RV travel can take you to a wide variety of climates, so preparing for any environment is crucial. While most RVs come with an air conditioner, many do not have an RV heater. So, how can you find the best RV heater that can warm your camper quickly and safely?
I wrote this guide to explain why you need an RV heater, the types of heaters available for RV use, and to help you select the perfect one.
Why You Need an RV Heater
As a full-time RVer in the southern United States, I’ve experienced my fair share of chilly nights, even during the milder winter months. A reliable space heater transforms these potentially uncomfortable nights into cozy, warm experiences.
For those who continue their RV adventures throughout the year, encountering cold temperatures in the late fall or early spring isn’t uncommon. In these scenarios, a space heater becomes more than a luxury; it’s a necessity for comfortable camping.
Many RVers encounter challenges with their built-in propane furnaces. These can range from high operational costs to uneven heating throughout the camper. This is where a supplementary heater can be invaluable, ensuring every corner of your RV remains comfortably warm.
Interestingly, some RVs, particularly smaller or custom-built models, don’t come equipped with a furnace. For these campers, possessing a compact yet powerful heater isn’t just useful – it’s essential for warmth and comfort.
Another consideration is the cost of propane. Savvy RVers often prefer to capitalize on the free electricity provided at many campgrounds, opting for electric heaters instead of relying solely on their propane furnaces. This switch can offer significant savings on propane expenses.
A common issue faced by RVers, especially during colder nights, is running out of propane. Imagine it’s 20 degrees outside, and your propane tank depletes unexpectedly in the middle of the night. The inside temperature of your RV can plummet rapidly, making a backup heater not just a convenience, but a necessity for those unexpected situations.
The reasons for needing an RV heater are diverse, but the common thread is preparedness. Owning a reliable backup heater is a smart move for any RVer, ensuring warmth and comfort regardless of what surprises your travels may bring.
Types of RV Heaters
RV adventurers have two primary choices when it comes to heating their mobile abodes: propane gas heaters and electric heaters. Each type has its unique benefits, tailored to different camping lifestyles and preferences.
Propane Gas Heaters: Essential for Off-Grid Adventures
Propane heaters, which can either connect directly to your RV’s propane lines or use a separate canister, are a popular choice for off-grid enthusiasts. They’re particularly favored by those who enjoy boondocking or dry camping in remote areas. However, it’s crucial to prioritize safety with these units. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your RV is an absolute must when using gas heaters, as it safeguards against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
In addition, It is important to ensure that any propane heater you use inside your rig or tent is rated for indoor use.
Electric Heaters: A Convenient and Safe Option
Electric heaters, on the other hand, offer a convenient alternative, especially when you have access to campground electricity. They’re a boon for those looking to conserve their propane supply, and more importantly, they don’t emit carbon monoxide, making them a safer choice in enclosed spaces.
My personal experience with a Lasko electric tower-style space heater has been nothing short of satisfactory. Its efficiency in heating up the RV quickly, coupled with minimal impact on the electric bill, makes it a cost-effective and practical solution. When not in use, it conveniently tucks away under my couch, saving precious space.
Types of Electric Heaters: From Ceramic to Oil-Filled
Electric heaters come in various forms, including ceramic, infrared, and oil-filled models. Ceramic heaters, known for their quick heating capability, use an internal fan to distribute warmth. However, they might cause slight temperature fluctuations as they cycle on and off.
In contrast, oil-filled radiant heaters offer a more consistent heat output and are impressively quiet. The trade-off is that they take longer to warm up the space and can be bulkier.
Each type of heater has its unique advantages, whether it’s the efficiency of a ceramic heater or the consistent warmth of an oil-filled model. Understanding these differences can help you choose the best heater for your RV lifestyle, ensuring comfort and safety on your journeys.
Top 6 Best RV Heaters
The best RV heaters can run on either propane or electricity, but you also need a space-saving, compact design that is easy to walk around and store. You also want a safe and powerful unit that can warm up your camper fast and keep you comfortable during cold spells.
Next, I review the six top RV heaters with pros and cons, details about each product, and which size camper each model is best.
Author’s Pick: Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower Heater
- Cool touch exterior
- Remote control
- Quiet operation
- Sleek design
- Heats room quickly
- Oscillating feature
- Adjustable digital thermostat
- No tip-over shut-off
The Lasko Ceramic Tower heater is at the top of my list for its overall performance and affordable price.
The 1500-watt RV heater is durable, and the internal components are made to withstand the extreme heat this unit generates. The slim and tall design makes it possible to tuck this heater into a corner of your RV and not worry about tripping over it. The design also makes it easy to store the heater when not in use.
If you do bump into the heater, the cool-touch exterior will never cause burns, no matter how long the heater is running. The fan has an oscillating feature that helps improve heat disbursement to keep you comfortable.
Customers like the carry handle, making the heater easy to move. They also appreciate the multi-function remote control so that they can adjust the heat settings from nearly any location inside their camper.
Another benefit customers mention is not only how fast the heater warms up the interior of their RV but also the quiet operation and the automatic shut-off feature if the unit ever overheats.
A word of caution is that this heater does not shut down if it falls over, which can be a concern for RVers with pets or small children who may tip the unit over. This heater can warm up to 300 square feet of space, according to the product page on Amazon, but RVers with large campers may need two units.
BEST FOR: RVers with just about any size recreational vehicle that requires a fast and robust heater but also want digital control, a handy remote, and an adjustable thermostat.
Best Compact: Lasko Ellipse Ceramic Tabletop Heater
- Tip-Over Switch and Child Lock for enhanced safety.
- Features a Digital Display and Thermostat for easy temperature control.
- AutoECO Mode for energy efficiency.
- Wide Oscillation and Remote Control for convenience.
- Compact and stylish design, suitable for small spaces.
- 3 Heat Settings and 2 Fan Speeds for customizable comfort.
- 1500W power, ideal for medium-sized rooms.
- Quiet operation, perfect for indoor environments like RVs.
- It was difficult to find any notable cons for this little heater.
The Lasko Ellipse Ceramic Tabletop Heater, model CD12950, is a compact heating solution designed for indoor use. Retailing at approximately $59.99, this 1500W heater is intended for heating medium-sized spaces, which may make it suitable for use in RVs.
- The heater offers a 120° heat distribution, aimed at evenly warming the area.
- Includes AutoECO Mode, designed to adjust heating output for maintaining a set temperature while aiming to reduce energy consumption.
- Safety features include a tip-over sensor and a child lock, which are notable for use in confined spaces such as RVs.
- Equipped with touch-sensing controls and a digital display for ease of use.
- Comes with a remote control, facilitating adjustments from different locations within the space.
- The design is compact, with a built-in handle for portability.
- It is often commended for its safety features, effective temperature control, and the convenience of remote operation.
- The heat output of the unit is also frequently highlighted in customer reviews.
The Lasko Ellipse Ceramic Tabletop Heater’s combination of safety features, energy-saving mode, and heating efficiency might make it a practical option for RV users looking for a compact and portable heating solution.
Best For: RVers seeking a compact, stylish, and safe heating solution with advanced features like a remote control, wide oscillation, and energy-saving modes, ideal for medium-sized spaces within the RV.
Best Infrared: Heat Storm Phoenix HS-1500-PHX 1500 Watt Infrared Space Heater
The Heat Storm Phoenix HS-1500-PHX infrared heater stands out as a top choice for RV owners seeking efficient and versatile heating solutions. This model’s dual mounting options allow it to be placed on the floor with included feet attachments or mounted on the wall, saving valuable floor space in compact areas like RVs.
- Wattage: 1500 Watts, offering robust heating power.
- Mounting Options: Can be mounted on the wall or used on the floor, providing flexibility in different RV layouts.
- Safety Features: Includes a tip-over safety shut-off and a safe-to-touch grill, enhancing safety in the confined space of an RV.
- Control: Features a touch screen with a digital thermostat for easy temperature adjustments.
- Adjustable Brightness: The screen brightness can be adjusted to suit different preferences and times of day.
- Remote Control: Comes with a remote control for convenient operation.
The Heat Storm Phoenix is designed to heat up rooms efficiently without overloading the circuit breaker, making it ideal for RV use where power consumption is a concern. Its 1500-Watt power can be adjusted to half power (750-Watt) or set to an auto mode that selects between the two, ensuring energy-efficient heating.
This model’s patented Heat Exchanger HMS Technology maximizes heat efficiency from the infrared quartz bulbs, ensuring that heat is delivered effectively without any loss. Its safe-to-touch grill makes it a safe option around children or pets.
- Dual heating modes and auto-selection for energy efficiency.
- Safe and easy to use with a touch screen and digital thermostat.
- Versatile mounting options suitable for various RV spaces.
- Compact design that doesn’t compromise on heating power.
- Limited to indoor use.
- The aesthetic may not suit all RV interiors.
Best For: RV owners looking for a versatile, efficient, and safe infrared heating solution that can adapt to different space constraints and heating needs.
Best Oil-Filled: De’Longhi Dragon Digital Oil-Filled Radiator Heater TRD40615E
The De’Longhi Dragon Digital Oil Filled Radiator Heater, TRD40615E, emerges as a prime choice for RV owners looking for a reliable and efficient heating solution. This model’s digital features and ergonomic design make it particularly suitable for the limited and varying spaces of an RV.
The De’Longhi TRD40615E is designed to provide quick and efficient heating without creating a dry environment, making it a suitable option for RV living. The ergonomic portability with front and rear handles and easy-to-use wheels facilitates movement from one room to another within the RV.
- Efficient heating with digital control and programmable features.
- Radiant heating method for even and comfortable warmth.
- Portable design with integrated handles and wheels.
- Energy-saving with ECO Plus feature.
- Heavier compared to other portable heaters (26.6 pounds).
- Some users report disagreements over temperature accuracy, smell, and noise levels.
Best For: RV owners seeking a digital, energy-efficient, and easily movable oil-filled radiator heater, suitable for maintaining a comfortable and consistent temperature in small to medium spaces.
Ultra Compact SOlution: Brightown Handy Wall-Outlet Space Heater
The Brightown Handy Wall-Outlet Space Heater is a compact and efficient option for RVers looking for a convenient heating solution. Its design is particularly suited for small spaces, making it an ideal choice for small campers or as a supplementary heat source in larger RVs.
- Power Output: 350W and 450W options, providing efficient heating for small areas.
- LED Display and Timer Function: High-definition LED display for clear temperature monitoring and a timer function that allows setting heating times from 1 to 12 hours.
- Adjustable Thermostat: Precise temperature control within 60°F to 90°F.
- Portability and Mounting: Compact size (2.8 x 4.3 x 6.5 inches) and lightweight (0.88 pounds), with a 180° rotating 3-jack plug for easy wall mounting.
- Safety Features: Overheat protection and CSA safety certification.
- Energy Efficiency: Low wattage design to prevent circuit overloading and reduce energy consumption.
This heater’s fast heating ceramic technology ensures rapid warming, making it efficient in quickly heating up small spaces. Its digital controls and adjustable thermostat provide precise temperature settings, enhancing user comfort.
- Quick heating capability for immediate warmth.
- User-friendly with an LED display and timer function.
- Precise temperature control for customized heating.
- Lightweight and easily portable, suitable for small spaces.
- Energy-efficient and safe with overheat protection.
- Limited to heating small areas (up to 100 sq.ft).
- Some customers have differing opinions on value and heat resistance.
Best For: RVers with small campers such as teardrops, trailers, or Class B motorhomes, or those needing an additional heat source in a specific area of a larger RV.
Best Propane Heater: Mr. Heater Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater
The Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater, recognized for its reliability and versatility, is an excellent choice for RVers and outdoor enthusiasts. With a heating capacity suitable for spaces up to 225 square feet, it’s ideal for a range of settings, from RVs to outdoor adventures.
- BTU Output: Offers a variable BTU output of 4,000 to 9,000 per hour, adaptable to different heating needs.
- Propane Gas Usage: Operates using propane gas, compatible with a 1-pound cylinder, and can be connected to a 20-pound cylinder with an optional hose and filter.
- Safety Features: Includes Piezo igniter, low-oxygen safety shut-off system, and accidental tip-over safety shut-off.
- Design: Compact and portable design with a swivel regulator and fold-down handle, facilitating easy transportation and storage.
- Settings: Features high and low heat settings to suit various temperature requirements.
The heater’s ability to connect directly to small or larger propane cylinders offers flexibility in usage, especially for longer trips or in remote locations. The integrated Piezo sparking mechanism simplifies the ignition process, while safety features like the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and tip-over shut-off enhance its suitability for indoor use.
- Versatile heating capacity for small to medium spaces.
- Portable design, suitable for various outdoor activities and RV use.
- Safety mechanisms including ODS and tip-over shut-off.
- Straightforward operation with easy-to-use controls.
- Some mixed reviews regarding the product’s overall quality.
- Not available for sale in Canada and Massachusetts.
Best For: RVers and outdoor enthusiasts who require a dependable and portable propane heater for indoor and outdoor spaces. It’s particularly well-suited for emergency heat, tents, campers, and other enclosed outdoor settings.
Having the best heater for your RV makes every camping trip more comfortable. The right heater can eliminate the chill from the air inside your camper during cold spells and extend your camping season for many more months. Even off-grid campers will benefit from having a reliable heat source during cold snaps.
I hope you find this guide to the top six best RV heaters helpful. I want to help my fellow RVers learn more about what equipment they need to own so they can prepare for any camping situation.
My top pick for the best RV heater is the Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower Heater.
What’s your favorite RV heater? Tell us why you recommend it by sharing your thoughts in the comments below!