How To Stay Warm In Winter
STAYING COMFY IN A RV DURING THE WINTER MONTHS IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE. EVEN THE SNOWBIRDS THAT GO WAY SOUTH ARE SOMETIMES CONFRONTED WITH A COLD SPELL OF A FEW DAYS.
Staying warm during such a period can be difficult, yet good planning of your van conversion will keep your Cargo Van and you nice and cozy.
Heating issues are common in RV’s, where manufacturers seldom make an extra effort to upgrade the wall, floor and ceiling insulation, which leaves the occupant vulnerable when no electricity is available. With full hook-ups there is seldom a problem, yet many of us with smaller sized RV’s frequently like to boondock and are struggling to stay comfortable.
And all of us with a recreational vehicle endure the troubles with our windows. No double-paned windows as we see in our homes, which makes it too warm in summer and too cold in winter. And lots of condensation all-year long.
So before choosing the right heater, improve your wall and window insulation and perhaps get a few more blankets.
As with the entire website, this article focuses on Cargo Vans, but its content is relevant for other RV’s as well.
They usually depend on where you go camping and may be built-in or portable.
First determine how you plan to use the heater; is it just for 15 minutes in the morning, just to warm up or do you expect cold spells of multiple days. Then choose the correct type of furnace. Especially with cargo vans the source for heat, like propane or diesel, is not always available and may limit your choices.
As with any fuel source in or around your RV, ALWAYS install fire and carbon monoxide alarms inside. They are inexpensive, easy to install and run on batteries.
Inexpensive to buy, yet costly to operate, these heaters are easy to use and make temperatures comfortable if you are hooked up to 110V AC. Good when you’re in a campground.
Without an already built-in fuel source available, portable heaters are the way to go. Most are the radiant type, which radiate heat in waves to the object they hit and often operate on propane cartridges, while some can be connected to a regular propane bottle.
Catalytic heaters require no electricity to operate, thus preserving the RV’s batteries and since there is no open flame, they consume less propane.
They do consume oxygen and ventilation is a must to avoid asphyxiation and lessen the chance of condensation inside the van. Look for a model that has an auto-shutoff switch, in case of a tip over or even a lower oxygen level.
These units require an integrated fuel tank, like an underfloor propane tank or separate bottles, which have the added advantage that they can supply fuel for cooking, a water heater, etc.
A blowing fan makes for whole-vehicle warming with a thermostat on the wall.
A Suburban furnace comes standard with many RV’s; they suck your batteries empty and are loud.
A Propex heater can be installed underfloor, has built-in exterior venting with low amperage and does well on high altitude.
An alternative would be a Dickinson marine furnace (video) that features a beautiful, intimate open fire suitable for RV’s. It is cold to the touch and has outside ventilation. The biggest disadvantage for small recreational vehicles is the amount of space lost for proper installation.
Those who are fortunate enough to drive with a diesel engine, could opt for an expensive, but well proven heater from Eberspacher or Webasto. These cabin heaters pump up from the vehicle’s fuel tank or from a separate tank. Has to be adjusted for high altitude and needs annual service when used frequently.