There are a lot of situations when you have to know how to heat a pop up camper. That’s why, in this article, I`m going to go over my favorite heating solutions so that you can stay toasty no matter what the weather looks like outside.
Do Most Pop Up Campers Come with Heating?
If this were an RV or even a large trailer we were talking about, then there’d be no need to ask this question. You would know for certain that your vehicle comes with heating (and air conditioning, too) that you can turn on to warm up your passengers.
With a pop up camper, it can go either way. The smaller the vehicle, the lesser the chances of you having any heating and cooling units. If you do, these would be incredibly small and thus probably not efficient.
Mid-sized campers might have heating, as would larger pop ups, but not always. That’s why so many camper owners like yourself have gotten crafty over the years and come up with their own heating solutions that work for them.
5 Ways How to Heat up a Pop Up Camper
If you look at brands like Jayco and Forest River, heaters are awfully hard to come by. Jayco’s 2019 Jay Sport pop up camper does have an additional package where you can get a water heater, but that just gives you hot water. It does nothing to heat up your camper. Forest River has no such package and thus no heating options like you need.
What do you do, then? Do you keep searching and searching on the off-chance you’ll find a suitable pop up camper that has heating, or do you go the DIY route? That’s up to you. As a word of caution, we do want to say that you could spend a very long time seeking out a pop up camper that comes with a built-in heater without finding one. They do exist, but they’re like unicorns: incredibly rare.
It’s much easier to take the camper you’ve already got and create a toasty environment. The following methods will help you do just that. As another word of caution, if you follow some of these suggestions, there’s a possibility you could void your pop-up’s warranty. I recommend you read through the warranty and contact your manufacturer if you have any questions.
Many pop up campers have or bought furnaces that run on propane tanks. These tanks are typically about 20 gallons, but they may be smaller depending on the size of your camper. If you have a bigger vehicle, you could possibly get away with a larger propane tank, but tread carefully. The tank should be commensurate with the size of your vehicle. Overstuffing a too-big tank into a tiny camper could be disastrous.
While there are plenty of guides to installing your own furnace in your vehicle, these are intended for RV owners. I recommend that you, as a pop up camper owner, go to the professionals. You won’t have the same setup as an RV nor do you have as much space, so don’t use those tutorials.
It’s better to spend some money getting a furnace hooked up the right way the first time. Once you turn it on and feel the warmth, you’ll certainly be glad you did!
2. Space Heater
Another favorite option for pop up camper owners who can’t install their own furnace is to use space heaters instead. These are a favorite because they’re easily available, inexpensive, and convenient. You typically don’t have to do much of anything in the way of installation, as many space heaters come ready to use right out of the box. Those that don’t only require a few pieces to be assembled.
What you will need if you go the space heater route is outlets. Since outlets are limited in a pop up camper, you should invest in a decent extension cord. This way, you don’t have to sacrifice using the space heater instead of the microwave or vice-versa. There’s room for you to plug in everything.
The following list of space heaters comes from Amazon.They’re all pretty tiny, and some are even rated at 499 watts so they won’t suck up too much camper power and drain your battery.
Best Space Heaters for Your Pop Up Camper
Lasko Space Heater – Check Price on Amazon
Most space heaters are small and squat, but sometimes you need a tall, lean one. This space heater from Lasko is 23 inches tall, 7.25 inches wide and 8.5 inches long, so it can fit in those tight places.
It comes completely assembled so you can enjoy quick heating as soon as you need it. This space heater includes an overheat protection feature to prevent fires. Its outer surface never gets hot to the touch, and, if you turn the space heater on but forget to turn it off, it will do it itself.
This is due to the built-in timer, which is adjustable. You can set up the space heater to run for one hour or eight if you prefer. The remote control also lets you adjust the oscillation and temperature of the heater.
There are several settings to choose from, including auto, low heat, and high heat so you can get the degree of warmth you need. The heating element is 1,500 watts, so Lasko’s space heater will suck up a little more juice. You may want to be smart about which items you use when it’s running.
Brightown Portable Mini Heater – Check Price on Amazon
If 1,500 watts is too much to spare, you’ll appreciate this Brightown Portable Mini Heater. Not only does it come in a bright, appealing orange color, but it also runs at just 400 watts. That means it can play nice with the other appliances and items in your pop up camper.
While Brightown says to keep this space heater out of the bathroom or any other high-humidity areas, you can set it up just about anywhere else in your vehicle. We’re sure you can make it fit, too, considering the space heater is 6.3×3.15×6.3 inches.
The radiant heat that comes out of the Brightown space heater is remarkable when you look at its tiny size. It too has overheat protection features, including auto shutdown when the internal heating components get to your desired temperature.
Oittm Electric Oscillating Mini Space Heater – Check Price on Amazon
Although it’s larger than the Brightown, the Oittm Electric Oscillating Mini Space Heater uses 450 to 950 watts depending on which setting you run it on. This is an incredibly well-rated product that’s worth using for your pop up camper heating needs.
As mentioned, you get to choose the heat setting, so if you only want it running at 450 watts, that’s up to you. For those really cold days or nights, you might crank up the settings so the space heater sucks up 950 watts, but it won’t do that automatically.
You can also warm up more of a room with just the one space heater, as Oittm’s can move at an oscillating angle of 60 degrees. It too comes with the standard safety features so it will power itself down if it’s at risk of overheating. Even better is you get knock-over protection in case the space heater falls down when you’re driving.
The PTC ceramic heating technology included in this space heater lets it begin providing warmth within two seconds. It’s also not as big as you’d think, measuring eight inches high, five inches wide, and five inches long.
Lasko MyHeat Personal Space Heater – Check Price on Amazon
Another Lasko space heater you might be interested in is the desktop MyHeat Personal Space Heater. Ideal for bedrooms and other cozy, intimate spaces in your pop up camper, the MyHeat Personal Space Heater is an Amazon’s Choice product. It comes in a slew of colors, including white, purple, blue, and black.
It uses 200 watts, so it’s not a power sucker at all. It’s also ready to go, so when you open your box, you can just plug it in and begin warming up your pop up camper. With overheat protection and a six-inch size, this is one powerhouse of a space heater.
Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud Ceramic Heater – Check Price on Amazon
My final pick for space heaters is the Honeywell Heat Bud. This colorful heater (hues include white, red, green, and black) is a great choice if you want toreduce energy usage in your camper. It run on only 250 watts of power, so you can even add several of these space heatersto your setup without worrying about tripping the power.
With overheat protection, a casing that never gets hot to the touch, a tip-over switch feature, and a simple button to adjust times and temperature, staying warm has never been so easy.
3. Electric Mattress Pad/Electric Blanket
Obviously, an electric mattress pad or an electric blanket is only going to help you in the bedroom or the living room. You won’t get any heat in the kitchen or bathroom.
Still, if you’re shivering at night when you go to bed and your space heaters aren’t enough, an electric mattress pad and/or an electric blanket can make a big difference. The Electrowarmth mattress pad is meant for twin extra large beds and is an Amazon’s Choice product. It’s made entirely of polyester and has 10 different settings. Like the space heaters we covered, there’s an automatic shutdown feature for your safety.
Electric blankets are more versatile since you can bring them with you and wrap yourself up as you lounge in your pop up camper. I like the Sunbeam Heated Throw Blanket (available on Amazon) which is 50×60-inch polyester blanket with ThermoFine technology on both sides. This allows for heat throughout the entire blanket. It’s also very comfortable to use with a plush Sherpa surface.
If you fall asleep with the Sunbeam Heated Throw Blanket, it’s no problem. It will turn itself off after three hours. There are three heat settings to choose from as well as several colors. These include sable, olive, honey, and garnet.
Even though you can’t make heat with a traditional furnace, you can still hold onto what warmth you have by insulating the interior of your pop up camper. This is where we may get into warranty-breaking frontier, so proceed cautiously.
When it comes to the floors, if you have any hardwood, you’re going to want to cover it up. Add rugs, get carpeting installed, do whatever you have to do to keep all the bare floors covered. The carpeted material will retain heat much better.
If you have a spare bunk or an area of the camper that’s not used often, put blankets, sheets, or curtains around it. This will prevent thearea from getting too cold and then that coldness from bleeding out into the rest of your camper.
I’ve talked before about getting an electric mattress, but you might want to look into upgrading your bed to memory foam as well. This will hold in the heat better than a plain mattress does. Combined with an electric mattress and you won’t be cold at all at night!
These all-weather blankets from Grabber (on Amazon) might seem like another solution to bedtime coldness, but you can use them for more than that. Cover your bunk roofs for more insulation and better heat retention. You might need clamps to hold the blanket in place.
Next, insulate your door. Reflectix insulation (available on Amazon) is a best friend of trailer and camper owners. The pack we linked to is 24×25 inches, so it should cover most camper surfaces for less than $40. You can also use Reflectix for window insulation, although you’ll likely have to trim it down. You’ll also have to get into the habit of removing the insulation when you or a fellow passenger want to see outside.
After you’re done insulating, make sure you buy some pop up camper underskirting. EZ Snap is a company that makes customizable underskirting kits for all sorts of vehicles, including RVs and trailers. Since you can adjust the size, you should be able to order underskirting that fits your camper. If not, you could always cut it down for a perfect fit.
What does underskirting do?
It surrounds the underside of your pop up camper, keeping cold air from coming in via the undercarriage of your vehicle.Underskirting can also be used to protect your camper from wind. Without underskirting, you might still be chilly in your pop up camper, even if you insulate it.
Condensation Control in Your Pop Up Camper
One of the biggest issues that arises with pop up camper and even RV ownership is condensation. When you boil water, cook meals, take an indoor shower (if you’re lucky enough to have the option), sweat, or breathe in your camper, you create humidity. This becomes warm water vapor that settles on the cold areas of your vehicle. Condensation then forms.
Make sure all your vents are properly working to control condensation. You might have to get some vent fans installed if there’s still too much humidity in your camper. Remember, excess humidity is an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow. Having these bacteria in your camper can be an expensive and unhealthy problem. Do what you can to prevent mildew and mold.
Most pop up campers do not come with heating or air conditioning units. How do you stay warm on those cold days in the spring or autumn? By getting creative.
You could get a furnace professionally installed if you have the money and the room. Otherwise, you can use space heaters, electric mattress pads, and electric blankets to generate some warmth in the vehicle during the day or at night. You can also retain more heat by insulating the floors, doors, windows, and unused spots of the camper. Don’t forget to order underskirting to keep cold from rising up from beneath your pop up camper.
[box] While most of these heating methods (except a furnace) won’t suffice for winter coldness, if you’re out camping during a chilly day, you won’t shiver.[/box]