Updated: Aug 29
Vanlife is a permanent choice, and those who travel and opt for a campervan are the kind that road trips for at least a couple of months at a time – summer or winter. The biggest concerns usually come in regarding winter; how do you keep the camper warm? Are there any safe campervan heating solutions out there?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that campervanners don’t get put off new adventures just because it’s a bit colder – they come well-prepared! Since there are plenty of campervan heating options, we thought it's best to discuss the topic in-depth. We'll then give you all the options, so you can choose the one that suits your type of vanlife best.
Should You Really Get a Van Heater?
Well, this is up to you. Your first line of defense will always be to have a well-insulated van and use things such as blankets, etc. But taking on an Iceland winter in a camper, will be absolute madness without at least a small camper heater to keep the cold from creeping in. That being said, the decision on which campervan heating solution you pick will depend on the following:
A van heater needs to be the right size for the size of your van. Trying to keep a camper the size of a bus warm with a tiny little plug-in fan heater will only manage to drain your bank account and not much else. This is especially true for campers with high roofs. In the case of the latter, it’s best to choose a permanent campervan heating installation.
Many campervan heating solutions rely on one fuel or another. This opens up an entire can of worms:
How expensive are these fuel options?
How easy will it be to fill it up again (availability)?
How safe is it?
Where will you keep it where, so it’s safely stored away and doesn’t encroach on the camper’s space too much?
Just like any other campervan component, your van heater will need maintenance. Each of the different campervan heating options will have a different maintenance regime attached to you. You’ll need to find out exactly what that is and decide whether the upkeep suits your lifestyle and budget.
Not only are there various campervan heating solutions out there, but each category also widely differs in price range. Just like most products out there, you’ll get the “high-end” products and the “more affordable range”. Or the “complete kit” vs. “upgradable system” options. It will be up to you to decide which solution works best for your needs as well as suits your budget.
Look, even at the best of times things happen, and you could end up with a broken campervan heating system. In many situations, you’ll be able to “ride it out” (pun intended) and wait until you can get it fixed or replaced.
But as we touched on earlier, this is absolutely out of the question in a situation such as winter in Iceland. Unless you want others to find melting popsicles in a camper come spring, you’ll need to have a backup plan. Whether it’s just another similar system, an entirely different one or a smaller temporary one will remain up to you.
Some of the Best Heaters for a Camper
The following are some of the best campervan heating options on the market:
Diesel Heater for a Campervan
This is one of the best non-electric heater options for a camper and is popular for a variety of reasons. Whilst Diesel generally tends to be a bit more expensive, Diesel heaters are very fuel and energy efficient. They can also safely run all night (their safety heavily depends on their installation, so be sure to get that right). Some of the Diesel heaters to consider are:
Electric Heater for a Camper
An electric van heater is a much-loved go-to. Not only because they do manage to heat up a room quickly, but because it is definitely best when it comes to a portable camper heater. There are many different types of electric van heaters, and you’ll need to decide which fits your needs best:
Camper Gas Heater
The reason why propane gas heaters are so popular among vanlifers is that propane is already used for many appliances. The main ones are, of course, the stove and the grill. But once again, safety should be your top priority. You need to ensure that a proper installation was done and that you have the necessary gas alarm installed. It'll pick up on dangerous carbon monoxide levels in the camper.
These types of gas heaters can also cause condensation. So, if you don’t want any problems with moisture, you’ll need to ensure that you have proper ventilation in your camper. The following are a few of the gas heaters you can consider:
Okay, so technically this is not a heater, but a wood burner aka wood stove certainly heats up your camper. The only con is, using it during summer might have you sweating buckets. But it is probably one of the most economical campervan heating solutions you can find. If this is something that you might be considering, check out the following camper wood burners:
Campervan Heating; Be Sure to Weigh Up Your Options
Sometimes we can be so fixated on a certain idea that we completely miss out on what is best for us. You may feel like an electric heater for your camper is the way to go, but when you first start working out the costs, it may not be such a great idea.
Or you might be so concerned about the potential noise a Diesel heater may make that you completely forget that you don’t even have the proper gas alarms in place for the gas heater you’re eyeing.
EVERY ONE of these campervan heating solutions has its own pros and cons (and even more based on your specific needs and requirements). So make sure that you weigh up each and every solution to really get the right fit for you.