Best RV Heater 2018 – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
Are you in the search for the best RV heater? Perhaps you have a campervan or caravan that needs a heater?
Well, you have come to the right place and your search ends here. We have heavily researched all the different types of RV heaters, selected only the best rv heater for you.
So whether you need a heater for your RV, campervan or caravan we have your back and below you'll find our detailed rv heater reviews of all the products we recommended and a buyer's guide to help you select the best rv heater. We have picked electric heaters along with propane heaters to suit your needs.
Dr. Infrared Heater (Best Electric Heater For RV)
Mr. Heater Big Buddy (Best RV Heater)
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy (Best Portable Heater For RV)
Best RV Heater - A Buyer's Guide
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of the open road, setting off with a packed RV, the family and your friends (perhaps) in tow, looking for adventure. The ability to take along your home comforts and know you’ve always got a place to stay, no matter where you are, is one of the endearing features of holidaying in your RV, caravan or trailer.
But come winter time and on chilly nights, when the temperatures drop, staying in a campervan can become less than fun, especially if you’ve got kids with you. So, taking a portable heater, you can make all the difference to your enjoyment. It might also mean you can use your van more during the winter months.
There is a large choice when it comes to choosing the best RV heater and portable heaters for RVs and vans, but don’t worry, in this article, we’ll be looking at some of the things you should consider. First, we’ll look at the basics of portable heaters such as the different types, their heat output, and heating area capabilities, etc. Plus size, weight, and the essential safety considerations. We hope this guide will help you to learn more about the different types of portable heaters for your campervan or RV and the features offered by the different styles available. So, you can enjoy many more months of happy, warm and fun RVing around this beautiful country of ours.
TYPES OF HEATERS
A standard electric heater plugs directly into your outlet socket and comes in a variety of sizes and styles. It usually has a fan which will drive the heat around the space you wish to heat. The fan can sometimes be noisy so that might be something to check if you need the heater in your bedroom for example. These types of heaters come in a range of sizes and of course, a great range of prices too. They can be an excellent back-up for those chilly nights when you just want a bit of extra heat in your van.
Similar in design to the electric heater but are typically bulkier and more cumbersome. However, they are often on wheels for ease of movement. These will again, plug into an outlet socket. They can be heavy to shift around and store so might not be as suitable for a smaller van.
A heater which runs of a separate gas canister. Again, there is an excellent range from small handheld units which are similar in size to a flashlight right up to large industrial versions. For greater dissipation of heat consider purchasing a model with a fan attachment. When considering this type of heater, it is essential to think about the need for gas canisters, their weight, how and where you will store them etc. It is also vital that you read and follow the manufacturer's guidelines on the safe use of such heaters especially within the confines of a van.
FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR
This is perhaps one of the most important considerations when deciding and purchasing the best RV heater for your RV or caravan as it dictates how warm or hot your van will be. The output will generally be measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs as you’ll often see them referred to.
The higher the BTU, the larger the area that it will heat and the warmer it will feel. It’s all about power. To figure out how the BTU affects your choice of heater you will also need to know the size of your van. See heating area for more information on how the output affects your choice of heater.
To work out your required heating space measure the width and length of your RV and multiple, this gives you the square footage. Or you can use a handy BTU calculator. Look at the specifications and the majority of heater manufacturers will detail the size of the area that their heaters will heat. Purchase the heater that will comfortably heat the space in your van. Don’t be tempted to buy a model that is capable of warming a larger area than you need: it will waste both your money on the purchase and fuel costs as you run it. Plus, you’ll end up getting too hot.
Depending on the type of heater you opt for will dictate how much control you have over the heat output. Some smaller portable heaters will merely have a knob allowing you to choose from low, medium or high settings. More significant, or dearer models will usually have a thermostat enabling greater control over the temperature. A simple portable with limited temperature adjustment might be great for the odd weekend away or a two-week vacation every year. It won’t be so practical for those who plan on living in their RVs full-time. If you’re a full-timer or planning on becoming one, think carefully about what type you chose. A saving now on purchase price may be costly later on down the road.
Another important consideration, along with the size and style of your heater, is how long the fuel tanks will burn. If you chose a smaller, lighter model of heater, it would only take a smaller canister giving limited burning time. But again, if you are a full-timer and you’re going to be wintering in some cooler climates, a decent heater is a must. Always look at how long the propane canister will last so you can judge what size you should purchase and how many you’ll likely need.
And while we are talking about burn times and canisters, if the heater you chose is going to use a gas canister then look for ones that have a clean burn. The higher the percentage they burn, the more economical they are to run. Those models offering a cleaner burn should also make the smell less offensive too, and there’s nothing worse than the smell of gas fuel fumes.
The type of heater you choose will depend on many things, one of which may be how portable it is. Of course, if you are a full-timer than your heater will stay in your van, and you won’t have this issue. If you need to move your heater between say your garage and your trailer, then how easy this is becomes essential. Look for heaters with wheels or decent well-built carrying handles. If space is an issue, then a handle that folds down flat flush with the case might also be worth considering.
Transporting smaller heaters can be as simple as putting them into a bag, either those manufactured by the company or your own.
A significant part of whether a portable heater is portable or not, for you, will be its weight.
Again the design, size, and type will greatly impact the heater’s mass. As has been said above, don’t fall into the trap of buying a more substantial model then is needed to heat your space. Calculate the area and purchase a heater than will comfortably heat this area only – saves you on the purchase price of the unit and it’s running costs, plus gets you a unit that’s of a size suitable for your van. Along with the weight of the actual heater, you must also consider how heavy (and where you are going to store) any fuel canisters needed.
Small, portable RV heaters are usually floor models which can quickly be moved around wherever you need an extra bit of warmth. Specific models may be wall-mounted to save on space and keep them safely out of the way. It is vital to check each manufacturer's requirements and specifications for wall mounting their heaters and whether it is safe to do so within your van or RV.
This is key and one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a portable heater. Using gas operated units in a confined space means certain safety features are advisable, such as -
This is probably one of the essential elements to look out for on any heater that you plan to purchase. It helps to prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning as it cuts off the fuel supply if it detects that the oxygen levels have dipped below a pre-set level. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a silent killer and can kill people and animals in minutes,
This feature helps to prevent heaters from tipping over accidentally which can be the cause of fires. Some will also have anti-tip functions if placed on a sloped surface, again to prevent accidents and fires,
Similar to the low oxygen shut-off, this feature will automatically cut-off the fuel supply should the pilot light go out for any reason. Again, this helps prevent CO poisoning and potential death,
This is the type of shield surrounding the heating element to avoid accidental burns while also minimizing the risk of fire if any material comes into contact with the heater. Usually, these are metal bars or cages around the heating elements.
Your safety and that of your family and friends is of paramount importance, so it’s essential that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines on how to safely use your heater. Along with their instructions on ventilation if you are using any canister fuel for example.
One of the safest space heater for RV is an electric space heater such as the Dr. Infrared. However no heater is 100% safe so you should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines on how to safely use your heater.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning can prove fatal in a matter of minutes to both humans and animals so to protect your loved ones and precious pets, it’s a good idea to understand the warning signs and symptoms so and adhere to the safety precautions recommended by the heater manufacturer.
Click here for a simple guide on how to prevent CO poisoning and the signs and symptoms you should know. Remember if you suspect yourself or someone else might have CO poisoning –
DO NOT DELAY – PHONE 911 IMMEDIATELY. Leave the area and seek fresh air.
CSA Certification – any heaters with CSA Certification have undergone rigorous external testing outside of their own companies’ stringent testing, to ensure their customers receive high-quality, well-constructed, safe products. The CSA Certification on some heaters will determine whether they have been certified for indoor use, outdoor use or both.
Accessories – along with the hoses, regulators, fuel tanks and other important fittings you’ll need to pick up for some portable heaters there are other items which may make life a litter easier. Such as the Mr. Heater® range of heater cases and bags, making transporting and keeping your heater clean a lot easier. Not only do they provide the perfect solution for carrying your heater as you can use the carry strap over your shoulder leaving your hands free for example, but there’s also space for other essential items too.
Note: If you are planning on using a heater in Massachusetts they have strict laws about which heaters can and cannot be used (and sold) – IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL OR USE AN UNVENTED KEROSENE HEATER IN MASSACHUSETTS.
Canada also has differing regulations on the use of space heaters indoors, so if you are planning on crossing the border and exploring their beautiful terrain check on their rules in this regard.
For more information on RVing and for tips and tricks to get you making the most of this beautiful country of ours, plus information on essential insurances, etc. Check out the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) website. I especially appreciated the article 'How-To: Teach Your Dog to Wait at the RV Door.' So if you’re planning to take your four-legged friends with you, it’s well worth a look.
Heaps of great websites out there cater to single RVers, women RVers and those who live full-time in their RV. Plus of course, each State will have their sites to let you know about their fantastic campsites. Your next great destination is only a few clicks away.
Have fun on the open road!
RV Heater Reviews 2018
Mr. Heater Big Buddy (MH18B RV)
This is a great portable heater for your RV, Campervan or caravan. Those of you who do ice fishing will be very aware of Mr. Heater and there durable products. They offer high quality heaters at a great price making some of the best rv heaters on the market today and is also our pick of the best campervan heater and best heater for caravan.
The Big Buddy can output up to 18,000 BTUs and will run for roughly 1.5-6 hours. However, those looking to pump out for longer will be glad to no that the Big Buddy features two swivel regulators to connect to a 20 lb. cylinder with optional hose.
In terms of safety Mr. Heater comes up on top also with their tip-over safety shut-off and low oxygen shut-off system. Safety is extremely important when dealing with propane and spaces like RVs. Mr. Heater safety features make this one of the best space heaters for RV in terms of safety vs other models by other manufacturers.
You'll be able to heat up to 450 sq. ft. and regulate your BTU output with the Hi-Med-Low heat settings. For those cold days when you need your RV to heat up quicker than the Big Buddy features a fan blower which operates on 4 D Batteries or an AC adapter, which are both sold separately. That's why this heater is the best rv heater for your rv, campervan or caravan.
If you are not a big fan of using propane heaters then we would highly recommend you check out our choice below which is an electric RV heater and we rated it the best RV heater on the market.
Mr. Heater Big Buddy - Specifications:
Heating Area (Sq. Ft.)
( W x L)
Run Time (Hours)
Up to 450
12.00 x 19.00"
PROS AND CONS
The Big Buddy is an excellent heater and used by many RV owners. This is our overall best RV heater.
Dr. Infrared Heater (DR968)
This heater certainly packs a lot of features into it. Dr. Infrared claims to be able to deliver up to 60% more heat than other 1,500W heaters. It's able to produce greater heat production (250°F at 3.5m/s) VS competing heaters which can deliver just 155°F at 2.2m/s.
Dr. Infrared Heater - Specifications
Heating Area (Sq. Ft.)
( W x L)
Run Time (Hours)
Up to 1,000
17 x 12.5 x 13.00"
PROS AND CONS
A great heater only let down slightly by its dated look. However if the style does not bother you then this is certainly the best electric heater for RV that you'll find on the market and this also makes it our pick as the best RV heater on the market.
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy
A good in between heater from the Big Buddy and the Dr. Infrared this model is our pick of the best portable heater for RV thanks to its small form factor and lightweight design. Don't let the portable aspect put you off its output. This is heater can still pump out the heat and it comes with Mr. Heaters safety features such as the auto shut-off tip over protection and low oxygen level auto shut-off.
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy - Specifications
Heating Area (Sq. Ft.)
( W x L)
Run Time (Hours)
Up to 225
17 x 12.5 x 13.00"
PROS AND CONS
The second Mr. Heater on our list and for good reasons. Mr. Heater deliver a high quality product that's portable and delivers a good amount of heat.
The best RV heater really depends on your need for heat and size of your room. The Mr. Heater Big Buddy wins our verdict as the overall best RV heater thanks to its portability, heat output, durability and great price point. However if you are looking for a little less heat output and greater portability then we recommend you buy the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy which is our pick as the best portable RV heater. If you are looking for the best electric heater for RV then you should purchase the Dr. Infrared Heater.