You can often go camping in a camper or RV year-round, or at least much longer than you can camp in a tent. This is because you can control the climate inside your camper. There are various ways to make it either hotter or colder.
One way in which you may consider warming up is by using a space heater. But are they safe? The answer isn’t always clear.
Whether you are using the space heater as a backup option in the case that your furnace fails, as a way to give your primary system a little boost, or just because it may be cheaper; read on to find out how to use it safely and effectively.
So, can you use a space heater in a camper??
As long as you follow all precautions and warnings included with your space heater, and those recommended by the NFPA you can safely use a space heater inside your camper. Some individuals do not want to take the risk, but thankfully there are many other ways to stay warm and toasty while camping.
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Is it Safe To Use A Space Heater In A Camper?
Space heaters are inherently risky, no matter where you use them. However, there are certain considerations and variances when using a space heater in your camper compared to your home.
One such concern is the rapid rate at which a camper can ignite and burn entirely. Sometimes a camper, once ablaze, can burn to the ground in just over ten minutes.
Additionally, the wiring and electrical systems of some campers may not be able to withstand the larger draw of power space heaters require. This is especially true if you are running multiple appliances at one time.
In the end, the choice of whether or not to use a space heater is up to you. There are specific things you can do to try and decrease the risk associated with using one in your camper. Furthermore, if you decide you do not want to risk it there are other heating options as well.
How To Decrease Space Heater Risks
The National Fire Protection Agency, or NFPA, actually publishes guidelines on how to mitigate risks with space heaters. Their advice for using space heaters, no matter the location, can be found below.
- A space heater should be at least three feet away from anything flammable.
- Power cords should only be plugged into outlets, not extension cords. Furthermore, the outlets should have enough power capacity.
- Don’t leave space heaters running when you go to sleep or leave the room.
- Give your space heater a once over before using it. Check for loose plugs, cracks, or anything else that appears to be broken.
- Flammable or combustible liquids should not be kept in the same room or near your space heater.
Besides, it is wise to not allow small children or pets near space heaters. When space heaters tip over they can malfunction and/or ignite. Therefore, you should purchase a space heater that turns off automatically when it is tipped over. This will help to protect against an unfortunate incident.
Unfortunately, it is not just the space heater itself that can be a source of unwanted flames. Because of the electricity consumption of space heaters, they can easily overheat outlets or wires within your camper walls. You should check the amp requirements of your space heater and make sure that you are plugging it into an appropriate outlet within your camper.
Types of Space Heaters For Heating A Tailer
Space heaters come in many different sizes and types. Often the best types of space heaters are those with built-in safety features. This could include things like an automatic turn off if the heater tips over, a thermostat, and a timer. Additionally, some have an automatic turn off when they sense they are overheating.
It isn’t advised that you leave your space heater on overnight while you are sleeping. However, there are certainly a handful of campers that do. If you are planning on leaving your heater on overnight, purchasing one with included safety features is all that much more important.
Now onto the specific types of heaters.
- Ceramic Heaters
These heaters are small and easy to transport. They are not high-powered but can be effective at heating up smaller enclosed spaces.
Ceramic heaters work by way of ceramic plates, wires, and a blower. Wires conduct electricity that in turn heats up the internal ceramic plates. A fan then blows over the plates to push warm air away from the heater and into your room.
Honeywell HCE200W UberHeat Ceramic Heater has two heat settings. Additionally, it has a tip-over turn-off switch, overheating protection, and cool to the touch exterior. It is space-saving and energy-saving while being efficient at heating.
This 1500W / 750W Ceramic Space Heater is highly rated. It also has overheat and tip-over protection, as well as a thermostat. It has three different heat settings and promises to heat up your space within minutes.
- Tower Heaters
Technically, tower heaters are usually ceramic heaters as well. They use the same method to heat your space. However, they are taller and less compact. They may be able to provide more heat at a faster rate than a small, portable ceramic heater.
Both tower heaters and ceramic heaters are good for occasional use. They are not exceedingly durable or built to be run 24/7. Therefore, you should inspect them for wear and tear each time you plan to use them.
The Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater is a ceramic tower heater. It has two heat settings, a thermostat, and even comes with a remote. Safety features include overheat protection, a timer, and a cool-touch exterior.
- Rolling fireplaces, built-ins, and inserts
Many campers have these as an upgrade option. However, you can also find rolling fireplaces online. Some are ceramic heaters built to look like a wood-burning fireplace. Others use an infrared system to produce heat.
These heaters can pump out a great deal of warm air. Additionally, they are made for prolonged and frequent use.
The TURBRO Suburbs TS20 Electric Fireplace Heater, Freestanding Fireplace Stove with Realistic Dancing Flame Effect is only 20 inches but can warm a room quite quickly. It has overheating protection, tip protection, and is cool to the touch.
- Infrared Heaters
These heaters use infrared light, a light spectrum that our eyes cannot see, to direct warmth towards our bodies. Much like the sun shining on the pavement on a summer day. As they emit the infrared light, we absorb it and in turn heat up.
Some have fans and some do not. They work best when they are placed nearby so that you can receive the full amount of infrared light.
The Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt is very highly rated. It comes with many safety features like tip-over protection, overheating protection, and a 12-hour automatic timer. It can heat a large room but is still relatively quiet.
- Fuel-burning Heaters
Most campers will not opt for a fuel-burning heater but instead, choose an electric one. This is because keeping propane or other fuel substances in your RV to power a heat source is not ideal. However, in the case that you did not have access to electricity, a fuel-burning heater would provide a great back up.
The Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable RV Propane Heater is an indoor fuel-burning heater. It has tip-over protection and will shut off if the pilot light goes out or it detects low oxygen levels. It can heat a large space very quickly.
As mentioned, there are many options when choosing an electric heater. The one you select largely depends on how frequently you plan to use it and how much heat you would like it to produce. Regardless though, electric heaters with safety options and those that suit your RV outlets and electrical systems are highly advised.
Other methods of Heating Your Camper
- Electric Blankets
Electric blankets aren’t only for your bed. They can be used while you are curled up on the couch or even snacking at the dinette. They provide nearly immediate warmth. You should still be wary of leaving them on for long periods and while you sleep, like space heaters they can overheat.
- Sealing Your Camper
Making sure you eliminate all drafts and leaks is important to maintaining a warm space. Check for cracks and missing insulation. If you find any, you can replace the seal, add additional insulation or even use tape to keep out the cold.
- Heat Strips
RV heat strips can be added to your air conditioning unit to warm up the interior when it is not quite cold enough to use the furnace. They can be purchased online and are relatively easy to install.
- Use Rugs and Window Coverings
When decorating your camper rugs and curtains help to create a homey feel, but they also help to keep the space warm and cozy. They can help prevent cool air from seeping in and warm air from leaking out.
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