Do you own an RV? Then you must know how important it is to keep the RV heated because it can get quite cold inside. Especially in the winters here in the states, the temperature can be quite low and sometimes falls below 15-degree F. At that time, a heater is the only way to survive inside an RV.
The most common type of heater is the propane heater but there are many problems associated with it. Because of that, we have listed out some alternatives to look at for How To Heat An RV Without Propane.
- Portable heaters
- Hydronic Heating
- Trapping heat
- Solar Heating
- Wood Stoves
- Heat Pumps
Disadvantages Of Propane In An RV
An RV can be heated by using propane-fueled heaters and they are the most common type of heater available. You can use a propane heater, they are good in general because they are efficient and economic, but they have some big flaws because of which it is better to have an alternative to propane heaters which can be very helpful.
RV should be all about comfort, and that is why you need to know all that may cause you trouble while using propane heaters:
- Tank Maintenance. You need to keep the tank in check by regular inspection and it takes up a lot of your time.
- Availability of Propane. Propane is not largely available. Only a few of the gas stations have propane available that you can buy.
- Leakage. Leakage of propane is the reason for almost 15 persons dying every month in the US.
- Carbon Monoxide. CO is a very poisonous gas that is released into the environment because of the leakage of propane. It causes harm to your body, poses a threat to your life, and also affects the environment around in a drastic manner.
Of all the problems, you may overlook three of them, but the fourth one posing a treat to your life is too dangerous and that’s why you should switch from a propane heating system to some other alternative. Let’s look at a few alternatives that you can use.
Heat An RV Without Propane: 6 Alternatives
1.Portable Electric Heaters
There are different types of portable heaters that you can use for heating your RV, especially during winter. The portable heaters are small in size and are quite cheap. They are usually driven by electricity, although sometimes they may also be fuel driven.
(a) Space Heaters:
Space heaters are small portable heaters that are good for heating small packets of space like a room in a quick time. They are a cheap alternative to propane heaters and you can buy multiple space heaters for your RV.
But keep in mind that they are more likely to catch fire, so they should be kept at a safe distance from the walls or flammable things.
Radiant heaters are just like regular heaters but they release heat in a straight path instead of circulating the air around it. So, you can use them like campfires to keep yourself warm. They also cost very less and are less likely to catch fire.
You can use them in places like your bedroom for directing the heat towards one area.
(c) Oil-Filled Radiant Heaters:
You can get the space heater or radiant heater as a temporary solution for your RV, but in winter, you want your RV to stay warm all day and night for long periods. In that case, the previous two becomes ineffective and you will need this type of heater. These are radiant heater filled with oil to act as space heaters and they can heat your RV for a long time.
It takes 15 to 20 minutes for them to heat up or cool down, but once heated your RV can have a pleasant and warm temperature for a long time. It is a bit difficult to find a good oil type radiant heater and it is also a bit expensive than the other two.
Portable heaters run on electricity and using them for long takes a toll on the battery of your RV. So, as fellow owners of RV, we can tell you to carry a fuel-based generator to run these portable electric heaters.
2. Hydronic Heating
If you are thinking of buying a new RV, 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 RV 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 RV.
When your RV 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 RV.
But just like the moon has spots, hydronic heating has its drawbacks. If your RV doesn’t have a hydronic heating system installed, then installing it is very expensive and troublesome. Also, the boiler system needs to be maintained from corrosion and breakdown.
But overall, it is a very effective and smart way of keeping your RV warm.
3. Trapping Heat
RVs are made of light material and so they give out the heat inside it easily. If you can’t generate heat inside your RV, to keep it warm, what you can do is keep the existing heat trapped inside. For that, you will need to do a series of things incorrectly manner.
(a) Insulation Of The Exterior:
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of trapping heat is insulating, and for RVs, it is also the same. You can insulate your RV’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.
(b) Insulating Walls:
In RVs, the walls are quite thin and they don’t do a good job of trapping the heat inside. 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) Windows and Vents:
Windows and vents are two places that are most likely to bring in cold air from the outside. 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.
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 an RV 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 RV warm.
4. Solar Heating
So far you have known about ways of heating your RV by using electricity or fuel. But there is a better alternative to heating your RV, one that is presently being promoted in all sectors and that is the solar heaters.
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 RV but it is run by solar energy.
You will have to install solar panels over your RV for this purpose. You can also use solar energy for other things inside your RV like running TV or fans. The initial setup cost is a bit expensive but keeping the environment in mind it is good to switch to a solar heater.
5. Wood Stove
What most RV owners use as an alternative to propane heaters is a wood stove. It is simply the burning of wood inside a 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 RV warm and comfortable, but you will have to take care of the smoke though.
6. Heat Pumps
So afar we have talked about ways of generating heat inside the RV or keeping heat inside the RV but there is a way to pump heat from the outside to the inside and they are called heat pumps. They use air conditioning to pump heat from the outside.
They run on electricity but uses less power than electric heaters. They are quite noisy and if you are going somewhere extremely cold, heat pumps don’t work because there is no heat outside at that time. Also, they are quite expensive.
But usually, they work two ways of heating or cooling depending on your choice which makes it a good option for your RV.
Some Tips To Stay Warm In RVs:
We have talked about all the systems, but there are some things you can do from your side to keep yourself warm inside an RV. Let us tell you.
1. Warm Clothes: First of all, you can start by wearing warm clothes or wearing multiple layers of clothing. This will keep your body insulated be it inside the RV or stepping outside it. You can further wear gloves, socks and cover your head with caps made of woolen or warm materials to keep yourself protected from cold from head to bottom.
2. Blankets: Carrying an extra set of blankets is always helpful whenever you are on a trip with your RV. You can use multiple blankets for sleeping, covering yourself, or sometimes insulating the RV from inside.
3. Painting of RV: This is a simple tip that we can give you that always use dark colors when you pain your RV. Dark colors have the property of absorbing heat and keeping the interior of your RV warm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
So, you don’t have to worry about filling up on propane anymore to heat your RV, right. There are so many other ways to do so. Some are generic while others are a bit complex and require installation.
But in any case, comfort comes first, and thinking of the freezing wind of the winters, it is good to keep options when it comes to heating your RV.
We prefer the solar heating system simply because of the environmental factor, but you can pick out which one you like and enjoy your winters comfortably.
Make sure to tell us about your trips and the heaters you used through the comment section below.
And yes, Happy Camping!