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A Heated Debate: What’s the Best Caravan Heater?

So What’s the Best Caravan Heater?

Travelling in colder climates? You don’t want to set off only to find that your caravan heater doesn’t keep you warm when the temperature drops.

That’s why you need to make sure you buy the best caravan heater on the market.

The good news is there are lots of great models to choose from, with lots of innovations to make your trip more comfortable. The bad news is you still have to narrow down the choices to decide which one is right for you.

In this article, we compare the top caravan heaters and the brands you should consider.

Gas vs Diesel Caravan Heater:

Depending on the type of fuel, you have a few different caravan heaters to choose from.

The main types of caravan heaters are Gas Caravan Heaters and Diesel Caravan Heaters.

Take a look at how they compare:

Gas Caravan Heaters:

Gas heaters connect straight to your gas bottle, which has the advantage of running independently from the engine and providing an economical heat source. Granted, old gas caravan heaters have a bad reputation for guzzling gas and being expensive to run. But technology has come a long way and the modern units offer a higher level of efficiency and low power consumption.

How efficient are we talking? Gas caravan heaters can generally heat an average caravan in just 30 minutes.

You can also look for models with lower exhaust emissions, if you’re worried about your carbon footprint. This makes them kinder for the environment and quieter too – a big bonus for travellers. 

Whichever model you buy, ventilation is critical. Ensure your unit is installed and certified by a qualified, licensed gas fitter.

Pros Of Gas Caravan Heaters:
  • Gas setup is ready. If you have a gas cooker, water heater and even a three-way fridge, the gas is already installed and ready for the heater.
  • Runs independently from the engine. A gas heater runs off a gas bottle directly.
  • Super quiet. The only part that makes a noise is the fan. Some heaters, like the Truma Vario Eco Gas Heater, offer near silent operation so you can run it through the night without disturbing your sleep.
  • Cheaper than diesel. They are cheaper upfront.

Cons Of Gas Caravan Heaters:
  • Regulations. Gas heaters must be installed by a licensed gas fitter in accordance to gas regulations – this is a big downside and may rule out a gas heater for your van. A gas heater flue cannot be installed too close to a door, window, another gas appliance inlet or outlet, and so on. However, if space is an issue, Truma offers compact gas heaters that can be installed almost anywhere.
  • Higher demand on gas supply. Putting more demand on your gas supply could be an issue if you’re in the bush with limited gas refill options.

Diesel Caravan Heaters:

Diesel caravan heaters are designed in two parts – the fuel tank, exhaust and air intake are mounted externally, then, you can have one, two or three air outlets inside the caravan for heating.

Alternatively, you can choose to tap into the fuel line of your diesel-powered motorhome for the heater.

The downside of this is that it can be costly upfront. But in the long term, it could be the economical option for your caravan, especially if it’s on the larger side and you plan on spending lots of time in cooler climates.

Pro tip: if you are looking for a budget diesel heater, we recommend these units:

 
Pros Of Diesel Caravan Heaters:
  • Readily available fuel source, if you already have a diesel vehicle. The heater can access fuel directly from the vehicle’s tank.
  • Extremely efficient. Caravan diesel heaters are a highly efficient form of heating with low fuel consumption.
  • Installation is flexible. Diesel units have an exhaust that goes through the floor of the vehicle, rather than a flue that goes through the wall like gas units. This means installation can be more flexible and there’s no need for a qualified tradie.
  • Pre-warm the van. You can use a diesel heater while you’re driving to pre-warm the caravan interior ready for arrival.
  • Clean dry heat. No need to worry about the humidity and condensation that you can get from gas caravan heaters.

Cons Of Diesel Heaters:
  • Requires a diesel fuel tank. If you don’t have a diesel fuel tank, it can be an expensive option.
  • More expensive than LG gas heaters. The cost of a diesel heater can be a barrier for some, but their value is in the long-term efficiency which means they can be more economical for larger vans.
  • Louder than gas heaters. Reduce noise issues by choosing a quality unit and ensuring it is properly installed.
 
Electric Caravan Heaters:

Electric caravan heaters offer a good alternative to gas and diesel models. You can buy an e-kit for the Truma VarioHeat so that it can run off electricity when you want to save your gas, or gas AND electric for turbo-charged heating.

The E-Kit comes with two individual heating coils that can be used independently for 900W of additional heating, or together for a full 1800W of extra heating power.

Now you’ve decided on the type of caravan heater, take a look at the top brands:

Truma:

Truma is one of the most popular names in caravan heaters and for good reason. It offers a wide range of caravan heaters covering gas, diesel and electric models to suit different needs. There are eight heater models in the Truma range.

One of our top recommended gas-only caravan heaters is the lightweight and sleek Truma Vario Eco gas heater. This unit can heat a space rapidly and is the most efficient gas caravan heater on the market, using only about 100g of LPG per hour on level 1. This extremely compact gas heater that can be installed in almost any position and takes up minimal space.

The Truma Vario features a 12-volt electronic operation control unit, which monitors and maintains the temperature in your caravan through a fully automatic thermostat with controlled shut down.  

They even offer combination air heater and hot water systems, which deliver air and water heating in one unit! The heater can be operated to heat water only, heat air without water, or heat both water and air at the same time.

Why we love Truma: Truma offers a combination of gas and electric caravan heater and hot water systems, which provides the ultimate flexibility on the road.

Eberspacher:

Eberspacher was created in 1977 to bring diesel-fuelled heating to the mobile vehicle market. Today, it’s a popular brand known for innovative heating and cooling systems with exceptional reliability.

Here in Australia, Eberspacher heaters are the go-to for travellers taking on the alpine regions because they can start heating from temperatures as cold as –46°C!

DIY DIESEL HEATER INSTALL IN AN OFFROAD CARAVAN – ROADTRIP AUSTRALIA

Reliability is top-notch. The brushless motor offers a long service life of over 5,000 hours and Eberspacher provides unsurpassed safety standards.

Eberspacher models also boast a low noise output and are easy to use, with an Eberspacher EasyStart Pro Controller that makes it simple to control the heater remotely. You can control up to two heaters from one central point.

Check out the three heater models in the range.

Why we love Eberspacher: The inclusion of an altitude sensor optimises combustion to meet the altitude you are travelling in.

Autoterm:

Autoterm offers European-made heaters by the third largest manufacturer of diesel heaters in the world. Every component has an individual serial number, and quality control is taken very seriously. According to Autoterm, every heater is run on a computer controller test bed for one hour and from every production run, one heater is run for 3000 hours – so you know your heater is going to last the distance. 

You can choose from two different heater models: the 12V diesel air heater kit with rotary controller or with a digital controller. The digital controller is a great option as you can add your favourite settings, then simply press one button and adjust the temperature up or down. It also has other functions, such as multi day timers.

Both models offer Autoterm’s unique brushless fan motor technology for a longer lifetime. Another advantage is how quietly they run. In fact, the Autoterm manufactured fuel dosing pump reduces noise output by 95% – perfect for even the lightest sleepers.

Why we love Autoterm: Whilst there are no current compliance requirements in Australia, all Autoterm heaters are made to meet European UK standards. There is even local support and a worldwide 2-year warranty with access to a 24/7 help line!

Webasto:

Webasto provides the perfect diesel heating solution for caravanners who are looking for an economical, easy to install option.

There are two different heater models to choose from: the 12V diesel heater single outlet with ducting or twin outlet with ducting, Both are virtually noiseless operation with extra silent fuel pumps. They are extremely economical in fuel and power consumption and super easy to install thanks to their compact design, which makes them a top pick for smaller vans.

Why we love Webasto: Webasto heaters are the perfect entry level option, with competitive pricing that doesn’t compromise on warranty. All units come with a 2-year local warranty supported by Webasto. 

Compare the units in our range to find the best caravan heater for your travels.


DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

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