Let’s face it, sometimes that RV of yours can get downright cold. While there are many different ways to warm up the space and keep your RV comfortable, one of the best methods is through the use of an electric heater.
This article will examine the best electric heaters for RVs and help you decide which options, safety features, and styles are best for you.
Why Go Electric with Your RV Heating
With so many heating options for campers and RVs, why should you consider electric heat? There are many benefits to electric heating which may help make up your mind.
- Heats quickly.
Unlike some other options, electric heaters heat up quickly and evenly.
- No odors.
Gas heaters can give off odors that may cause discomfort where electric heat does not.
- Use overnight.
LP gas heaters must be turned off when sleeping for safety reasons. Electric heat can stay on as long as you need, even overnight.
- Multiple options.
Electric heaters have many designs, sizes, and heating capacities compared to most other heater types.
- More control.
With electric heaters, you have more control over the heat output, duration, and timing.
RV Electric Heaters Compared
Buying Considerations Before Choosing Electric RV Heaters
The size of your RV will be a big part in how you use the heater. Smaller spaces will heat up quickly, and you may use the heater less, based on its capacity. The best thing to do is to know the square foot measurement of your RV or camper.
Knowing this measurement will allow you to find a heater that is designed for that size space and will the most efficient heat source you can buy.
Efficiency is measured by dividing the wattage draw of the heater and the BTU output. The higher the number, the more efficient the heater is. If the heater doesn’t list the BTU rating, you can figure it out by multiplying the watts by 3.4 (1 watt = 3.4 BTUs).
Likewise, if the watts aren’t listed, you can figure out the wattage draw by multiplying the volts and amps listed on the power cord. Once you have the two numbers (watts and BTUs), you can divide the BTUs by the watts to get the average EER.
If the EER is already listed, you want to look for anything higher than 10, which is considered average, or good efficiency.
Power, Voltage & Wattage
The power, voltage, and watts all come into play with electric heaters as they will tell you how powerful the heater is and how much it will cost you to run the heater.
These numbers are also important to note as you may not be connected to a reliable power source all the time. If you have a connection that supplies less than the heater requires, it may not work or may cause breakers to trip.
Timer & Thermostat
Timers are not an essential aspect of electric heaters, but they do come in handy when you need to control the heat and how long it runs for. Timers will run for the set time (usually in 5 minute increments) and then shut the heater off.
A thermostat, on the other hand, will have more precision control over the heater. You can set the desired temperature (either digital or on a low-medium-high scale), and the heater will function more like a central AC system, turning on and off as needed to maintain the set temperature.
For the most part, most electric heaters are relatively quiet in operation. Some motors and fans can get noisy, though, so it is important to note the decibel rating of the machine when you are making your purchase.
Decibels, measured in dBA, will give you an idea of how loud the machine is. This can affect sleep, TV, or conversations, so it is wise to learn the dBA number before purchasing.
Any heater, regardless of type or fuel supply, poses some risks. Fire, electrical outages, fuses, and others are all things that can happen if not properly cared for. Many electric heaters will have safety features installed to help prevent these damaging aspects.
Tip-over and overheating shut-offs are the most common. These protect the heater and your RV in case the unit is ever knocked over or becomes too hot internally. Other safety features include thermal fuses, moisture detection shut off, oxygen depletion sensors, cool-touch exterior and handles, and more.
Ease of Use & Maintenance
Your electric heater should be easy to use. The less complicated the system, the more likely you are to use it. Everything from the initial set up to the buttons or dials to operate the machine should be clear and straightforward to use.
Maintenance is also generally low, but proper care and maintenance are required. This includes cleaning, storage, and set up. Each model will come with specific instructions for upkeep and maintenance, along with intervals for each aspect that needs to be done. Following these instructions will help the unit perform better and last longer.
The warranty will vary from brand to brand and model to model. When reviewing the warranty, it is important to note a few different factors. The coverage period and when it starts is one of the biggest.
The industry average for electric heaters is 1 to 2-years. Longer coverage is great, but don’t be surprised to find ones that are 90-days or even less. Some will also start on the day the machine is purchased, while others will start when the unit is produced.
You also need to pay attention to what is covered and what to do if you need to make a warranty claim. Some machines will cover the whole unit, while others may only cover the case or heating elements.
Making a claim should be simple, with a phone call or visit to the brand’s website. But, you may be required to register the heater, maintain proof of purchase or other factors before a claim can be processed. Knowing these conditions before you buy is crucial.
The price is also going to be a big factor. You want to stay within your budget, of course, but you also need to buy a heater that is going to do the job. Electric heaters come in sizes and styles designed for every budget, but that doesn’t mean a cheaper one will perform to your expectations.
Looking at the total cost compared to the features, ease of use, and heat output will help you determine the range of costs you should shop in.
8 Best Electric Heaters for RVs Reviewed
1. Heat Storm Phoenix
Our Top Pick
|Max Coverage Area||400 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Cool to touch grille, tip-over automatic shut-off|
If you are looking for the best RV electric space heater, then the choice is clear. The Phoenix by Heat Storm is an infrared space heater with dual mounting options, safety features, and patented heating technology.
This heater is designed and produced by EnergyWise Solutions, an infrared heater distributor. After several years, they developed their own brand, Heat Storm, and now produce these infrared heaters for themselves.
The Phoenix is a sleek and stylish model made with cool-to-touch plastics that never get hot to human skin. The grille is even touchable and safe for all installations. The other safety feature, anti-tip shut off, will turn the unit off if it is ever knocked over.
This 1500 watt system has two modes. One, high powered mode uses the full 1500 watts to heat a space in minutes. If you would rather maintain a temperature or use fewer watts, the low mode cuts this in half and uses only 750 watts.
The space saving design can be put on the floor with the addition of the included feet. However, this may take up valuable floor space in an RV. For those situations, you can use the screw mount holes on the back to mount the unit directly to the wall.
Since the cool-touch exterior doesn’t get overly warm, it won’t scorch or burn the walls and is safe to leave mounted for extended periods.
The one downside to this model is the meager 1-year warranty. While every attempt is made to keep customers happy, it would be nice to see a more extended warranty period.
- Cool-touch exterior
- Dual mounting options
- Dual watt outputs
- Includes remote control
- Evenly heats the space with no cold spots
- 1-year warranty
- Requires dedicated circuit
2. Caframo Limited True North
No products found.
Best Small Electric Heater for RV
|Max Coverage Area||450 sq. ft.|
|Watts||600 – 1500|
|Safety Features||Overheat protection|
The True North model from Caframo Limited is the best small electric heater out there. This compact and highly portable unit comes with its own full-length, angled legs, so you can place it just about anywhere.
While this model will fit on the floor, the table, or even a chair, don’t let its small size fool you. With four heat settings ranging from 600 to 1500 watts, it can put out a lot of heat in a short amount of time.
Because the unit is compact and low to the ground, it does not come with tip-over auto shut-off. However, it does have a dual internal overheat protection system that allows the unit to run longer without fear of damage. The thermal fuse and overheat sensors work in tandem to make sure the unit is operational at all times.
One of the best features is the automatic freeze protection. You can set the thermostat to the snowflake icon and select a fan speed (1 – 4, not fan only), and when the ambient temperature drops below 38 degrees Fahrenheit, the unit will kick on and run at the chosen speed.
On top of that, Caframo Limited backs their product with a 5-year warranty, making it one of the longest warranties in the space heater market. With variable wattage, fan-only mode, and adjustable thermostat, this model is one that sells out fast.
- 5-year warranty
- Anti-freeze setting
- Can run overnight
- No install or set up needed
- Limited safety features
- Can get noisy on high speed
3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater TRD40615E
Best Electric Oil Filled Space Heater for RV
|Max Coverage Area||144 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Thermal overload protection|
For those that want a heater with lower maintenance, high heat output and simple controls, then De’Longhi has the space heater for you. The oil-filled unit is unique in its design and will keep your RV warm even on the coldest nights.
The control panel on this model features a digital readout, so there is no confusion and simple push-button controls for selecting mode, fan speed timer function, and up or down controls for in-mode selections. You can also turn the back-light on or off.
The high-rise anti-rust metal fins come with a vent port top that helps keep heat circulating while keeping the heating fins as cool as possible. This only helps you move air and warm the space faster than traditional oil-filled models, but keeps the fins from burning you on contact.
The unit comes with permanently attached legs that extend out to the sides, making it sturdy. Four snap-on wheels give you the freedom to move the heater where you need it most.
Because it is a radiant heater without a fan, the total space it can warm efficiently is limited. This model will heat areas to 144 square feet without problems, but beyond that, you will find cold spots, or the machine will work too hard.
It does have an anti-freeze setting that will kick the unit on if the temperature drops below 44 degrees. This is ideal for using overnight while you sleep, so you don’t have to have the machine on all the time.
- 3-year warranty
- Easy to use control panel with back light
- Portable unit on wheels
- Vent port top helps air circulation
- Limited safety features
- Difficulty heating larger spaces
4. Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater 754200
Best Electric Ceramic Heater for RV
|Max Coverage Area||300 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Thermal overheat protection, tip-over auto shut-off|
The Lasko Ceramic space heater is among the most popular heater models for sale right now. It is the best ceramic space heater for RVs, and the sales, reviews, and usage back that up. This compact unit is portable, lightweight, and efficient.
Not only is this heater low maintenance, but it is also ready to go right out of the box. There is no need for assembly or set up. You can pull it out of the box, plug it in and turn it on for near-instant heat whenever you need it.
There are three fan speed control settings that allow you to choose between fan only for air circulation, low speed to minimize watt usage or high speed to control all 1500 watts of power. It also features an 11-point thermostatic control so you can have the amount of heat you need at any given time.
The tip-over and overheat protection safety measures make it safe to use around the clock. While it should be on a dedicated circuit so it doesn’t trip any breakers, the 110v unit will put as much power as it can to operate in the settings you place.
The 3-year warranty and Lasko name are almost enough to sell this model on their own, but with the heat output and virtually zero maintenance (just clean the intake vents regularly), there is no reason this model shouldn’t be in your RV.
- 3-year warranty
- No set up required
- Ceramic plate heating is near-instant
- Fan speed controls heat distribution
- 11-point thermostat
- Requires dedicated circuit
- Does not shut off on its own
5. TaoTronics TT-HE006
No products found.
Highly Rated Oscillating Model
|Max Coverage Area||250 sq. ft.|
|Watts||900 – 1500|
|Safety Features||Overheat protection, audible tip over alarm with auto shut-off, flame retardant materials, Auto timer|
If you are looking for a highly rated heater that oscillates and heats your space, then you are in luck. The TT-HE006 from TaoTronics is that and much more. It oscillates, it heats, and it is specially designed to put more heat where it matters most.
Unlike a lot of floor or table-top heaters, this one isn’t sitting flat. It is on an 83-degree tilt to ensure the heat reaches more if the space above it instead of head-on. This means your whole core can feel the warmth and not just your knees.
There are plenty of safety features on this model as well. It starts with the flame retardant materials that won’t melt or smolder, which can lead to fires. It also has internal overheating protection that keeps the motor and internal wiring safe.
On top of that, it has a tip-over auto shut off feature that not only turns the unit completely off if knocked down but also sounds an audible alarm, so you know something is wrong. Part of the safety controls also features a 12 and 24 hour shut off timer, so you can rest assured it won’t stay on when you don’t need it.
Unlike other models, this one also oscillates, giving you a 70-degree sweep to help distribute the warmth around a larger area. With multiple fan and temperature controls, you pick how much of the 1500 watts to use, with the minimum (aside from fan only) being 900 watts.
TaoTronics does offer an 18-month warranty, but their customer service is difficult to get in touch with and makes the process of warranty claims much more complicated than it needs to be. Aside from this, though, the machine itself is rugged, durable, and puts out a lot of heat.
- Remote control operation
- 83-degree tilt to heat more evenly
- Small, portable design
- 70-degree oscillation
- Near-silent running
- 18-month warranty
- Only heats to 70 degrees
Best Electric Panel Wall Heater for RV
|Max Coverage Area||200 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Auto-shutoff if moved from wall, Cool-touch exterior|
If you want a heater that doesn’t have a large footprint and is the best wall mounted electric heater, you may be interested in the Envi. This sleek and stylish convection heater doesn’t use a fan and has silent operations.
The controls are quite limited, with a power button and a temperature selection dial. But the system works and can heat a space while being efficient, silent, and capable of around-the-clock operation.
This heater uses stacked convection technology, which basically means that the heating plates are various widths and stacked in such a way that they create their own airflow. Without needing a fan to pull in air, the unit heats air from the bottom and releases it out of the top, making its own circulation.
This not only helps spread warmth throughout the RV, but it also has a low power draw, only needing 500 watts to heat up to 90 degrees. Even on the highest temp settings, the exterior is cool to the touch, never exceeding 90 degrees itself, though usually much cooler.
It also features a wall sensor that shuts the unit off immediately should it ever be removed from the wall (taken down while on, falls off the mounting screws, etc.).
The U.S. based customer service and 3-year warranty are also great to have in case something goes wrong. However, with such a smart design and virtually zero maintenance, there isn’t much that can go wrong.
- 3-year warranty
- Easy install
- Silent, fanless operation
- Cool to the touch
- Heats up to 90 degrees
- More expensive than other models on this list
- Limited control options
Best Portable Electric Heater for RV
|Max Coverage Area||200 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Overheat protection, tip over auto shut-off|
GiveBest sells one of the best portable electric heaters for RVs out there. It features a simple turn dial operation, quick heat, and automatic thermostat control. The ABS plastics are fire resistant and it has a to of safety features to boot.
The carry handle is always cool to the touch, and you can transport this little heater wherever you need it. If lifted while running or tipped over, it will release the shut-off switch that kills operation immediately.
The GiveBest heater also has internal sensors that protect from overheating should the internal components become too hot. The controls are what separate this model, though.
The standard turn dials are there, one for fan speed and heat selection and the other for temperature control. However, unlike most other portable units of similar design, this one will shut off and turn on based on the temperature selections instead of running continuously.
Combine those features with a near-silent operation, even on high, and you have a portable heater that can be used all night, all day, and in any room of your RV that you need.
The 1-year warranty is a little light for our preferences, but these machines have been known to last over several seasons without issue, and almost all are still going strong today.
- Auto shut off and restart based on room temperature
- Near silent operation
- Simple control dials
- 1-year warranty
- Does not use grounded plug
8. Honeywell HHF370B
Best Value for Money
|Max Coverage Area||225 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Tip-over auto shut-off, thermal overload protection, cool-touch exterior|
Not to be outdone by the rest of the heaters on this list, the highly portable and affordable heater from Honeywell is sure to be the biggest bang for the buck. If you want the best valued heater for the money, you just found it.
Not only is this heater chocked full of safety features, but it also has a unique design and easy to use controls. The heat is pushed out the top of the unit, not in any angle or direction, but in 360-degrees. You no longer need to position your heater “just so.”
Along with a cool-touch exterior, dual thermal overheating protection modes and tip over automatic shut-off, you also get a heater that has an all-digital control panel.
You can program the heater for a specific temperature, too—no more guesswork with dials and hi-low settings. If you want 73 degrees, you dial in 73 degrees. The Honeywell heater will run until that temperature is reached and shut off to conserve energy.
The programmable timer is a great touch. You can have the unit run for 1, 2, 4, or 8 hours on high or low, and once the timer reaches zero, the heater will shut off. This is ideal for falling asleep and saving energy in the process.
The 3-year warranty and Honeywell name are also good enough to sell units on their own. While you will most likely never need to make a warranty claim, Honeywell makes the process simple and as painless as possible.
- 3-year warranty
- Multi-hour timer function
- Programmable thermostat
- 360-degree heat output
- Easy carry handle
- May not heat the entire space evenly
4 Types of Electric RV Heaters Explained
When it comes to heating your RV, you have four primary heater type options. Let’s take a closer look at those types and figure out which one is best for you.
Radiant heaters are among the most common of the four options (along with fan heat). This category of heating can be further broken down into two sub-categories, oil-filled and infrared.
Oil-filled radiant heaters use electricity to burn heating elements. These elements, in turn, heat the furnace oil inside the unit, which is run through the find and coils that eventually radiate the heat outward, creating a warm space around the heater.
Infrared heaters don’t use oil or liquids and instead use plates (usually ceramic) that heat up as the electricity is passed through them. These plates emit an infrared light, much like the sun. When objects absorb this light (including your body), they are warmed up, making the room warmer.
Of the heating options, oil-filled are the slowest and require the most maintenance. However, they are the longest lasting type of heaters. Infrared heaters are quick to heat the objects in a
Convection heaters are highly common as well and usually run a little more expensive than the other types. However, they heat quickly and are great for larger and non-square spaces. Popular in campers and RVs, convection heaters use fans to heat the air instead of the objects in the room.
Cold air is drawn in through the bottom or sides of the heater where electrical coiled heating elements warm the air that passes over them. The hot air is then pushed out the top of the unit. The warm air moves through the room, raising the temperature, and then cools, where the process repeats.
Halogen heaters are the least common heater types found in RVs but are highly affordable and cost less to operate. Instead of air movement or heating coils, halogen heaters use a bulb. These halogen bulbs are strong and durable and, when plugged in, get extremely hot.
The heat they produce is radiated out into the room, warming whatever it touches, including objects and the air. Some models will include a fan behind the bulb to push more heat outward, while others just radiate the heat the bulbs produce.
Fan heaters work a lot like convection heaters, drawing cold air in, heating it over a coil, and pushing the warm air out. However, unlike a convection heater, fan heaters use a fan to push the air into the room instead of relying on physics.
While some convection heaters use a fan to pull air in, fan heaters use the fan to draw and push. This results in more rapid heating of the space but can be quite noisy. They also use more electricity than most other types. However, their initial cost is generally lower and maintenance is minimal.
Electric RV Heater Sizing Guide
Getting the right size heater for your RV space is critical not only for proper heating but also for efficiency and energy savings. You will need to know two measurements to get the right size heater.
The first measurement is the square footage of the RV. This is a simple multiplication of the length and width of your RV. You can take the basic measurement of the entire space or take a square footage of each room and add them together if you want to be more accurate.
The other number you will need is the wattage or BTU rating of the heater. Usually, one or both of these numbers will be put on the packaging of the heater, but if not, you will need to figure it out yourself.
To get the wattage, you need to find the volts and amps used by the heater. You can find these on the specification sheet included with your heater or on the power cord tag. Multiplying the volts and amps will give you the watts.
Once you have the watts, you can figure out the BTU rating as well. To get the BTU, you simply multiply the watts by 3.4. The answer will be the BTUs of the unit. And now that you have these readings, you can figure out the size heater you need.
The following chart is a guide for basic sizes and requirements for RVs and campers, but you can get more exact running your own numbers.
|0 – 200||500 – 2000||1700 – 6800|
|200 – 450||2400 – 3500||8160 – 11900|
Installing Electric Heaters in RVs
Installation will vary depending on the type of heater you purchase. Portable radiant heaters, for example, don’t need to be installed and will set on the floor or even the table or counter and be just fine.
Convection and fan heaters may be a portable unit or a mounted unit. Mounted models should be installed on the wall of your RV in a space where airflow is high. You need enough room on the sides and in front for the air to circulate. The heaters should also be positioned about 6 to 8 inches from the ground. This is where the air will be the coldest and helps with heating and circulation.
Other models may mount or be installed in the ceiling or walls, depending on their intake ports and exhaust vent locations. The important thing to consider, though, is where exactly to place them. You want to maximize airflow and heating capability.
In most situations installing at the end of the longest section of space (such as the read bedroom wall facing down the hallway) will give you the best positioning for whole-RV heating and airflow.
Safety Tips for Using Electric Heater in RV
When heating a smaller space like a camper or RV, there are more safety concerns to think about. You need to make sure you operate the heater with care and understanding. While there may not be a combustible gas, they can still overheat, cause fires, and damage surroundings.
- Only use the heater when needed, turning it off completely when not needed.
- Keep all materials away from the heater, including clothing, bedding, paper, and water.
- Ensure the safety features work. Test the tip-over shut off and timer features before leaving the immediate area.
- Turn the heater off if you smell any odors, hear strange noises, or see smoke.
- Use proper care and maintenance techniques, including cleaning and inspection of the heaters prior to each use.
- If you notice a problem, burnt outlet, broken heating elements, etc. do not use the heater.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How long should I run an electric heater in my RV?
You should never run a heater of any type longer than is needed to warm the space. For overnight best practices, it is advised to turn the heater on 20-30 minutes before going to bed and then turning it off while you sleep. For the waking hours, you can run an electric heater as long as you need, as long as you are around to keep an eye on it, though it shouldn’t be continuously run.
How long do these heaters retain heat after they’re turned off?
Heat retention will depend on the type of heater you have. Fan heaters and infrared heaters lose heat pretty quickly. Oil-filled radiant heaters and Halogen heaters do take a little bit of time to cool off, though you will notice the lack of heat coming from the heaters almost instantly.
How much will it cost to run a 12V space heater in an RV?
The vast majority of portable 12-volt heaters will run off of your RVs battery power, which won’t cost you much of anything. However, if the RV isn’t connected to a battery charger or primary power supply, it can drain your battery pretty fast. These heaters also pull a lot of watts, which may trip your battery bank’s breaker.
What should I do if my RV electric heater is blowing cold air?
Diagnosis of issues will depend on a lot of different factors. If the heater is working but blowing cold air, then the most likely culprit is a bad heating element. Whatever the reason, the element isn’t getting hot. This can be damage, a blown thermal fuse, or an overheating protection switch. The best thing to do is turn the heater off and unplug it from the outlet for about half an hour. This will let all internal switches and overload protections reset. After you plug the heater back in and it still blows cold air, the problem is internal and will need to be replaced or repaired.
Will a low wattage space heater for RV be effective at heating?
Low wattage heaters may not have the immediate output of higher watt systems. However, they still produce heat and will be effective in heating an RV. If you require more immediate heat, you may want to look for a higher watt heater, but for general comfort levels and maintaining a temperature range, low wattage heaters will suffice.
Can I heat an RV without electricity?
Yes, there are a few ways to heat an RV without the use of electricity. One of the most popular electricity alternatives is propane heat. Propane heaters work by burning the propane gas to create heat and then passing that heat into the RV space. Propane is a cheap alternative to electricity and is no stranger to RV users and campers alike who rely on the LP gas for many devices.
Where is the best place to buy an RV space heaters?
The best place to buy your new RV space heater is through Amazon. The online retail store has more selection, lower pricing, and better shipping than almost any other vendor, online or in person. However, electric heaters can be found in many places, including Sylvane.com, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and local hardware stores.
Finding the best electric RV heater can be a complicated process. With so many brands, styles, sizes, and heating capacities, it only takes a moment to get overwhelmed. Hopefully this article has given you the information you need to make an informed decision.
If you are still wondering which model is best for you, take another look at our top pick. The Heat Storm Phoenix is an infrared electric heater that can be mounted on the wall or as a portable unit with included feet. The heat output is constant and easy to control, making it one of the most popular heaters on the market.
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