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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PUBLISHED ON October 10, 2019
A good RV heater is a must for keeping your RV dry and cozy in cooler weather. It can also protect your appliances from damage due to condensation and below-freezing temperatures. RVs, campers, and boats are also notorious for attracting mold, and a proper heater can combat that problem. Check out some of the best RV heaters on the market.
You can mount this heater on the wall or use it on the floor. It has two power modes: 1,500 watts and 750 watts.
- Heater is cool to the touch
- Has a built-in thermostat, LED display, and remote control
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Struggles to heat a space when it's very cold
- Not particularly energy efficient
Don’t let the small size of this heater fool you: while it only measures 6 x 6.7 x 7 inches and weighs just 38.8 ounces, it provides enough heat to warm up 108 square feet. It is safe and quiet.
- It’s capable of heating up to 1,500 watts in seconds
- There is an auto shutoff if it’s tipped over or if it overheats to prevent fire
- Features an incrementally adjustable thermostat
- Needs to be 3 feet away from any objects
- Requires AC power to function
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.
- Its compact size and convenient carry handle allow it to be easily moved from the kitchen to the bedroom or anywhere else
- Overheat protection feature ensures this heater does not overheat
- Does not have a safety off switch in the event it tips over
- Not suitable in large spaces at high heat
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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 heaters use two types of gas: natural and propane. Propane gas is typically compressed and stored as a liquid. Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting of mostly methane. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 2021
The wall-mounted Heat Storm Phoenix HS-1500-PHX heater is great for small areas in which there's not a lot of floor space. It also comes with removable feet, so you can place it on the ground. It features two power modes, 1,500 watts and 750 watts, with 5200 BTUs. The heater, including the grill, is safe to touch, and it uses HMS technology that produces safe heat without interfering with oxygen or humidity.
The heater has a built-in thermostat, LED display, and remote control. Users report that it's lightweight and easy to move. It's also not very loud and easy to mount on the wall. The unit can take some time to heat a room, particularly if it's very cold, but ultimately it provides good performance. In addition, the manufacturer provides a one-year warranty should you experience any issues.
There have been some complaints that it doesn't produce enough heat overall, so if you use it in a cold climate, you may be disappointed by its output. It's also not very energy efficient.
The Isiler Space Heater is a powerful and compact heater that will fit inconspicuously in most RVs, making it a great little space-saving heater that’s offered at an extremely competitive price point. Constructed from durable rust-resistant and fire-retardant materials, this ceramic heater is a self-regulating heater that features automotive overheat and tip-over protection to avoid accidental fire or burning of surrounding materials.
It quickly produces up to 1,500 watts of heat that is capable of heating up to 108 square feet of space. The adjustable thermostat can be incrementally altered to produce temperatures between 41 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to completely customize the amount of heat you need and want to stay warm and comfortable. Weighing a mere 38.8 ounces and equipped with an ergonomic handle, this little heater is super lightweight and easily portable. The manufacturer does recommend leaving three feet of space between furniture and the heater, which may be difficult in some smaller RVs.
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.
The Xtreme Heaters Boat, Cabin & RV Heater is convenient because it draws air from the top, so you can place it against a wall or on a carpet and not have to worry about safety. This low-profile heater is portable and has a stable base, so it won't tip over.
It has built-in overheat protection and an automatic thermostat to protect against freezing. The heater has two heat modes: 1500 watts and 750 watts. It comes with a 6-foot power cord, so there's some flexibility when it comes to finding a place to plug it in. Users like that it's quiet, small, and unobtrusive. The small size makes it an ideal heater for small campers.
However, it's a little pricey, and it doesn't come with a remote control.
If you’re in the market for a portable RV heater that will also work anywhere else you need it to, the Honeywell HCE311V Digital Ceramic Compact Tower Heater is a powerful, economical, and space-saving option. This slim design of this heater is only 2.7 inches deep, allowing you to place it almost anywhere to effectively heat different areas. It features two constant heat settings, an easy to read digital programmable thermostat, 1, 2, 4, and 8-hour timer settings with automatic shut-off, and 360-degree tip-over protection that will instantly shut the heater off should it get knocked over.
This heater also features overheat shut-off protection, an energy-efficient oscillating base, dust filter, and a well thought-out cool touch plastic housing. It has a 1,500 watt capacity that is capable of effectively heating most RV spaces. The only drawback is that this unit requires 110-volt AC power to function and can’t run on 12-volt or propane like many RV heaters.
- 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.
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.
We found the Heat Storm Phoenix HS-1500-PHX 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 value pick, the Isiler Space Heater.