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A van is there to be used all year round. Summer trips are fun, but why not explore the winter scenery on a campsite in the colder months?
Some van owners avoid these types of trips for one reason – insufficient heating. Vans will either be incredibly stuffy or freezing.
Finding the appropriate heating option that isn’t too expensive and isn’t a huge safety risk can be nearly impossible.
Propane gas heaters can be pricey, wood stoves can be a tough installation, and some electric heaters are not safe for constant use. Diesel heaters are also a pain to install and can take up a lot of space.
If you’re looking for a good-quality electric heater to keep you warm in your van, we’ve got you covered! Electric heaters are an ideal solution, as they are easily portable, don’t take up much energy, and can warm up a small area within seconds.
We understand the importance of a well-insulated and comfortable van to enjoy the winter months. As long as your campsite has an electric hook-up (EHU) or you have a generator, we have found the best electric heater for you.
Best Electric Heaters for Van
1. Our Top Pick: Minetom Portable Electric Space Heater
This electric heater ticks every box for us. With an adjustability of either 750 Watts, 1500 Watts, or a fan option, the Minetom heater is versatile and powerful.
As vans are small, you may find you’ll only need this heater on the 750 Watts function. This can be easily adjusted by a rotating knob.
With the fan and heating options, this heater has a temperature range of 0°F and 158°F – ideal for use all year round. Made from PTC ceramic heating technology, it has the ability to heat a room of up to 200 square feet within seconds.
This heating range requires an appropriate material to resist melting, which is why this ceramic heater is made of flame-resistant material.
Not only this, but this unit is equipped with an automatic shut-off system that turns off the heat if it is knocked over. These safety procedures are essential for a van electric heater as it increases the service life of the unit.
This heater needs access to an EHU (or a generator if you are wild camping) and has a six-foot long cord, as well as two-prong connection fits. This unit is a 120V heater, which shouldn’t trip out most campsite electric hook-ups.
- Heating and cooling – 750W and 1500W heating options and a fan setting for use all year round
- Shouldn’t trip EHUs – 6ft long cord and 120V heater is ideal for most campsite electric hook-ups
- Safety elements – Flame-resistant material, auto shut-off system, and overheat protection are included to keep the heater and its surroundings safe
- No extension cord – Instructions recommend to not plug into an extension cord – however, the 6ft long cable is a good length
2. The Smallest Heater: multifun Portable Electric Heater
If you have a small campervan space and require a small heater, this heater is ideal. Sizing at only 6” x 6.7” x 7”, this is a compact little heater that can produce warm air up to 108 square feet within 2 seconds.
Whilst this may not be the most modern-looking heater, this unit is ideal for providing a cozy, spring-like warmth in a campervan. The real standout feature of this heater is its compact and durable design.
Made of fire-retardant metal and ceramic heating elements, this heater is well suited for small areas such as a van.
The metal shell has overheating protection to help the unit withstand hot temperatures.
Not only this, but the unit is equipped with a tip-over auto-shutoff that automatically turns off the heating elements when it is not on an even surface – ideal for accidental knock-overs.
- Compact and lightweight – Small size is ideal for vans and portability
- Powerful 1500W heater – Able to produce warm air up to 108 square feet within seconds
- Made from durable, safe materials – Metal shell and ceramic heating elements are designed for ultimate safety with flame-retardant materials and auto-shutoff
- Industrial design – Design is not modern for those who wish to buy an attractive heater
3. The Lowest Wattage: Lasko MyHeat Space Heater
As campsite electric hook-up systems can only handle so much wattage, this is the most ideal little heater that runs at 200 Watts and will not trip any EHUs.
However, this wattage means the compact size can only heat up so much space, so it’s better designed for keeping a specific area warm rather than the whole room.
Due to its size and low wattage, this heater is best suited by a bed or on a countertop to keep the van’s inhabitants warm rather than the whole van itself. If you have a small van, this is ideal for you.
Despite its compact size, this unit comes with a 6-foot cord that can easily stretch across a small van. This ceramic heater is designed to remain cool to the touch and features an auto-shutoff system for safety.
- Low wattage – 200 Watts will not trip out campsite EHUs
- Cool exterior – Unit is fitted with all necessary safety features for long usage
- Attractive appearance – Compact design comes in multiple colors
- Personal heater – Compact size limits the heating to an individual rather than a whole room, which is more ideal for cool spring/fall months rather than winter months
4. All-Rounder: Home_Choice Personal Space Heater
Affordable and versatile, this is an ideal starter heater for those looking to go to a campsite in winter. This heater features three heat settings, ranging from 1500W high heat to 750W low heat, as well as a fan for the summer months. Ideal for use all year round!
This is a compact heater at only 8.3” tall, which is suitable for most van interiors. Despite its size, it is a powerful unit with multiple heat settings that is designed to warm a small space within seconds.
Regarding safety, this heater is equipped with an auto-shutoff system when it is accidentally tipped over, and also automatically turns off when parts of the heater begin to overheat.
This is ideal for keeping the heater on throughout the night, as the user can be reassured that it will automatically turn off when it cannot withstand the heat.
- Versatile fan and heater – Three heating options and a fan feature allows for use all year round
- Safety features included – Auto-shutoff for accidental tip-overs and heat protection for peace of mind
- Ideal for small rooms – Listed as a personal heater but is suitable for small rooms and van interiors
- High setting might trip campsite EHU – Highest 1500W temperature setting may be too much for a campsite electric hook-up to handle
5. The Most Versatile: andily Portable Space Heater
This andily heater stands out for its impressive four adjustable modes – ranging from 1500W high heat, 750W low heat, 100W E-save, and a fan feature. This is the most versatile unit on our list and is ideal for use in a van all year round.
Fitted with a handy handle for easy portability, this heater is made of flame-retardant material to prevent the unit from overheating, melting, or catching fire. It also comes with an auto-shutoff system for accidental tip-overs and overheating.
Whilst this is a compact design, this heater comes with a thermostat system that works with the temperature of the room it is in. This means it will heat up its immediate area as well as the surroundings of a room, or van interior, at the same time.
- Versatile with multiple functions – Heat functions range from 1500W to 750W, and it also comes with a fan option for use all year round
- Easy portability – Unit comes with a handle and flame-retardant material that is cool to the touch and easy to transport
- Safety functions included – As well as the flame-retardant material, this unit comes with auto-shutoff systems for overheating and accidental tip-overs
- Can get very hot – The 1500W highest temperature setting is very warm
Best Electric Heater for Van Buyer’s Guide
Factors to Consider When Looking for an Electric Heater for a Van
An electric heater can be an inexpensive and easy way to warm up the interior of a van. Small and compact, these units are designed for small rooms and immediate spaces.
However, due to the nature of some heaters, there are some factors to consider when looking for an electric heater specifically for a van.
Electric Heater Benefits
Electric heaters are generally the most affordable and safest heating option. With ceramic heating elements, these units are designed to warm up the immediate area and small spaces within 2-3 seconds.
Their lightweight and compact design mean electric heaters are the most appropriate and suitable for portability. This means you can use the heater in your own home as well as move it into your van for your vacation trips.
The compact design means they won’t take up much space compared to other heater options, which is highly beneficial in small van spaces.
These heaters also come with adjustable thermostats and heat settings. Some heaters will be more powerful and warm than others, so it’s important to look up the Wattage figure of the heater (more on that later!).
Some heaters will also come with a fan option, which is a versatile option for use all year round. If you want to get your money’s worth, these versatile heaters are the best option.
As the ceramic heating elements in electric heaters can produce warm air so quickly, it’s important that these units come equipped with the necessary safety features. These will include flame-retardant materials such as metal and auto-shutoff systems.
The auto-shutoff systems are important for two reasons. The first is that some heater types will not have a function that turns off the heater when they start to overheat, but electric heaters are equipped with this function.
Secondly, as electric heaters are so compact they are prone to tipping over when knocked, which can be a fire hazard. Fortunately, this auto-shutoff system turns off the heater when it is not on an even surface.
Electric Hook-Ups (EHU)
Some van owners will have their own generator, in which case this isn’t applicable.
However, most van owners rely on the campsite’s electric hook-up (EHU) system to provide electricity. These systems can provide electricity for heaters, fridges, aerial boosters, kettles, grills, technology, microwaves, ovens, and more.
The more than is connected to the EHU, the less it will be able to handle. If you have connected all of your devices and appliances, there’s a chance that an electric heater could trip the EHU.
Other options include solar panels, leisure batteries, and generators.
Our top tip is to avoid plugging electric heaters into extension leads, as these are prone to cause overheating and fires.
Other Heater Types
If you are struggling to decide what type of heater is suitable for you and your van, here are some other heating options.
Propane gas heaters are powerful but not designed for small areas such as a campervan. This is because there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in small spaces with a lack of ventilation.
These heaters are also generally more expensive than electric heaters as they require gas canister replacements.
Diesel heaters are the most expensive option due to the installation process. However, these are the most durable and suitable for withstanding cold temperatures without freezing.
They can also be installed outside of the van or vehicle to save up room inside, as these are large units.
Some campers like to install small wood stoves in their vans. These come in a variety of sizes and shapes which must be considered before installation.
They are designed for safety, but they do expose an open flame which could be a fire hazard.
Ways to Keep Warm in a Van
Some electric heaters will only be designed to heat up their immediate surroundings and won’t be able to warm an entire van interior. Likewise, some aren’t designed for long usage overnight.
It’s not recommended to leave electric heaters on overnight due to the safety precautions, so here are some other ways to keep warm in a van:
- Proper insulation in a van will help to retain the heat
- Dress appropriately prior to being cold so you can retain your own body heat – it’s easier to cool down than it is to warm up!
- Hot water bottles are ideal for saving energy and for keeping hands/feet/torsos warm
- Good quality sleeping bags/multiple thick blankets are essential
- Electric blankets are suitable for keeping the insides of a bed warm if there is access to an EHU – they also don’t have to be on for long periods of time to provide warmth
- Try to park in elevated areas surrounded by other vans rather than exposed, cold valleys
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you insulate a van for winter?
There are lots of ways to insulate a van for winter, including foil bubble wraps, spray foam in gaps, fiberglass insulation, insulation boards, and reflective foil. As there are so many ways to insulate a van, we recommend looking for detailed instructions online including here.
Insulating a van properly is the first step to maintaining warmth throughout winter. Whilst electric heaters are great for providing warm air, they aren’t strong enough to keep a van interior warm throughout an entire night due to safety precautions.
A well-insulated van will be able to retain the warm air created by the heater, which will keep the van warmer for longer.
How do vans stay warm whilst sleeping?
As it’s not recommended to keep an electric heater on overnight in a van, you will have to get creative with ways to keep warm.
A well-insulated van will be able to retain the heat from an electric heater so they don’t have to stay on – whether this is an electric heater or an electric blanket.
Other ways to stay warm include sufficient clothing and bedding, good-quality sleeping bags, hot water bottles and hot drinks, parking near other campervans to protect the van from cold winds, and covering windows with blinds or curtains.
You will find you may use an electric heater less often if you work to retain the heat in a campervan.
What is the best heater for a campervan?
The best heater for a campervan is the Mimetom Portable Electric Space Heater. With the ability to produce warm air up to 200 square feet, this is an ideal heater for a van interior.
This heater features two adjustable heating functions (1500W for high heat and 750W for low heat) as well as a fan setting, which is suitable for use in the warm months.
This heater is most ideal for vans as the 120V 6-foot cable is designed to prevent tripping the campsite EHU, so it can be used for extended periods of time.
It is also equipped with the appropriate safety features, including auto-shutoff for accidental tip-overs and overheating, and flame-retardant material.