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Should You Use an Electric Heater in Your RV?

When the temperatures drop outside your RV, a simple, affordable electric heater may be just what you need.

During colder nights, the walls of your RV can feel thinner than ever. But when it comes to warming up, there’s no need to crank up the furnace or shiver under blankets and extra layers.

We’re exploring what these humble but lifesaving devices can offer RVers. 

Let’s go!

What Is an Electric Heater? 

At their core, electric heaters are relatively simple devices. They channel electricity from your outlet through a component known as a resistor. These resistors convert electrical energy into heat energy, which radiates off the heater, warming the room.

This can include both traditional baseboard heat and mobile space heaters. More advanced models of space heaters may provide fans to encourage the circulation of warmed air, timers, or other features to make their use easier and safer. 

Should You Use an Electric Heater in Your RV?

Those looking to warm up their rig have two primary options, their furnace and electric heaters. While electric heaters aren’t a comprehensive solution, they’re a valuable part of your heating and cooling arsenal. Plus, they’re generally relatively affordable, making them easy to add to your collection of appliances. 

What Are the Benefits of Using an Electric Heater in Your RV?

So why should you switch on the electric heater next time you feel a chill, as opposed to other heating methods? Here are some of the most significant advantages.

Produces Heat Quickly in Small Space

When trying to warm up fast, it’s hard to beat the power and speed of an electric heater in your rig. They’re especially well-suited to small spaces where lots of air circulation isn’t necessary to warm the entire room. Electric heaters can chase that chill from the air in just a few minutes and restore comfort to your rig. 

Conserves Use of Furnace and Saves Propane

For many, the alternative to an electric heater is their rig’s furnace. While they’re beneficial, furnaces burn your expensive, limited propane supply.

Frequent furnace use will have you refilling your propane tanks more often, adding to your bills. In parks or campgrounds where RVers don’t pay their utility bills, they can transfer these costs to the park by using their electric hookups. 

Portable and Easy to Transport

Electric heaters don’t need anything other than their power cord, which makes them great for on-the-go use. You can take them wherever you need without additional equipment and remove them from your rig when temperatures warm up.

They’re also generally very lightweight, a crucial aspect for RVers watching their rigs’ weight. 

Takes Up Little Space

Modern electric heaters are remarkably compact relative to their power. Some are small enough to sit on a tabletop or nightstand and can easily be tucked away in a cabinet or drawer when not in use.

This is valuable in all cases, especially for RVers who need to preserve every inch of space in their tight quarters. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Using an Electric Heater in Your RV?

Like many vital systems, electric heaters for your RV aren’t perfect. Here are a few downsides you’ll need to be aware of from a usability, safety, and financial perspective.

Uses Electricity

Unlike other heating methods, these heaters will need a relatively large and reliable electricity supply. That makes them difficult to use when boondocking since they’ll draw down your house batteries far faster.

In some campgrounds (particularly for more extended stays), you’ll also need to pay your own electric bill. Electric heaters will dramatically increase these costs.

Risk of Fire Increases

Unfortunately, electric heaters can present a higher risk of fires in some cases. They may be caused by the heater overloading the electrical system or perhaps being knocked over accidentally by people or pets. They can even happen if heaters are too close to flammable items.

While properly used electric heaters present relatively little risk, it’s crucial to set them up correctly to prevent potential tragedies.

What Is the Most Efficient Way to Heat an RV?

Over the long term, propane furnaces tend to be the most efficient regarding the amount of energy used compared to the heat produced. This is true both in RVs and larger spaces, as well. While they may take a little longer to get going, they’re simple to keep going once warmed up.

PRO TIP: If you are using an electric heater, here’s the one we like best.

Is an Electric Heater in Your RV Worth It?

While many RVers chase warm temperatures to avoid chilly falls and winters, that’s not always desired or even possible for others. At the same time, one of the most unpleasant experiences is shivering in the cold within the supposedly protected confines of your home or RV.

Propane or gas furnaces can do a lot to help. But it’s still worthwhile to have an electric heater’s portable, efficient, quick-acting power at your disposal. Stow one away in a cabinet, and you’ll never have to worry about an unexpected chill leaving you chilled to the bone, no matter where your RV takes you.

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