Do you know that the resources in the world are limited and at the pace, we are using the non-renewable resources, they are only going to last only another 100 years at max? Knowing that you must be encouraged to find an alternative for anything that runs on electricity generated by using fuel, right?
If you are an owner of a recreational vehicle or RV, you are familiar with the fact that in the winter season, you can’t live without heating your camper. And, the good news is that you can heat your camper even without electricity.
Yes, we are going to tell you how to heat a camper without electricity. There are many different ways, so let’s look at each of them in detail.
Is Heating A Camper Necessary While Camping?
To answer this question, let me tell you about the winters here in the US. The average temperature throughout the country on a wintery night in 30-degree F while in some parts, it falls up to 8-9-degree F as well.
In this climate, if you don’t use a heater inside your camper, there is only one thing that can happen and that is you catching hypothermia. So, it is best for you, even without electricity, to use some other method to heat the interior of your camper.
Disadvantages Of Electric Heating Systems
Electric heaters are very good for campers, and they are very commonly used by a lot of campers, but there are some demerits to an electric heater.
- Slow Heating. Electric heaters are slow in initially heating up. No doubt they can provide you with a lot of comforts over time, but after starting you will have to give it 20- 30 minutes to heat up.
- Ineffective. When you think of a very large camper in cold weather, electric heaters aren’t as effective as other heaters.
- Need for electricity. This is a big drawback because a constant supply of electricity isn’t feasible all the time, particularly if you are going off the grid.
- Extra Space. One electric heater isn’t sufficient for a camper, so you will have to take 2 or 3 campers. Now, more heaters mean more space occupied inside your camper.
- Environment Factor. There is always the environmental factor with using electricity and it is best to use an alternate source of energy.
Keeping all the demerits in mind, it will come in handy if you have some alternatives to electric heaters for you. So, we won’t make you wait anymore, and let’s see what are the options available to you.
How To Stay Warm Inside A Camper Without Electricity
Let us check out what methods you can use to keep your camper warm and heated in the winters without electricity:
1. Car Battery
First of all, is a method which doesn’t require any extra accessory. You can turn on your vehicle and turn the heater of the vehicle as high as it can get. You can keep it for about half an hour and then switch it off and turn off your vehicle.
This should be enough to keep your camper heated for the night, given that it is properly insulated.
This method is more of a backup plan for emergencies because it isn’t feasible to use it all the time.
It eats up your fuel and your vehicle has to be insulated properly.
You can look for the best car camping heaters on 7 Best Car Camping Heaters: Stay Cozy Warm On The Go.
There are two ways of keeping a camper warm. Either you generate heat, or your keep the heat that is already inside insulated. The above method is of a generation of heat, but it still won’t be effective, if this method isn’t used. You have to insulate your camper and to do that you can follow some steps.
a) Insulating The Exterior:
You can insulate your camper’s exterior by covering it with tarps or clothes of thick material. You can also use blankets and taping them but it becomes more costly then.
You need to make sure that the tarp you will be using should be waterproof. Otherwise, the water will start seeping inside and carry away all the heat from the inside. Also, always try to paint your camper in some dark color during the winter season, as dark color absorbs heat and makes the interior warmer.
b) Insulating Walls:
In campers, the walls are quite thin and they don’t do a good job of insulating the interior. That’s why you need to use curtains even if there is no door or window. Having dark colored curtains help, because they absorb the heat and keep it trapped.
c) Insulating Windows And Vents:
Windows and vents are two places that are most likely to bring in air from the outside and make your camper cold. For that, you need to ensure that the windows and vents are covered properly. You can use plastics, tarps blankets, etc., and try to use any means possible to stop air from coming in through the windows and vents.
d) Insulating Ground:
So, after taking care of the exterior, interior, roofs, vents, and windows, only one thing remains that is the ground. This is also a key area of any camper, that needs to be properly insulated.
For grounds, you can use foam mats. Lay them as they are very comfortable to step on and the best thing is that they trap heat and will keep your camper warm.
3. Wear Warm Clothes
So, what you don’t have electricity in your camper and you can’t use a heater because of that. You can always try to use means that are in your hands.
You should try to pack as many sets of warm clothes as you can and carry blankets in extra. If your camper is insulated from outside and you have warm clothes, you can easily get through the night.
In a camp, you should wear warm clothes in multiple layers, always have blankets to cover yourself, and it is better to have a warm sleeping bag to tuck into.
While inside the sleeping bag, have a bottle of warm water with you and it can generate heat for your body.
4. Hydronic Heating
If you are thinking of buying a new camper, keeping in mind the value of comfort, you can look for the feature of hydronic heating. It is like the system of refrigeration except that it’s for the opposite thing, i.e., heating.
It is made of a system of pipes running throughout your camper and it uses the heat generated by the engine. Water and antifreeze liquid mixed, flows through this channel of pipes, gathering heat from the engine and then through convection gives out the heat to your camper.
When your camper is parked, it has a boiler system installed that heats the flowing water instead. This is a utilization of the extra heat of the engine and if installed already, is a very good option for heating your camper.
This means although effective can be costly because it will use up your car’s battery and if the camper doesn’t already have a hydronic system inbuilt, it becomes very costly to install one.
Replacement For Electric Heaters
With electricity, heating of a camper becomes very easy, as you can just install an electric heater. But there are heaters, just as effective, that can run without electricity as well.
Propane heaters are the most commonly used heaters in a camper, especially in popup campers. Before going to camp, you can just fill your camper with propane from the gas station and stay warm throughout the trip.
If you have a propane heater, you will need to install a tanker for storing propane. Propane heaters are quite cheap, very easy to install and take up less space.
However, propane heaters, if used for a while can be harmful to you. It emits carbon monoxide which is deadly for humans. That is why there has been an effort to reduce the use of propane heaters these days.
You can check out our article on how to replace a propane heater, just click on How To Heat An RV Without Propane: 6 Best Alternatives.
Kerosene heaters are cheap and take up a small space. They can easily replace your electric heater. As you can probably guess, it produces heat by burning kerosene. It is best suited for isolated places, particularly in the open, but you can also use it inside a camper.
When it works, it produces a smell of kerosene, which if you aren’t used to can be quite irritating. It also emits carbon monoxide but in lesser quantity.
If you are using a kerosene heater, always keep ways for ventilation, by opening windows or vents because otherwise, they may be a shortage of oxygen inside your camper.
None the less, kerosene heaters are quite popular and despite the drawbacks, can work fine for a small camping trip.
The best alternative and in fact the best way of heating your camper, especially a caravan is by using solar heaters. It is the most environment-friendly heater out there in the market. They are operated by a renewable source of energy in solar power or sunlight.
The mechanism is similar to a hydronic heating system with water flowing through pipes for heating and running of your camper but it is run by solar energy.
You will have to install solar panel grids over your camper for this purpose. You can also use solar energy for other things inside your camper like running TV or fans.
The solar heaters are a bit difficult to use on rainy days, however. Also, the initial setup cost is a bit expensive but keeping the environment in mind it is good to switch to a solar heater.
Installing A Furnace
So what, you can’t use an electric heater, you can use the method that was used before heaters, burning a fire inside a furnace. You can have a furnace installed in your camper at a very low price.
For fuel, you can use diesel in your tank and collect some fallen branches or cut out wood that you can pick up on the way to your campsite.
If you worry about electricity and gas, a furnace is an excellent option. Even in extremely cold conditions, a furnace is capable to keep you warm. But you have to check for the proper ventilation of the smoke and the disposal of ash.
It is similar to a furnace, but here you will be using a stove. It is simply the burning of wood inside the stove. You will likely get a lot of scrap wood in your journey or you can even buy wood from markets.
For all the superiority of heaters and heating systems, they are expensive and if you can’t afford to spend so much on a heater, you can use a wood stove.
You can easily open it for loading wood and set it to burn and it will keep your camper warm and comfortable, but just like a furnace, you will have to take care of the smoke and burned residue of wood.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It is best to stop using fossil fuel and depending on it for every little thing. As you have seen there are a number of options available for you to use to heat a camper that doesn’t involve electricity.
We advise you to have a minimum of two options for heating your camper so that even if one fails, you have a backup option with you. For us, we find the solar heating system the best because apart from being the need of the hour, it is also very effective.
You can also share your camping experience in a camper and tell us how you keep your camper warm and cozy, through the comment section below.