8 Best Space Heaters for RVs, Boats and Small Spaces

Because most motorhomes and campers aren’t insulated to withstand cold temperatures; especially when they dip below freezing, portable space heaters for RVs can be beneficial in keeping you and your family warm and cozy. But also, small space heaters can also be used to keep your RVs underbelly, water pipes, holding tanks and hydraulic systems from freezing.

When looking for portable heaters for RVs, there’s a few things to consider. Will you opt for a electric heater or propane heater? Do you wish for convection, fan or radiant heat? And how many BTU’s of heat will you need to keep your RV warm and cozy?

So, if you’re going to go RVing or camp in the cold winter months, you may want to consider supplementing your RV furnace heat with portable space heaters.

8 Best Portable Space Heaters for RVs, Boats and Small Spaces!

Portable Electric Space Heaters for RVs

Space Heater Power Options: Propane or Electric?

If your RV is hooked up to a power pedestal or electrical source, electric space heaters are a great alternative to using up your propane furnace.

However, if you’re dry camping or boondocking, a better option may be a propane powered space heater. Of course, you could supplement your propane furnace using a portable propane heater just as well; especially during power outages.

So, now that you know about what kind of portable heater you need for your RV, let’s take a look at some options. While there’s a plethora of different heaters out there, we’re just going  to look for the best portable heaters for RVs (also boats and tiny homes).

Convection Heat vs. Radiant Heat (Electric)

A convection heater (with a fan) heats only the air of the room to be heated, whereas a radiant heater warms objects in a room including the walls. The heat radiation results in a much more comfortable room climate than is the case with convection heating.

Radiant heaters are quiet because they don’t have noisy fans to move heated air like convection or fan heaters. Also, since they channel the warmth directly to the location you want heat. Radiant heaters have been proven to deliver heat more quickly than convection heaters that need to raise the air temperature throughout a space before you start to feel warm.

That said, according to ThisIsMoney.co.uk,  “The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) said a fan heater would be the preferable radiator when looking to heat a room for a short amount of time. … Whilst convector heaters may be a more expensive radiator to run, they will keep the room warmer for longer – and are a better option in the long term than a fan radiator.”

What are BTUs?

BTU is short for British Thermal Unit. While it’s a term that originates in the British Isles, it’s a common term used also in the United States. It’s just a form of measurement. When referring to heaters, just remember this. The higher the BTU rating means the more heat the heater puts out. 

How many BTUs do you need to heat your RV?

Locate the volts, amps and/or watts of the heater you wish to measure. The owner’s manual of the heating unit or the label on the device itself should list these measurements.

Calculate the wattage of the device by multiplying the volts by the amps. For example, if the device has a voltage of 160 volts and a current of 2 amps, its wattage would be 320 watts (160 times 2).

Divide the result by 3.413 — a constant figure — to determine the BTUs per hour. To cite the example in Step 2, divide the 320 watts by 3.413 to get 93.76 BTUs per hour.

Multiply the BTUs per hour by the number of hours the device runs to determine its total BTU output. To continue the example, if the device runs for 4 hours, it will generate 375.04 BTUs in that period of time (93.76 BTU/hour times 4 hours).

In layman’s terms, just keep in mind the more BTUs a portable heater puts out, the more energy it consumes. This is something to think about if you are paying for electricity. But also, you need to be aware of how much strain a higher BTU heater will task your RV’s electrical system.

So, look for a space heater that will accommodate the square footage that you want to heat. But also, you need to consider when heating the spaces in your RV:

      • RV ceiling height
      • Climate – how long will your RV be in colder temperatures
      • Direct sunlight – will your RV benefit from natural heat through absorption (roof, fiberglass and windows).
      • Insulation
      • Windows – single vs. double pain, tinted vs. non-tinted
 
Space Heater Safety Features

When shopping for a portable heater for your RV, the most important things you should look for are their safety features. Regardless if you’re looking to buy an electrical heater, always make certain they are certified by an independent testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). You’ll want a heater that has an automatic shut-off should the heater tip over.

So, now let’s check out our best portable heaters for RVs and Campers.

Portable Propane Heaters

Winter Camping - Mr. Heater with Cat

If you’re going to be boondocking, unless you have an ample solar, lithium batteries and energy management system, you’ll be hard pressed to be able to use an electric space heater because they draw a huge amount of electricity which will drain your batteries in no time. So, your option is to use a portable heater powered by propane.

And finding propane is fairly easy. You can purchase those green propane canisters in most big box stores in the camping section, farm and ranch stores, camp stores and even some fueling stations.

Or, if you prefer, you could opt to use a 5 pound propane cylinder or 20 pound propane cylinder which will last longer than those green propane cylinders. When we boondocked in our fifth wheel, we used the same 20 pound cylinder that we also used for our propane fire pit and camp stove.

RELATED:  How to Prepare your RV for Boondocking Off the Grid

We personally have owned 2 different Mr. Heater propane heaters and never have either of them disappointed us or made us leery of using propane to heat our RV.

Propane Heaters for Big Rig RV’s & Large Tents

Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater

 

FEATURES:

    • 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU radiant heat per hour
    • Piezo Ignition
    • Heats up to 450 square feet.
    • Single control start knob
    • Hi-Med-Low heat settings
    • Swivel regulators
    • Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
    • Accidental tip-over safety shut-off or if pilot light goes out.
    • When operating the heater at altitudes over 7,000 FT above sea level the heater may shut off.
    • Connects to two 1 lb. cylinders
    • Connects to a 20 lb. cylinder with optional hose with regulator.

Propane Heaters for Mid-Size RV’s & Tents

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

FEATURES:

    • 4,000-9,000 BTU radiant heater
    • Piezo Ignition
    • Heats up to 225 square feet.
    • Run Time:  3 Hours
    • Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
    • Accidental tip-over safety shut-off or if pilot light goes out.
    • When operating the heater at altitudes over 7,000 FT above sea level the heater may shut off.
    • Fuel Consumption/Burn Rate (Gal/Hr) at 4000 BTU = 0.044 Gal/Hr, at 9000 BTU = 0.099 Gal/Hr
    • Fold-down handle; swivel-out regulator; connects to propane tank (not included)

For easy storing, we also bought the carrying bag for our Mr. Heater Buddy that holds the heater, one green disposable propane canister, hose and regulator.

Propane Heaters for Small RV’s & Tents

While the portable electric portable heaters are nice to have when we are plugged into the electric pedestal, the Mr. Heater propane portable heaters are great to have when we’re boondocking off the grid.

One last safety note, when using propane space heaters, make certain to open a window slightly for ventilation. And, as mentioned earlier, read and review our space heater safety tips above.

Portable Electric Space Heaters

You can heat your RV using an electric space heater either off grid or while using your generator. 

    • Always use a wall socket instead of a power strip during use.
    • Do not use or store where it may get wet. This heater is not intended for use in bathrooms, laundry areas, etc. 
    • Temperatures may vary at different locations of the room, depending on room sizes, insulation, and ventilation conditions.

Optimus Portable 2-Speed Fan Electric Heater

This Optimus Portable 2-Speed Fan Space Heater is a little power house! It’s a little over two pounds, it measures 9.2 x 10.5 x 5.5 inches. This little electric space heater is perfect for heating small spaces. It can be set on the floor or on a stable surface.

Optimus 2-Speed Fan Electric Heater

Optimus Portable 2-Speed Fan Space Heater

 

FEATURES:

    • 2 Heat Settings (750 and 1500 watts)
    • 4-position Function Switch (off/fan/low/high)
    • Fan-only Setting
    • Internal Heat Limiting Thermostat
    • Thermal Cutoff Safety Device 
    • Power Indicator Light

Pro Breeze 1500W Mini Ceramic Electric Space Heater

The Pro Breeze 1500W Mini Ceramic Space Heater utilizes industry leading ceramic heating discs for ultra-warm heat transfer in small spaces. Ceramic heating is the latest technology in mini space heaters and provides a faster, safer and more energy efficient method of heating than traditional space heaters. At the flick of switch, the ceramic fan heater will produce a stream of warm air to quickly and effectively heat the area in front of the heater.

Pro Breeze 1500 Watt Ceramic Electric Heater

Pro Breeze Space Heater – 1500W Electric Heater

FEATURES:

    • Forced Air – Convection
    • 2 Heat Settings – 1500W & 750W
    • Fan Only Setting
    • Overheat Protection and  Tip-Over Protection
    • Input: 120V, 60HZ

Dreo 24″ Oscillating Tower Electric Space Heater

The Dreo 24″ Oscillating Tower Electric Heater delivers powerful heat at 10 ft/s, along with its wide-angle 70° oscillation, to give your room fast, even and widespread warmth. This electric space heater can heat a small room up to 270 square feet. Enjoy ultra-quiet heating from Dreo ObliqueAirflow technology and hassle-free use ensured by its multiple safety protection.

Dreo 24-inch Oscillating Tower Electric Heater

Dreo 24-inch Oscillating Tower Space Heater

FEATURES:

    • 2S instant heating
    • 10 ft/s far-reaching heat
    • 70° oscillation for evenly warmth
    • Quiet ObliqueAirflow techonology (40dB)
    • Energy-saving ECO mode
    • 1-12h timer (in 1h increments)
    • Adjustable thermostat (41-95°F in 1°F increments)
    • Auto off after 24h without operation
    • Convenient Remote Control
    • Smart Memory: Remember last settings
    • Power Auto Off: 24 hours without operation
    • Display Auto Off: 60s without operation

De’Longhi ComforTemp Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Electric Space Heater

Effectively and efficiently heat any room of the house with the De’Longhi ComforTemp Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Electric Heater. This heater actually saves you money by automatically maintaining the optimal room temperature. Simply press the ComforTemp button for the ultimate in energy savings. The heater produces the maximum amount of radiant heat while ensuring a low surface temperature. The user-friendly control panel offers an adjustable thermostat and three heat settings to customize your heating needs. Safety highlights include a gently rounded design and thermal cut-off.

De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Heater

De'Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater

FEATURES:

    • Patented SmartSnap pre-assembled wheels that require no assembly and make it easy to move from room to room.
    • Thermal shut off that prevents overheating.
    • Maintenance-free permanently sealed oil system

 

  • Dreo 1500W Oil-Filled Radiator Electric Space Heater

The Dreo 1500W Oil-Filled Radiator Electric Heater is the ultimate all-rounder that gives you maximized warmth and comfort when the winter storm strikes. Sleek and modern, this heater uses extended fins and spindle-shaped openings to ensure a wide and even spread of warmth across your home. With a host of settings, this heater optimizes the efficiency to reduce your heating bills on cold days. If you’re looking for a stylish, powerful and energy-efficient heater, Dreo oil-filled heater is your ideal choice.

Dreo 1500W Oil-Filled Radiator Heater

Dreo 1500W Oil-Filled Radiator Electric Heater

FEATURES:

    • Tip Over Switch
    • Overheat Protection
    • Wraparound Protection
    • UL Certification
    • 4 Heating Modes
    • Spindle-Shaped Openings
    • M-shaped Heating Fins
    • 225mm Enlarged Fins
    • Wraparound Heating Fins Design
    • Remote Control
    • ECO Mode
    • 24 Hours Auto On/Off Timer

Space Heater Safety Tips:

It’s very important to take space heater safety seriously. These guidelines will keep you, your family and your RV safe from fire or toxic fumes.

Always On Liberty - Space Heater Safety Infographic

Wrapping up our portable space heaters for RVs

We hope this list best portable space heaters for RVs helps provide the information you need and heater options. Whichever you choose, be sensible about using any space heater or heat producing appliance in enclosed spaces, around children and pets and their operation requirements. Lastly, always practice good fire and heater safety to keep your family cozy and safe.

Related Articles for reading

Winter RV Camping: Keep Your RV Interior Warm in Cold Weather

How to Survive Winter Camping in an RV

Absolute Best Small Kitchen Appliances for the RV and Camper

14 Tips on Keeping your RV Cool in the Summer

Always On Liberty - Portable Space Heaters for RVs


DISCLAIMER: We will not be held liable for any misuse, injury, loss of life, damage or loss of any property from the use of any products listed in this blog. It is the responsibility of the consumer/user to read and understand the manufacturers instructions before operating.

The use of unauthorized accessories/attachments with any of these heaters are expressly prohibited, may cause serious injury and will void warranties. Keep children and pets away from all portable heaters and/or heat sources. Never leave heater(s) unattended. Unplug any heater when not in use.

Do not operate any portable heater while sleeping or use near water sources. NEVER plug electric space heaters into extension cords or ‘power bricks’ unless clearly stated in the manufacturer’s owners manual. You must adhere to applicable state codes. Be sure you purchase the correct one in accordance to your state’s requirements.


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