Keeping Warm This Winter – Part 2 : Heating

Brrr… a recent chilly change in the weather has seen overnight temps plummet, and daytime temps struggle to make it into the twenties! Certainly, the little heater I’ve got has been put to good use the last few days.

Another article in this series will shortly look at some things you can do to minimise the effects of cold inside your van… but this one looks at some of the “hardware” available to help keep you toasty inside your camper, van or motorhome.

240V Electric Heaters

I don’t like using my in-built Air Conditioner much. Apart from the noise it makes, the heat can get a little too stifling and the thermostat seems to cut in and out far too often for my liking. It also chews up a lot of power.

If you want, or need, to run your 240V A/C with a Generator, remember that they require a LOT of power, so you will most likely need a 2.5kVA Genny to initially start it, and keep it going!

Useful Tip: A lot of Caravan A/C units do NO like working/starting up BELOW 4 degrees. Handy I know, as many overnight Winter temps are at zero or below in Australia LOL

I’m currently using a ceramic “cube” heater. It’s small, nice and light, and adds very little to my payload in the van (1.5kg). It’s a 2 speed, 1500W fan heater and seems to work quite well (even on the low setting) most nights. It is, however, a little noisy, and even though it has a “safety” switch which will turn it off if knocked over… I really don’t like running it when I’m not around (or asleep for that matter).

Another option I’ve considered are those small 5 to 7 fin oil-filled column heaters. However, from previous experience, I’ve had to practically sit on top of one to keep warm as the cheaper 5 fin heaters are barely 1000W. They are also a lot heavier than the cubes, so their weight (5 fin around 6kg) might be a consideration. They are, however, quiet.

What about a 2400W bar radiator? Nope! For me, the fire risk is too great 🙂

It might be possible to run 240V cube and/or column heaters off-grid with the right setup, or with a small genny (see below).

Portable Gas Heaters

Essentially, PORTABLE gas heaters are NOT SAFE inside your RV! There is an extreme risk of death by Carbon Monoxide poisoning, because as the air heats, Oxygen is removed from it.

So, while turning on your gas oven or hotplate to take the chill off might sound like a good idea, the reality is, for long-term heating, it’s the worst thing you can do without adequate ventilation!

Be careful… Even extended cooking inside on gas appliances can create a hazard… so make sure you open a door and/or roof vent to allow airflow whilst cooking 🙂

And those little portable butane heaters? Read the label. They are designed for “outdoor use only” 🙂

Off-Grid Heaters

Here I’m referring to the diesel and/or gas powered BUILT-IN heaters. You’ll usually see them installed probably under the bed, with their exhaust vented to the outside, and heated air circulated within.

These are not cheap to purchase! The average price of good quality units is around $2000+. Cheaper versions can be got from eBay for DIY installers.

They are, however, very good heaters, and relatively economical to run! Especially for the much colder regions of the country!

What about off-grid electric heating?

Remember… ANY form of electric heating IS going to require a LOT of power.

You would need a fairly decent 240W+ solar / 2+ 100Ah battery / 1000W+ inverter setup, or even a small genny (min 1kVA), and you could potentially run the cube and or column heaters while off-grid, especially on their lower settings. The more biggerer the setup, the more chance you have of being able to achieve it. At least for a couple of hours a day (weather conditions/sunshine permitting) 🙂

Campfires

Ahh… now THIS is what camping in the great outdoors is all about isn’t it?

Who doesn’t like a blazing campfire to sit around, chatting to other campers, having a refreshment or two?

What IS important to be said about any campfire though is to be sensible and safe!

Rather than reinvent the wheel here on this issue, I’d simply like to redirect you to this useful resource from DFES in West Australia on Campfire Safety:

Share Your Experiences

Please… use the comment form below to let us know how you keep warm during winter! We’d love to know/share your useful tips 🙂

Series IndexPart #1 Follow the Sun : Part #2 Heating : Part #3 : Insulate