Your Guide to Caravan Heaters

Travelling in Australia’s winter is a very different experience to summer. We might swelter in scorching temperatures during summer, but Australian temperatures are known to consistently drop below freezing during winter months.

That’s why more and more caravan owners are gearing up with caravan heaters.

Caravan heaters give the freedom to travel all year round. No need to chase the balmy temperatures. You can venture from the High Country to the Nullabor knowing you’ll be comfy and cosy when the cold sets in.

Caravan Heaters

With so many options out there, how do you choose the right caravan heater for your van?

The first thing you need to consider is this:

How will you run the heater?

In other words, what type of fuel you use. Whether you’re running on diesel, gas or electricity, there’s a heating system for you. You can even opt for a combination unit!

Depending on the type of fuel, you have different caravan heaters to choose from:

The main types of caravan heaters are:

  • Gas Caravan Heaters
  • Diesel Caravan Heaters
  • Caravan Air Conditioners
  • Combination Caravan Air Heater and Hot Water System

Let’s take a look at each type:

Gas Caravan Heaters

There are great options for free campers. They work by connecting straight to your gas bottle. The advantage of this is it runs independently from the engine to provide an economical heat source.

Don’t be put off by what you may have heard about old gas caravan heaters. They’ve a bad rap for being fuel guzzling and expensive to run. But modern units are much better with a higher level of efficiency and low power consumption. In fact, gas caravan heaters can generally heat the average caravan within just 30 minutes.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your gas heater, look for models with lower exhaust emissions. This not only making them kinder to the environment, but quieter too. Truma – one of the most popular names in caravan heaters – has designed extremely compact gas heaters that can be installed in almost any position and take up minimal space.

For example, one of our recommended gas-only caravan heaters is the lightweight and sleek Truma Vario Eco gas heater. What makes this unit stand out is how it heats a space rapidly – in fact, it’s the most efficient gas caravan heater on the market. It only uses about 100g of LPG per hour on level 1.

The Truma Vario also features a 12-volt electronic operation control unit, which monitors and maintains the temperature of your caravan using a fully automatic thermostat with controlled shut down.  The unit’s near silent operation also guarantees the perfect night’s sleep.

Pro Travellers Tip: Ventilation is critical when using a gas caravan heater. Ensure your unit is installed and certified by a qualified, licensed gas fitter.

Diesel Caravan Heaters

For those who love bush camping, diesel caravan heaters are a top choice. With diesel fuelled heaters, the fuel tank, exhaust and air intake are mounted externally to the caravan. Then, you choose to have either one, two or three air outlets inside the van for heating.

The other option is for the caravan heater to tap into the fuel line of your diesel-powered motorhome.

The upfront cost of a diesel caravan heater can be off-putting, but it’s worth weighing up the benefits. In the long term they can prove to be a more economical option for larger vans. Especially is you plan on spending lots of time exploring cooler climates.

Pro Travellers Tip: Look at the great features on offer. For example, the Eberspacher Airtronic air heater can be operated on the go, so you stay warm along the journey!

Eberspacher Airtronic D2, Diesel Air Heater Kit, 12Volt, Twin Outlet
Caravan Air Conditioners

If you spend lots of time in caravan parks with mains power, keep the chill away with a 240v air conditioner. You can also operate these heaters on a generator, but the truth is that you don’t want to be known as that van with a generator running all night long!

There are a couple of options for air conditioners. You can opt for a rooftop reverse cycle air conditioner, slimline rooftop air conditioner for smaller vans, or built-in split system air conditioners for pop-tops.

One of our top picks for a winter roof top air conditioner is the Dometic Freshjet 2200 Roof Top Air Conditioner with Heat Element. This unit uses a heat exchange system (rather than a reverse cycle compressor) which makes it incredibly effective in colder temperatures.

Pro Travellers Tip: Look for an air conditioner with a sleep mode function, as in the Dometic Harrier Inverter, which reduces the compressor noise and vibration levels while you’re sleeping.

Combination Caravan Air Heater and Hot Water System

The final option is a combination air heater and hot water system. These work by delivering air and water heating in one unit. The Truma Combi models are a great example of this. The heater can be operated to heat water only, heat air without water, or heat both air and water at the same time. Now that’s what we call flexibility!

Let’s talk budget.

It all comes down to budget at the end of the day. But don’t get stuck on the upfront cost – look at the long-term running costs too. What will be the most economical option for your travelling needs? Do you only need a basic model or are you after the convenience of an advanced digitally controlled unit? You can even opt for luxury accessories like a heated towel rail (yes – in your caravan!)

One last thing…

Whichever caravan heater you choose, you don’t have to switch it on as soon as the temperature drops. There are many smart, green ways to stay warm without power. Consider the insulation in your caravan, door and window seals, and soft furnishings, like rugs and blankets. Then, when you switch on the caravan heater, you can be sure your caravan will stay warmer for longer.

Need help selecting a Caravan Heater for your next trip? Give one of our product experts a call on 1300 400 122!

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