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If you’re traveling during inclement weather or chilly seasons, depending on a reliable RV heater becomes second nature. Not only do you want to stay comfortable throughout the day, but you also want to ensure appliances and pipes aren’t freezing at night. Because there’s a broad range of options available, choosing the right one can becoming overwhelming and confusing.
While most RV’s come standard with heater installations, it isn’t uncommon for owners to opt for selecting those running on electricity. It could be because the insulation isn’t the best in their RV or because they want to use it in multiple locations. No matter the reason, we have this guide available for you to help sort through the decision-making process.
Heating Up: The Best RV Space Heater Options
|Best Electric Heaters For RVs
|Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Heater
|Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater
|Oscillating Space Heater
|Camco Olympian Wave 8 Gas Catalytic Heater
|Catalytic Propane Heater
|Bovado USA Portable Ceramic Space Heater
|Compact Electric Heater
|Suburban NT-30SP Electronic Ignition Ducted Furnace
|Replacement Furnace Option
Reviews of Our “Hot” Picks
In this section, we outline all the details about our top recommendations. You’ll find information describing the heater’s features, what we love, what we don’t like, and lists of pros and cons for helping you weigh your decisions.
Best Overall RV Heater
Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Heater
Mr. Buddy Big Buddy Heater is not only compact, but it also features high power and efficiency. When you’re looking for a reliable heater, you can depend on between 4,000 and 18,000 BTUs. In addition to using it in your RV, it works exceptionally well in cabins and other spaces up to 450 square feet.
We love that this heater has a built-in fan, which helps disperse its heat effectively. Its fan also helps this portable heater increase its heating capacity. You’ll also find that this model is also a great option regarding combining radiant and convection-style heating.
Overall, this is a great option if you are trying to add some heat to any rig that is 35 feet or under.
- Compact, lightweight, and portable
- Auto-shutoff features
- Built-in blower fan
- Heats up to 450 square feet
- Multiple heat settings
- Some users reported overheating issues
Best Oscillating Space Heater
Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater
Sometimes an oscillating fan is the best option. In that case, you can’t beat the features and quality available in this 23-inch 1500 watt Lasco ceramic RV heater. Because you’ll find high-quality fiberglass materials, that means you and your friends or family won’t experience burns when touching this heater. It also features a handle that allows you to move it from place to place while it’s still fully operational.
We love the multi-functional remote that’s available with this heater. It allows you to adjust the settings without having to leave the comfort of your seat or stoop down in front of it to get the temperature right. So, if you have mobility issues, this is an incredible feature during the winter or other chilly months. It’s also handy during overnights, so you don’t have to get out of bed to turn off the unit or re-adjust its settings.
One feature we’d love to see change is that there’s no automatic shutoff when the unit tips over. So, if you have young children or animals in your RV, you must keep an eye on this heater.
- Remote control available
- Auto-timer feature
- Oscillates for even heating
- Quiet operation
- Fiberglass comfort touch
- Doesn’t have a safety shutoff
- No thermostat function for low power settings
Best Catalytic Propane Heater
Camco Olympian Wave 8 Gas Catalytic Heater
When you would prefer not to use electricity for operating your RV heater, then the Camco Olympian Wave 8 Gas Catalytic Heater is your best option. Why? Because not one volt if power is necessary for operating this heater. Instead, you’ll be using propane for keeping your RV warm.
We love that; besides pumping out a significant amount of heat (between 4,200 and 8,000 BTUs), it operates quietly. So, if you need to warm up between 100 and 350 square feet in a jiff or keep spaces warm at night, you can achieve both of those goals without much noise at all.
A drawback we did notice about this heater is that you can only put HD-5 propane in it for it to function. While HD-5 is the most common propane gas available throughout the United States, you must ensure you’re not mistaking it for HD-10. HD-10 is a standard propane gas in California.
- No need to use electricity
- Mounts to your RV’s wall
- Auto shut-off valve available
- Portable and lightweight design
- Quiet operation
- Thermostat control not available
Best Compact Electric Heater
Bovado USA Portable Ceramic Space Heater
Sometimes RV’ers are looking for the most compact heater they can find that boasts the most features and highest heating capabilities. That’s what you’ll find in the Bovado USA Portable Ceramic Space Heater. It’s 10 x 6 x 6 compact design makes it easy to transport, while it’s dial makes for straightforward heat settings.
We love that this unit utilizes the Temperature Coefficient heating system whereby ceramic heating discs help improve the heat transfer in RVs. You’ll also save money using this heater because, when you keep it in specific spaces, there’s no need to crank up the thermostat. The built-in carrying handle also makes its portability that much more convenient.
One drawback we did find, though, is this portable unit is expensive. However, when you consider its durability and the high-quality materials available in this heater, it makes for a dependable and long-lasting unit.
- Portable, lightweight, and compact
- Helps to reduce energy costs
- Heats spaces efficiently
- Built-in carrying handle
- Can use in different locations
- It’s expensive
Bonus Pick: Best Replacement Furnace
Suburban NT-30SP Electronic Ignition Ducted Furnace
When you need a replacement furnace for your RV, the Suburban NT-30SP Electronic Ignition Ducted Furnace is an excellent choice. Though it operates using propane, it uses an electric ignition for turning on its heat cycling. Because there isn’t a pilot light that always has to be on, the electrical ignition system is more efficient. As soon as you turn on the furnace, a spark creates and that makes the unit more efficient.
We love that this furnace will warm up your RV thoroughly. So, each time you wake up in the morning or step out of the shower, you will no longer be entering a chilly room. This furnace also helps prevent frost from accumulating on your doors and windows. We also love that this furnace can reach up to 30,000 BTUs. That means it will heat up to 2,000 square feet, which is more than enough for an RV.
While we do love many features of this RV furnace, we wish it didn’t come with such a high price tag. However, when you consider that this unit it durable enough to last you up to thirty years, it’s well-worth the investment.
- Includes vent assembly
- Electronic ignition improves efficiency
- Low amp draw
- Easy to install
- No need to use electric heaters
- The unit is expensive
Recap: Best RV Space Heaters
- Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Heater – Best Overall RV Heater
- Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater – Best Oscillating Space Heater
- Camco Olympian Wave 8 Gas Catalytic Heater – Best Catalytic Propane Heater
- Bovado USA Portable Ceramic Space Heater – Best Compact Electric Heater
- Suburban NT-30SP Electronic Ignition Ducted Furnace – Best Replacement Furnace
Buying a Space Heater for Your RV: What to Look For
Just like selecting any other appliance, choosing the best space heater for your RV is dependent upon you and your family’s needs. Therefore, you must keep some critical factors in mind before making your final decision. Here are some factors we suggestion considering during your research.
Type of Heater
Most heaters are going to fall into one of three categories.
- Gas heaters – These use combustion to provide heat and can be natural gas heaters or propane heaters.
- Electric heaters – These convert electricity into heat, sending an electrical current through a resistor which results in hot air blowing through the vents.
- Oil furnaces – Very similar to a gas heater, burning oil in a sealed chamber. It heats up quickly, but doesn’t burn as fast as natural gas or propane does.
Are you new to the RV lifestyle? Or, are you rarely using this mode of travel? If you answer “yes,” to those two questions, it might be best for you to select a budget-friendly heater. Fortunately, high-quality heaters can be cost-effective. However, if you spend a lot of your time RV’ing, and have the space for such accommodations, then opting for an RV furnace might be better. You can read Brian’s guide on budgeting for full-time RVers to get a sense of what this and other expenses might cost you.
Your ultimate goal is achieving a comfortable space, but that should be done so while simultaneously saving money and benefiting the environment. Therefore, it’s best to select a heater with an excellent range of temperature settings to help you save energy and prevent you from keeping the heat too high. You may also want to consider investing in a heater with a built-in timer that will switch on and off instead of running continuously.
Power and Fuel Consumption
You need to know how much power it is going to take to heat up your whole space. Obviously, larger RVs will require heaters with higher power ratings. Make sure you know how quickly your heater burns fuel as well so that you don’t run out of power during the cold night!
Do you plan to use your heater in more than one location outside of your RV? If so, consider investing in a portable solution. Choose one that has built-in carrying features, has a compact design, and is lightweight. That way, you can travel freely with it in your RV and use it in other locations as well.
Size of Your RV
When researching heaters, one critical factor to consider is your RV’s size and the amount of space you’re heating. For example, if you need to warm up a significant amount of space, you’ll need a more powerful heater. Under most circumstances, manufacturers will guide regarding how large space their heater will accommodate.
Safety is another factor that should be at the top of your mind when you’re researching a new heater. For example, if the heater starts overheating or tips over, you know you selected a good one if it switches itself off automatically. These features prevent the heater from becoming a fire hazard. It’s also essential that you look for a “cool-touch” surface for electric heaters. That way, you and your companions can avoid potential burns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Safe To Use A Space Heater In My RV?
While many of the heaters we recommend are space heaters, they can cause fires. This is true with almost any type of heater because flammable material is all around your RV. Before you set up your heater, check the surroundings to make sure that there is nothing that could possibly catch on fire, and check that nothing could fall into the heater either.
How Long Can Heaters Run On Battery?
Depending on the size of your heater and how cold it is outside, heaters can last up to 8 or 9 days purely off battery power. We recommend checking and possibly recharging your batter every 2-4 days if its really cold outside to prevent your battery getting zapped and your heater not working!
Do All Heaters Run On Electricity?
While your HVAC heater will run solely on electricity (if you have a 2-in-1 system), just like a space heater, your furnace built into your RV will not run solely on electricity. Those units use electricity to start, and propane most of the time to keep the heat going.