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
I full-time RV in the southern United States. While the winter months are relatively mild, there still are plenty of near-freezing nights. My space heater takes what could be a highly uncomfortable situation and turns it into a cozy event.
For RVers who store their camper during winter but travel to areas where cold temperatures can occur into the fall or spring, a space heater is a camping necessity.
Many campers find running their propane furnace to be an expensive hassle or that part of their camper is still too cold while running the furnace and they need a separate heater to supplement their system.
Some RVs have no furnace at all, especially small or custom-built trailers, so having a compact, yet efficient heater is essential.
Some RVers like to save money on propane expenses and prefer to use the free campground electricity to heat their recreational vehicle, and need a different type of heater other than the propane furnace to accomplish this.
Some propane tanks run out in the middle of the night, and you won’t be able to fill your tank until the morning. If it’s 20 degrees outside when this happens, your RV’s interior temperature will drop like a rock.
There are many reasons for wanting an RV heater, but having one when you need it most is why owning a back-up heater for emergencies is smart.
Types of RV Heaters
RV heaters run on either propane gas or electric.
Propane space heaters can hook directly to your propane lines, or use a canister that screws into the unit. Whenever you use a gas space heater, it’s imperative you install a carbon monoxide detector inside your RV for safety if you don’t have one. Propane heaters are perfect for those who spend a lot of time boondocking or dry camping off-grid.
Electric RV heaters will eliminate the need to burn up your propane supply, and they do not emit potential dangerous carbon monoxide. When a campground offers free electric with a campsite, using an electric heater will save you money.
I use an electric tower-style space heater in my RV. In fact, I own and use a Lasko brand. Even when I have to pay a monthly electric bill when I stay long-term at a campground, using the heater adds very little to my bill.
The heater warms up my camper quickly and has gotten me through several winters with no issues. Once it warms up, I store it away under my couch.
Electric space heaters come in a variety of types like:
These heaters will either radiate heat or use a fan to force the hot air out and circulate it around the camper.
Radiant heaters, like an oil-filled radiator-style unit, provide a consistent heat in an extremely efficient and quiet manner. The big issue with radiant heaters is that it takes much longer to warm up your RV and most of these units take up a lot of space. Once the camper is warm, though, they maintain the temperature much better.
Ceramic electric heaters are very popular and use an internal fan that quickly distributes the heat inside your camper. As this type of heater cycles on and off, you will feel the cold creeping back in. This temperature variation and the fan that in some models can be noisy are some of the reasons people in small campers like the radiant heat models of RV heaters.
Top 6 Best RV Heaters
The best RV heaters can run on 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.
#1 – 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 belongs 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 as an oscillating feature which 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 that may tip the unit over. Because this heater can warm up to 180-square-feet of space, 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.
#2 – Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Heater
- Adjustable thermostat
- Easy to operate
- Additional fan setting
- Cool-touch exterior
- Automatic overheat protection
- Small and portable
- Manual controls
- Not automatic shut-off when tipped
The Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Heater is great for RVs due to the 11 different temperature settings and additional fan-only setting that you can utilize when your camper begins to feel too warm inside.
This heater is easy to control by turning the knobs to the settings you desire. The exterior material is made to remain cool to the touch, so it’s safe if you bump into the heater while it is running. The heater will automatically shut down if it overheats.
Customers are happy with how well this little heater warms up their small RV or a single room in their camper. Customers also like how quiet this heater operates, so they can watch TV or sleep with no interruptions. The small, lightweight design makes it ideal for storing away inside your camper when not in use.
The ceramic element in this heater means you can’t use it in high-humidity locations like inside a bathroom without causing damage.
BEST FOR: Small to mid-size RVs who want to conserve their propane and utilize shore power to heat their camper.
#3 – Camco 57351 Olympian Wave-8 LP Gas Catalytic Heater
- Uses no electricity
- Radiates heat
- Can be wall-mounted
- Automatic safety shut-off valve
- No thermostatic control
- Only runs on HD-5 propane
The Camco Olympian Wave-8 Gas Heater uses propane for power so your RV has no electrical drain which makes this the ideal heater for off-grid or dry camping.
The manufacturer makes this heater for use as a secondary heat source, but it works well in RVs that have up to 290-square-feet of space. The radiant heating element produces waves of warmth that not only provides comfort for your camping guests but runs silently.
This Camco model uses catalytic heating which is 99.98% efficient with results in a low-cost heat source.
Customers like the ability to either set this heater on the floor or mount it to the wall of your camper. Customers also feel safe because the heater is equipped with a safety shut-off valve to help prevent accidental fuel discharge. Customers find that this heater works wonderfully at elevations up to 8500 feet.
Customers who want to use this heater must understand that this heater only runs on HD-5 propane, which could cause some confusion in California where HD-10 propane is also sold. HD-5 propane is the most common propane gas sold in the United States, so finding the correct gas to run this unit should be simple.
BEST FOR: RVers in any size camper who like to camp off-grid and need a quality heater that runs on propane.
#4 – Dr Infrared Heater DR-838 Family Red Ceramic Space Heater
- Small, compact size
- Heats spaces fast
- Tip-over protection
- The red LED lights can be distracting
- Some complaints of fan noise
The Dr. Infrared Ceramic Heater DR-838 is made to industrial-grade standards which means it will hold up to bumps of RV travel and still function just as it should.
The heater features an adjustable thermostat, high, low, and fan only settings, and a compact design with a large carrying handle. The motor runs smoothly and quietly, and the metal housing stays cool to the touch so you can feel safe if accidental contact occurs.
Customers like how the self-regulating red ceramic element warms a camper very quickly and maintains a comfortable heat even on a low setting. They also like they can run the fan when the heat is not necessary. Customers also like the additional safety feature that automatically shuts down the heater if it gets knocked over.
BEST FOR: RVers that need a quick way to heat their small to medium-size campers but want a durable, lightweight unit that will hold up for years.
#5 – Brightown Handy Wall-Outlet Space Heater
- Very compact
- Made of durable materials
- Easily heats up a small space
- Auto shut-off for safety
- Must manually adjust the settings
- Only for very small campers or single room in larger RV
The Brightown Handy Wall-Outlet Space Heater is a small unit that packs a solid heating punch with two fan speed settings so you can heat your camper up quickly at a high speed, then turn down the fan to maintain the temperature.
Plug in this 350-watt, portable, ceramic mini heater into an outlet in your camper and enjoy the warmth it emits. You can plug in this heater in a higher location to keep it away from pets or kids. The timer and LED display make this heater very user-friendly. The plug can rotate so you can place this heater into any outlet and still have it in the correct upright position.
Customers enjoy the automatic shut-off in case of overheating and the ease of setting the digital thermostat and the timer that will automatically turn the unit on and off. RVers with small campers now have a heater that takes up barely any space, but can heat up to 250 square feet while using little power.
Buyers should be aware that this heater is not meant for use in high-humidity locations, such as a bathroom with shower or tub facilities because exposure to wetness will cause corrosion of the heating element and heater failure.
BEST FOR: RVers who have a small camper like a teardrop, trailer, or Class B motorhome who need a small, space-saving heater, or for use in a single room inside a larger fifth-wheel, travel trailer, or motorhome that needs a heating boost.
#6 – Homegear 1500W Infrared Electric Portable Space Heater
- Heats up to 500-square-feet
- LED display
- Remote control
- Dual heating system
- Overheat protection
- Must manually adjust the settings
- Only for very small campers or single room in larger RV
The Homegear 1500W Infrared Electric Portable Space Heater looks almost like a compact little RV fireplace when in use.
This cabinet space heater has a dual-heating system that combines both quartz and mica infrared heating tubes which can produce and circulate warm air very quickly.
For such a tiny unit, this heater can warm up to 500-square-feet of space, which makes it a fantastic choice for many medium-to-large size RVs. Once you hit the temperature you desire, this heater does a great job maintaining the heat level with an efficient and quiet blower fan.
Customers like they can set the thermostat and see the settings on the easy-to-read LED display. They also love not having to get up from the couch, table, or bed to adjust the settings by using the handy remote control.
BEST FOR: RVers who want their medium to large RV quietly and consistently heated and want to be able to control the unit without having to get up from their couch or table.
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 five 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!