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When beginning your van life, it’s important to keep in mind where you’ll be traveling to and what time of the year you’ll be there. Planning on staying somewhere in the dead of winter presents different challenges and necessities than when it’s the middle of the summer. It’s important to plan and prepare appropriately, making sure to bring with you the ability to control the temperature inside your van without relying solely on the built in AC and Heat. With all that being said, we’ve put together a list of some of the best devices to help you keep your van nice and warm during those long winter nights as well as ways to keep cool in the hot midday sun!
The Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy is a great choice for keeping your van a nice warm temperature during those extra cold winter nights. With its sleek design, the Mr. Heater Buddy is made of steel, nickel and plastic materials. It comes in two different colors, those being red and grey. You can opt for one that does not stand out as much in your van, or for the brighter red which will make it easy to locate. This heater is propane powered and safe to use indoors and inside your van. It’s perfect for heating up spaces as large as 225 square feet, which should be more than enough to keep your whole van heated. The run time on this heater is approximately 3 hours long and comes with the option of connecting a separately sold hose to an external propane tank to extend its usage time. The heater may not work at higher altitudes and it has a built-in safety feature to turn off if it is tipped over or detects low oxygen levels. It’s important to place it on a level surface when in use to keep it from turning off if it falls over. It’s a great pick to help keep your van life nice and warm!
The Camping Emergency Butane Heater is another option for keeping warm. Its bright red design means you should never lose track of it and the metal exterior makes it a durable option to bring along with you. It has a pressure sensing safety shut off and uses standard butane gas cartridges. The heater comes with a swivel body, allowing you to angel in in a certain direction that may suit your needs best. It’s very important to keep in mind, however, that this particular heater is known to create some CO (Carbon Monoxide). If you plan on using this heater for inside your van, it’s important to have a way to vent out the CO and to avoid running the device on a low setting. The higher up the setting is, the less CO that will be created. Make sure you monitor this device while it’s in use and install some kind of CO detector to keep yourself safe! Overall, it’s a great option for emergencies and will heat up your space fast, just be sure to read the instructions and use this heater properly to avoid any injury to yourself or home!
#3 – Camco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
The Camco 57341 Olympian Wave is a great choice for those willing to spend a little extra for the quality of this product. This particular unit can either be wall mounted or used as a portable heater for your van. The Camco Olympian uses a low pressure gas system and is adjustable for 3200 BTU to 6000 BTU, meaning it can be your primary or secondary source of heating. It also comes with a safety shut-off valve. It weighs around 14 pounds and is a big on the larger side as far as the dimensions go, so you may have an issue finding space for this device if you do not plan on wall mounting it in your van. It runs off of propane, so it will not require you to use any strain on your battery. Where the buddy heater previously mentioned will have some issues running at higher altitudes, the Olympian Wave will have less issues the higher up you are. There are few downsides to this space heater, other than the price. If you are looking to avoid the headaches that other heaters may give you for a cheaper price and are willing to splurge a bit, this is the heater for you!
The Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater is the economical choice of those looking to heat up their van space. This is one of the cheapest ways to keep the heat on in your van without sacrificing much in the way of convenience. The old school silver design gives this heater a homely feeling. The Lasko Space Heater has 3 settings, high, low and fan mode. On top of general heat settings, it has a power setting that allows you to adjust how much heat you actually want, acting as a thermostat of sorts. There is no assembly required with this option, it can be taken right out of the box and used almost immediately. It’s able to heat a space of about 300 square feet, comes with a carrying handle and is a very compact size that should be easy to find a place for in your van! On top of all that, it also has safety features built-in such as overheat protection while also regulating the device’s exterior temperature, making it safe to touch by preventing the body becoming too hot. The only downside to this option is the need for a large amount of electricity. It will quickly use up your reserves from battery packs or your van’s battery. You would need a dedicated source of power for this to be most effective for a long duration.
The Stanley ST-22A-120 Electric Heater is another powerful option for electrical heating use. It comes in a nice black color outlined in a bright yellow, making it sleek and stylish while helping it stand out. This heater can heat up a space of up to 165 square feet. It is a relatively affordable option, however the added costs of needing to run this with some kind of source of electricity can add to the costs. Just like all electric heaters, it will need its own source of power, as it can put a strain and quickly drain most chargeable batteries. However, if you have a way to power it, this heater will serve you well. The Stanley gives you two heat settings and a fan, while also giving you control over the thermostat. If you don’t want too much heat, you can easily adjust the output. On top of that, it also is a fast heater, quickly starting up and beginning to heat up your space almost immediately. It’s possible to use this for only a few minutes and heat up a space quickly, then turn it off to use a secondary heat source to save power. The compact size and built in safety switch to prevent it from falling over while on make it a perfect option for van living.
Sometimes you don’t want to heat up your entire van space or simply don’t want to spend the money on a big expensive heater. If this is the case, then maybe you should consider a product such as the Comfort Buddy Car heated Blanket. This is a more affordable option for those just looking for something to help keep them warm at night or to snuggle up with on a snowy day. The Comfort Buddy can plug right into your 12V power supply, which can even be the cigarette lighter in your van’s console, and it’s ready to go! The blanket heats up quickly, taking only a few minutes. After that, you can adjust the temperature to whatever setting you want. If you don’t want to use much power, you can turn it on just to build up some heat then shut it off afterwards, retaining the heat under the blanket without using any more power. The blanket comes with an over heat protector, will turn off after 4 hours automatically and should be turned off when not in use to save energy and prevent any damage that can occur if left on too long. It’s also important not to soak the blanket in water while in use. This option will not suit everyone, of course, as it will only heat the user and will leave the rest of the cabin to freeze. If you’re hoping to keep everything in your van life warm, this may not be the most convenient option for you.
There are not very many ways to cool your van during the summer without investing in an air conditioning system of some kind. If you are not willing to spend the time and money to set up some kind of built in rooftop air conditioning unit, then there are some alternatives you can use to help beat the heat without breaking the bank. The 12V Dashboard Car Fan can help to get some air circulating inside your van. It’s a low energy use fan system that will work by plugging into the cigarette lighter that many vans have near the dashboard. Again, these will not eliminate the heat for good in your van life, but they will certainly help in a pinch when things get rough in the hot summer evenings. The compact size, low noise, low energy use and ease of use make this device a nice and cheap method of reducing the temperature at least somewhat. If you have a battery pack that can support the plug, then this is a great portable fan to be able to move around inside and out of your van.
Other methods of keeping you cool in the summer heat in your van are not limited to just small fans and giant air conditioning units. Other alternatives include the use of cooling car seats, such as the Zone Tech Cooling Car Seat Cushion. Once again, this is another lightweight option that can be plugged into your 12V cigarette lighter, so you will need to have a way to power it as you would with any electronic device that you’ll use in your van. This device will help to keep your seats nice and cool and comes with a fan that will blow cool air towards your back and thighs. It comes with temperature control, allowing you to set it to your preferences. Whether you need it to just take some of the edge off of some heat, or you need a quick cooldown, this seat cushion will fit your needs. It does not need to just be used on your car seats, as it can form to most styles of chairs. Of course, this will not replace the need to take safety precautions when dealing with intense heat, so remember to stay hydrated and keep cool with as many different methods as you can if you aren’t able to be in a place that offers air conditioning.
Keeping your van a comfortable temperature is one of the most important ways to make the most of your van life while being able to enjoy the changing weather. Of course, these methods will most certainly work better with proper insulation in your van, so be sure you have set up the walls correctly. Check for places that may be leaking your hot or cold air, as the more you’re able to keep the air in, the less energy you’ll have to use to maintain a comfortable living temperature. Some other methods of keeping cool when you can’t afford to run a heavy-duty AC unit consist of staying parked in the shade where possible, keeping blinds closed to keep out direct sunlight and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated!