Travelling in cooler climates can bring lots of fun adventures, but it’s no fun if you don’t have a warm caravan to come home to at the end of the day. The good news is that caravan heaters are becoming more and more popular, which means there are more products on offer than ever before.
The question is, which caravan heater should you buy? Diesel or gas? Just a heater or a combined heater and hot water system? How much should you budget? And what features should you look out for? Find the answers in our caravan heater buyer’s guide:
Which Type Of Fuel Caravan Heater Should I Buy?
The most important question you need to ask yourself is what kind of fuel your caravan heater will run on.
You have 2 main options:
The difference between these types of caravan heater is more than just the fuel – it also affects the installation, efficiency, space required and, of course, the cost.
What temperatures do you expect on your trip?
How big is your vehicle?
What’s the space for installation?
Do you already have gas installed or a diesel fuel tank?
What’s your budget (including installation)?
Here’s our breakdown to help you work out the right one for you.
Buy A Gas Caravan Heater If:
You already have lots of gas appliances. That way, most of the gas infrastructure is already there.
You want a cheaper option.
You want your heater to run independently from the engine.
You want a quiet heater for a perfect night’s sleep. Gas heaters are very quiet to run!
Don’t Buy A Gas Heater If:
You don’t want the hassle of the gas regulatory requirements, or your caravan is not suited to the installation requirements. For example, the gas heater flue cannot be installed close to a window, door, or other gas appliance inlet or outlet, and so on.
You are regularly travelling to places where the temperature drips under 2 degrees. This can lead to the butane part of the liquid gas mix not vaporising well, so the heater will only burn Propane and you won’t be able to heat your caravan.
Gas Caravan Heaters We Recommend:
The highest rated recreational gas heater on the market is the Truma Vario Eco Gas heater. Super compact and lightweight, it’s ready to deliver warmth to your RV in the matter of minutes from initial start-up, which is ignited by a 12-volt ignition. Select multiple functions to suit your personalised requirements. For ease, you can control the unit using the 12-volt LCD control panel. There’s also a fully automatic thermostat with controlled shut down.
Are you replacing the old Truma E2400? If so, the Truma Vario Eco Gas Heater is the model for you.
Buy A Diesel Caravan Heater If:
You already have a diesel vehicle – the caravan heater gets the fuel directly from your vehicle’s tank. If you don’t have a diesel fuel tank, it can be a very costly option upfront.
You want a highly efficient option for heating. Diesel caravan heaters boast a very low rate of fuel consumption.
You don’t want to worry about humidity and condensation like you can get from gas heaters. Diesel heaters give a clean dry heat.
You need a flexible installation. Diesel caravan heaters offer greater flexibility for installation, because you need an exhaust that goes through the floor of the vehicle, rather than a flue through the wall. This doesn’t require a qualified tradie.
You want to pre-warm your caravan. There’s nothing better than arriving at camp and knowing your caravan is already warm! That’s possible with a diesel heater.
You’re not worried about cost upfront. Diesel heaters can be more expensive right off the bat BUT they can be a more economical option for larger vans in the long term.
Don’t Buy A Diesel Heater If:
You’re on a tight budget.
You’re worried about a noisy caravan heater keeping you awake – though, there are now some very quiet models on the market.
You don’t already have a diesel fuel tank, and don’t want to the added expense of buying one.
Diesel Caravan Heaters We Recommend:
The Eberspacher Airtronic AS2 has lots of benefits starting with optimised fuel efficiency, a range of operation modes and unsurpassed safety standards. You can easily program the heater to provide hot blown air until you reach the perfect level of warmth.
Another model we love is the Webasto 12V Diesel Heater. Available in 12V and 24V, the 2kW diesel fired Air Top heater operates quickly, powerfully and almost silently. It is highly economical in fuel and power consumption, while also dehumidifying for complete comfort.
Browse our full range of diesel caravan heaters.
Do I Need A Gas & Electric (240V) Heater?
This is where things get really convenient for travellers who are going off the beaten track. You can buy an electric add-on for your heater, like this e-kit booster for the Vario Heater.
The e-kit provides another 1800W to boost the gas heater so that you get warmer faster. This means you can use both gas AND electricity for a turbocharged heating result, or choose to use only gas or only electricity, when your gas is running low and you’re far from a fuel stop.
Should I Buy A Combined Heater & Hot Water System?
If you’re looking to save space, money and installation time, a combined heater and hot water system could be just what you need. This device will heat up your caravan water supply, as well as keep your caravan toasty when you need.
There’s a range of gas fuelled and diesel fuelled combi units to choose from, which are also compatible with 12V power.
Combi Heater & Hot Water Systems We Recommend:
Both of our top sellers in this category come from Truma. The Truma Combi Water & Air Heater is an intelligent dual-purpose device designed to provide uninterrupted heating and hot water. Powered by liquid gas and operating on 12 Volts, it can heat both air and water simultaneously and independently. The best part? It heats water in as little as 20 minutes, (90 minutes while the air heater is operational), with the additional ability to mix and heat water while you shower. Available in a 4000W unit and a 2000W unit.
For a diesel option, go for the Truma Combi D6. This is a simple and easy to use dual air/water heating system with low fuel consumption, lightweight design and generous 10-litre water tank. It’s one of the most efficient heating modules for your caravan on the market today.
Why Do I Need A Separate Air Conditioner & Heater?
You’re probably wondering why you can’t just switch on your reverse cycle air conditioner to heat your caravan. It’ll save you lots of money and hassle, right?
Actually, no. A separate heater is typically a better option if you’re planning some regular or long caravan trips.
First, a separate heater offers you a back-up heating solution in case your air conditioner breaks down. It’s also a good option if you won’t have a large or reliable mains power supply. Let’s say you’re heading off grid or are expecting weeks of bad weather that will restrict your solar and battery power.
Another reason to consider a separate heater is because an air conditioner is usually mounted high, which is not the ideal location for heating a caravan. Heat rises, so circulating hot air in your caravan can be a challenge.
Last but not least, reverse cycle air-con units lose efficiency and output power at lower temperatures. In fact, if you’re travelling through sub-zero alpine temperatures, this is a substantial drop. A caravan heater, on the other hand, is designed to deal with low temperatures.
What Accessories Should I Buy?
It depends on your installation requirements and individual preference, but there are some kits you can buy to make life easier.
What Are Some Pros & Cons Between The Different Brands?
There are lots of brands to choose from, including Truma, Eberspacher, Webasto and Autoterm. They all offer different innovative features at different price points, so it pays to do your research before you buy.
Truma is known for its brilliant combination of gas and electric caravan heater and hot water systems, which provide great flexibility on the road.
Eberspacher is the go-to brand for those brave enough to take on the alpine regions – their heaters can start heating from temperatures as cold as –46°C! The inclusion of an altitude sensor also optimises combustion to meet whatever altitude you are travelling in.
Autoterm is a top pick for safety and reliability. All Autoterm heaters are made to meet European UK standards, beause there are no current compliance requirements in Australia. There is also a global 2-year warranty and local support with access to a 24-hour help line.
For those on a tighter budget, Webasto heaters offer the perfect entry level solution. You get competitive pricing that doesn’t compromise on a good warranty – all units come with a 2-year local warranty supported by Webasto.
What Are The Important Tips & Tricks To Be Aware Of?
For gas powered heaters, ventilation is critical. By law, you are required to have your unit is installed and certified by a qualified, licensed gas fitter.
Ready to buy? Check out our caravan heaters now.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.