Propane heaters are one of the most common and popular heating devices in the market. While electric heater are growing in popularity due to it supposedly being more eco friendly, we’ve found that there is still a big demand for propane heaters for camping in winter, as it does not require dependency on batteries. In this article, we as fellow campervaners will propose some of the best propane heaters for RV life, from space heating to size to portability.
What is the Best Propane Heater for RV?
Below you’ll find the list of the top 5 Best Propane Heater for RV. We compiled this list from propane heaters for RV we have used, asked others about, and researched further to give you the best possible roundup. With many years of experience with RV propane heaters you can be assured that this article will give you what you’re looking for.
We also wrote a buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of this article.
|Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Size: 21 x 17 x 15 inches (53.3 x 43.2 x 38.1 cm)
Heating Element: Ceramic
Heating Capacity: 18000 BTU
The Gasland MHA18B Portable Propane Heater features a cabinet design with castor wheels for easy transport and flexibility. It is suitable for indoor use to supplement your centralized heating system, while also allowing you to enjoy your outdoor spaces, such as the patio, during the cold months. The heater is also versatile for off-grid applications such as RV camping and emergency disaster preparedness because it uses propane gas for power.
The MHA18B is notably lightweight at 17.4 pounds compared to the competition, and it comes with a built-in propane regulator and hose that attaches to a 20-pound gas tank. Its design also allows for storing the cylinder at the back of the cabinet for convenience. The unit features three heating modes at 6000, 12000, and 18000 BTU and has a remarkably powerful heat output to warm medium-sized spaces. It comes with an ODS sensor that shuts the unit off automatically when it detects low oxygen levels and features a tip-over shut-off protection.
- Attractive cabinet design with castor wheels for mobility,
- Offers three heating modes for comfortable living,
- Delivers excellent thermal output for indoor and outdoor applications,
- Excellent build quality with reliable safety features,
- Provides 20 hours of runtime on one 20-pound tank
- Does not have a fan to spread the heat evenly,
- It may be bulky for some applications
|Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Type: Radiant, Convection
Heating Element: Ceramic
Heating Capacity: 18000 BTU
The MH18BRV is an indoor and portable heater than can heat up an area of 450 square feet. It can also maintain the temperature for an extended period of time. This model connects t 2 1-pound propane cylinders with the option of connecting it to a remote and larger propane tank. Do note though that the regulatore accessories and hose comes seperate.
The heater burns efficiently with almost zero emissions while operating silently, allowing for peaceful nights.
- Adjustable settings that quickly warm the area,
- Combines radiant and traditional heating for improved efficiency,
- With an auto-shutoff feature for worry-free use,
- Equally emits heat with the help of the fan,
- Can be used for both indoor and outdoor settings
- No other accessories included,
- Uses propane that quickly runs out, which may add an extra cost
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Weight: 0.06 pounds (0.03 kg)
Size: 15 x 13.4 x 7.7 inches (38.1 x 34 x 19.6 cm)
Heating Element: Ceramic
Heating Capacity: 9000 BTU
The F232000 MH9BX indoor portable heater by Mr. Heater is one of the popular models in the market and is one of the best portable RV heaters available in the market. It is a versatile unit with a quiet operation enabling you to use it overnight and has a maximum elevation of 7000 feet. It also comes with safety attributes such as the auto-shutoff feature if you tip over the heater accidentally or if it detects low oxygen levels. While the manufacturer claims that the MH9BX is 100% efficient, you may want to consider getting a carbon dioxide detector if your indoor space is not well ventilated.
The MH9BX features 4000 – 9000 BTU and can heat up to 225 square feet of space. It can also burn 1-pound propane in 2.4 hours at 9000 BTU, which may be a lot when running it for an extended session. Also, you may have to buy the propane canister separately, or you can attach it to a 20lb propane tank with an optional hose and regulator. It has excellent build quality with an easy-grip handle for easy transport and a heavy-duty exterior shell for durability.
- Efficient heater with almost zero emissions,
- Heats the space quickly and maintains heat for long periods,
- Portable design for flexible indoor and outdoor utility,
- It comes with a safety auto-shutoff feature,
- Quiet operation for overnight use
- Burns up the gas quickly in maximum settings,
- The manufacturer has a poor customer support
|Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Size: 19.4 x 19.2 x 9.6 inches (49.3 x 48.8 x 24.4 cm)
Heating Element: Ceramic
Heating Capacity: 10000 BTU
The Rinnai FC510P Space Heater is a ventless appliance that uses propane gas for power, which makes it suitable for use in RVs and other off-grid spaces conveniently. It is an indoor unit that features a bottom front grill to disperse the heat and a cool-touch housing with a safety lock. The heater comes with a ceramic heating element and a fan to spread the warm air evenly around your space. Additionally, it is cheaper to run than an electric model while producing more heat output and less operating noise.
However, the unit requires about 20 watts of electric power for ignition. While this propane space heater is 99.9% efficient due to its ventless design, it does come with some drawbacks that may limit its application. One of these is that ventless propane space heaters are considerably more expensive to buy than electric models, and they may produce water vapor that creates humidity and can be a health hazard.
It also requires oxygen to produce the heat, so your room has to be well ventilated. To mitigate these risks, the FC510P comes equipped with safety switches that disable the gas and power automatically when the oxygen level falls below a certain level. Plus, it also shuts off when it tips over, overheats, or the flame is extinguished.
- Ventless design enables hassle-free installation,
- Cheaper and more efficient to run than electric models,
- Equipped with safety features to mitigate operational risks,
- Convection fan dissipates heat faster and evenly in the room,
- Bottom heat output vents enable a faster warming effect,
- It can be wall-mounted to save floor space in your room
- Considerably expensive to buy than electric units,
- May create humidity due to the combustion process
|Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Size: 19.3 x 12 x 12 inches (48.9 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm)
Heating Element: Metal
Heating Capacity: 3000 BTU
Certifications: CSA Certified
The Hiland LP195C is a portable tank-top heater that attaches to a 1-pound propane gas cylinder for camping and outdoor applications. The unit features a steel and aluminum construction heating unit that generates up to 3000BTU of heat output and enables variable control for comfort. Additionally, the burner comes with an extractable 1-pound cylinder base to hold the gas tank and provide stability when placed on the floor.
This heater is a simple unit that requires minimal assembly before use and is CSA certified for quality and safety. It also has a tip-over safety switch that turns it off automatically to prevent accidents. While the Hiland LP195C is a lightweight unit with excellent heat output for cold season camping, it also requires constant monitoring to avoid fire accidents. Some users have noted that the heating unit remains loose when attached to the cylinder and can slip from its upright position at the slightest contact. Plus, it can easily catch fire in high wind conditions, making it unsafe to use.
- Excellent build quality with aluminum and steel parts,
- Decent thermal output at 3000 BTU for outdoor applications,
- The extractable base provides stability for the propane tank,
- Variable heat adjustments for comfort
- Not recommended for indoor use,
- The heating unit is not sturdily fixed when assembled
Based on all of our experience with RV propane heaters, we found that GASLAND MHA18B Propane Heater is the best propane heater for RV available today.
Our Premium Option is Mr. Heater F274830 Big Buddy MH18BRV with all the best features and high-quality materials, but that’s only if you have more money to spend.
However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy as an affordable alternative.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying propane heaters for RV
Electricity is a popular source of power for RV heaters since electricity is considered a greener and more environmentally friendly source of energy as well as relatively safe and familiar. Different electric space heaters include ceramic, fan, infrared, oil-filled, and panel.
A downside of electricity is that if you do not have a supply of electricity nearby, from a campsite or a house, it is difficult if not impossible to generate enough electricity to supply high energy demands from heaters, especially over long periods.
Using gas as a fuel is often convenient in that gas is easy to store as a fuel source – such as a gas tank – and cheap to buy, meaning the running cost when compared to that of electricity is often comparable if not better. Generally, LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas) is used either in the form of propane or butane – propane most commonly although many gas heaters will accept both
Gas heaters can often be a little daunting for people who have gone their entire life using only electricity to perform heating. On top of this gas is often dangerous to store and use because of how combustible it is when released and converted from the liquid state is stored into its gas form.
Another fuel source is diesel. If your vehicle runs on diesel using diesel for your heating may be very convenient as you may be storing spare diesel anyway and drawing fuel from your main diesel tank will not ruin any component of your car such as a battery.
Drawing from your main diesel tank might be a disadvantage if poor planning or unexpected circumstances forces you to choose between heating and running your vehicle or more likely not running heating lest you diminish your fuel supply. Diesel heaters are also not as quiet as electric heaters.
Wood Burning heaters are an affordable and nostalgic way to warm up when you’re far from home. Foraging for wood, depending on climate conditions can often be easy but very time-consuming. If the compartment which the wood is burning is small you will need to replace the wood at regular time intervals which can get quite tedious.
Wood burning uses large volumes of fuel which means keeping stocked up with large piles of wood. Such a thing may not be doable with limited space in your RV meaning you have to rely on the fact that you will meet a wood source regularly. Having an open flame exposure is dangerous as you risk things within your RV catching fire. Carbon monoxide poisoning could ensue as well- especially using a wood burner indoors without proper ventilation (you should also enforce height restrictions).
Disadvantages of propane heaters
Disadvantages of propane heaters
• Carbon monoxide poisoning. Propane heaters – especially those intended for outdoor use – need good ventilation or you could get carbon monoxide poisoning. Good ventilation also means that the hot air is escaping, and cold air is coming in. This means that when your propane runs out or your heater is turned off, your RV can become cold very quickly because of the increased supply of cold air. • Carbon Monoxide is tasteless and odorless gas which is the product of incomplete combustion. If your propane heater is functioning properly, you shouldn’t be in danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Indoor propane heaters sometimes come with detectors that monitor the amount of oxygen in the air, detect the presence of Carbon Monoxide, and detect the presence of Liquid Propane (LP) gas in the van. It does not hurt, however, to have your own detectors as well because if something goes wrong you could very well end up dead. Even if the combustion takes place outside you should still have these detectors to stay safe. • Propane manufacturers deliberately give it a “rotten egg” smell to make it detectible so it may be unpleasant to burn indoors. • Water vapor is also created through the burning of propane, this may lead to unpleasant humidity when you wake up. • Propane tanks can sometimes leak. Propane tanks are often not designed to withstand the abuse that might come with being knocked about in a vehicle. Tanks will vent out a little bit of gas to cope with the pressure.
• Propane heaters are also dangerous to run while driving because if you got into an accident, you risk an explosion or fire with an open propane tank.
Propane tank size
Propane tank sizes
Heat production is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Unit). The higher the BTUs something produces the greater its heating power. A room’s BTU requirement is dependant on the cubic volume of a space. To calculate the BTUs per square foot you take the square footage and multiply it by 20 BTUs for a warm climate and 50 BTUs for a cold climate. Class A motorhomes are the biggest and can have lengths from 21 feet to 45 feet, 33 feet on average, widths of 9.5 feet on average. This means they could be anything from 199.5 square feet to 427.5 square feet and on average 313.5 square feet. This would mean a BTU requirement of 3,990 to 8,550 (average 6, 310) BTU in a warm climate and 9,975 to 21,375 (average 15,675) BTU in a cold climate.
Class C motorhomes are between 20 – 33 feet, on average 28 feet, in length and are 9 feet in width. This means a volume of 180 to 297 (average 252) square feet. This would mean a BTU requirement of 3,600 to 5,940 (average 5, 040) BTU in a warm climate and 9,000 to 14,850 (average 12,600) BTU in a cold climate. Liquid Propane (LP) has 91,500 BTU/h per gallon, 21,548 BTU/h per pound, 47,300 BTU/h per kg, and 24,000 BTU/h per litre. • A 30,000 BTU heater would run for o 30 hours at 10 gallons o 7 hours at 10 pounds
o 15 hours at 10 kgs o 8 hours at 10 litres. • A 9,000 BTU heater would run for o 101 hours at 10 gal
o 23 hours at 10 lb o 52 hours at 10 kg
o 26 hours at 10 l. Now that you know how many hours of heating different sizes of propane tanks will get you, you should consider other matters such as where you will store the propane tank, how you will move the tank around, how you will store extra propane tanks for the gaps between refills and how much risk you are prepared to put yourself under when storing large amounts of propane.
Questions and Answers About propane heaters for RV
Is it safe to use a propane heater?
If the propane heater is working properly then it is safe to use a propane heater. You should, however, take precautions such as detectors that monitor the amount of oxygen in the air, detect the presence of Carbon Monoxide and detect the presence of Liquid Propane (LP) gas in the van.
It might also help to stow propane tanks somewhere soft and fireproof so that the tanks do not rattle when you travel and cause a build-up of pressure when traveling.
It is also essential to have good ventilation when using a propane heater.
How much ventilation is needed for a propane heater?
The amount of ventilation a propane heater needs is dependent on the heat output of the propane heater within a given amount of space. The more propane is burnt within a given amount of space the more ventilation is required within that space. There is no exact science as to how much ventilation you will need because the air will escape at higher/lower rates depending on how high the vent is within the RV and how obstructed it is. Air may also escape at different rates depending on how well insulated your RV is.
Overdoing the ventilation may make you susceptible to leaks, cold air, and moisture, effectively nullifying all the work your propane heater has done.
All in all, it is most important to have multiple sensors which detect the amount of oxygen in the air, the presence of Carbon Monoxide, and the presence of Liquid Propane (LP) gas in the van. In this way, you can increase your ventilation if you are detecting the presence of dangerous gases.
Do propane heaters use a lot of propane?
The amount of propane a propane heater uses is dependent on many factors on factors which affect the heat output requirement such as the climate and size of space. A cold climate will require more heat output than a warm climate. A large space will require more heat output than a large space. A 9,000 BTU heater would run for around 23 hours with 10 lb of propane. A 30,000 BTU heater would run for just 7 hours at 10b of propane.
Can you run propane heater in RV while driving?
You can run a propane heater in an RV while driving but doing such a thing would be inadvisable because of how dangerous it is. When the vehicle is in motion is could mean that the things within your RV will be knocked about if not stowed away properly or at least vibrate. Being knocked about in your RV could cause the pressure within the gas tank to build up, meaning that the tank will release a small amount of gas to cope with the pressure so that the tank does not explode. This could mean small amounts of flammable, ignitable gas floating around your RV as you drive. Getting into a crash might be made markedly more dangerous by using a propane heater as you could risk an explosion or fire with an open propane tank.