We must now analyze a reoccurring scenario in our RV life. We are not constantly hook-up to the power when RV traveling or living in the RV. Sometimes we don’t have enough power to do all we want, or we wish to preserve energy. Even when we are boondocking, we often do not have the conditions to use only electrical energy or we want to preserve it. After all, we would like to consider all alternatives for making it simpler to live in the camper throughout the winter. So I believe it is necessary to compile some recommendations and ideas for How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity while boondocking.
Among other options, let’s review How To Heat a Pop up Camper Without Electricity by using RV Furnaces Gas, RV Solar Heaters, and Propane Hot Water Heaters.
How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
Let’s review what options we have for heating the camper without electricity.
Solar and Deep Cycle RV Batteries
The use of deep cycle RV batteries powered by solar panels is key to heating a camper without electricity. These batteries can be easily charged through a solar battery charge controller. If you are interested in learning how to charge a deep-cycle RV battery and get the most out of it, I recommend this article.
As not all deep cycle RV batteries are suitable to work at low temperatures during the winter, I recommend you to read this article about how to choose the best deep cycle RV battery so you won’t have problems during the winter with your battery and solar panel system.
Charge A Deep Cycle RV Battery with Solar Panel (DC Power)
Best Deep Cycle RV Battery for Cold Weather (LiFePO4 vs. AGM)
RV Furnaces Gas – How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
Do RV Furnaces Run on Electricity?
Do RV furnaces run on electricity? The temperature outside is freezing, what do you do to keep yourself warm at night during camping? We know that the dashboard heaters don’t function when the RVs engine is not running. Even if they are they may not be able to provide enough heat throughout the night and it’s not good to run your engine all night.
Do RV furnaces run on electricity? Heaters are lifesavers providing the warmth we need when it’s freezing outside but do RV furnaces run on electricity? Built-in heaters of almost every RV run on propane but may need electricity to ignite.
How Long Will a Propane-Powered RV Furnace Last?
Because most RV heaters operate on propane, it’s critical to understand how much is required to keep your camper warm. In general, the amount of propane required by a furnace is determined by its size. So, the larger the furnace, the more propane it needs to run.
An easy calculation could be this one: 1 gallon of propane has a burn rate of around 90,000 to 100,000 BTUs per hour.
An average-sized RV furnace is believed to burn roughly 13 gallons of propane while running continuously for an hour. Simply expressed, a gallon of propane will power the furnace for around 3 hours of continuous operation.
RV Furnaces Gas represents a great way to heat a camper without electricity.
If you want to use less gas and look into ways to improve the efficiency when winterizing your camper to live in, follow the link to our article.
Kerosene heaters and wood stoves are other options for heating a camper without electricity.
Are RV Furnaces Gas or Electric?
If you’ve ever had any experience with campgrounds (or if you have kids), then you know how difficult it can sometimes be to find out what kind of furnace they use at different parks.
Most gas units run off LPG, but those who have electric models typically plug them in to provide electrical energy. If you’re buying a new RV because you want to get rid of the old one, make sure to ask about their heating system before making a purchase.
Forced Air Heating System
The most common type of heating unit found in travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers is called a forced-air heater.
A Forced Air Heating system works by forcing hot air from a blower fan across indoor surfaces like carpets and upholstery. The downside is that this method doesn’t work as well in smaller spaces where heated air has less room to circulate around. While effective, it also puts more stress on the engine which may not be able to generate enough horsepower to move large volumes of air over long distances. In addition, if you live somewhere with high humidity levels, these types will often struggle to maintain adequate temperatures.
Keep in mind that when you run out of propane your RV runs out of heat as well. On the other hand, more and more RVers have switched to other alternatives such as electric RV furnaces, portable heaters, and even solar heating systems.
Propane Radiant Heaters – How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
Let’s continue reviewing How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity while boondocking. Let’s talk about Propane Radiant Heaters.
Propane Radiant Heaters
Propane Radiant Heaters. Perhaps the best-known form of supplemental heat among RV enthusiasts is the propane radiant heater. Unlike solar or kerosene heaters, propane radiant heaters burn fuel to create radiant heat. Because of this, they require regular refueling via tank or bottle to remain operational.
Propane radiant heaters can range anywhere from $100 to upwards of $1,000 depending on size and complexity. Smaller models consist of a stovetop burner mounted atop a boxy frame. Bigger ones feature built-in stoves capable of producing 10,000 BTUs each.
Regardless of price, there are some key advantages to choosing propane radiant heaters to heat a camper without electricity:
- Propane radiant heaters use significantly less fuel per hour than other sources. Their typical operating time ranges from 8 hours for a basic model to 24 hours for top-of-the-line big boys. Compared to other fuels, propane isn’t very efficient, but it burns relatively cleanly and produces fewer harmful emissions.
- Propane radiant heaters give off extremely stable heat that stays consistent year-round. Third, propane heaters are available with multiple settings ranging from full blast to simmer mode.
- The main components needed to use propane radiant heaters are readily available at local hardware stores. All they require is an empty 55-gallon drum or bottled gas supply.
Despite having a few drawbacks, propane radiant heaters represent great value for money and a great way to heat a camper without electricity. Even cheap models can bring a modicum of comfort during a stay in extreme conditions.
RV Solar Heaters – How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
Let’s continue reviewing How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity. Let’s talk about RV Solar Heaters.
RV Solar Heaters
As alternatives to propane, you should consider investing in solar thermal generators or Solar Heaters. Let’s see How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity with RV Solar Heaters.
Solar panels convert sunlight directly into usable electricity that runs an internal battery pack. Once charged, the batteries store excess power for later usage.
When used to supplement conventional heat sources, solar heaters serve two purposes.
- Solar Heaters prevent wastefully burning fossil fuels like propane, natural gas, or gasoline.
- Solar Heaters eliminate dangerous exhaust fumes produced by combustion.
Unfortunately, solar heaters present their own set of challenges. One issue is their tendency to become overheated during direct sunshine. Overloading them further stresses delicate electronics inside, potentially leading to failure. Another problem involves storing extra energy generated by solar cells, which is possible but rarely done today. Instead, owners usually opt to feed excess power straight into the grid. Still, some experts recommend against leaving them plugged in all day long due to potential fire risks.
To avoid concerns like this, consider purchasing a solar generator specifically designed to heat homes. Such devices feature bypass diodes and inverters to protect against overload and overcharge respectively. Many now incorporate advanced electronic safeguards to ensure safe operation under adverse weather conditions.
Lastly, you shouldn’t let solar heaters fool you into thinking they provide sufficient warmth alone. During the winter months, they can actually pose danger to infants, pets, and elderly family members who may accidentally sleep near them. Additionally, unless properly shielded, sunbeams passing through transparent materials can dangerously cook nearby objects. So always place them away from windows, curtains, blinds, and anything else made primarily of glass. Never leave children or animals asleep within reach of a solar panel.
Hot Water Heater in Camper – How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
How to heat water without electricity, if cloudy and snowy during winter? Challenging, right? Let’s continue reviewing How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity. Let’s talk about RV Hot Water Heaters in campers with electricity.
RV Hot Water Heaters can work with different energy sources depending on the system they use. They can be propane water heaters, they can use electricity to heat the water, and they can use engine starting power. Each option will have its advantages and disadvantages depending on what conditions surround us. If we are boondocking and are not connected, if we are in winter in freezing temperatures, if the days are cloudy, or if they are sunny, we can use different energy sources to obtain hot water.
If you have solar panels in your camper you can accumulate energy and then use it to heat water. Solar panels and your energy storage device will be a good option if the days are not cloudy.
How To Heat Water Without Electricity? Hot Water Heater in Camper
How To Heat Water Without Electricity? Hot Water Heater in Camper. The most common hot water heater for campers uses propane. This method offers a great advantage because it allows the water to reach a high temperature, so it really provides water heating in the middle of winter.
The other great advantage it has is that it allows us to heat water when there is no electrical hook-up to connect your camper and when our advanced solar panel system cannot be used because it is completely cloudy and snowing several days ago, so the solar panels do not produce enough energy and we have already consumed all the stored solar energy.
That is why the ideal camper should be very versatile in terms of energy and systems, using equipment that uses different types of energy. Not choosing all-electric, not all propane is the best balance we can give to our camper. And if you are thinking of living in the camper, consider this point of energy versatility because it will be critical to winterize a camper to live in.
So, it is very common to find that campers are equipped with propane hot water heaters and electric hot water heaters.
Propane-based water heaters for RVs are traditional water heaters that work by heating the water tank to keep it warm. Generally, the heater is turned on and off in order to heat the tank and keep it warm to a certain temperature. As you can imagine the big disadvantage is that if you don’t use the hot water often, you spend a lot of propane just to keep the hot water in the tank, so it uses and consumes propane all the time.
Propane Hot Water Heaters – Tank vs. Tankless
To get around this disadvantage, propane tankless hot water heaters are becoming more popular. They still have the advantage in that it is possible to heat water without electricity, but at the same time reduce propane consumption which is key when boondocking or winterizing your camper for living. Not to mention the costs associated with reducing propane consumption. It is a more sustainable option for our RV living as it minimizes fossil fuel consumption.
Tankless hot water heaters only require propane while in use. They are a little more expensive than traditional propane-based RV water heaters, but you can save money, especially if you live in your camper.
Our recommended options for campers looking to be equipped with propane hot water heaters (Rinnai proposes this excellent propane tankless hot water heater) and electric hot water heaters.
- Endless Hot Water: Enjoy unlimited hot water flow throughout the house; compact, durable, and easy to install; professional installation recommended
- Energy and Space Efficient: Space-saving design conserves energy as it heats only when necessary
- Optimal Water Pressure: High-performance up to 5.3 GPM hot water flow rate for a powerful, constant stream
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Watch this video to see how a propane tankless water heater works
Heating a Pop-Up Camper, Is it Possible?
Pop-up campers in the winter are a little more challenging, although they offer a small space to heat and winterize. If you are looking for specific tips on pop-up campers, I recommend you to read these articles from Ward Greenway, our expert and fan of pop-up campers, to learn more about How to winterize a pop-up camper and How to Stay Warm in a Pop Up Camper in Winter
I hope you find useful this article about How to heat a camper without electricity and learn more Best ways to heat a camper without electricity.