We’re guessing you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t tired of spending your evenings, nights and early mornings in a condensation-filled icebox. It’s an important question for us campervan and motorhome owners: how to keep our living space warm and dry. In fact, it’s a basic need.

For our own peace of mind, three things matter most when it comes to campervan or motorhome heating:

  • Safety
  • Efficiency
  • Reliability

Safety is the biggie; we all know the risks of heating small spaces. So, we need something that operates as ‘room-sealed’. This means no combustion gases enter our living space: they’re pumped harmlessly outside.

Efficiency and reliability matter too: the speedy spread of good, powerful heat whenever we want it, at the flick of a switch.

And there’s another consideration: cost. So, what do we do? We weigh up the odds.

The Quick Fix

For a quick, simple fix, we can go electric. The drawback here is the need for access to a mains supply; not an option if we’re in the back of beyond, as lots of us often are.

So, committed ’vanners and ’homers – those of us who like to wave civilization goodbye – should avoid mains-dependence. We need access to warmth when we’re seriously on the road; when mains power is way beyond our reach.

The Sensible Options

This leaves diesel and gas air heaters. Both give the freedom we crave; both are safe and highly efficient. Which is better? It all depends on us, our habits and our vehicles. Let’s take a look and find out why:

Diesel: There’s a larger up-front cost for these than for gas-fuelled heaters, but they are quieter (a bonus) and less than half the price to run (a huge bonus). Plus… you can use them while you’re on the move, by ducting them to your dashboard.

  • Pros: ideal for intrepid explorers. Ideal if you’re spending a lot of time in your vehicle, especially during winter.
  • Cons: Pricier than gas. Think hard if you’re only an occasional tripper, or travel mostly in summer.

Gas (LPG): When we first compare diesel and gas price-tags, our eyes light up at the sight of the gas ones. Yes, they are considerably cheaper…to buy. But, not so cheap to run if we’re in this game for the long haul. And LPG isn’t quite as readily available as diesel. Plus, very cold temperatures can cause problems with the butane/propane mix. And a larger gas bottle will probably be needed, to handle both heating and cooking. But don’t be put off – these heaters have their advantages, not least of which is the price.

  • Pros: just the thing if you’re a ’vanner or ’homer who doesn’t live on the road, but enjoys taking holiday trips. Smaller initial outlay.
  • Cons: Can be problems in very cold weather. Will probably need a larger gas cylinder.

What It All Comes Down To

So really, it comes down to one thing: how much time you spend travelling. If you’re a compulsive, all-weather enthusiast, go for diesel. If you’re a casual, fair-weather cruiser, consider LPG as an alternative. And drive safely, whichever way you go.

Article Brought To You By RV World

This article was written by Craig Hinton from RV World, suppliers of parts and accessories to New Zealand motorhome and caravan owners. RV World also do a comprehensive line in motorhome air heaters so Craig is a great person to talk to if you want to discuss your specific requirements.

RV World is the goto destination online for parts and accessories for RV’s, Caravans and Motorhomes. Through the winter months the issue of caravan heating is the number one question they field from customers all over New Zealand.

How To Heat Your Motorhome, 4.7 out of 5 based on 7 ratings


  1. Lee says:

    Thanks for the article. Heating our motorhome is on the list of things to sort out this winter. We tried using a household oil heater plugged into an inverter…but it drained our battery in one evening. Very helpful resource. Lee

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