How to Choose a Motorhome Heater

how to heat motorhome

For those who like to road trip all year round, what could be more unpleasant than being awoken by the cold? During the winter and also certain spring nights it is necessary to heat the inside of the motorhome, or campervan so it doesn’t turn into an ice cube. So how does it work, what are the different motorhome heaters and how can you increase the temperature intelligently?

Before getting to the heart of the matter, know that there are only two types of motorhome heaters: forced air heater and central heater. But then why are we talking about diesel heaters and gas? Answer below ⤵

Forced air heater

It is the most popular heating system in motorhomes, you may be familiar with brands such as Truma or Webasto. Here the air is heated in contact with a burner, then it is diffused by a fan in a network of pipes opening out in several places, in particular through the air distribution vents. It’s a system that is easy to install and does not require special installation since it connects to your ventilation system. 

The forced air heater can operate on gas or fuel.

Central heating

To put it simply, you take the principle of central heating in your home and apply it to your motorhome. Here water is used to transport heat from one point to another, we also mention heat transfer fluid.

This makes it possible to have a constant temperature throughout the vehicle, better comfort and warm air that is not dry, however the heating time is longer than with forced air heating.

This heating system is generally used on "luxury" motorhomes or heavy goods vehicles. It typically requires professional installation (metal pipes for example) which increases the total weight of the vehicle, which can quickly become an issue for vehicles that weigh around 3.5T.

Here too the central heating is supplied either with gas or diesel.

Motorhome diesel heater

On a motohome diesel heater, the burner operates on fuel. Pretty easy to understand isn't it?

Heating with diesel fuel is quite rare in motorhomes, yet it has many benefits. It takes up less space, you only need to fill it up with gasoline to have heating, and it is not necessary to use adapters for gas bottles. Yes you have surely experienced it, all countries do not have the same connections, and it is sometimes a hassle to find a solution.

On the consumption side, on an old vehicle it is quite substantial, on a recent vehicle it is reasonable. To give you an idea, a week of skiing, with "normal" heating all day, will make you lose a little more than 1/4 of the tank.

Motorhome gas heater

It is much the same principle as a motorhome diesel heater, except that the burner is supplied with gas. With the pulsed system, the air is heated directly by the burner while with the central heating system it heats liquid instead of air.

Motorhome radiator or auxiliary heater

In fact, your standard motorhome heater is more than enough to maintain a temperature of 20°C, but when we are in the mountains or when we are connected to electricity, it is sometimes easier to plug in an auxiliary heater in the motorhome to quickly increase the temperature.

Warning by Casimir Ras on Facebook: be careful with the auxiliary heater, it may interfere with the triggering of the gas heater thermostat, which could prevent the tanks from being frost-free. This can be problematic especially if you are in the mountains in winter.

Price wise, they can usually be found between £40 and £50.

More details and advice

The greater the gap between the outside and the inside, the more the heating will consume. So if it's -10 ° C outside and you don't have too much heat inside, consider connecting to 220V or having a second gas cylinder. Watch the fuel or gas level, it would be silly to break down at 9pm. ⛄ Do not turn off the heating if you get out of your vehicle, but turn it down. It consumes less and if the temperature drops below 5°C inside, a safety mechanism engages, shutting off the water system. To save gas, we recommend that you switch to "heating + hot water" in the morning when you get up. This gives you time to wake up, take a shower and do the dishes, then switch to heating only the rest of the time and at night. Don't hesitate to reactivate the hot water in the evening for the shower and / or dishes.

What to remember about motorhome heaters?

In summary, they each have their own specificities, but do not cost the same price. It is therefore not surprising to find forced-air heating in more than 80% of vehicles on the market because it is less expensive and less restrictive to install. Conversely, you will find central heating on high-end models. Why? Because convectors, metal pipes and the whole system add to the bill as well as the weight.

The two systems are efficient since each vehicle being equipped goes from 0°C to 20°C in about 2 hours. So you can go enjoy the winter without freezing.

To finish, a quick point on the quality of the hot air released: with the forced air, the air will be dry and recycled, while with the central unit, the air not being blown, but retains a relative humidity.

Now that you know all about heating, head over to Yescapa to find a motorhome to hire or list your leisure vehicle for hire to start earning.

Joseph T

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