A warm, welcoming glow, the unmistakable aroma of toasted wood, a percussion of snaps and pops as the embers dance. Can you even get cozier than that?
An RV wood stove is more than a feature, it’s an experience. One that can make almost any space feel like home.
But are there RV wood-burning stoves that are feasible and compatible?
If you’re living the tiny lifestyle like me, you know the challenges of creating an inviting space with…well…not much space.
No matter how incredible the place you’re traveling or how nomadic your heart is, designing a space you can look forward to coming home to will make your whole crew happier.
If you ask me, a crackling RV wood stove is one of the most effective ways to do this.
Now, before you talk about space efficiencies and “luxuries vs. necessities”, hear me out. Yes, RV wood-burning stoves are somewhat romantic and elegant, but they’re also surprisingly cheap and impressively effective. But before we get into all the nitty-gritty, let’s take a step back and start with the basics.
What is an RV wood stove?
RV wood stoves are not just for RVs, and are also used by people living in tiny homes, vans, buses, boats, trailers, and more. It’s just a small, usually somewhat self-contained wood stove.
They come in many different styles, but all will need some sort of chimney pipe for the combustion gas.
Different types of RV wood-burning stoves
Some RV wood stoves double as heaters and cookers. You might have to sacrifice a bit of heat efficiency during cook time, but other than that, this can be a great option for some buyers.
While this category is totally superficial, it often makes a big difference for buyers. Having a window door turns your wood stove for an RV into a fireplace. If you’re all about the wood-burning aesthetic, this might be a must.
Size of your RV wood stove.
This will largely be dependent on how much space you have inside your RV. The bigger the area you need to be heated, the bigger stove you’ll need. Though size is usually a good indicator of capability, the next category is even more so.
This can get a bit tricky with RV wood-burning stoves, as there are so many variables at play that affect how much heat your small wood stove will throw. Even things like the type of wood or the wetness or sappiness of the wood can drastically affect your heat throw.
If you’re going to be traveling in particularly cold climates, definitely overestimate how much heat output you’ll be needing from your camper wood stove.
Pros and cons of installing a mini wood stove in your RV
- Fuel is readily available
- Fuel is cheap, often free, and stable
- Fosters an elegant, cozy atmosphere
- Efficient heating
- Modern small wood stoves are EPA certified
- Can burn cleaner than oil or coal systems
- Maintaining and tending a fire (only a con for some)
- Chopping, stack, possibly dry, move, and store wood
- Cleaning soot & ash
- Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and soot emissions
- Must install a carbon monoxide detector
- Must install a chimney pipe
Things to consider before picking out the best RV wood stove
Mini wood stoves come in all shapes and sizes. No matter how small or strange the space you’re looking to fill may be, there is an RV wood stove out there for you.
If you’re shopping online, make sure to measure carefully and check the measurements of the unit you’re buying.
Sometimes it’s hard to gauge the size of a mini wood stove from the photos, and familiar proportions might lead you to think a small wood stove is much larger than it actually is. Find something roughly the size of the stove you’re going to buy and use it as a reference.
You should also really consider the upkeep and maintenance of an RV wood-burning stove before you purchase.
Are you ready to chop all your wood, haul it away, dry it, store it, light it on fire, keep it on fire, and clean all the soot and ash that it produces?
The challenge can be fun and incredibly rewarding, but make sure you’re ready to take it on.
Using a wood-burning stove in a campervan
Vandwellers are perhaps the most space-starved of all tiny livers. For that reason alone, many may scoff at the suggestion of using a small wood-burning stove in their van, but if you haven’t already written off the idea, it might be worth your consideration.
The biggest downside to a wood stove in a campervan is the loss of stealth camping.
With plumes of smoke (though many new models tout massively reduced smoke outputs) and the unmistakable scent of burning wood (which is also said to be minimized in newer, more efficient models) it’s hard to go unnoticed.
Camper vans are the most discreet option of nomadic living and many vandwellers make use of that stealth often. If this is an important factor to you, and your locale requires near-constant heat, a mini wood stove might not be an option for you.
If space is your biggest concern, you should look at the dimensions of some smaller models, they might surprise you.
Many travelers with smaller stoves also choose to elevate them and use a shorter chimney pipe, allowing for storage or other use of space below the stove. This can be an awesome option, but make sure your stove has the proper overhead allowances for safety.
For most small wood stoves, that likely won’t be an issue.
For ideas on heating a campervan, check out this post: Campervan Heating: 11 hacks to staying warm this winter.
The best RV wood burning stoves you can buy
|Pleasant Hearth Small Wood Burning Stove||$555.00 USD||21.5” x 22.9” x 28”||243 lbs||Yes|
|Dickson Marine Propane Fireplace||$854.51 USD||8.5” x 5.5” x 14”||26 lbs||Yes|
|Cubic CUB Mini Wood Stove||$499.00 CAD||11” x 12” x 10.5”||27lbs||Yes|
|Kimberly Wood Stove||$3,995.00 USD||12” diameter base, 10” diameter body||56lbs||Yes|
|England Stove Works Survivor||$147.99 USD||19.4” x 19.2” x 14”||45 lbs||No|
|Summer's Heat Wood Burning Stove||$1,077.47 USD||21” x 30.5” x 13.5”||207 lbs||Yes|
|Vogelzang Wood Stove||$789.44 USD||21” x 23.5” x 28”||224 lbs||Yes|
Pleasant Hearth Small Wood Burning Stove
With a classic look and a sturdy, cast iron body, the Pleasant Hearth Stove is one of our absolute favorites. This small wood stove packs a big heat spread, and can effectively heat a 1,200 sq. ft. space without a blower.
Most RV wood-burning stoves are cast iron, for good reason. It’s one of the most durable materials available and when you’re building something that will reach temperatures in the thousands, durability is essential.
The only flaw is its weight. Cast iron is almost 10x heavier than comparable materials, which might eliminate this option for travelers with weight limits, but is perfect for tiny home and cabin dwellers.
Dickson Marine Propane Fireplace
This fascinating mini wood stove is less than 6 inches deep and weighs just 26 lbs. For such a small unit, its heat output of 5,500 – 7,500 BTUs is pretty incredible.
This small wood stove is built for marine living, and claims to be unaffected by motion, winds, or weather conditions.
The body is made of non-rust stainless steel, which isn’t quite as durable as cast iron, but at 26lbs, this unit is ideal for boat or van dwellers, and it comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Cubic CUB Mini Wood Stove
This Cubic CUB mini wood stove boasts the coveted classic design of a cast-iron stove, but with lightweight, steel-plated construction. Less than a cubic foot in TOTAL unit size, this unique little stove is full of charm.
Its small size limits its heat output and it’s ideal for spaces between 100 – 200 sq. ft.
With dramatic gold-plated accents and a whimsical, dollhouse feel, this stove will add warmth and character to any small space.
Kimberly Wood Stove
Price: $3,995.00 USD
Dimensions: 12” diameter base, 10” diameter body
Look out, the future of RV wood burning stoves is coming in hot. This unit is pretty amazing. This RV wood stove is built off the history of an inspiring father who moved his small family into an even smaller boat out of desperation during the Great Recession.
He needed a small wood stove that didn’t burn through much wood and minimal smoke output with a longer burn time. From need births invention. He created an innovative two-stage combustion chamber to successfully accomplish everything he needed, boasting an incredibly efficient, nearly smokeless stove.
If you can stomach the price of this unit, it’s an incredible investment. They also include expert installation and all required materials (flu pipe) with your purchase, giving you even more peace of mind.
England Stove Works Survivor
This workhorse of a wood stove is truly a survivor. With a 168 sq. in. cooking area, this option tops almost all models of its size in cookability. So if you’re planning to do much cooking with your wood stove, this might be the option for you.
It is made of heavy-duty American steel, which brings its weight down to a very manageable 45 lbs. Perhaps a more superficial factor, this RV wood stove does not have a viewing window.
This exclusion likely allows the fire to heat slightly more efficiently, but many RV wood-burning stove lovers wouldn’t consider an option without the dancing flames and warm firelight that a window provides.
Summer’s Heat Wood Burning Stove
The Summer’s Heat RV wood stove is very similar to the Pleasant Hearth, but with a few key differences. They both boast a max heating space of 1,200 sq. ft., but the Summer’s Heat comes with a blower included.
While not necessary, a blower helps circulate the heat output quicker and further, making a more evenly heated home and more efficient use of heat.
Blowers are not massively expensive (~$100) and can easily be added to most units.
This is also one of the largest stoves on our list, so if you’re looking for a larger, more homey wood stove, this might have the feel you want.
Vogelzang RV Wood Stove
It also comes equipped with a blower, but reviews suggest that the blower quality warrants replacing.
The Vogelzang RV wood stove is another slightly larger option, and is probably best for tiny homes, cabins, or larger trailers/RVs due to its substantial size and weight.
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Q&A about wood-burning stoves for an RV
A: No. While the sound of a wood-burning fire might elicit some anxiety, these stoves are extremely safe. It is always important to follow manufacturer’s guidelines and never overload your stove, but if used and cared for properly, your stove is not a fire hazard.
A: This one’s tricky. As anyone who’s done construction on an RV or tiny home knows, regulations for these guys are shockingly lacking. You should check with your local building codes and regulations, but be prepared for them to not exist.
A: Initially, yes. The cost to purchase and install an RV wood-burning stove is going to be higher than propane. The savings come in fuel costs and availability.
Many people have access to free or dirt cheap wood, which can save you a ton in the long run, particularly if you’re planning to heat your tiny home or RV consistently.
A: If you clean something often, you clean something easy. If you let it build up, you’re in for a challenge. This applies to just about everything, but especially cast iron.
It’s important to clean your stove often, including letting the fire die out, emptying the firebox, and cleaning out all ash and dirt. Some RV wood stoves have chambers that make this process a bit easier, but every stove’s maintenance will be made easier by frequent cleanings.
Conclusion on an RV wood stove for winter
Living a nomadic or minimal life is extremely rewarding, but it does come with some undeniable challenges, one of which tends to be comfort. With these tiny RV wood-burning stoves, you can turn virtually any size space into a welcoming, warm environment.
And with a huge range of styles, sizes, weights, and materials, it’s hard not to find one that can work for you.
Even if you’re living in a van or a sailboat, a small wood burning stove can offer not just coziness, but efficient and affordable heat.
Take care during installation and adhere to all safety procedures, and you’ll do nothing but enjoy this investment.
So which one of the RV wood-burning stoves we’ve listed here will be your next big purchase?
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WANT TO CAMP FOR FREE?
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