The days are starting to get shorter and it’s almost time to start thinking about all the bonuses of RVing in Autumn - fewer insects, less crowded parks, and gorgeous Fall colors. With the advent of Autumn also comes cooler temperatures and the need to heat your RV, motorhome, or travel trailer. Whether you’re a year-round full-timer or a seasonal camper looking to extend your seasons by a few more trips, let’s take a look at some of the options available to cut the chill and keep you warm and cozy.
There are generally two main types of RV furnaces - a direct discharge furnace and a ducted furnace.
Direct discharge RV furnaces blow warmed air directly from the unit’s vented faceplate, making them an ideal choice for smaller, more compact rigs with less area to heat. These units are also more compact and lightweight, for those with space and load restrictions.
Ducted RV furnaces work much like the heating and cooling system in your sticks and bricks, blowing air through a series of vented ducts in your floor or ceiling. This allows for more uniform dispersion of heat over a larger area, which is preferable for larger coaches and travel trailers. The temperature of your rig can be more easily regulated and maintained with a ducted RV furnace system as it is controlled by an RV furnace thermostat. You also have to ability to open and close ducted vents to control which areas of the rig receive heat.
The most common heat source for RVs is propane-powered furnaces with electric heat coming in a close second. Boiler-type systems and heat strips can also be found but are much less common.
Propane-powered RV furnaces are easy, familiar, and convenient. Just simply set the knob of the unit’s thermostat to your desired temperature and relax while the clean-burning gas does the rest. Perfect for those living or staying off the grid, propane refills are readily available but can become costly in the colder months. While safe and effective, efficiency can be an issue with most propane furnaces only running at 70% efficiency.
If you’re a stationary camper or have a reliable source of shore power, an electric RV furnace may be the ideal choice for you and your rig. With a free (or included in rental price) source of power on hand, there is no need for time-consuming and inconvenient propane tank refills … and no need to ration or conserve heat when the tank is getting low! In comparison to their gas-powered counterparts, electric RV furnaces are all clean-burning and operate on peak efficiency.
RV hot water heat or boiler-type systems are by far the most complex option but the rewards can be great. These systems require a complete storage section as well as running water piping throughout the rig, making them out of reach as an aftermarket option for many For those lucky to have these systems already installed, hot water generated from your diesel engine while driving will heat the water throughout the RV. While parked, a diesel-powered "boiler" will do the work. These systems can be difficult and expensive to repair and maintain but they are known for providing an even, moist air heat.
RV heat strips are a great option for warmer climates or for those who just wish to take the chill out of the air. Heat strips are small electric coils that are placed in front of the fan blower of your rooftop air conditioning unit that will blow warm air out the rooftop AC ducts or the direct vent of the AC unit. Since heat rises and these units are placed on the ceiling, they are definitely not the most efficient model but can also be considered as a secondary heat source when your furnace just isn’t enough.
When you’re looking for a little extra heat source to cut the chill in living areas like the bedroom or living room, RV heaters are a great option. Generally quite inexpensive, electric RV box heaters are also small enough to be moved from room to room. These small, boxy models rely upon a ceramic heating element and a fan used to pump the heat outwards. Another electric option is the infrared or radiant electric heater. These heaters glow red while in use, emitting infrared heat absorbed by a body without significantly heating the surrounding air.
Whether to add ambiance or as an additional heat source, RV fireplaces make a great addition to your rig. Space will be your main concern but RV fireplace units are available in both hardwired and plug-and-play options depending on your needs.
Whether you’re looking for a new install, a replacement unit, or parts and accessories, RV Part Shop has everything you need to keep your rig toasty and warm this season. Furnaces, thermostats, vents, and more … RV Part Shop is here to help! Take advantage of our fast, free shipping* option to your home or directly to your RV site. Need help navigating our massive selection of items?