Best RV Propane Heaters for Large and Small Spaces [2019]

  • How We Decided

    13 products considered

    • 1,500+ reviews analysed, 19 research hours spent, 10+ info. sources referred



Colder climates or winter camping is much easier when you have an RV propane heater to keep you warm.

There are different kinds on the market making it more difficult to find the best RV propane heater available, but this guide will help you make a more informed purchase decision.

An Overview of RV Heaters

As it sounds, an RV heater is a heating unit that is meant to warm up the interior of your RV. It uses a centralized heating system like propane or electric to create and disperse warm air throughout the space.

In the case of propane RV heaters, there are usually vents and ducts that need to be placed in your camper so there are no fumes from the gas to endanger you and your loved ones.

There are some RV heaters that don’t require venting, but every heater is unique and will work in a specific way. This is why it’s important to compare and contrast different products before settling on one to purchase.

Comparison Table: RV Propane Heaters

Here is a quick comparison table of the top RV propane heaters in the market today –

Product Capacity (BTU) Space Heated (Sq ft) Price

Mr. Heater F23200 MH9BX Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater

Best Overall

4,000 - 9,000 BTU 225 sq ft Check Price

Mr. Heater MH18B Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater

Best for Large Space

4,000 - 18,000 BTU 450 sq ft Check Price

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave 8 Propane Gas Heater

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave-8 8000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

4,200 - 8,000 BTU 230 sq ft Check Price

Camco Olympian Wave 6 Catalytic Heater

Camco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

3,200 - ,6000 BTU 200 sq ft Check Price

Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

Best for Small Spaces

3,800 BTU 95 sq ft Check Price

Camco Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic Heater

Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

1,600 - 3,000 BTU 100 sq ft Check Price

Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater

6,000-12,000 BTU 300 sq ft Check Price

Reviews of the Best Propane Heaters

Want to know more about our top picks? here are quick reviews –

Mr. Heater F23200 MH9BX Portable Radiant Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater

Here is a good propane heater from America’s number one heater brand, Mr. Heater. It is lightweight, compact, energy-efficient and portable.

As for the heating capacity, the device can easily warm up about 225 square feet of enclosed space to keep you warm and comfortable in those chilly winter nights.

There is a control knob you can fine-tune to set the heat level as you please and a swivel regulator that enables you to connect it to a remote gas supply, provided you have a hose and filter.

It also has a fold-down handle that makes the unit very easy to move about.

Other nice features include the ultra-sensitive oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and the auto shut-off system, allowing you to safely and comfortably enjoy good indoor heat when you are out exploring the outdoors.

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater

PROS:

  • Quickly heats up enclosed space
  • Portable
  • Has an automatic shut-off safety feature
  • Makes little to no noise or vibration
  • Takes up little space

CONS:

  • Some customers complained that it uses up propane quickly

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Mr. Heater MH18B Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater was launched in the year 1984. The America’s most popular heater brand offers an extensive line of top-grade, innovative heating products for outdoor lovers all around the world.

The MH18B is one of the most recommended propane heaters available in the market. It is lightweight, portable and highly fuel-efficient, making it an ideal choice for heating up your motorhome indoor space.

Using between 4000 and 18000 BTU, this device can quickly heat up close to 450 sq ft of space, which is quite impressive for such a compact RV heating system.

The heater comes with an integrated fan that takes the heating capacity to a higher level, combining conventional and radiant style heat to give RVers the best of both worlds.

There is also an adjustable control knob for fine-tuning the temperature as you deem fit – whether low, medium or high.

One good thing about this unit is the accidental tip-over safety feature that automatically turns off the device to ensure you are safe and comfortable while enjoying what you love – the great outdoors.

Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater

PROS:

  • Good build quality
  • Easy to move about (portable)
  • Effectively generates and distributes heat
  • The automatic shut-off safety feature
  • Does not takes up much space

CONS:

  • Cannot be used in very high altitudes
  • Reviewers complained that the built-in fan dies off after some time

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

The MH4B is the last in the line of indoor-safe propane RV heater from Mr. Heater. It has the ability to heat up to 95 square feet of space in minutes, an impressive result for a very compact heating device.

The model comes with a simple on/off button and a super-sensitive sensor that is handy in low-oxygen environments.

The heater uses a 1-lb disposable propane cylinder, which is small but spacious enough to enable you to heat up your motorhome for a long while.

In addition, it is equipped with an accidental automatic shut-off switch that helps shut down the device to ensure RVers’ safety.

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

PROS:

  • Not difficult to start
  • Compact
  • Easy to move around
  • It has an auto shut-off feature
  • Not noisy

CONS:

  • No adjustable dial

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave 8 Propane Gas Catalytic Heater

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave-8 8000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, Camco is among the reputable manufacturers of RV accessories around. The company has a wide range of products, including boilers, antifreeze, covers, etc.

Camco Olympian is also a good propane-powered heater for keeping the indoor of your motorhome warm, cozy and comfortable.

This device heats up the RV really quick, warming up 290 square feet of enclosed space in a matter of minutes.

It comes in a fan-free design which helps ensure silent operation at all times – no clattering or noise whatsoever.

One of its most impressive features is the safety valve that helps shut off the device automatically in cases of accidental, non-ignition fuel discharge.

What’s more, the portable heater is rated to be 96-percent efficient, making it a good source of safe, low-cost heat for recreational vehicles.

Camco 57351 Olympian Wave-8 8000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

PROS:

  • Heats up very fast
  • Easy to move about
  • Comes with an auto shut-off safety valve
  • Not noisy

CONS:

  • It has no thermostatic control

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Camco Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic Heater

Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

This propane-powered RV heater is also produced by Camco. It boasts an impressive heating capacity, throwing out heat to enclosed space up to 130 sq feet within minutes.

As with the model described above, this one also comes with an auto safety shut-off valve that forestalls fire accidents.

The valve does this by preventing the non-ignition seeping of fuel from the canister, keeping you safe all the time.

One thing buyers would appreciate about this heater is the ability to adjust the heat setting to a temperature they think it’s right for them.

Also, the heater features a built-in electric sparker that can last for as many as 2000 ignitions and comes in a fan-less design which helps ensure quiet, noise-free operation.

The device is very fuel-efficient, compact, versatile and comfortable, whether you leave it standing or mount it to a wall.

Best of all, it is backed with a worry-free warranty of one year, showing the confidence the brand has in the product.

Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

PROS:

  • Compact
  • Easy to start
  • Safety shut-off valve
  • Operates quietly

CONS:

  • It may not work in high elevations
  • A few reviewers complained that the pre-drilled holes don’t fit

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Camco Olympian Wave 6 Catalytic Heater

Camco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

The Camco Olympian wave-6 catalytic heater is an option you may want to consider if you are looking for an RV heating device that is power-and-fuel efficient.

This portable unit is good as a primary or secondary heating source, capable of warming up of 230 sq ft of space within a few minutes.

One of its most important features is the safety shut-off valve that helps prevent the discharge of fuel accidentally.

The device uses an automatic electric sparker touted to last for 20000 starts and a large control knob for adjusting the heat to what you think is right for you.

Like other Camco’s propane heaters, this one is a good choice for those looking for a propane heater that is as silent as the night.

Camco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

PROS:

  • Easy to start
  • Compact design
  • Produces little to no noise
  • Comes with a shut-off valve for safety

CONS:

  • Pricey
  • The pre-drilled holes may not match

Check Reviews & Price on Amazon

Factors to Look for in RV Propane Heaters

rv propane heater

There are always specific features you want your RV propane heater to have or certain factors you need to look at when comparing them. This includes efficiency, size, price, and safety features among other things.

With so many types of heaters available, it can be hard to figure out which one is the better product to buy.

By comparing the various features of each product and determining which one appears to be the better value, you can slowly narrow down your options before finalizing your purchase decision.

Some of these might come down to your personal preferences, but there are other factors that can really separate the high-quality items from the cheap poorly made ones.

Maintenance

Some heaters are easier to maintain than others. This is especially true when it comes to propane heaters. These types of heaters need proper cleanings and some may require more frequent cleaning than others.

If this is something you’d like to keep to a minimum, look for heaters that state they require less maintenance or compare the care instructions and pick the product with the easier maintenance instructions.

Efficiency

If you’re buying an RV propane heater, you obviously want to make sure that it will do its job and heat up the inside of your camper properly without wasting too much propane.

The best way to tell if a heater is efficient enough is to check the stated BTU (British Thermal Unit) of the heater. This measurement will tell you how large an area the heater can warm up.

For example, a propane heater that says it is 7,000 BTUs will heat up a space of 300 square feet efficiently.

Similarly, you’ll want to read up on how quickly the heater will warm the space and if it can maintain a specific temperature for a given period of time.

This is something that you’ll have to read about on each product’s individual description or by reading through customer reviews.

You’ll notice that some heaters are better for maintaining temperatures but aren’t good for warming up cold areas while others are great for warming up your space but shut off frequently making it hard to maintain warm temperatures.

Here, consider your personal needs and preferences and weed out the RV propane heaters that don’t fit your standards.

Durability

Since you’re in an RV and everything in it is jostled around to some degree at all times, you’ll want a propane heater that is durable enough to withstand life on the road. Look for heaters that won’t topple over at any given time.

More so, if they do take a spill, you’ll want to make sure that the heater is durable enough to keep working after the fact.

If you settle on a poorly made product because it’s cheaper you’ll likely find that it isn’t durable.

These are the kinds of heaters that will likely break quickly after frequent use or those that won’t be able to withstand the rugged camping lifestyle you expect it to.

Safety Features

Any kind of space heater needs to be safe enough for you to use frequently and in small areas like the inside of your RV.

Most quality RV heaters will have safety features built into them for your protection. Some safety features to look for are:

  • Automatic shutdown function
  • Automatic fuel valve closing
  • Built-in CO and/or CO2 sensors

These features, as well as others, are available on most mainstream heaters. If you see that a product you’re looking at doesn’t have these or any other type of safety feature, consider choosing something that will keep you and your loved ones safe.

Fuel Consumption

Since RV propane heaters use propane as a means of fuel, you’ll want to make sure that you choose a heater that won’t require large amounts of propane to work properly.

Here, you have to balance how much fuel you’re willing to use for your heater and how long that fuel will last.

For example, you have to determine how much fuel it takes to continuously run your heater and then determine if that is something you’re willing to deal with.

You don’t want to run out of propane because your heater eats too much of it and you also don’t want to get something that is so small that it’s essentially useless.

Price

When buying anything, you have to keep your own budget in mind. RV propane heaters are available in a wide price range that varies on the size of the unit, the brand name, and the overall quality.

Also, the more features the heater has the higher the price tends to be. A good heater can cost anywhere from $100 to as much as $1,000.

All in all, make sure that you’re getting all of the features you want for a price that fits into your budget. Remember, you get what you pay for and most of the time those affordable prices come at the sacrifice of quality or safety.

Check customer reviews to make sure that you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

General Tips for Buying Space Heaters

There are some other tips to keep in mind when buying any type of space heater for your RV or even your home.

These include what kind to purchase, what features to look for, and precautions to take before choosing a product.

These tips include:

  • Purchase newer models that meet the current safety standards
  • Look for heaters with the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) label or stamp
  • Get a heater with thermostat-controlled heat to save fuel
  • Get the right size for your space; avoid oversized heaters for your RV
  • Set it up on a level surface where it won’t be in the way

Optional features to look for in any kind of space heater are:

  • A thermostat to set your desired temperature
  • A timer so you can run the heater only when you want to
  • Remote control for easier use (avoid bending over or getting up often)
  • A handle to move the heater around a little easier

These are optional features that you don’t necessarily need but they can make things a little more convenient.

Benefits of a Propane Heater in an RV

Benefits of a Propane Heater in an RV

The main benefit of an RV propane heater is its ability to heat an interior space efficiently. The heater will keep you and your family warm while camping in colder climates or during the winter months.

Some other benefits of a propane heater in an RV are:

Increased use of your RV

By giving you more heat in colder weather, you don’t have to stop using your RV when the temperatures start falling. You can also travel to more places instead of limiting yourself to warm destinations.

Appliance Maintenance

Keeping the interior of your RV warm helps your appliances stay in better condition as cold temperatures can cause them to deteriorate quicker.

Easy Setup

Most propane heaters require no plumbing or similarly complex installations.

No Costly Maintenance

the only cost that is involved with these heaters is refilling the propane tank. There is no need to pay for annual service or similar maintenance.

Portability

Most heaters are easy to move around with your RV. Even those that need to be hooked up to your propane piping are easy to disconnect and reconnect to move the heater around.

Directionality

Most of these heaters radiate heat from the front face of the unit. This means you’re able to point the heater in a specific direction to heat up one area.

For example, if you and your family are sitting in one area of your RV you can aim your heater in that area for direct warmth instead of waiting to heat up the whole area.

No Electricity Needed

Since these heaters are propane-based, there is little to no electricity used to power them. This means you can use them even when you’re at a site with no electrical hookups and you don’t want to use your generator too much.

Quieter than other heaters: propane heaters tend to be quieter than other heaters because they use radiant heat instead of a fan to blow out the hot air.

In general, these heaters only emit a faint hissing sound instead of a constant blowing sound.

Limitations of Propane Heaters in RVs

Limitations of Propane Heaters in RVs

While propane heaters are great, there are some limitations of propane heaters in RVs. This includes the high cost in comparison to electric heaters, the installation process, and safety concerns among other things.

Some of the common limitations of propane heaters in RVs are:

More Expensive

Propane heaters are comparatively more expensive than electric RV heaters.

Installation Requirements

Most RV propane heaters need to be connected to your existing propane supply. This requires plumbing knowledge or a professional’s help.

There are, however, some smaller heaters that don’t require installation as they have disposable 1-pound tanks.

Bigger than Others

These heaters are usually bigger than the standard electric heaters but there are compact sizes that are great for smaller RVs.

Try to find a size that is suitable for your RV as bigger heaters are a waste of fuel for smaller campers.

Altitude Concerns

Some propane heaters have oxygen depletion sensors which stop the heaters from working at higher altitudes. These usually can’t be used above 5,000 feet. However, there are some that can be used up to 12,000 feet.

Safety Issues

RV propane heaters pose some dangers if they aren’t properly used and cared for. You have to make sure that there are no leaks in hoses and connections as this can be a fire hazard.

Improper ventilation may also cause safety concerns due to the propane fumes.

However, a lot of these issues can be avoided or at least their risk will be lower if you have a mounted heater in your RV wall or if you buy a heater with safety parameters like tip-over shutoffs and similar features.

To find out more about the Disadvantages as well as the Advantages of RV Propane Heaters, check out this Video :

Are Propane Heaters Safe?

In general, propane heaters are safe as long as you use them properly, install them correctly (if required), and care for them. There are safety measures that you can take and things you can look out for to make sure that you’re always protected when using your RV propane heater.

When handling propane heaters, you always need to take the proper precautions. For example, you don’t want to jostle around your propane tank too much or place your heater on an uneven surface.

Similarly, always check your hoses and connections for cracks, crimps, and leaks to prevent any safety issues.

Another precaution to take to maintain your safety is installing a carbon monoxide detector in your RV. This can help detect severe leaks that you might not have noticed.

On the same note, propane doesn’t naturally have a smell but Ethyl Mercaptan is added to the fuel for its smell so you can detect leaks simply by smelling them.

If you do notice a smell, turn off your propane supply as well as your heater and fix any issues before they cause safety problems.

To make you feel better protected, RV propane heaters may have manual shut-off valves for emergencies, too.

You may also need to vent your heater properly if you don’t have a ventless propane heater. This prevents fumes from building up in your camper.

Again, a carbon monoxide detector can help you here by warning you about the issue before it gets too severe.

To avoid this completely, you can find ventless propane heaters that are made to meet strict safety guidelines and are regulated by a governing body to ensure their safety.

These heaters don’t require any ventilation despite being propane-based.

Here are quick safety features and tips for your propane heaters –

Propane vs Electric: What’s Better?

Propane vs Electric What’s Better

Besides the different power sources, there are other notable differences between propane and electric heaters. However, when it comes to which one is “better,” it’s more of a personal choice that fully depends on what you’d rather work with and what fits your needs and preferences.

Propane Heaters

Propane heaters run on propane that is combusted within the heater from a pilot light or electric start to create heat that flows through the heat exchange chamber.

From there, the hot air that’s created is blown out and warms the air to raise the interior temperature of the RV.

They heat up your RV efficiently and don’t emit harmful greenhouse gases like other natural gas heaters.

You can find larger heaters that need to be installed and integrated into your RV’s furnace system or you can use portable RV propane heaters that don’t require installation but won’t heat larger areas.

These heaters are also more expensive than electric heaters (especially if they need to be installed with duct worth) when you initially buy them, but they’re actually cheaper to maintain over time.

The only ongoing expense is the propane.

The only other disadvantage of propane heaters is if there are any leaks in the hoses or connections. If there are leaks, gas can escape and pose some safety concerns including fires.

Electric Heaters

An electric heater converts electricity to heat that is then passed through to the blower to warm up the air inside your RV.

There is no need for anything other than electricity to power this heater making it more convenient as long as you have access to electrical power.

There are no byproducts like gas heaters so you don’t have to worry about fumes. This means you don’t have to worry about ducts or vents.

While this is great, it also means that the heat is dispersed slower with these heaters. To speed this up, most electric heaters use fans to spread the warm air faster.

This makes them louder than propane heaters as the fan makes audible noise that is more than the hiss of propane heaters.

Electric heaters are more at risk for falling over as they’re lighter than propane heaters. This is a problem because there is a potential that a tipped over space heater can cause a fire.

Another disadvantage is that they can use a lot of power which can cost you more money in the long run than propane refills will cost.

All in all, when choosing between an RV propane heater and an electric heater you have to think about your own circumstances.

If you’re looking to save money in the long run and don’t mind putting out more money upfront, a propane heater is the better choice.

Similarly, propane heaters might be the better option if you don’t want to (or can’t) rely on electricity while you’re camping. Consider all of your personal needs and preferences and see which heater lines up better with them.

Do Propane Heaters Need to be Vented?

This depends on the type of RV propane heater you buy. There are ventless propane heaters available that don’t need to be vented. However, there are propane heaters that can require proper ventilation or that may call for a full duct and vent installation.

If you have a heater that needs to be integrated into your RV’s existing propane system, they’ll need to be properly vented through a system of ducts and vents.

For those of you with knowledge of plumbing, you can do this yourself but in most cases, it’s best to consult a professional.

Other heaters will just require you to keep a window open a crack for proper ventilation.

Installation Steps

Installation Steps

When installing your propane heater, follow the instructions that came with your specific product. Every heater is different and will have its own installation process.

For some, it might be as simple as connecting one hose to a propane tank and turning it on but others may require more work.

Broadly speaking, you’ll have to start by finding an available propane supply line that is close to the place you’re setting up your heater.

Make sure your propane system is off and connect your connection hose to your propane system. This might require you to cut into the line and installing a T connection with wrenches.

Make sure all fittings are secure (test for leaks at this time). Once everything is checked, fire up the heater with the pilot light or electric start to make sure it’s working.

Note that some heaters may require more ducts and vents for proper ventilation. This will require more work or a professional’s help.

There may be some smaller heaters that require a single connection to their own small propane tank with no other installation steps.

Finally, some heaters may need to be mounted to your RV’s wall. Here, you’ll need to drill holes into the selected location and fit the heater into the area following the individual heater’s directions.

For a better idea on How to install an RV Propane Heater, check out this Video :

FAQ’s

While it’s impossible to anticipate everyone’s remaining questions, some inquiries about the top heater brands, the various sizes available, safety tips, and other common concerns that are frequently asked have been answered here in an attempt to clear up any lingering thoughts you might have about RV propane heaters.

What are Some Common Heater Brands?

Some common heater brands are Mr. Heater, Camco, DeLonghi, Holmes, Honeywell, Lasko, Bionaire, Crane, Dyson, Heat Storm, and Vornado. There are other brands, but these are the top names that frequently come up when searching for RV propane heaters.

How do I Choose the Right Size Heater?

This depends on the size of the area you’re looking to heat. Every heater will state a square foot range that it can heat efficiently. Use these as a guide and get the size that best fits your needs.

More specifically, if you have a large motor home that you’re looking to heat completely, you’ll need one of the larger propane heaters.

However, if you’re only looking to heat up a small space, like where you sleep or where you eat, you can get away with a smaller sized space heater.

What are some Additional Safety Tips for RV Heaters?

For your safety, install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector. Also, be sure to turn off heaters when they’re not needed and keep flammable items away from the unit. That includes furniture, drapery, papers, and electronics. Finally, always follow the given instructions and use common sense when using your heater.

Do RV Propane Heaters Require any Electricity?

There are some propane heaters that do require electricity. Some use electric starts instead of pilot lights while others that use ducts and vents require (minimal) electricity to properly run. Usually, a 12-volt DC connection is required for those types of heaters.

Are there other Options Besides RV Propane Heaters and Electric Heaters?

Besides propane and electric heaters, there are natural gas heaters. These run on gas other than propane but work in a similar way through combustion. There are also oil-filled heaters that heat up your camper that way.

With all of this information, you have everything you need to shop for an RV propane heater of your own. Compare your options and consult consumer reviews so you can use that information as well as the information here to make an informed purchase decision that best suits you and your RV needs.

Final Word

If you camp in cold climates, RV propane heater is a good option for you to heat the interiors of your RV. It is an efficient and cost-effective method.

It is important to buy the right RV propane heater from hundreds of available model. We have tried to make your work easier by shortlisting some great ones.

Here is the list of our top picks for propane heaters for RV again for you. Check out the specs, reviews, price and offers on Amazon –

Last update on 2019-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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