Home » HVAC » Best RV Heater: Staying Warm When the Mercury Drops

Best RV Heater: Staying Warm When the Mercury Drops

By

Last Updated on

); ?>

Call of the Open Road is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Editors Choice

Honeywell HZ-445R Ceramic Surround

Honeywell HZ-445R Ceramic Surround Heat Whole Room Heater with Remote Control, Black

The Honeywell HZ-445R Ceramic Surround blows the competition clear out of the water and wins our best RV heater title. It’s an outstanding forced-fan model that is compact, portable, safe, and heats a large space with ease. It’s everything you could need in a portable RV heater.

What’s most impressive about this tiny product is that despite its small size it’s powerful enough to heat a large space. It has a 1,500-watt rating, as do other electric space heaters on our list, however the Honeywell HZ-445R excels due to its efficiency and quality. It even has a three-year warranty to back it.

The extra-wide base is particularly useful for life on the road, making it more stable when your RV is in motion. However, if it does fall over you can be assured of its safety as it has tip-over protection as well. The Honeywell Ceramic Surround has a well-thought-out design and is perfect for RV campers.

Unless you’re in the market for a different heater type, this is a great, all-around product and the best electric heater for travel trailer living that we reviewed.

Best RV Heater: A Warm Welcome

If you’re an RV owner, you will know that there’s very little insulation in your recreational vehicle. So being in an RV during winter can soon become uncomfortable without a good space heater.

If you’re in the market for a new heater for RV use, extra heaters, or a replacement for your current one, then you want to get the best product for you, the first time around.

This handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about heaters for RVs plus give you some suggestions on the best space heaters to keep you warm and cozy this winter.

Looking for the Best Space Heater for RV Living?

  • What types of heaters you can use in an RV
  • What features are important in RV heaters
  • Reviews of the best space heaters on the market
  • Which RV space heater will be the best for you

How to Choose the Right Heater for Your RV

When the average person shops for an appliance, they usually look at the brand, the price, and the size. These are all important features to pay attention to when buying a motorhome heater, but they aren’t the only features you should pay attention to. This is especially true when looking for a travel trailer heater because there are so many variables involved. The most important decision you’ll have to make is the type of heater you want. There are quite a few types, but the two most popular are furnace and space heaters.

Best RV Air Conditioner Banner

Furnace Heaters

Furnace heaters are non-portable and need to be installed inside your RV. There are two types of furnaces: forced-air furnaces and heat pump furnaces. These two types are very different from each other.

Forced-Air RV Furnace

A forced-air furnace uses propane to control the temperature An electricity-powered fan then blows the heated air through the ducts and out the vents. A furnace is much more potent than a heat pump furnace (next section). They output an average of 30,000 BTUs of heat, meaning it can heat a large RV.

Pros:

  • Extremely powerful and fast heating
  • Durable – they last longer than the other types of heaters
  • Inexpensive compared to heat pump furnaces

Cons:

  • Installation can be complicated
  • Requires two power sources.
  • Can be noise

Heat Pump Furnace

If you have an air conditioner with a heat function installed on top of your RV, then you have a heat pump furnace. These are convenient since you don’t need a separate appliance from your air conditioner. However, they are nowhere near as powerful as a forced-air furnace. For example, a forced-air furnace might produce 30,000 BTUs of heat (discussed in the following section), while a heat pump might produce 6,000 BTUs of heat. This doesn’t mean that a heat pump furnace can’t help keep your RV stay warm, but it might not be the right travel heater in specific scenarios.

Pros:

  • Only uses one power source – electricity
  • Produces dry heat, so no foggy windows
  • Built into the AC unit, so no separate appliance purchase
  • No additional installation required since it is built into AC

Cons:

  • Not as powerful as forced-air furnaces
  • Uses a lot of electricity
  • Doesn’t work well below 40°F Fahrenheit

Space Heaters

Very popular among RV owners because of their portability. They are compact, lightweight, and you don’t have to worry about complicated installations. There are three types:

  • Catalytic – These are gas heaters that produce heat from the reaction of propane gas and oxygen (from the air) over a catalyst. This differs from gas heaters since a catalytic heater doesn’t produce a flame making it safer.
  • Gas/Propane – Propane (or gas) heaters will heat an area well. They are also extremely quiet – almost silent. They do cause a fair amount of humidity in the air, so your windows may get foggy. Fuel may become an issue unless you have a lot of backup canisters.
  • Electric – These are the most straightforward heaters to use. Simply plug electric heaters in and turn them on. You don’t have to worry about having a stock of fuel around, open flames, humid air, or weird smells from propane gas. However, they don’t heat as well as an RV gas heater, and they tend to cost a lot more.

Other Considerations

Wattage

Once you’ve narrowed down your type, there are several other factors important to decide upon. For electric heaters for RV use one such factor is the wattage. You’ll need to make sure that your RV’s battery can handle the starting watts of your heater. Be sure not to confuse this number with the running watts. Most portable electric heaters use a maximum of 1,500 watts, and RV batteries can usually handle that unless you have a lot of appliances hooked up and turned on at once. If you’re connected to shore power, you’ll likely be okay running most of your small devices simultaneously.

BTUs (British Thermal Units)

You’ve probably heard of BTUs before. In case you haven’t, the simplest way to explain it is that they are a measure of how much hot air a product can produce. You can think of it in the same way we looked at watts – the more you have, the more your space can be heated.

There is no “best amount” of BTUs that can be recommended though because it’s a personal preference. However, there are some standard BTU ratings for different types of heaters. For example, many gas portable space heaters produce somewhere around 1,500 BTUs.

The Best RV Heaters – The Results

Camco Olympian Wave-8 8,000 BTU LP Catalytic

Best Catalytic Model

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave-8 8000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

The Camco Olympian Wave-8 is one of the most phenomenal catalytic heaters on the market. For starters, it’s constructed extremely well, many people have said this product has lasted them ten years and more without any significant problems.

The product can be wall-mounted or used as a portable unit, but you’ll have to purchase the legs separately if you choose to use it as a portable version. It works extremely well, and the BTU output can be adjusted to anywhere from 4,200 to 8,000. This is perfect in case you’re using it in a smaller area of your RV. 

With that being said, the Wave-8 is more of a supplemental heater since it’s only going to heat about 230 square feet efficiently. It might not heat the entire RV, but it’s going to warm whatever room you’re in with no problems.

  • PROs

    • Piezo starter is self-generating
    • No fans mean silent operation
    • Has a safety shut-off valve
  • CONs

    • No tip-over safety feature
    • Gives off a high amount of CO emissions

Bottom-Line: If you want a catalytic heater, this is a brilliantly designed model with an extremely sturdy construction as far as quality is concerned.

Lasko CD09250

Most Compact

Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Tabletop or Under-Desk Heater, 9 Inches High, Black

The Lasko Ceramic is an electric portable space heater considered more as a “personal heater” because of its small size. It measures 5.7 x 3.7 x 9 inches and weighs only 3.5 pounds. However, it’s a 1500-watt model, so it’s going to heat your personal space very well. This is another RV portable heater that is more of a supplemental unit than the main event. 

The Lasko CD09250 has an adjustable thermostat. While the specific temperatures aren’t marked, it shows a series of circles going from small to big, indicating less to more temperature. You also have the option of adjusting the fan speed. You can choose fan-only (no heat), or you can set the fan on low or high. It also has some decent safety features like overheat protection and a cool-touch exterior. 

It’s a durable little product that will keep you nice and toasty when it’s chilly outside. Keep in mind that it is a tower model, so you may have tip-over issues if you drive around curves wildly, but as long as you secure it well, it should be okay.

  • PROs

    • Eleven temperature settings
    • Sturdy construction
    • Very affordable
  • CONs

    • The carry handle only accommodates your fingertips
    • Continues to run even if you pick it up

Bottom-Line: If you need a small RV heater this would be an ideal under-desk product for heating your feet or a fantastic desktop product for heating your personal space.

Comfort Zone CZ448 Portable Ceramic Space Heater

Best Budget

Comfort Zone CZ448 Oscillating Portable Ceramic Space Heater with 2 Heat Settings and Fan-Only Function

This fantastic little personal product has a lot of similarities to the Lasko ceramic heater, but one big difference is that it has the tip-over safety feature. This feature, along with the slightly lower price, has made the Comfort Zone our best budget choice.

The Comfort Zone has two fan speeds and an adjustable thermostat with bars that go from small to big, indicating more to less temperature. It measures 6.5 x 5.75 x 10.25 inches and weighs a little over six pounds.

Like the Lasko, it has a minuscule carry handle, but it does have a stay-cool exterior that makes it safe and comfortable to carry. As with all ceramic heaters it has overheat protection and has been tested and approved to many global standards, including UL, ETL, SAA, CE, CSA, and NOM.

As can be expected for the price this product doesn’t have the highest quality of parts. Don’t confuse this with performance though as it does work very well. It just may not last as long as other models.

  • PROs

    • Very affordable
    • Tip-over switch safety feature
    • Pre-assembled
  • CONs

    .
    • The parts feel a little cheap

Bottom-Line: If you have a minimal budget or need a simple, small, supplemental heater, this is an excellent and safe choice.

Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater

Best Space Saver

Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater 8.5 L x 7.25 W x 23 H inches

This 1,500-watt electric space heater is in a different category from the last two models in our list. It has many outstanding features, the most obvious being the convenient oscillation of the tower. This helps to spread heated air evenly around the room. Oscillation is excellent for RV electric heaters because it makes the unit a lot more effective for space-saving.

Another great feature of this product is the built-in timer which is especially handy for when your RV isn’t connected to shore power. Since it’s digital, it has a multi-function remote control making it convenient to turn off and on and to control the settings. It also has a bright, user-friendly digital display panel so you can quickly tell what settings you’ve chosen.

Other impressive features include the overheat protection and the cool-touch exterior. It measures 7.2 x 8.6 x 23 inches and weighs about eight pounds. It’s not as compact as the other RV heaters listed so far so you’ll have to make a little extra room. However, it does work superbly and won’t break your budget.

  • PROs

    • Included wireless remote
    • Lengthy three-year warranty
    • Sturdy, reliable, and durable
  • CONs

    • No tip-over protection
    • Plastic on the electric cord tends to melt

Bottom-Line: This is a superb, high-performance RV electric heater that is great for people who like “feature-rich” products on a budget.

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

Safest Space Heater for RV Living

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black

Mr. Heater products are known for being some of the safest heaters for RVs on the market. They are well constructed, have decent warranties, and have plenty of built-in safety features. It will automatically shut off in the event it is tipped over, the pilot light goes out, or for low oxygen levels. If you have children or pets in your RV, this may be the best heater for you.

This model’s radiant heating system efficiently keeps you warm by transferring heat to the surface of objects (like yourself) rather than by heating the air. The Mr. Heater F232000 has dimensions of 7.7 x 13.4 x 15 inches and weighs about nine pounds. It can be used at either 4,000 BTUs or 9,000 BTUs.

What we were most impressed with though was the thoughtfulness of the design. The product has a strong, folding handle that stays cool to the touch. It also has a swivel-out regulator so you won’t have difficulty in connecting your propane tank or canisters. The design is comfortable, convenient, and trustworthy.

This is a fantastic, high-quality product for anyone needing a portable heater for RV travel. It is one of the oldest and most popular brands of RV propane heaters around. Its longevity on the market is a testament to its outstanding quality.

  • PROs

    • Single-button ignition and startup
    • Adjustable BTUs
    • Works quickly
  • CONs

    • Expensive.
    • Start button tends to jam

Bottom-Line: The Mr Heater F232000 MH9BX gives you quality, and efficient RV heating while keeping you and your family safe.

De’Longhi EW7707CM Comfort Temp Full Room Radiant Heater

Recommended

De'Longhi Comfort Temp Full Room Radiant Thermostat, 3 Heat Settings, Energy Saving, Safety Features, Nice for Home with Pets/Kids, 27' x 6.5' x 15.5', Light Gray

This is an electric oil-filled heater that, when heated, radiates the warmth out into the room. The oil container is sealed, so you don’t need to worry about refilling it. You simply turn the product on and let it work.

We loved the design of this model. It has a more modernized sleek look to it than your typical old-school radiator. While it’s a compact size for a wheeled radiator model at 5.9 x 13.8 x 24.9 inches, it’s a bit on the heavy side weighing 23 pounds.

The most important point about this model is that it works well. It’s only going to heat the room you use this heater in, but it will have that room toasty in a relatively short amount of time. It also automatically monitors and adjusts to the optimal temperature.

With that being said, this might not be the best choice if you have curious children or pets around. The radiator rings get hot, creating a burn hazard for anyone who touches it.

  • PROs

    • Automatically turns on when the temperature is lower than 44°F
    • ComfortTemp technology saves energy by only running it when needed
    • Front cord-keeper provides storage for electric cord when not in use
  • CONs

    • It’s heavy
    • No numbers or marks to indicate temperature on the thermostat

Bottom-Line: If you want an infrared heater that’s high-quality, this would be a good electric space heater for you.

Suburban Dynatrail NT-30SP RV Furnace

Best Heater for Large RVs

Suburban NT-30SP Electronic Ignition Ducted Furnace

If you’re in the market for something more potent than the previously mentioned RV heaters, this furnace produces up to 30,000 BTUs to heat your entire RV. While most users say that it feels more like a maximum of around 22,000 BTUs, this is still enough to keep your RV warm and cozy in freezing cold weather. The unit measures 24.4 x 14.6 x 14.6 inches and weighs about 40 pounds. This is a small RV furnace, a bit more compact than usual for a furnace model, but it makes the furnace easier to work with.

This furnace has a high-quality construction that most likely will last for a very fair amount of time. It’s made with an all-metal housing, steel gas manifolds, and even a chrome-plated vent cap. All-round this is an excellent investment for any large RV.

  • PROs

    • Comes with a thermostat
    • Easy-to-follow installation instructions
    • High-quality and durable
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • Packaging for shipping isn’t very protective

Bottom-Line: If you want the simplicity of warming your entire RV with one heater, this Suburban furnace is one of the best you can choose.

Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater

Best Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F274800 MH18B, Portable Propane Heater,Red,Regular

This product is the larger, stronger version of the previously mentioned, more portable propane Mr. Heater Buddy. It has all the same safety precautions as its predecessor; auto shut off when tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or for low oxygen level detection. This model is a bit larger at 18.5 x 18 x 11.4 inches and only weighs around 11 pounds.

And while the smaller version works very well, this version has more firepower. The Big Buddy produces up to 18,000 BTUs for superior warming ability in a portable camper heater. 

It has a battery-operated fan that is optional to use. However, without the fan, it functions as an infrared heater, which works well but takes longer to warm your space. While we don’t mind that the fan is battery powered, we are concerned with the fact that it doesn’t use your RV’s battery. You must purchase D-size batteries separately. These batteries typically can run down fast.

  • PROs

    • Can warm a mid-size RV
    • Can be used as a fan or infrared heater
    • Three temperatures available instead of two
  • CONs

    • Handle doesn’t fold down
    • Uses D batteries which can drain fast

Bottom-Line: With the Big Buddy, you get the same high-quality performance as the Buddy but more warmth for a larger space if needed.

Honeywell HZ-445R Ceramic Surround

Editors Choice

Honeywell HZ-445R Ceramic Surround Heat Whole Room Heater with Remote Control, Black

This is truly a remarkable electric RV heater, which is why we chose it as the best portable heater for RV living. Instead of oscillating, it simply blows the hot air out 360-degrees. You can also program it to blow the warmth in any direction that you choose to in 180-degree increments. It’s packed full of great features such as an included wireless remote control. We also love the fact that it has an LCD screen with bright numbers so you can easily see the screen from across a room.

In particular, we wanted to point out the safety features. This heater has an all-around cool-touch exterior, including the handle. Given the heaters ceramic heating element, it has overheat protection, as well as a 360-degree tip-over protection feature. This model has a sturdy, broad base, so it’s not easy to tip over anyway.

As powerful as this heater is, it’s still very compact. It measures 8.9 x 8.9 x 17.21 inches and weighs only 5.3 pounds. The only thing we didn’t like was that the manufacturer doesn’t give a specific BTU rating for the product. However, it uses up to 1,500 watts to get started, and it’s known to warm up a space up to a few hundred square feet with no problems.

  • PROs

    • Lightweight and straightforward to use
    • Comes pre-assembled
    • Wide base for extra sturdiness
  • CONs

    • Timer isn’t programmable
    • Timer is limited to only one, two, four, or eight hours

Bottom-Line: Due to its great heating power, compact size, and wide base this is by far the best electric heater for RV travel on our list.

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Categories HVAC

Leave a Comment