There may be times when you travel to places where electricity may be unavailable. Such a scenario is referred to as boondocking or dry camping. What do you do when you need to heat a camper, but there is no electricity?
If you find yourself in such a scenario, do not get overly worked out because there are many ways you can heat your camper without electricity. While a camper certainly offers impressive convenience and efficiency, sometimes, you may not have enough power.
It is essential to have a reliable source of energy as a backup that you can use during the winter season. Most of these power source are devices which include house batteries, portable heaters, solar heating boxes, heat pumps, and wood stoves.
These strategies may be combined to give you the most effective result to stay warm where there’s no electricity.
Below are some of the best alternative heating systems to keep you warm as you enjoy your camping expeditions.
Use radiant propane heaters
Radiant propane heaters are the best way to heat a camper without electricity. Catalytic or ceramic propane heaters deliver excellent backup heat for your camper. Over time, most people often use propane heaters as their source of heat.
Propane radiant heaters are noiseless, very affordable, and installation is quite straightforward. More importantly, they are safe for use.
These radiators are typically fitted with a cut-out mechanism to ensure oxygen levels don’t get below the normal range. That means you can still use a radiator with the windows closed.
And since it doesn’t emit any flame, you never have to worry about inhaling harmful gases. Propane heaters only provide heat and hence are safe to use. What’s more, propane heaters often take minimal space when compared to other heating systems.
Get a portable one so you can easily keep it away when not in use. This is important because you need to ensure you have enough working space in the camper. Alternatively, you can install a propane heater as your permanent heating option provided it has air vents.
Radiant heaters often use less propane, and hence they make economic sense than traditional heating systems. In fact, this is the reason why most people prefer installing radiator heaters in their campers.
Another excellent power source to heat your camper without electricity is the use of kerosene heaters. Not only are they cheap to operate, but they tend to heat up faster. Camping enthusiasts use kerosene heaters to warm their campers.
Nonetheless, when kerosene heaters are burning, they release oil-like soot that can damage your electrical appliances, especially if your camper has a small living area.
Kerosene has a strong smell when burnt, and this is something you don’t want in your camper.
When burning fuel, kerosene heaters deplete oxygen from the camper. It is, therefore, essential to pay close attention because this is dangerous in small camper quarters. When using kerosene heaters, ensure you leave your windows open.
Remember that any type of flame in your camper poses dangerous fire hazards as there are many flammable materials in the vicinity.
You can use solar heaters to charge your batteries. Solar panels can help to keep the power and lights on, which is important if you are camping off-grid. They also provide free power since you don’t have to pay anything after the setup.
Fortunately, it’s easy today just to buy a solar-powered heater. Essentially, solar-powered heaters come with a solar panel to power your heater via direct sunlight. And similar to other solar panels, you never have to worry about running out of power provided there is enough sunlight.
Solar panels hence offer you unlimited power you can depend on during winter. And since they don’t require an extra power source, they are quite easy to install. They are an excellent option for camping enthusiasts, and the good thing is that you can install them anywhere in your camper.
Solar heaters, therefore, provide that extra heat, and they act as an excellent heat backup when camping off-grid.
Hydronic Heating Systems
Instead of using the standard propane heating system, you can opt to use hydronic heating systems. They provide hot water instantly for common uses like showering and cleaning.
Hydronic heating systems are convenient to use, and this makes them a popular choice. However, they require a rehaul from time to time, which can be expensive. Besides their high installation price, hydronic boilers take minimal space in your camper.
These boiler systems are popular for their efficiency. Additionally, they give you the freedom to heat multiple zones. The boiler system automatically heats your camper when it detects low temperatures in the camper.
Thereafter, they evenly distribute warm air throughout the camper from the walls to the floors.
If you have bought an RV, then you should consider installing a hydronic heater. But if you are content with the existing heating set up, there’s no need to remove it.
You can install a mini wood stove that is ideal for long RVs. You can floor mount or wall mount one depending on your preference. The smoke usually exits through the vents in the living area.
A wood stove helps to heat up the camper quickly, and you can use it as cooking fuel as well. They are an excellent energy saver for campers, and you can use them to heat water for cleaning and washing. Furthermore, they offer a beautiful glow and act as an attractive focal point.
They are durable to use, and they help to eliminate humidity from the camper. And similar to any heating installation, you need to pay proper attention to prevent fire hazards. Also, ensure you open the windows for proper ventilation.
Wood stoves are eco-friendly, and they take minimal space. In addition to having low maintenance, they provide reliable heat even after you have put out the burner. But since you need plenty of wood, you need to ensure your camper has enough storage space.
Remember that you can’t heat up the camper if it’s not well insulated. Proper insulation is important because most campers usually have unreliable heat retention.
Therefore, if you want to ensure your camper has better heat retention to keep you warm longer, consider insulating the windows that are not in use.
Use your RVs internal heater
You should only use this method only in an emergency. So, you can’t rely on this method to heat your RV long-term. Follow the steps below when you don’t have other options to heat the camper.
- Start the RV as you prepare to retire to bed
- Crank the heater up
- Allow it to run for about 10 minutes until your RV is toasty
- When warm, power off the RV
This heat should keep you warm in the camper until morning. While this method usually works well most of the time, you should ensure your RV is properly insulated.
Also, consider your RV fuel level during idling. As mentioned earlier, while this technique is convenient, you can’t rely on it.
For starters, if you want to warm your RV using its heater, you first need to power on the engine. And of course, this burns fuel. If you are worried about freezing, you should first check the fuel level on your RV to avoid accidentally getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Buy a portable heater
You can buy a portable heater that either runs on propane and gas. This is an excellent way to stay warm inside your RV when it’s freezing cold. What’s more, this is a long-term fix, and you can use it as back up.
You can also use it as your everyday source of heat when appropriately used.
Another good thing about portable heaters is that they give you value for money. Additionally, they provide a decent amount of heat, and you can place them anywhere inside the RV.
Most portable heaters are either powered by butane or propane. They use the small green canisters you would find in a camping stove.
Install a mounted furnace
A mounted furnace is not only efficient but is also the most powerful and convenient option to keep you warm during winter. Therefore, if you use gas for cooking, then a furnace will complement your existing system.
You can install furnaces such as Espar as they can plumb directly into the RVs diesel tank. Mounted furnaces are designed to provide warmth and comfort during winter.
If you plan to travel to places with unforgiving cold conditions, you should install a mounted furnace, and you’ll never have to worry about freezing or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Trap heat inside the camper
All the heat you generate in the camper won’t stay longer when you haven’t insulated your camper adequately. Therefore, proper insulation is essential to ensure you keep your camper warm throughout.
Additionally, proper insulation will keep you warmer when it’s cold and keep you cooler during summer.
For that reason, if your RV isn’t properly insulated, then you have a problem. You may have to remove the walls altogether and then re-insulate them accordingly.
The hot bottle technique
You can use this excellent heating alternative to keep you warm. Here are steps to follow;
- Fill a water bottle with hot water.
- When the bottle becomes too hot, place a cloth or sock to prevent it from burning your hand.
- The bottle will act as a sleeping bag heater and should keep you warm the entire night.
Here’s a video to get you started.
If you follow these tips and suggestions, you can find the best heating option to keep you warm during winter. A camper provides you with flexibility, and that means you can even keep a power backup for heating that you can use off-grid.