Campervan Heating Options // Van Life

Campervan Heating Options

If the idea of living in a vehicle when it’s freezing outside isn’t very appealing, don’t worry, there are solutions. Below we go through the most common Campervan Heating Options and the most popular products on the market.

Just a reminder: If you have any propane burning appliances in the vehicle it is important to have an LP gas detector and an CO (Carbon Monoxide) detector to keep you and your loved ones safe.

*Now Including European Heater Options for Campervans

 

Campervan Heating Options

Portable Van Heaters

 

Portable heaters can run from a propane canister or can be connected to your gas/propane tank cylinder.

Ventilation must be provided for these heaters as they produce some moisture in the air as the propane burns. It is important to make sure that the heater you buy has a low oxygen shut off sensor for when the oxygen level drops too low, and that it has a tip over switch to turn off the heater if it tips over.

Mr. Buddy Heater

A range of Mr. Buddy Heater Options can be found on Amazon

Mr Buddy Heater Alternative for Europe

The Mr Buddy Heater is one of the most popular options for van life due to it’s ease of use and portability.  If you are like this heater, we recommend using it with an extended hose so that you can hook it up to a full size propane cylinder.

  • Swivel regulators and single control
  • Automatic low oxygen shutoff system
  • Accidental tip-over safety shutoff
  • Heats up to 450 square feet
  • Low, medium, and high heat level control knob for steady temperatures

Camco LP Gas Heater

These heaters can be found on some RV sites or on Amazon

European Butane Heater Option

  • Adjustable from 1600 to 3000 BTU/hr 
  • Wave heaters operate on low pressure gas, and can be wall mounted or used as a portable unit
  • No electrical drain or battery connection make it the ideal solution for boondocking and dry camping
  • Wave heaters operate silently-no fan or blower noise
  • Equipped with a safety shut-off valve to help prevent accidental non-ignition fuel discharge

 

Propane Furnaces

These furnaces operate much like a home furnace.  They require a bit of effort to install but can be a great option for your vehicle. Again, please be aware that you should install a CO and Natural gas detector in your vehicle. Just google Propane Furnace Dangers and you will come across a lot of stories like this one from Roadtreking.com.  You should also regularly inspect your propane lines for leaks or signs of damage, especially the rubber lines you have.

Propex Furnaces

Check out the Propex website for these furnaces

The Propex Furnaces can be mounted externally (model HS211) underneath the vehicle freeing up valuable interior space, this also has the major benefit in helping to reduce the condensation build up that can be generated from burning propane or other natural gases. The furnace is a propane fired blown air heating system. Offering energy-efficient, thermostatically controlled blown hot air totally independent of the engine. These particular furnaces are designed especially for recreational vehicle use.

 

Installing Copper Propane Pipes in a van
Check out how to equip your vehicle for long term off grid living with a proper propane system

Extend your Off Grid Time

Your Propane or natural gas tank cylinders should not be mounted inside your vehicle without being sealed and vented to the outside inside a propane locker. It’s just not wise and in some locations its flat out illegal.  Here are some options of how to correctly mount your propane.

If you’d like to know more – we have a free guide to building a propane system for van life

Fame King 12.2 Gallon Sidemount Propane Tank

Dimensions 12″ x 28″

Available with Amazon Prime

Fame King 29.3 Gallon Long Sidemount Propane Tank Cylinder

Dimensions 14.9″ x 48″

(if you have the space under  your rig, this is the way to go)

Check out prices here

Monitor your propane level 

Hand’s up who likes running out of propane in the middle of cooking dinner 50 mile into the boondocks?… Oh, that’s nobody then!

Check your Propane levels with (or without) a smartphone

Check out prices and reviews on Amazon


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Electric Vehicle Heaters

An electrical heater isn’t really off grid friendly, unless you use it sparingly.  That said, it’s still a great option if you are planning on spending some time hooked up to AC ‘Shore Power’ – which is what most full time vanlifers will end up doing at some point over winter.  Either way, if you think you will want to take advantage of clean, dry electrical heat, then you will need to ensure you can build a really good campervan electrical system.

Suburban Furnace

Suburban furnaces for Mid to Large Vehicles on Amazon

  • Electronic ignition
  • Vent assembly included
  • Ideal replacement furnace
  • Reliable performance
  • Direct discharge furnace, 12 Volt DC
  • 30,0000 – 40,0000 BTUs

Low Power Electric Heater

Great Value Compact Heater – Price and Specs on Amazon
(A more powerful version for larger vehicles)

European Version

  • 110V (Inverter powered)
  • 200-Watts and 682 BTUs (One of the lowest draw power options)
  • Inexpensive + Great reviews = Yes Please
  • Super compact design – 6 inches tall with a 4” x 4” footprint
  • Great emergency / backup solution for use when hooked up to shore power.

12v Electric Blanket

Who said Van Life had to be uncomfortable?
Around $40 on Amazon

European Version

  • 12V Powered (cigarette lighter socket)
  • Great for Netflix and chill, sleeping, or even driving in the arctic
  • Part of your arsenal in the “war against the cold” #winteriscoming
  • Safety timer that is set to run off in 30 or 45 minutes as well as an automatic temperature control unit
  • Now your girlfriend / wife / child has no excuse to not coming camping, road trip anyone? ?

Wood Burning Stove For Vehicle Dwelling

There is something very special about a wood burner in a tiny home or vehicle. We love them but if you spend a lot of time camping where you need heating we would recommend that you have other heating options in addition to wood burning stove.

You can adapt the chimney pipe for either permanent installation out of the vehicle, or a temporary set up out of the window as shown below.

Pros of Wood Burning Stoves

  • It’s a super dry heat which will eradicate all moisture / condensation
  • The fuel source is free (when you can find it)
  • It’s super cozy
  • You can also use it too cook on, heat water or warm up your socks.
  • They can be reasonably affordable
  • Safer than Gasoline or Diesel heaters
  • All the other #vanlifers will be jealous of you ?

Cons of Wood Burning Stoves

  • Finding dry wood isn’t always possible.
  • Heaviest vehicle heating option
  • These stoves are quite small so the wood much be chopped down a lot.
  • You will find yourself traveling around with buckets of wood.
  • It takes more effort to get warm and the heat cannot be turned on instantly.
  • It’s hard to regulate the heat output so you will likely need to crank a window which may be a security concern whilst sleeping.

Cubic Mini Wood Stove

  • Measures only 11 x 12 x 10. 5
  • Weighs 27lbs
  • 3″ Flu diameter
  • Produces very little smoke due to its secondary combustion system

Check it out on Amazon

Here’s a slightly bigger Wood Burner for Skoolies and vehicles over 20′

 

Portable Wood Burning Stove

This one is great because you can take it anywhere with you, so it doesn’t require permanent installation and can be use for tent camping too.

  • High Quality Stainless Steel Construction
  • DIMENSIONS 15” x 8” x 8” (Packed); 15” x 20” x 90” (Assembled- 90” indicates total height of stove + chimney); Chimney pipe 2.5-inch diameter; 800 cubic inch firebox
  • Weight 20lbs

vanlife-heaters portable wood burner

It’s a little more pricey due to the stainless steel construction
Check it out on Amazon

European Version

 

Gasoline or Diesel Heaters

A great option for your vehicle would be to install a Diesel or Gasoline furnace. They are able to draw fuel from your vehicles fuel tank which is great because you already have one very large and central fuel supply so you don’t need to worry about carrying and sourcing an additional fuel type. The better heaters are very fuel efficient and are a cost-effective way of heating your adventure rig

These heaters can be a little more work to install but they are probably the best solutions for vehicle dwelling heating.  Some of them are not cheap, but budget options do exist.

We installed a Webasto AirTop 2000 for our Around The World Travel Series and we are very happy with it.  The instant dry heat that it provides makes van dwelling so much more enjoyable in cold climates. We will say that they are a little noisy (nothing that really bothers you form inside, but it might not be the best for city dwellers and stealth camping.

This Vehicle heater is available in both Gasoline & Diesel models: Diesel heaters are more common and can actually burn better than petrol which is counter intuitive. Even if your vehicle runs off gasoline / petrol it might be worth considering a diesel heater.  Diesel is a safer fuel source than gasoline and most of these products come with the option of having a compact dedicated diesel tank which can be installed inside your rig. A small container of diesel will last a very long time.

NOTE: If you are going to spend significant time at very high altitude then a propane heater or traditional wood burning furnace might be a better option for you.

SNUGGER Diesel Air Heater

This Diesel Heater is available on Amazon and has more specs on the site

Snugger air heaters are slightly cheaper than the industry leaders Webasto and Eberspaecher but still a quality brand. Proven industry technology. Snugger vehicle air heaters are designed and manufactured to ISO standards.The heater features a compact design, simple maintenance, safety protection, self diagnosis fault code system, low exhaust emissions and very low operating costs.

Webasto

 

You can find Webasto heaters in some RV sites or you can first check out reviews on Amazon

European Link for Webasto

Webasto Air Top diesel fuel air heaters provide continuous heating output via stepless modulation, ensuring constant cabin temperatures and a better solution in compartment and cabin heating. They operate quietly and consume very little power or fuel. A robust composite casing protects the unit against high temperatures and salt. Webasto heaters are a powerful source of heat on any vessel.

Budget Diesel Heater

For a much reduced cost you can get one of the Chinese manufactured copies of these major brands.  From the ratings many people are very happy with these products, so it is certainly worth thinking about.

This one is an entire kit containing everything you need for under $200
Check it out on Amazon

European Version


Some helpful sites for Campervan Heaters

www.campingworld.com

www.propexheatsource.com

www.webasto.com

www.kiravans.co.uk

 


Self-Build-DIY-Campervan-Propane-Systems

Read More on which Carbon Monoxide Detectors are available for Campervans

Campervan-Carbon-Monoxide-Detectors

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Browse More Vehicle Dwelling Articles & Videos

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