How to Shop for the Best Electric RV Heater
Before you buy a portable RV heater, there are some things you should know about it, so you don’t end up disappointed with your purchase. The brands & models vary so much in areas like size, power, heat output, and type that selecting one is only smart after you’ve carefully figured out what you need from it. Below are some of the more important points that you should know before buying one.
Electric Heater Types
There four main types of electric heaters, so you’ll want to know which one will suit your needs. While all of them do the same thing (heat a space) they do it in different ways, which makes a big difference depending on where you’ll be using it.
These produce heat by heating oil or some other hot “element” and letting infrared heat rays radiate into the room. They don’t heat the air, but instead heats the surface of objects that the infrared rays touch (including people). Radiant heaters get extremely hot. They are great at warming you, but they work better when you’re in the direct path of the RV heater. For example, if you have an object in front of it – a chair, for example – you won’t be able to feel the heat. The RV heater would heat the chair but not much else.
These are better for smaller spaces and use less energy than other types. They produce a strong, penetrating heat that will quickly take off the chill when it’s cold, but these RV heaters are slow to heat a room, and the heat doesn’t linger after you turn it off.
Conductive RV heaters work by transferring heat from the hot/warm object to the cold/cool object. They work like a campfire. Conductive heaters don’t heat the air at all and are better for quick, focused, temporary heating system. Most portable space heaters are not conductive.
These are also known as fan heaters because a fan blows the hot air out of the unit and into the room you’re trying to heat. These RV heaters work fast and generally have more safety features than other types. They are the most popular type of portable space heater because they are quick, and once, they heat a room, the room generally will stay warm. However, they aren’t always the most efficient RV heaters.
They get their name from the PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) ceramic elements that transfer heat to metal elements. Once heated, a fan then blows the heat out into the room evenly and efficiently. This means that ceramic RV heaters are mostly the same as fan RV heaters.
One good thing about ceramic RV heaters is that the PTC ceramic that is used in the product doesn’t get hotter than 392 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius), so this provides an automatic overheat protection feature. So if safety is your number one concern; this is the perfect type for you. However, these portable heaters aren’t great at heating a room. They generally heat the immediate space around them, so they make excellent desk or tabletop heaters.
The wattage can be thought of as how much power the unit has. It’s sometimes confused with how much heat the product produces (see BTUs below) because these things are almost the same. The size of the space that you are trying to heat will determine how many watts you need from your RV heater. Figure out the square footage of the area and multiply it times 10. This number would be the minimum number of watts that an RV heater should have to adequately heat the space. For example, if your area is 75 square feet, you’ll need a product with at least 750 watts.
There is also one other point about watts that you need to pay attention to. In an RV, you’ll likely be using an inverter or a generator to convert your DC power to AC power. Inverters and generators have a maximum number of watts that can be used to start the RV heater. You must make sure that your generator or inverter can handle your RV heater’s wattage; otherwise, it’s not going to work.
British Thermal Units (BTUs)
BTUs can be thought of as how much heat the RV heater produces. Sometimes manufacturers list the BTU rating on the gearbox. However, if they don’t, you can figure out the BTU rating by multiplying the number of watts by 3.41.
To figure out how many BTUs you need to heat the space that you’re buying the product for, you use the formula above to figure out how many watts your electric camper heater needs to have, then multiply it by 3.41. BTUs and watts are like the imperial system versus the metric system. You could use either measurement to determine how much power/hot air your unit will produce.
Electric heaters are less of a fire hazard than RV propane heaters or an RV furnace, but they’re still hot. They can be dangerous if they don’t have certain safety features, especially in a moving RV, where they may get tipped over. Here are a few safety features you should look for:
- Automatic shut-off in case of tipping over
- Guards in front of the heating elements
- Cool-touch surface
- Sensors to alert you to overheating
- Logos to indicate the product has met specific safety standards such as the Underwriters Laboratory (UL), Intertek Group (ETL), and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
The size is important, but not because it has anything to do with the amount of heat it puts out. RVs are small, so you don’t want a product that’s going to take up a whole lot of space in your RV. If you have a specific space to put your RV heater in, make sure you measure it, including the height, to make sure that whatever model you buy will fit in that space.
Having a good warranty is a smart move. Sometimes things can go wrong, even with the best RV heaters. Knowing that the manufacturer has your back when you make a purchase is comforting. A good warranty also shows that the manufacturer has faith that the product will last. Try to get an electric heater with at least a one-year manufacturer’s warranty that’s clear, precise, and easy to find.
Try not to let cost sway you too much unless you’re on a budget. Price can be misleading. The most expensive electric heaters may not be the best choice for you, so you would be simply wasting money if you invested in one. In some cases, you’re paying extra money solely for a name. If you like name brands, great. If not, you may do your wallet a favor by avoiding high prices just because of a name.
Higher-priced RV electric heaters usually have some advantages and extra features that are attractive. Lower price portable heaters might be lacking in features, but they can do what you need them to do very well-heat up a space. A good practice is to aim for a mid-range-priced model. This way, you’re not overspending, but you also aren’t getting something cheap and low-quality.
Best Electric Heater for RV – The Results
Lasko Ceramic Space Heater
Best RV Heater – Easy to Use
The Lasko Ceramic space heater is a handy little 1500-watt model that packs a punch. It’s basic, having only two controls, but it has an adjustable thermostat control with 11 different temperatures and three different fan speeds. If you like simplicity, this is a great choice.
One minor thing we wish that Lasko would change is the red indicator light. The light indicates when it is plugged in, not when it’s on. This means that the light will always be on, and there is no reminder if you’ve forgotten to turn it off. However, this is a minor detail and doesn’t affect how the heater performs.
Convenience is what this product is all about, as it’s incredibly portable. It’s small, measuring only 5.66 x 3.7 x 9 inches and weighs only 3.7 pounds. It even has a convenient carry handle that stays cool to the touch, so it’s easy and safe to move it around. It is manufactured well and has a three-year warranty. It’s ETL-listed, indicating that it meets North American safety standards.
- Comes in two colors: silver and black.
- Has a cool-touch exterior.
- Has overheating protection.
- Good for 150 square feet of RV heat
- Easy to Use
- The handle is small and awkward.
- Doesn’t have a tip-over safety feature.
Camframo Electric Space Heater
This 1500-watt fan model has a unique design. It looks like a projector – flat and wide with two “feet” to stand on. The low-profile design acts as a protection feature because you don’t have to worry about it tipping over. It also makes it small and compact enough to fit in almost any RV space.
The Camframo has a very durable with all-metal housing completed with “feet” and dials made of hard plastic. It’s constructed incredibly well and has an impressive five-year warranty. In addition, it’s CSA-certified and meets all U.S. standards.
The Camframo operates quietly and has a good heat output. We particularly liked the anti-freeze feature. It will automatically kick in when temperatures drop below 38 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a great product particularly suited for rugged environments.
- It’s a bladeless fan model, so it’s quieter than the average RV fan heater.
- The metal housing is cool to touch.
- It has five fan speed settings and an adjustable heat thermostat.
- Capable of heating up to 150 square feet
- The hard plastic on the bottom cracks easily.
- Dials are a bit flimsy.
Bottom-Line: If you’re rough with your appliances, this is an excellent choice because the all-metal housing offers protection, and the fantastic five-year warranty provides backup.
Dyson Pure Hot+Cool™ HP04 Purifying Heater + Fan
If you’re a tech-savvy person and want to keep technology on the road with you, this premium model has more features than you’d ever thought a heater could have. Not only will it heat your space, but it will purify the air at the same time and send real-time data about your air-quality to your smartphone. It also doubles as a powerful fan to keep you fresh during the summer months, so you’ll not need to buy an extra piece of equipment.
Dyson is known for its Air Multiplier technology. The fan is bladeless, and the Multiplier technology helps to increase the speed and power of the fan. The 350-degree oscillation (adjustable from 45 degrees) ensures that it heats the whole room quickly and evenly. There is no doubt that this tech, along with the eight temperature settings it has, will keep your entire RV warm.
If that’s not enough, it comes with a magnetized remote (the magnet is for storage on the metal casing of the heater). If you don’t like remotes, the unit is also voice-controlled. You get all this amazing technology in a product that only measures 30.1 x 5.11 x 8.07 inches, weighs only 12.36 pounds, and has a three-year warranty. It’s portable; it’s high-quality, it’s impressive.
- Has Wi-Fi capability to connect with your smartphone.
- Has the Quiet Mark accreditation.
- It has a tip-over safety protection but doesn’t tip easily anyway.
- It’s extremely expensive.
- The “cooling” function doesn’t work as well as the “heating” function.
Bottom-Line: This highly expensive product is for people who have a large budget and loves technology. Most of the technology in this model is nice to have, but unnecessary for heating a space. However, who doesn’t want to say they own a Dyson?
Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater
Best Electric RV Heater
If you like the idea of an oscillating heater with remote, this 1500-watt tower stack is for you. The remote isn’t magnetic like the Dyson’s, but it does clip onto the back of the product for safekeeping. The elongated design makes it great for fitting into corners or tight small spaces, allowing you to run it out of the way of your everyday activities.
This model has excellent safety feature such as tip-over shutoff, overheat protection, and cool-touch exterior. It has a carry handle, although, like the first Lasko in the list, the handle is small and awkward. It has widespread oscillation, so it heats the whole room quickly and easily.
The heater is compact, measuring 7.25 x 8.6 x 23 inches and only weighing 8.6 pounds. It has a three-year warranty and is ETL-listed. The adjustable thermostat and 8-hour timer make it a great model for your RV.
- The digital display is bright and clear.
- It’s extremely quiet.
- Can heat 150 square feet
- It produces a strange smell.
- The remote labels are confusing.
Bottom-Line: This is a good, all-around product. It’s not extremely technologically-advanced, but it does what you need it to with style and class.
DeLonghi ComforTemp Portable Radiator Space Heater
This radiant heater may not be the smallest on the list, but for a product of this type, it’s lightweight and can be handled easily. It measures 5.9 x 13.8 x 24.9 inches and weighs about 21 pounds. It takes a little effort to pick it up, but with the pop-on caster wheels, it will be easy to roll around once you get it into your RV.
This model has some interesting points that we loved. The all-metal housing is rounded on the edges, so you won’t accidentally scratch yourself. It also can maintain an optimal temperature in your RV. The manufacturer claims that this saves you on energy costs. We’re doubtful that you’ll have any significant savings, but it is nice that you can set it to a comfortable temperature and not have to worry about the unit overheating your RV. The product has a three-year warranty and a sealed oil filled system, so you don’t have to worry about refilling it.
- Provides pleasant, steady, comfortable warmth.
- It’s extremely quiet.
- It gets really hot to the touch.
- We noticed a chemical smell on it’s first use.
Bottom-Line: This is a good model for heating an area, not an entire room. If you’re looking to heat around your bed, or your desk, or similar space, this is an excellent choice.
Last update on 2021-05-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API