What Is The Best Electric Heater For RV Camping?
“What is the best electric heater for RV camping?” This is a question many RVers ask when cold weather rolls around each year. After all, why spend money on propane to operate your propane furnace if you have shore power (120 VAC) available to operate an electric heater?
If you search online for “best electric heater for RV” you will find a nearly endless list of comparisons, reviews, and debates on electric heaters. The problem is, you don’t need to know the absolutely best electric heater for RV use, you need to know the best choice of electric heater for the way you use your RV.
Let’s look at the different types of electric heaters and features to determine which ones fit your needs.
Types of electric heaters
The most common types of portable electric space heaters used in RVs are radiant (aka infrared), ceramic, and oil-filled.
- Radiant heaters work like the rays from the sun, heating objects and people.
- Ceramic heaters heat the air in the room via convention and/or a fan.
- Oil-filled heaters look and act like steam radiators of years past providing a soft consistent heat without any fan noise.
Is one type/brand of electric heaters more efficient than another? While many reviews will say one electric heater is more efficient, or a small 250-watt heater is so efficient it will do the same job as a 1,500-watt electric heater, just remember these words of wisdom from the Department of Energy:
“Electric resistance heating is 100% energy efficient in the sense that all the incoming electric energy is converted to heat.”
The bottom line is the more power consumed, the more heat produced. The same power consumed, the same amount of heat produced.
- If you have pets or young children, consider a heater that shuts off if tipped over and won’t cause burns if touched.
- Make sure the heater has a thermostat or limit switch to prevent it from overheating.
- Never operate an electric heater on an undersized extension cord. Always plug directly into a wall outlet in your RV.
- How big of an area do I have to heat? Size the heater accordingly.
- How much electrical power do I have available to operate an electric heater? Be sure to take into account other electrical items like the water heater element, if so equipped.
- How often will I use it?
- Where will I store it when not in use?
- If equipped with a fan, how noisy is it?
- Are there any special features I might want like a remote control so I can turn it on or off without getting out of bed?
- Can I set the thermostat to a low setting (example 40°F) so I can use the heater to keep my plumbing from freezing when I am not using my RV?
Maybe you camp in cold weather often and want a permanently mounted electric heater. With a permanently mounted heater, you don’t have to give up floor space like a portable electric heater or have a place to store it while in transit. Here are several options:
- RV Comfort Systems: With this system, 120 volt electric heating coils are mounted on the discharge side of your RV propane furnace utilizing the existing duct work and blower fan. Learn more here.
- A residential 120 volt mounted electric wall heater.
- Those of you with 50-amp electrical service panels in your RV might consider a 240-volt wall mounted heater like this. Yes, the 50-amp outlet found in RV parks can deliver 240 volts inside your RV. Click here if you need convincing.
Finally, you will see mentions of 12-volt heaters or “cordless” electric heaters on various RV forums and social media. Most don’t exist and the ones that do are basically worthless since electric heaters need considerable amounts of energy to produce usable heat, which typical RV batteries are unable to supply.
“Electricity is usually included in our camping fees, so we save on our propane costs by using electric heat as much as possible.”Said RVers Tom, Cheri & Logan
Here’s a short video discussing the best electric heater for RV camping and their choice of electric heater:
Hopefully the above information will allow you to answer the “What is the best electric heater for RV camping?” question for you and your RV.
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