By Jim Twamley
When winter arrives, we need to warm up. And that often means heating up our RV. So how do we do that economically?
Most every RV is equipped with a whole house propane furnace. These work great and we use ours to heat up the entire RV in the morning or when our small electrical heater is not keeping up. However, this can get expensive, so I recommend you get a good quality portable electric heater with adjustable thermostat and automatic turn-off switch if it gets knocked over (our heater gets knocked over once in a while and the auto-turn-off switch works great).
We use a Patton heater for this purpose. Since you are already paying for the electricity at your site, you might as well take advantage of it and save money on the expense of propane. Also, my wife enjoys pointing this little heater directly at her feet — you can’t do that with a propane heater.
If you do a lot of boondocking (dry camping without hook-ups) you may want to install a ceramic propane heater. I installed one of these units in our last 5th wheel and it worked great. The nice thing about these heaters is that they use much less propane than your whole house heater and they don’t use battery power. Your whole house heater will run down your battery bank in a day or two (even less in some cases) while these ceramic heaters will not.
You can operate these heaters with one panel ignited or two or three, depending on the model you purchase. I recommend you install them permanently, although you can use them in a stand-alone fashion. You need to remember that you need to run a propane hose to the unit, so place it accordingly. Also, when using this type of heater you need to open a vent or window so as to allow adequate ventilation as per the manufacturer’s directions. Some of the newer RVs have a built-in fireplace which also radiates heat and looks good at the same time.
Many RVs also have a heater unit combined with the air conditioner unit. These work great but some people complain that they are too noisy — they also require full electric hook-ups. There you have it — keep warm out there.