Do All Campers Use Propane for Heating?

While propane is a widely used fuel source for heating in recreational vehicles (RVs) and campers, it is not the only option available. Many campers and RV owners have access to a variety of heating alternatives that can be used instead of or in addition to propane-powered furnaces.

The Prevalence of Propane Heating in RVs

According to industry data, the average RV furnace consumes around 30,000 BTU, which is equivalent to approximately one gallon of propane per day. This suggests that propane is a common and popular choice for RV heating, as it provides a reliable and efficient source of heat.

Most RVs come equipped with an onboard propane furnace as standard equipment. These furnaces are designed to be compact, lightweight, and easy to operate, making them a convenient heating solution for campers and RV owners.

Alternatives to Propane Heating in RVs

do all campers use propane for heating

While propane is a prevalent heating option, there are several alternatives that RV owners can consider:

  1. Heat Pumps: Heat pumps are electric-powered devices that can provide both heating and cooling in an RV. They work by transferring heat from the outside air into the RV’s interior, making them an efficient and environmentally-friendly option.

  2. Ceramic Space Heaters: Compact and portable, ceramic space heaters can be a useful supplemental heating source in an RV. They are relatively inexpensive and can be easily moved around to target specific areas.

  3. Catalytic Propane Heaters: These heaters use a catalytic process to generate heat, which can be more efficient and safer than traditional propane furnaces. They are often used as supplemental heating sources in RVs.

  4. Radiant Electrical Heat: Some RVs are equipped with radiant electrical heating systems, which use heated wires or panels to distribute warmth throughout the vehicle. This can be a convenient and clean-burning alternative to propane.

  5. Woodstoves: For campers who enjoy the ambiance and warmth of a wood-burning stove, there are compact and portable options designed specifically for RV use. These can provide a cozy and off-grid heating solution.

  6. Portable Propane Heaters: In addition to the onboard propane furnace, some RV owners use portable propane heaters as a supplemental heating source. These can be useful for targeting specific areas or providing additional warmth when needed.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an RV Heating System

When selecting a heating system for an RV, campers and owners should consider several factors:

  1. Frequency of Cold Weather Camping: If you plan to camp in cold climates frequently, a more powerful and reliable heating system may be necessary.

  2. Temperature Range: Understand the heating capacity and temperature range of the various options to ensure they can adequately heat your RV in the expected conditions.

  3. Availability of Electricity: Some heating alternatives, such as heat pumps and radiant electrical heat, require a reliable source of electricity, which may not always be available in remote camping locations.

  4. Cost and Accessibility of Propane: The cost and availability of propane in your camping areas can also influence your choice of heating system.

  5. Safety Considerations: Ensure that any heating system you choose, whether propane-powered or electric, meets safety standards and is properly installed and maintained.

By considering these factors, RV owners can make an informed decision on the most suitable heating solution for their specific needs and camping preferences.


In summary, while propane is a widely used and common heating fuel for RVs and campers, it is not the only option available. RV owners can choose from a variety of heating alternatives, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, to best suit their camping needs and preferences. By understanding the available options and the factors to consider, campers can make an informed decision on the most appropriate heating system for their RV.

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