6 Best ways to heat a Campervan in the winter

How to heat my Van Camper in the winter

Heating a Campervan in winter

Heating a campervan in the winter can be a challenge, but there are several effective ways to stay warm and comfortable. Here are some popular options to consider:

  1. Diesel or Propane Heater: Diesel or propane heaters are a popular choice for heating a campervan in the winter. They are efficient, reliable, and can quickly heat up a small space. Some popular brands include Webasto, Espar, and Propex.
  2. Electric Heater: If you have access to electricity, an electric heater can be an effective way to heat your campervan. You can use a portable space heater or install a permanent electric heater.
  3. Wood Stove: A wood stove can provide a cozy and warm atmosphere inside your campervan, but it requires more work and maintenance than other heating options. You will need to have a way to safely vent the stove, and keep a supply of dry firewood on hand.
  4. Insulation: No matter what heating option you choose, it’s important to properly insulate your campervan to retain heat and prevent drafts. You can use spray foam, rigid foam board, or other insulation materials to insulate walls, floors, and ceilings.
  5. Reflectix: Reflectix is a reflective insulation material that can be installed in windows to help retain heat and prevent drafts.

When choosing a heating option for your campervan, it’s important to consider your specific needs, such as how often you’ll be using your van in the winter and how much space you need to heat. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s important to do your research and choose the option that best fits your needs.

Heating a Van Camper in the winter is easy when done right. Living in a RV or camper van full time in the winter can create issues. Problems may occur inside the van when one or two people are occupying the small living space for long periods of time when the outside temperature dips below freezing.

5 Major problems from living in a van in winter

  • Excess Condensation in side the van
  • Damp living conditions
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Extreme Cold living conditions
  • Ice forming on the inside of the van windows

First, Excess condensation inside the van camper comes when one or two people are occupying the small living space for longer than normal periods of time in winter conditions. Excess condensation is create when we exhale warm air from our bodies and the ambient air is cold enough to see your breath. This warmer vapor in a cold environment will soon accumulate inside the van or RV on the walls, ceiling and windows thus creating a damp living environment. This dampness will make you feel even colder in the winter.

Second, The excess of condensation forms, then moister builds up inside a camper van or RV that creates Damp living conditions, Over time the vans bedding and other cloth materials will be come humid, over time this can cause mold issues in the wall of the van or RV and under mattresses.

Third, Low CO2 levels can occur inside the van due to living in a van in the winter months with the windows closed along with running a propane stove to keep warm. Operating a portable propane stove in a small living space can have dangerous consequences. Propane stoves use the available oxygen inside the van in the combustion process providing heat, at the same time oxygen levels are diminished. This can cause death by asphyxiation. Portable propane stoves also produce water vapor in the air as a by product of producing heat. Adding on wanted moister inside the camper van.

Lastly, Camping in Extreme Cold living conditions everyday inside a van is another way moister forms from every breath we exhale, building up covering the walls and windows. Just from something simple as breathing can make van life miserable from creating a wet living environment intern will create Ice forming on the inside of the van camper windows.

How to heat my van in winter

How do you heat a campervan in the winter? Camper vans can be heated in the winter by installing a proper heater or stove that provides a safe heating system with minimal safety hazards. Heating a camper van in winter can be done in one of the following five ways alleviating all of the side effects when camping in winter conditions and providing you with a warm dry camper van. All of these heaters except one are a great and safe choice when heating a camper van in cold weather. One of the propane stoves listed I would not recommend, but if you need a low price heater for a short time it can warm your van camper in the winter. Safety precautions will have to be taken when operating it in a small living space.

5 Ways to heat a van camper in the winter

  • Portable Propane heaters
  • Safe Van Propane heaters
  • Mini Wood Stoves
  • Van Diesel Heaters
  • Van Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

Here are my Top Propane heaters for heating a van camper

Portable Propane heater or RV wall mount heater

The portable propane heaters used in Camper vans or RV propane wall heaters are a common Camper van heater used in cold weather. As mentioned above these types of heater use oxygen from the living space area and my produce moister as a by product that will settle on the interior of the van camper creating a moist living environment. I would not recommend this type of heater for regular heater in a van camper.

When operating these types of propane heaters you will need to provide a fresh air supply from the outside of your vehicle from a window or vent. This will prevent the occupants from succumbing to asphyxiation. The portable units will need to be placed on a level surface away from any flammable materials. If you would like more information on these types of propane stoves check out my blog post on Propane heaters

Van Propane heaters

Dickinson Marine Newport P9000 Propane Fireplace

The combustion process is completely isolated from the inside of the van camper by the unique, direct vent design. A built-in blower provides good heat circulation. The heater is sold with all accessories needed including a stainless steel backing plate, 28 inches of flexible double stainless chimney and the deck fitting cap. Stainless Steel burner. Large ceramic glass viewing window with safety screen. Safe, direct-vent operation.

Unaffected by motion or wind. Variable heat output and excellent thermal efficiency. Low fuel consumption. Compact design, with attractive appearance, made of 304 stainless steel. No interior oxygen depletion. Specifications: Overall Dimensions: 8.5″ (W) x 5.5″ (D) x 14″ (H). Heat Output: 3,200 – 4,500 BTU. Mounting Back plate: 8.375″ (W) x 0.650″ (D) x 23″ (H). Fuel Consumption: 20lb – 140 hrs. gal LOW and 20lb – 100 hrs. gal HIGH.

If you would like to know more about this type of propane heater please check out my blog here

Mini Wood Stoves

CUB Cubic Mini Wood Stove

Following text provided by Cub Cubic Mini Wood Stove co. Easy to install and easy to operate! The use of a mini stove in a van camper or RV Removes humidity from the cabin. Much safer than a diesel or propane cook stove! Eco-friendly.

The best wood to burn is well seasoned hard woods. This will help you achieve the best heat output along with the longest clean burn. You can also use pressed wood logs. We do not recommend pellets, Yes you can cook on it!This is more of our Spring and Fall model, or for spaces that are very small (less than 200 square feet) with low ceilings.  If your space is under 200 square feet but your ceilings are tall, then the Grizzly Stove CB-1210 may be the better option for you. If you would like to know more about this type of mini wood stove heater please check out my blog here

Simply put, The mini stove pulls air from underneath the stove and introduced in the fire box at the top. The hot air mixes with the smoke and ignites the gases which are created by the burning wood. This produces heat with energy, which would otherwise have been lost up in the flue pipe providing better efficiency.

The air must be replaced since the stove is constantly consuming oxygen from the air inside the van. The stove will draw air from the room. In most cases you can open a window or a hatch and that should be enough to replace the air. For spaces that do not have a window, or if you do not want to have a window open, you can use our wall mount with fresh air intake. This will bring air from outside to the area where the stove draws its air from. If you would like to read more about the wood stove please visit my blog posts on Mini cub wood stoves

Best heater for van life

Diesel Van Heaters

I think the Best diesel heater for campervan is the Espar diesel heater for van. The Espar heater is easy to install, almost silent running and uses the same fuel your sprinter van uses. The Espar heater can be tied into the vans fuel tank to supply the heater with fuel or a seperate fuel tank can be added if it is installed in a gasoline van camper.

Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2

The Espar diesel heater for van, Is the new Airtronic family is the logical further development of the successful Ebersp├Ącher air heater. With its robust components and the latest control system, the Airtronic now features both functional expansions and a longer service life.

The new Airtronic is equipped with automatic altitude adjustment as standard. A new brush less motor has extended the service life to 5,000 hours. This new motor, a modern control system and the use of the latest metering pump technology also improve the acoustics. Furthermore, the new Airtronic uses the pioneering Ebersp├Ącher CAN bus technology. Curtsy of the Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2 website. If you would like more information on the Airtronic heater you can check out my blog post here

Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

Van camper Radiant floor heating systems produce heat through the process of thermal radiation. Heating the camper van floor rather than heating the air the conventional way. Liquid is headed using a heat ex changer. The heated liquid is pump through tubes installed under the insulated flooring. Diffused heat then radiates from the floor up warming the surround air. That heat is absorbed by surrounding objects in the van in turn warms the entire van interior. You can also install hydronic radiant floor heating in RV or Motorhome.

Hydronic radiant floor heating in a van can be costly to install, but if you plan on living in your van camper full time in a colder climate it may be worth the investment. Waking up in the winter to a nice warm floor on a cold day might be just what the doctor ordered.

Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating in a VAN

Humble Road Van Build Series – Radiant Floor Heat In My Van

Van Heater Break Down Chart PROS and CONS

Types of Propane heatersPROSCONSCOST
Portable and RV
Propane heaters
Cheaper, Easy to use
Use oxygen from inside van
Odor or fumes from combustion
Can create unwanted moister
Possible gas leak
Safer Propane heatersDraw outside air for combustion
Combustion fumes expelled outside
Mini Wood Stoves
CUB Cubic Mini Wood Stove
Produces very little smoke due to its secondary combustion system
Much safer than a diesel or propane
cook stove
Removes humidity from the cabin.
May need professional installation
Process your own fuel
Diesel Heaters
Eberspacher Espar Airtronic
compact and quiet heating solution
Real-time temperature monitoring
silent fuel pump
2.2kW of seamless heat output in
absolute comfort and quiet
May need professional installation
Radiant Floor Heating
Nice even heat
Feet always warm
High price for installation
May require professional
install, many parts
to $9000

Living in a minivan in winter

If you plan on living in a minivan in the winter here are a few helpful tips to keep you warmer inside your camper van.

How to Stay Warm in a Campervan in Winter

  • Insulating the van campers floor, walls and ceiling with proper insulation is the best way to keep heat inside the van
  • insulated window covers, cover all Windows. Major heat loss through van windows
  • Install a Heater
  • Sleeping bags or winter blankets
  • Wear Thermal Layers, wool cape
  • insulated blanket beerier between living area and driving cab
  • Eat high calorie meals

Check out my Blog Post on Best way to insulate a cargo van

Attention! When using any stove in a confined area the following should be installed. Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm and a Propane leak detector

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