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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BY Michael Trigg / LAST UPDATED 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
- 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.