Can you heat a pop-up camper? Heating a pop-up camper in winter can be a bit of a challenge if we are not hooked up or boondocking. The challenging part is the generator, the auxiliary battery or batteries, or the budget limit. That’s why we prepared this article with different scenarios so that you can successfully and within budget learn how to winterize a pop-up camper, heat it, and keep it warm. I think I’m going to give you just the right recipe so that you can easily heat your pop-up camper without any inconvenience. Let’s see how to winterize and stay warm in a pop-up camper during winter – Successfully and Within a Budget.
You’ll need to know how to winterize and heat a pop-up camper in a variety of conditions. That’s why, in this post, I’ll discuss some of my favorite heating options so you can keep warm no matter what the weather outside is like.
Is It True That the Majority of Pop-Up Campers Come with Heating? If we are talking about type A RVs, they are undoubtedly equipped with all kinds of systems.
But what about a tent trailer? Most pop-up campers do not have an air conditioning and heating system. However, the luxury pop-up campers are surprising for their sophisticated systems that are already included by default, even with heated mattresses.
But most of us don’t have a luxury pop-up camper, and that’s why we are in this article, right? When we see the canvas of our tent trailer, we know that both summer and winter can look challenging inside our pop-up camper. In both seasons we work hard to insulate the inside of the pop up camper from the outside temperature and the influence of the sun and snow. That’s why, in this article, I tell you everything that has given me success to live inside my pop-up camper in the middle of winter and how to keep warm inside my tent trailer.
If you have come across articles that are just trying to sell you products for your RV, this is not one of those articles. I’ll mention a few products that are noticeably different from others that made the difference for me.
How to Stay Warm in a Pop Up Camper With and Without Electricity
How to Insulate a Pop Up Camper for Winter
The first tip for winterizing a pop-up camper is Insulation. And if you are one of those who will say, “don’t tell me that the insulation will heat a pop-up camper”, you are right; it won’t, but the correct insulation will keep you warm within the budget and take care of your resources such as generator fuel and auxiliary batteries especially if you are boondocking. So, let’s review some key tips on how to insulate a pop-up camper for the winter.
With the objective in mind to keep warm inside the pop-up camper and keep you warm during the winter, these are the recommendations and sectors that we are going to insulate inside the tent trailer.
- Insulation of bunks and windows
- Insulation between the floor and the mattress
- Insulating the sides of the mattress with canvas
- Insulate any openings and eliminate drafts
- Insulation: RV skirting is a valid options for popups
In the following paragraphs, I will tell you how to eliminate drafts during the winter in your pop-up camper and how to insulate it perfectly from the outside. Keep reading How To Winterize A Pop-Up Camper.
Insulation of Bunks and Windows
Pop-Up Camper Insulation of Bunks and Windows. Let me clear something up for you at this point. Insulating a pop-up camper for winter is not the same as insulating a pop-up camper for summer. In the winter, we are interested in refracting any heat we may have inside. In winter, all refractory metal surfaces will be oriented towards our interior. In this way, we will keep the heat inside.
In summer, we place the refractory materials the other way around, with the metal sector facing outwards to refract the sun’s rays. During cold weather, we seek to radiate our internal heat in all internal directions, so we place the refractory metal component face to the inside of the pop-up camper. Many times, I see how the RVers place the insulators backward, in a way that does not make any sense.
So, if you are going to use insulation that has only one side with reflective or a tarp with reflective, during the winter, the reflective should be oriented towards the inside of the camper.
One of the options is to prepare your own inserts for insulation of bunks and windows using thick bubble foil insulation or refractory reflectix inserts and install them placing the reflective side towards the inside of the pop-up camper.
- EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE - reflect 95% of radiant energy, perfect RADIANT BARRIER.
- VAPOR BARRIER -Unaffected by humidity and moisture, can be used indoor/outdoor.
- SUPREME QUALITY - 3mm closed cell polyethylene FOAM ( not a cheap bubbles) sandwiched between highly reflective Engineered Foil on both sides. Easy to install, easy to cut and easy to clean, Strong but lightweight.
With the inserts placed in the bunk beds and windows, it will stay a little bit darker in your pop-up, but it will help minimize drafts while keeping the heat inside the camper. You will find that there are many options for these materials in e-commerce stores. I recommend that you use a good quality, thick bubble foil reflective insert with bubbles on both sides. Once you have it cut out, you can reuse it, and it will save fuel while heating the pop-up camper. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not choose cheap but thin options.
Cover the tops of your bunks with blankets or reflective tarp to improve insulation and heat retention. Clamps may be required to keep the blanket in place.
Pop-Up Camper Mattress Insulation
As I mentioned before, we are going to make sure that the cold coming from the floor is not easily transferred inside the pop-up camper either. I recommend placing insulation between the wood floor and the mattress. The pop-up camper floor is just a piece of wood, and that, literally, is the only thing that keeps you like protects you from the outside. So, adding anything, even a little layer, really does help. There are a variety of options you can add between the floor and the mattress to insulate the inside of the pop-up camper and keep the heat inside the camper. I found two materials to be absolutely effective.
One of the materials that I found quite effective is the same reflective bubble foam or any thermal reflective insulation that I used to insulate the windows of the bunk beds. The other material I tried, and I must say it is my favorite for this area, was the foam interlocking tiles that my grandchildren used to use. It is inexpensive, lightweight, and thick enough. It is a very noble material and does not generate any noise when you are sleeping. Foam interlocking tiles of ¾” – 1 inch work perfectly to insulate around the mattress and really make the difference when you are trying to keep your pop up camper as warm as possible.
- PROTECTIVE, PORTABLE FLOORING – Dense, durable tiles protect floors and withstand gym equipment and heavy use
- COVERS 24 SQ. FT. - Each tile measures 24” x 24” x 3/4”-thick or 24" x 24" x 1"-thick Includes 6 tiles and 12 end borders for a polished look
- SIMPLE ASSEMBLY – Lightweight pieces quickly connect; easy to disassemble and move. Great for gyms, fitness studios, or play areas.
It is key to maintain and not lose the heat that we will generate during the night around our bunk bed. Around the mattress, it will be convenient to place rolled towels to contain the heat. Putting towels in between the bed and the canvas helps prevent the outside drafts from coming up.
How To Winterize A Pop Up Camper. Continuing with the guideline of insulating the interior as well as possible to use energy effectively when heating the pop up camper the last tip to have good insulation and to avoid the entrance of any air current is adding another layer of protection. These could be a heavy-duty blackout curtain to save energy by keeping the warmth in. As the interior space of the pop up camper is quite small, I opted for these curtains mentioned below which can be purchased as a single double-wide curtain panel. Because 2 panels may be too much. With a size of 100″W x 84″L the amount of black-out curtain was enough to cover the desired areas.
In my case, I held them in place with 1.25” binder clips and some velcro. I found this blackout curtain brand, H.VERSAILTEX, different from others and used them in the house previously. I will tell you that they block 100% of the light, even the direct sun, and when you put that curtain, you turn day into night. It is 100% blackout, durable, thick, does not wrinkle, blocks the wind, and reduces noise. Undoubtedly, these curtains can help you to have superior energy-saving performance. Depending on the model you purchase or the interior of your pop-up camper, you may need to cut and sew to cover it properly.
I added velcro to the sides of all of my curtains, so you want to make sure you get some pretty heavy-duty velcro that will stick to the canvas, and this is really really nice. It keeps the curtains with the side, which is again going to keep that heat in our pop-up camper.
After that, you should insulate your door and any other opening you may have.
Keep in mind that insulating is critical for a successful winterization of a pop up camper.
RV Skirting For Winter Insulation
The material positioned around the camper’s bottom constitutes the RV skirt.
RV skirting is key when your goal is to winterize a pop up camper. The main goal of RV skirting is to insulate the camper, keeping the interior as warm as possible by reducing the heat loss.
Protecting the landing gear from frigid temperatures is the major goal of RV Skirting and placement.
While it’s a fantastic method to stay warm in the winter, many people are beginning to purchase them in order to stay cool in the summer. Your RV’s skirt (also known as RV Skirting) may act as a shield from the wind and cold. A minor investment in the skirt will yield a significant return when your propane costs are lower and you are not responsible for fixing a broken water line.
Learn more about How to Winterize A Pop Up Camper and Best RV skirting in this article
Winterize A Pop Up Camper: How to Heat a Pop Up Camper
How To Winterize A Pop Up Camper. Heating a pop up camper may take up a lot of the propane and energy in general for the battery. To run it really really low, good insulation is critical to keep the heat inside as best we can. Now, let’s see how to heat a pop up camper.
The strategies listed below will assist you in heating a pop up camper. I seek to provide you with different options of energy use to heat the camper and not to consume or depend exclusively on a single type of energy. So, some particular aspects are in the article to help our enthusiastic campers who are looking to understand how to heat a pop up camper to live in boondocking, who have a limited budget, or who are limited with respect to any particular energy.
Electric Space Heater with Thermostat for RV (Quiet Ceramic Heater Fan)
How To Winterize and Heat A Pop Up Camper. Heaters for Pop Up Campers. A portable electric space heater is a great option for heating a pop up camper.
The inside of a pop up camper is not big, so a small heater of 1500 W is more than enough to keep you warm inside your pop up camper. Especially if you have also isolated it as I explained at the beginning of the article. If you are connected to electrical power, your problem is solved. But for boondockers keeping warm inside the pop up camper can be a bit more challenging.
The great advantage of the electric space heater is that it is portable, lightweight, and heats up the inside of the camper very quickly. Some models also have a thermostat that I find very useful to save energy and regulate the desired temperature.
Some models are more silent than others, and you will find them with the description “Quiet Ceramic Heater Fan“.
If you decide to use a space heater, you’ll need outlets. Because the number of outlets in a pop-up camper is limited, you need to invest in a good extension cord. I highly recommend bringing a 15 amp extension cord that you can run directly from your electrical hookup box to your space heater.
- Faster Heat Than Ever: Powered by Dreo Hyperamics Technology, Atom One space heater heats up more efficiently with up to 1500W working power, reaching your desired temperature immediately, letting you feel fast, balmy heat straight away. This portable heater is meant to sit by your feet on the floor, near your hands on a desk, or carry around indoors. Add our small heater to your cart & experience our amazing heater and customer service.Heating Coverage:200 sq.ft
- Shield360° Protection: Heat up your day and night without worries. ETL-listed Shield360° system provides tip-over and overheat protection, as well as an enhanced safety plug. Along with UL94 V-0 flame-retardant materials to ensure ultimate safety in all aspects
- Save More on Energy Bills: ECO Mode adjusts the heat level automatically to reach your desired temperature while saving more on energy bills. Personalize your own comfort with the digital thermostat from 41 to 95 ℉, adjustable in 1℉ increments. Precise Heat, Precise Comfort.
If you’re going to be boondocking or if you’re going to be camping somewhere that doesn’t have an electrical hookup. What can you do? Remember that we are trying to combine different energy options to heat the pop up camper. This electric heater is a good choice if you are not going to be plugging and consuming current with other appliances plugged in at the same time.
This tiny little guy did it great keeping us warm inside the pop up camper. Of course, it is not needed to run the space heater all the time. Moreover, I encourage you to adjust the thermostat to between 50 and 55 in the winter.
For us, it kicks in when it starts to get frigid cold, and then it heats up this space very quickly because we have the whole inside of the pop up camper heavily insulated with all the tips I mentioned to you in the previous paragraphs, which keeps the heat stays inside very well.
So, there is no need for the heater to be running all the time. That’s why the thermostat is essential. We just set it between 50 and 55 F, so we don’t overheat ourselves and sweat. Between 50 and 55 really works for us, so finding that temperature that works for you is important to save energy while heating the pop up camper.
Let’s continue with more options for winterizing a pop-up camper. If you want to learn more about How to stay warm in a pop up camper during winter, we recommend you this article especially for pop-up trailers.
Propane-Fueled Furnaces and Propane Heaters
How to heat a pop-up camper without electricity: Propane-Fueled Furnaces and Propane Heaters. Our electricity is powered by both a generator. So, when we don’t have enough power for a space heater, we change to a propane heater.
We ended up getting a Mr. Heater Buddy heater, which is a portable propane heater, and found it worked wonders. For safety, I have found the Mr. Heater Buddy heater higher quality than similar propane heaters. For example, this heater detects low oxygen levels, loses pilot light, and shuts off automatically. Also, it is approved for use indoors and outdoors, with a clean-burning that facilitates the ventilation needed when using propane and is highly efficient.
- PORTABLE HEATER: Portable propane heater designed for emergency heat, tents, campers, job sites, porches, decks, garages, tailgates, barns, sheds, ice fishing, hunting blinds, and more
- HEAT SPACE: Perfect for heating enclosed spaces up to 225 square feet
- PROPANE GAS: For use with propane gas; Runs off a 1-pound cylinder of propane and can connect directly to a 20 pound cylinder with optional hose and filter
The most important difference between Propane-Fueled Furnaces and Propane Heaters options is that the furnace comes installed (not common) or must be installed. While there are many video tutorials on how to do it, I strongly believe that you should have the help of an expert to install it. Portable propane heaters such as the Mr. Heater buddy heater do not require installation and have safety features such as advanced systems. That is why a Portable propane heater is my recommended choice over propane furnaces.
It is essential that the heating system runs on propane and not choose butane-based systems. Butane will easily freeze when camping in cold regions. Propane, on the other hand, will not freeze and will give a higher BTU output than butane.
Be careful with propane. Make sure you follow the manufactures directions as far as our use and ventilation. Make sure you bring extra propane so you don’t run out.
They are really very effective and the energy conversion is very good, particularly in this model which has a Consumption/Burn Rate (Gal/Hr) at 4000 BTU which means it uses only 0.044 Gal/Hr, and at 9000 BTU it uses about 0.099 Gal/Hr/hr.
As I mentioned before, it is advisable to have different options to heat the pop up camper and not depend on a single type of energy when winterizing a camper. If our fuel reserve for the generator or the stored solar energy is in check, the propane heater can heat the camper in a short time and help us to spend a quiet night.
Recommended reading How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
Many pop-up campers have or have recently purchased propane-fueled furnaces. These tanks are usually around 20 gallons. However, depending on the size of your camper, they may be less. You might be able to get away with a larger propane tank if you have a larger vehicle but proceed with caution. The size of the tank should be proportional to the size of your vehicle. Overcrowding a small camper with a large tank might be disastrous.
Heating the Pop Up Camper Bunk Beds
When we think about how to heat a pop up camper we are also thinking about how to heat the bunk beds. Nothing worse than thinking about sleeping in the cold, right? So, a big part of keeping our camper warm is heating the bed.
Here I have several important and super effective tips that will allow you to sleep warm in your camper in winter.
- 12 V Electric Heated Blanket and Regular Blanket on the top or Comforter on the top
- 120 V Electric Heated Blanket
- Electric Mattress Pad
- Save Energy Tip – Rubber Hot Water Bottle with lids
- Save Energy Tip – Fleece bed sheets
- Save Energy Tip – Insulation between floor and mattress
12V Heated Blanket
Because of the small size of a pop up camper trailer, an electric blanket is going to give you a great night’s sleep when camping in the winter without the need for a heater or any extreme outdoor winter gear.
A 12V Heated Blanket is a great choice to keep you warm during the night. There are options with an auto-off timer recommended for a small space like a camper.
The 12-volt blanket is designed to sit on you or under you and then have a blanket laid over top of them to trap heat. So, the electric 12V blanket only works if you put a regular blanket (like a Sherpa fleece throw blanket) or a comforter over your electric blanket. The heated blanket suggested below also includes a timer for auto shut-off, which is recommended when trying to save energy in your RV.
- FAST HEATING: It can quickly rise the temperature while heating. Warm in an instant so you will stay warm on the coldest weather while driving. It is electrically-heated and plugs into your car's cigarette lighter socket.
- HEATING LEVELS: 3 levels of high/medium/low heat settings for additional heat and comfort.
- OVERHEATING PROTECTION: Equipped with thermostat to keep constant warmth and for overheating protection.
Can a 12-volt blanket heat a pop-up camper? Yes and no. When you have a small pop up camper halfway through the night any heat that ends up escaping out of your blanket quickly fills the cabin volume of air. So, you will notice when you wake up in the morning you’re not jumping from that cocoon of the warmth of the electric blanket into a cold room. Some warmth is effectively transferred from the bed to the room.
120 V Electric Heated Blanket vs 12 V Electric Heated Blanket
120 V Electric Heated Blanket. The following option I propose is not only useful for heating the bunks but also for when you sit outside the camper in the cold. It is an electric heated blanket with 120V AC with an auto-off timer and heating levels.
I recommend investing and looking for specific products like the ones I suggest below. And I’m going to explain why you should have an adjustable auto shut-off. Electric blankets of known brands only turn off after 8 hours and it is not possible to adjust them with a timer. But for a pop-up camper, 8 hours of a 120v electric blanket is too much. Too much energy is used and too much unneeded constant heat that will only make you end up in your underwear, sweating. That’s why it’s recommended that the electric blanket has adjustable heating levels and an adjustable auto shut-off timer that allows you to program only the couple of hours you may need while sleeping.
120V vs 12V Heated Blankets. 120V electrical blankets heat up faster and reach a higher temperature than 12V electric blankets. It is also advisable to place a regular blanket on top of the electric blanket to conserve heat and prevent heat dissipation to the environment.
Electric Mattress Pad
Quilted Electric Heated Mattress Pad. There are several Quilted Heated Mattress Pad options. This time we choose the Sunbeam brand, because it covers the mattress perfectly, because of the soft quilted fabric, and because of the temperature-regulating levels and the auto shut-off function.
The Electric Heated Mattress Pad is recommended for those campers who may be hooked up and are looking for more expensive and comfortable options. To use the Quilted Heated Mattress Pad you simply place it on the mattress and then place the sheets on top. The heat is quickly felt and we recommend placing it on a low-temperature setting because the heat builds up quite a bit inside the bunk. Otherwise, you will wake up in the middle of the night with terrible heat.
Save Energy Tips
Save Energy Tips. Using electrical blankets and heated mattress pads energy consumption is really very high. That is why I advise you to use different types of resources to heat the camper, including some options that will allow you to heat a pop up camper without using solar energy, fuel, or propane as I mention below.
Rubber Hot Water Bottle with Lids
Rubber Hot Water Bottle with Lids is my old-fashioned tip to save energy and heat the bunks for sleep. I would say that is an option for heating a pop up camper bunk without electricity: High-density rubber is used to make the bed’s hot water bottle. The thicker material will retain warm longer than the standard hot water bottle, is robust, safe to use, and ecologically friendly. It is a great option to keep your feet warm for 4-5 hours and save energy during the night.
Fleece Bed Sheets
Fleece bed sheets are my second tip to save energy in your travel trailer. Fleece bed sheets enhance comfort and keep you warm during winter. It is also another tool for keeping us warm during the night by using extra energy.
Insulation Between Floor and Mattress
Insulation Between Floor and Mattress. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, keeping the heat inside by insulating the heated interior from the outside is key to saving energy and maintaining a comfortable temperature inside the pop up camper trailer.
How to heat a pop up camper without electricity: Heating Rocks is my last tip for saving energy in your RV. Something we like to do when boondocking is to gather some rocks and heat them on the fire in a large pot. We then carry the pot with the hot rocks inside the camper and it keeps the environment warm enough to turn off the propane furnace at bedtime.
It is a good alternative for heating a camper without electricity. If you are interested in more alternatives to heat a camper without electricity, I recommend this article.
This allows us to supplement the heating inside the pop up camper when we are not connected to electricity. You just have to be careful that the pot can tolerate the weight of the rocks and has a handle to carry the pot with the hot rocks inside the camper. I used to do this as a kid when camping in a tent during the winter.
Solar Panels and Deep Cycle RV Batteries
Deep-cycle batteries driven by solar panels are essential for heating a camper without electricity. A solar battery charge controller can readily charge these batteries. This post is recommended if you want to understand how to charge a deep-cycle RV battery and get the most out of it. Charge A Deep Cycle Battery with a Solar Panel (DC Power)
Because not all deep-cycle batteries are suited for use in low temperatures during the winter, I recommend that you read this article on how to pick the best deep-cycle battery for your camper so that you don’t have difficulties with your battery and solar panel system during the winter. Best Deep Cycle Battery for Cold Weather in a Camper (LiFePO4 vs. AGM)
How To Stop Condensation In Pop Up Camper When Winterizing
After perfectly winterizing and heating the travel trailer, start the condensation problem. So, how do you stop and control the condensation inside the pop-up camper?
When winterizing and heating a pop-up camper, condensation is a problem. A Pop-Up Camper humidity is created when you boil water, make meals, take an indoor shower (if you’re lucky enough to have one), sweat, or breathe in your camper. This condenses into warm water vapor, which lands on your chilly parts. Let me give a few tips to avoid condensation when heating a pop-up camper.
Keeping the inside temperature just below the condensation level is ideal. When you combine different sources of energy, it is easy to avoid condensation. Maintaining the pop-up camper heater at a controlled temperature with a thermostat prevents condensation as well. Also, when cooking, it is recommended always to cook outside to prevent condensation inside.
Condensation is one of the most common problems associated with heating a pop-up camper. To stop and prevent condensation, make sure all of your vents are operating correctly, or at least you are removing insulation from the vents a few times every day. If you are heating your camper exclusively using propane, be sure not to cover any vents for safety reasons.
If your pop-up camper still has too much humidity, you may need to add some vent fans. Remember that high humidity promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Having these microorganisms in your camper may be both costly and dangerous. Make every effort to avoid mildew and mold.
Gadgets to Keep You Warm and Cozy in a Pop-Up Camper During Winter
How To Winterize A Pop-Up Camper. Lastly, a few gadgets for your RV during winter. None of these gadgets will help you heat a pop camper, but they will make your life more comfortable, especially when you are surrounded by snow.
Pop Up Camper Winterization
- RV step rugs are rug wraps around your existing RV step. Adding these is convenient to knock snow off shoes and keep the dirt out of the camper.
- Place a small tray inside the camper to stack wet shoes.
- A heavy comforter to go outside and sit down close to the fire.
Recommended article Hot Water Heater for Campers Heating Without Electricity
As you can see, there are numerous options to winterize and heat a pop-up camper without electricity but also by using propane, solar energy, a generator, auxiliary batteries, etc. Just be sure to be safe, insulate to keep the interior warm, and have safe energy. Heating a pop-up camper isn’t as complicated as many people think if adequately winterized. I hope my experience heating my pop-up trailer is helpful for you.