings. Their primary risk is that of fire and burns. Oil heaters can also be noisy, but this depends on the model. They are the least popular of all RV heaters and are mostly used as radiators. 

    Top Brands

    De'Longhi

    Established by the De'Longhi family, this is an Italian company that manufactures household and industrial appliances. It was launched in 1902 as a workshop for manufacturing small industrial parts. Its headquarters are in Treviso, Italy. In addition to portable heaters, the company produces air conditioners, small cooking and food preparation appliances, and cleaning and ironing products. It is well- known for its unique creations like the DeLonghi Oil-Filled Space Heater

    Broan-NuTone 

    Originally known as NuTone, this is an American company founded by J. Ralph Corbett in 1936. It produces ventilation systems, electric heaters, and indoor air quality products for residential use. In 1987, the company was bought by Valor, a British home products manufacturer. In 1998 the company was added to the Broan Group. It is headquartered in Hartford, Wisconsin. Its top-rated heater, the Broan-Nutone Heater, makes a wonderful addition to any space. 

    Suburban Manufacturing

    Founded in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1947, this company is a leading manufacturer and distributor of RV heating and cooking appliances. Its name is well-known for enhancing the RV lifestyle. Its products are synonymous with quality, longevity, and reliability. In 1997, Suburban Manufacturing was acquired by Airxcel, Inc. The company produces specialty appliances for ventilation, air conditioning, and heating, such as the Suburban Electronic Furnace.  

    RV Heaters Pricing

    • $50-$150: These RV heaters are usually small. They can heat up larger spaces with ease. Some are portable and can be used in different rooms. Some are equipped with an auto shut-off feature which prevents accidents. Most of these heaters can run for five or more hours.
    • $150-$300: These heaters may be powered by oil, electricity, or gas. They have unique features like thermostats, auto shut-off valves, overheat protection, and remote controls. They are typically quieter, compact, and lighter in weight. Some produce up to 18,000 BTUs per hour.

    Key Features

    Safety Features

    An RV heater can be a safety hazard because it can start a fire. Thankfully, the best RV heaters are equipped with safety features. These include auto shut-off valves, overheat protection, cool-touch surfaces, remote controls, and inner switches. The auto shut-off valve prevents overheating or ignition if the heater tips over. A cool-touch surface ensures you don’t get burned. If you’re getting a propane heater, get one whose fuel valve closes immediately when the pilot light switches off. 

    Fuel or Power Consumption  

    Consider how much power or fuel your RV heater needs. Check the voltage, overall wattage, and the current. These influence the heat produced and the electricity a heater uses. Also, take the time to confirm if the heater is ideal for your RV. A bigger RV requires a more powerful heater. In case you are buying a propane heater, identify how much gas it needs to run. The last thing you want is to freeze in the middle of nowhere. 

    Efficiency

    An RV heater’s efficiency is measured using the British Thermal Unit (BTU). It determines how efficiently the device burns fuel or how much electricity it needs to heat up space. How long does the heater take to heat up a room? Can it maintain the same temperature for extended periods of time? Does it go on and off frequently? The best RV heater should emit a high amount of heat and consume minimal energy. Get a heater with a range of temperature settings. You can always adjust the settings and save energy. A heater that draws a lot of power can destroy your RV’s battery.

    Other Considerations

    • Noise Level: The noise level of an RV heater is an important feature. Compare different models and read reviews before deciding which one to buy. The best RV heaters don’t produce a lot of noise. The presence or absence of a fan determines a heater’s noise level. Some electric heaters are equipped with a built-in fan, which distributes the heat. This feature makes them noisier than other heaters.
    • Cost: How much a heater costs is influenced by its heat-production capacity and the additional features it comes with. Your budget and the features you want will dictate the amount you spend. Portable heaters typically cost $100 or less, but it depends on the brand and features. Centralized heating devices usually cost more than $500.
    • Ease of Use: Find out how easy or challenging it is to use the heater. Can someone who is unfamiliar with RV heaters use it? Does it require an expert? The best RV heater is user-friendly. A good example is a portable heater. It is easy to use and to maintain. You can always get a high-tech heater later on.

    Best RV Heaters Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    The Camco heater is powered by low-pressure gas and produces 1600 to 3000 BTUs. It generates sufficient heat to warm a 100-square-foot space. The heater has a built-in Piezoelectric sparker that works automatically and can last for 20,000 starts. You can use the unit as a supplementary heating source in your RV. 


    Here’s how this catalytic heater works. It uses a hot catalyst and oxygen to ignite the gas. This causes a flameless reaction that produces heat. Since the heater doesn’t require a battery connection, it does not cause a parasitic battery drain and is ideal for dry camping and boondocking. It has a shut-off valve, which enhances safety by preventing accidental fuel discharge.


    This is a wave heater that operates quietly without noise. It can be mounted on a wall or used as a movable heater. However, the heater may produce a chemical smell during the first few days of use. And if your RV is not well-insulated, or you’re out RVing in cold weather, you’ll need two of these heaters. 

    Best Value

    This compact heater can heat up a 225-square-foot space. It is a great heating solution for RVing enthusiasts and those who love camping outdoors. It is powered by liquid propane and connects to a one-pound cylinder. The manufacturer has equipped it with an auto shut-off valve and an oxygen-depletion sensor. If it tips over, it switches off immediately. It also goes off if the sensor detects low oxygen levels or if the pilot light turns off. 


    The swivel-out regulator allows you to connect the heater to a remote gas supply source. All you need to get is a hose and a filter. To switch it on, choose the pilot setting, then push. The heater’s piezoelectric sparking mechanism will turn it on. The heater comes with a fold-down handle that makes it easy to carry. It may be small in size, but it puts out a lot of heat (up to 9,000 BTUs).


    If you want a heater that will make your RV feel like a comfy home, this may be it. When putting out the maximum BTUs, it can run for three hours. But it shuts off when used at altitudes higher than 7,000 feet above sea level. Also, its filter system doesn’t always function as expected. 

    Honorable Mention

    Specifically created for small spaces, this heater is great for warming RVs. Its compact size and carrying handle make it portable, so you can use it in different rooms. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and is ideal for RVs with limited space. It is also user-friendly and features straightforward manual controls. It has three quiet settings: fan, low heat, and high heat.


    Lasko puts safety first by integrating different safety features. The overheat protection feature switches the heater off if you leave it on for too long. Also, the heater doesn’t overheat when you use it for extended periods of time. It has a cool-touch exterior and stays cool no matter how long you use it. Its adjustable thermostat has 11 different temperature settings, and it allows you to regulate the heat and save energy.


    This heater comes fully assembled; you only need to plug it in to start enjoying the warmth. It has a ceramic heating element and draws 1500 watts of power. But its biggest drawback is it doesn’t have an auto shut-off valve. In case it tips over, it can be a hazard. What’s more, it is unsuitable for warming large spaces, even when on the high-heat setting.

    Tips

    • At some point in your RVing adventures, you will probably run into cold weather and your onboard furnace will not turn on. An RV heater makes a great backup, so it makes sense to have one for emergencies.
    • A built-in RV furnace’s electric fan blower can be very loud. If you’re having a cold night, the blower can be very irritating as it cycles on and off all night. If you’re off-grid, it will run your batteries down.
    • In the winter, a low-heat RV heater is a must to keep mold at bay and water pipes from freezing during unexpected cold snaps. Even Florida experiences occasional below-freezing weather. 

    FAQs

    Q: Why do I need an RV heater when my unit has a built-in furnace?

    A: Built-in furnaces are gigantic energy hogs that are heavy users of both propane and electricity. Most portable RV heaters are much more fuel-efficient and are a good energy-saving device for even casual RVers.

    Q: I only use my RV in the summer months. Why would I need another RV heater?

    A: Some locales can have unseasonably cold weather even in the summer, particularly at higher elevations. In the winter, an RV heater on minimum heat can keep mold at bay and prevent freezing during cold snaps.

    Q: Which is better; propane or electric RV heater?

    A: This depends on where you are. Propane and electricity costs vary all over the country. The big plus with propane is its portability if you enjoy backwoods RVing away from hookups and the grid.

    Final Thoughts

    We found the Camco Olympian Wave-3 to be the best all-around heater for most RVs and campers due to its good performance and durability. You can save money with our efficient budget pick, Mr. Heater Buddy.