Camping in the cold might sound like a fool’s errand, but with the best electric heater for an RV, you’ll stay cozy and comfortable in all sorts of weather.
Just imagine a sunny, brisk morning with a cup of coffee and a blanket over your lap, with a portable electric RV heater at your feet.
The good news is this: there are lots of options when searching for the best electric heater for RVing.
Even if your RV already has a heating system or furnace, a portable electric RV space heater can make an awesome supplement, especially if you already know your existing system struggles in cooler weather.
If you don’t know where to start, right here is a good place. We’ve listed the best electric RV space heaters available to help make your search a little bit easier.
The best electric heater for an RV
Here are our top 3 picks for the best electric RV heaters:
- 1500 watts
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Cool to the touch
- 1-12 hour timer
- Tip-over, overheat protection
- 50-80 degree thermostat
- Dual heating systems
- Cool to the touch
The two main types of space heaters popular amongst full-time RVers are electric and propane. We’ll explain more about the difference between these heaters below after we run through our top picks.
For now, here are our top picks for the best RV electric heater:
- BTUs: 5,100
- Watts: 1,500
- Features: Energy efficient, quiet, 1-2 hour timer, tip-over switch, overheat protection, and thermal insulated wiring.
This sleek little RV electric heater boasts some fancy features at a surprisingly affordable price. It has an oil-filled body and works by heating the interior oil and radiating that heat throughout your motorhome.
A unique and awesome feature of this heater is its energy efficiency.
Not only is this best electric heater for an RV built with an EnergySmart® design, but it allows you to easily monitor its energy use with an indicator at the top of the control panel. On the panel, you can easily select to run the unit on its EnergySmart® setting.
You can also set the thermostat to your desired temperature and set an adjustable auto-off sleep timer.
While this Honeywell Oil-Filled RV electric heater claims a silent operation, oil-bodied machines do make noise when they initially heat up. Once it reaches its running temperatures, you can count on that silent operation to kick back in, a big benefit over noisy, fan-distributed heaters.
You can rest easy with this RV electric heater’s list of safety features, including tip-over protection, overheat protection, thermal insulated wiring, and reinforced wire connections.
Despite their safety features, always follow any safety instructions included with your unit.
Heat Storm Wall-Mounted RV Electric Heater
- BTUS: 5,100
- Watts: 1,500
- Features: Wall mounted, WiFi-enabled (so you can adjust temperature with your phone, cool to the touch, wall stays cool, 40 decibels
The Heat Storm wall-mounted RV electric heater is a great space-saving option for RVers. Simply install this heater on any wall in your motorhome and you’re good to go.
These heaters are energy-efficient thanks to patented HMS dual wall technology.
The Heat Storm electric RV heater operates at just 40 decibels, filters dust and dander out of air and has an auto “eco-mode” to save energy and money.
Plus, these best electric heaters for an RV do a great job heating a small space. Amazon reviewers use them in motorhomes, greenhouses, cabins and basement rooms.
- BTUs: 5,200
- Watts: 1,500
- Features: 50-80 degree thermostat, tip over and overheating protection, energy-saving with high and low settings, quiet
The Dr. Infrared RV electric heater was built for efficiency. The unique Auto Energy Saving feature and dual heating systems combine to optimize this unit’s heat output.
At the same 1,500 wattage of most best RV electric heaters, this unit claims to put out 60% more heat than its competitors.
While this unit is still fully portable, its design feels a bit more like a true piece of furniture. Its solid wooden base would stylishly fit into any RV interior as a funky, mid-century modern piece.
It also has a range of safety features like tip over shut off, overheat protection, and cool to the touch encasing.
The Dr. Infrared RV electric heater has a programmable timer up to 12 hours and a remote control so you can adjust the heat output remotely.
- BTUs: 5,000
- Watts: 1,500
- Features: Automatically maintains temperature, adjustable thermostat, user-friendly control panel, thermal cut-off safety feature
Especially, when it comes to a device like the best electric heater for an RV, buying something you can rely on to be safe and effective means a lot of peace of mind.
This unit does have some upgraded features added to its classic base, like a maintenance-free system that’s permanently sealed off, so you’ll never have to replace the oil within.
The Delonghi RV electric heater also boasts Comfort Temp Technology, so the unit automatically adjusts its power settings to provide the perfect amount of heat and maintain an optimal temperature.
This electric RV heater does not include a fan or blower, and some users report issues with its heat throw, which is important to consider.
If your space is rather stagnant in terms of air flow, and doesn’t have a ceiling fan or other means to circulate air, this RV space heater might not be able to distribute heat across your space as much as you’d like.
The Delonghi oil-filled RV electric heater gets mostly good reviews in RV groups and on Amazon, although a couple of reviewers said it exploded, which is worrisome.
- BTUs: 5,120
- Watts: 1,500
- Features: Sleek flat design, can be wall-mounted, lightweight, compact, thermal cut-off, tip-over kill switch
This sleek modern DeLonghi Panel best electric RV heater is a chic way to add some heat to any space. Its panel design makes it easy to tuck into small areas, and though it comes with wheels for portability as a standalone unit, it can also be mounted to a wall for an even sleeker look.
This best RV electric heater features many of the standard safety elements like thermal cutoff and tip-over kill switch, but with one surprising addition.
The DeLonghi panel heater has a unique anti-freeze feature that’s perfect for cold weather RV travel. This feature is designed to prevent pipes and tanks from freezing in the cold; this can be a huge benefit and added peace of mind for any RV traveler.
This panel heater does not have a fan or blower, which makes it ultra-quiet. Despite the lack of air circulation, users and reviewers thrill over this heater’s effectiveness and heat output.
We love that this best RV electric heater as an adjustable thermostat, multiple heat settings is lightweight and compact.
- BTUs: 5,100
- Watts: 750/1125/1500
- Features: Uses vortex air circulation like a furnace, safety features like tip-over protection and auto shut-off, cool-touch exterior, 3 heat settings
The Vornado RV space heater comes recommended amongst RVers as one of the best electric heaters for an RV. This little heater works by using vortex air circulation without intense heat, similar to a furnace.
Keep in mind this does take longer to heat up a room than other types of space heaters that blast out really hot heat.
Safety features include tip-over protection, a cool-touch exterior and auto safety shut off.
Choose between 3 different heat settings in the Vornado RV electric heater up to 1500 watts, which is equivalent to about 5,100 BTUs. You may need a couple of these heaters in different rooms of your RV if you’re in a larger rig.
This amazing little heater also comes with a 5-year warranty, which reviewers love.
- BTUs: 5,100
- Watts: 500-1,500
- Features: produces infrared heat like a sauna, 1-year warranty, puts out 300% more volume than other heaters with less noise
The EdenPure RV electric heater is another favorite we found amongst RVers. This one uses a different technology, though, and is much more expensive than other electric heaters on our list.
This best electric heater for an RV uses copper helix infrared bulbs, which produce infrared heat like a sauna. Layered copper helix captures heat from the infrared bulb and sends heat out into your room.
Reviewers online claim this is a powerful little heater – one reviewer heats a house that is almost 2,000 square feet with just two of these heaters and no other type of heating.
Each electric RV heater comes with a 1-year warranty and is safe around children and pets.
The Edenpure RV electric heater is more of an investment than some other electric RV heaters on this list, but seems worth it according to reviews.
Types of The Best RV Electric Heaters Explained
As you saw from our list above, the best electric heaters for an RV come in a variety of forms: oil-filled, infrared, wall-mounted and vortex. You might be confused about which type of electric heater to get for your RV.
Here’s a breakdown of the difference between all those heaters.
Oil-Filled Electric RV Heaters
Oil heaters are really popular electric heaters for RVs. Owners saw they are soundless and heat a room nicely. Unlike heaters with fans, an oil-heater slowly circulates hot diathermic oil.
The heaters use thermal convection and radiant heating to pull cool air in and push it out via oil-filled fins.
Many say oil-filled electric heaters for an RV are great as they are energy efficient. This type of heater stays hot even after you turn it off.
It’s one of the best electric heaters for an RV as it works well to warm up a small space.
Infrared RV Electric Heaters
Infrared heaters use infrared light rays to heat up a space. This type of radiant heat transfers heat to nearby objects and people, which can make surfaces much warmer. Infrared is the same type of rays that come from the sun.
This type of electric heater for an RV is great for a drafty motorhome, as it will warm you up before it heats the air.
One RVer says she loves using infrared electric heaters in her RV because it helps keep the floor warm.
Vortex Electric Heaters for an RV
A vortex best electric heater for an RV uses a forced air technology similar to using a furnace.
This type of heater doesn’t use intense heat to warm up a small space. Instead, it quickly circulates warm air throughout the room.
You’ll enjoy a quiet heater that efficiently heats up your RV. Vornado currently makes these vortex space heaters.
Fan-based electric heater for an RV
A common type of electric heater are those small personal fan-based space heaters. These won’t heat up a huge area, and are better for smaller spaces like bedrooms or your RV bathroom. Of course, this depends on the size of the RV you’re trying to heat.
A fan-based electric heater for an RV is just what it sounds like: a fan is used to circulate hot air throughout a room. A heating element inside the heater is usually made of metal or ceramic.
Electric RV heater safety tips
While the best electric heater for an RV is an affordable and reliable way to heat up your motorhome, there are also some dangers to be aware of. This isn’t a “set it and forget it” device that you can just leave on all day while you go for a hike.
We use an electric heater on our sailboat, and we are always around when it’s on.
Here are some safety tips by SafeElectricity.org:
- Make sure the space heater you purchase has an emergency shut-off feature if the heater tips over or gets too hot
- Have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good working condition
- Place the heater on a hard, non-flammable surface, not on carpets or rugs
- Use a space heater 3 feet from combustible liquids like fuel, spray cans or paint
- Keep the space heater far away from your RV furniture or drapes
- Never leave your space heater unattended
- Make sure the cord and outlet you are using is rated for 1500-watts typically emitted by an electric RV heater
Gas vs. Electric RV Heaters
Before you pick out the best RV heater for your setup, you’ll need to figure out what type of heater works best for you.
We’ve covered the best electric heaters for an RV in this guide, but you may also be curious about what other types of heaters are available.
Each type of camper heater has its own ups and downs, so there isn’t a universal best RV heater, it really depends on you and your unique space and needs.
Electric vs. propane RV heaters
The two main types of camper heaters are electric and propane. One is not better than the other, they’re just different and cater to different types of travelers. We’ll start with propane.
RV propane heaters
RV propane heaters run on gas instead of electricity, so they don’t need to be plugged into an outlet or electric source to run. With the range and accessibility of portable propane tanks, these best RV heaters are a bit more versatile than electric heaters.
Since we’re talking about RV travel, most people have an electric outlet pretty easily accessible, but it’s a good thing to note if you plan to take your heater outside or on off-site boondocking camping trips.
In addition to being able to hook up to portable gas tanks, RV propane heaters can also install directly into your RV’s furnace or gas line. Either source of gas will likely cost you much less than an electric heater, as propane heaters tend to be more efficient.
Most propane heaters use radiant heat to spread the warmth, an effective and efficient way to disperse the heat. Some units also include fans to further distribute the heat.
There are a few more elements to consider with propane heaters, like the need for a dehumidifier and proper ventilation. RV propane heaters tend to throw a lot of moisture into the air, which can lead to things like mold.
A simple solution is to run a dehumidifier and make sure your area stays dry. Some RVers run fans in every room to cut back on the moisture.
Also, since propane RV heaters use true combustion to produce heat, their output can be highly hazardous. You’ll need to install these units with ample ventilation and purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector.
For these reasons, some people are uncomfortable with propane heaters, though as we’ll go on to discuss, electric heaters have their own share of hazards.
If you want to check out propane, a popular one is this Mr. Buddy propane space heater.
RV electric heaters
RV electric heaters run off of…you guessed it…electricity! They can simply plug into any outlet and power up. If you’re not planning to use your camper heater away from your RV’s outlets, and you’re not particularly concerned about the electric draw to your system, RV electric heaters are an extremely convenient option.
If you want to spend your time off-grid, that might make things a bit trickier. Electric heaters, in general, are not as efficient as RV propane heaters, and the power they draw might be too much for your unplugged system.
The best RV electric heater tens to be less expensive upfront, which means it’s easier to purchase multiple heaters to more adequately heat a large or closed off space. Because they are less efficient than RV propane heaters, the cost to operate will be higher.
While RV electric heaters come in a ton of different types like ceramic heaters, infrared heaters, oil-filled heaters, and micathermic heaters, the main two variations are radiant heaters or ones that use fans to circulate the heat.
While radiant heat is highly efficient, a fan enables a unit to disperse heat better and cover a larger area. Fans make noise though, and can be a big downside compared to their nearly noiseless radiant counterparts.
Fans also tend to heat a room faster than radiant heat, though radiant heat can maintain a heated room better once it’s warmed.
A big benefit to RV electric heaters is that there is no fuel combustion taking place, so there isn’t carbon monoxide, dioxide, or any other nasty fumes to ventilate. That means you can put these camper heaters virtually anywhere throughout your RV.
That also makes these heaters seem much safer to most users. Though, it should be noted that RV electric heaters have some hazards, too.
Many electric heaters make use of plastic components, which are prone to melting or worse. Some people say electric heaters can catch fire, which is extremely hazardous inside an RV.
Buying a quality model and always adhering to the safety manual will help eliminate this risk.
How many BTUs do I need for my RV heater?
There isn’t a simple relationship between room size and the BTUs you’ll need to heat it, because there are so many other variables at play.
The climate you’re in is a huge factor, but also the shape and openness of your space, the insulation of the surrounding area, circulation, RV heater placement, and tons of other variables all affect the efficiency of your camper heater.
Unfortunately, that makes it a bit tricky to determine exactly how many BTUs you’ll need to adequately heat your space. An incredibly broad rule of thumb is to estimate 40-45 BTUs per square foot of space.
If you’re in a particularly small area, or you know that your RV isn’t particularly well insulated, you might want to overestimate that amount.
Most of the best electric space heaters for an RV put out 5,100 BTUS, which is what you get with 1500 watts. The BTU’s will lower depending on which setting you have the heater on: low, medium or high.
Conclusion on The Best Electric Heaters for an RV
An RV electric heater is a high-stakes purchase. Not only can it be a pretty costly upfront investment, but a poor selection can not only mean freezing temperatures but safety failure and potential catastrophe.
It’s important to select the best electric RV heater for your space and specific needs.
Buying too much or too little, too big or too small, can lead to very undesirable results.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out what type of RV heater is best for you. If you’re still on the fence or have any questions, just ask!
Let us know in the comments what information you’d like from us that can help you select your perfect RV heater.
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.