How To Heat a Camper Without Electricity – 12+ Things to Do

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Heating a camper without electricity is sometimes unavoidable. Campers need electricity for electric heaters. You can also count on other types of heaters that are still efficient but which can count for enhanced energy independence.

A camper needs to be properly insulated for it to have the best thermal protection. This is where you need to start. Once properly insulated, a camper can be heated with alternative methods and benefit from a range of products that are known for their warmth as follows.

How To Heat a Camper Without Electricity

How To Heat a Camper Without Electricity

Use an all over cover

You can add a camper cover that is windproof for snow defense. Walls and windows quickly get cold during the winter. These are made from metal and glass and have little to no insulation. This is why you need to cover these up as efficiently as possible so that you minimize heat loss.

Consider insulation first

You can add insulation to your camper. Insulating the camper is a must since heat can make its way outside quickly. You want to limit the amount of heat a camper loses by insulating its crucial areas. 

Fix or replace faulty seals

Seals often need to be replaced when they are aged. Faulty seals are some of the most problematic when it comes to trapping in heat. The seals around the door and windows can be cheaply replaced. These are known areas of heat loss.

Add a carpet

Carpets help insulate the camper’s floor. They have a minimum effect of trapping heat since heat rises to the upper part of the camper. However, they prevent you from walking on a cold floor which adds to personal comfort.

Multiple carpets might need to be added to areas of the camper that are too cold. You can add an extra carpet in front of the bed as well as in areas you tend to spend more time in, such as next to the table.

Use propane heaters

Propane heaters are some of the most efficient when it comes to campers. They work anywhere and they can even be used outdoors for evenings spent outside.

A small propane heater has a minimum 4.00BTU power output. 9.000BTU has represented a medium-sized propane heater capacity for campers. Large-capacity propane heaters that run between 18.000BTU to 40.000BTU are recommended for the largest campers, families, or for campers that aren’t properly insulated.

Use a pellet stove

Using a fire stove in a camper is new to many adventure seekers. However, stoves inside vans and campers aren’t new. The good news is small stoves have very high heat output even compared to propane heaters. 

Pellets are easy to store and easy to start a fire with. Small pellets stoves are among the ideal options for very high heat output in a camper, especially if you don’t travel with it frequently.

These types of stoves work similarly to wood stoves. However, they have a special pellets tray that allows you to travel with pellets bags instead of traveling with fire logs. Pellets are also a biodegradable fuel which makes this heating solution a bit more environmentally friendly. 

Use a wood stove

A classic stove running on wood is among the most serious alternatives to heating a camper with electric heaters. Wood is easily found everywhere and you can buy it as you needed it.

These stoves are among the preferred solutions for campers living in extreme cold. Those in the Northern states are among the campers that face the lowest temperatures and the ideal users of wood stoves.

Use warm cots

Warm bedding is a must when it comes to surviving cold weather. Warm bedding such as a camping cot can often make up small differences in temperature inside the camper as they keep your body warm even if the inside temperature of the recreational vehicle drops by a few degrees.

Be prepared with sleeping bags

Warm sleeping bags are the first choice when it comes to comfortable sleeping in the camper in the winter. Sleeping bags are made with different materials for different seasons. Make sure to choose the a sleeping bag that will cover your head. Having a dedicated wintertime sleeping bag is recommended.

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Stock up with proper linen

Warm linen or bedding made out of fleece or flannel is recommended during the winter when sleeping in the camper. You can also choose synthetic materials. However, natural materials such as wool and fleece are often the warmest for sleeping in a cold camper.

Thermal clothes

Thermal clothes or layered clothes are ideal for staying warm in the winter when the camper has no electricity. A base layer and a mid-layer are needed to stay comfortable and to have clothes to take off when you get too warm.

Park the camper in the sun

The sun is the main energy and heat source. You need to use it wisely to your advantage to rely as little as possible on heating sources.

The first thing to consider is parking the camper out in a sunny place. The location that gets direct sunlight all day is the best for warmth. Sun exposure alone is not sufficient for staying warm in the winter. 

However, daily direct sun exposure limits the amount of energy (electricity, wood, pellets, gas, etc.) you need to heat your camper during the day. The more sun exposure the camper has the less fuel you’ll need to stay warm.

Having sunlight also leads us to the next point.

Use solar panels

Solar panels can be combined with solar generators for power without the grid. They are an efficient method of getting some electricity to your camper without actually using electricity.

Solar panels use direct heat from the sun. They convert it into energy and store it in batteries. This energy is then used as electricity for the camper. While this represents the most expensive method of heating the camper, it’s a one-off investment that allows you to enjoy the warmth and even hot water without relying on an external power source.

The main condition for proper energy production is to have sufficient sunlight and good exposure for your camper. You will need to clear snow from the panels when living in the camper in the winter.

Takeaway

Heating a camper without electricity requires a degree of creativity. There’s no one single solution that works best for all campers. Small campers only need a small heater. Those living in campers need a more permanent solution such as solar panels or wood stoves.

However, campers that benefit from good insulation are generally easy to heat. You don’t need too many pieces of wood for a stove or too much gas for a propane heater to quickly heat up a camper.

Properly insulating the camper is mandatory regardless of the chosen heat source. Since electricity isn’t an option all heat loss will eventually mean you lose money. 

Gas, wood, or pellets have a fixed price. This price gets higher whenever the camper isn’t properly insulated. The energy needed to heat up the camper is higher the colder the weather.

This might mean campers need a backup heating source, especially when suffering from poor insulation. Getting proper warm bedding helps as well. 

Thick bedding specific for wintertime use provides instant warmth and comfort. This type of bedding can be used with propane heaters for the ultimate warmth and comfort. 

Additional tips such as adding a camper skirt for extra insulation help as well. It might also be worth parking the camper in a place that gets the most sunlight as this reduces the energy needed to heat up the camper during the day.

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