Is Electric or Propane Heat Cheaper for RV?

When it comes to heating an RV, the choice between electric and propane heat can have a significant impact on your overall operating costs. To determine which option is more cost-effective, it’s essential to consider various factors, including fuel costs, system efficiency, and the specific needs of your RV.

Fuel Costs: Propane vs. Electricity

One of the primary factors to consider is the cost of the fuel itself. According to industry data, the cost of propane is generally lower than the cost of electricity per British Thermal Unit (BTU), which is a standard measure of heat energy.

  • Propane Cost: Approximately $0.000031 per BTU
  • Electricity Cost: Approximately $0.000038 per BTU

However, it’s important to note that these costs can vary depending on your location, the availability of different fuel sources, and any local or regional pricing fluctuations. It’s always a good idea to research the current fuel prices in your area to get a more accurate comparison.

Heating System Efficiency

is electric or propane heat cheaper for rv

In terms of efficiency, propane heaters are often considered more efficient than electric heaters, particularly in colder temperatures. Propane heaters are able to produce a higher level of heat output per unit of fuel consumed, which can result in lower heating costs over time.

  • Propane Heater Efficiency: Typically 80-90% efficient
  • Electric Heater Efficiency: Typically 95-100% efficient

While electric heaters have a slightly higher efficiency rating, propane heaters can be more effective at maintaining a comfortable temperature in colder climates. This is because propane heaters can generate more BTUs per hour, allowing them to heat the RV more quickly and efficiently.

Maintenance and Convenience

In addition to fuel costs and system efficiency, it’s also important to consider the maintenance requirements and overall convenience of each heating option.

Propane heaters generally require more maintenance than electric heaters, as they have moving parts and require regular cleaning and servicing to ensure optimal performance. This can be a consideration for RV owners who prefer a more hands-off approach to their heating system.

On the other hand, electric heaters are often seen as more convenient, as they do not require the same level of maintenance and can be easily controlled with a thermostat or remote. This can be particularly appealing for RV owners who prioritize ease of use and minimal upkeep.

Environmental Considerations

Another factor to consider is the environmental impact of each heating option. Propane heaters produce water vapor as a byproduct of combustion, which can contribute to the growth of mold and mildew in the RV, particularly in high-humidity environments.

Electric heaters, on the other hand, do not produce any combustion byproducts and can actually help to reduce the humidity level in the RV, making them a more environmentally friendly option for some RV owners.

Specific Needs and Preferences

When deciding between electric and propane heat for your RV, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. For example, if you plan to use your RV in colder climates, a propane heater may be a better choice due to its higher heat output and efficiency. Conversely, if you prioritize convenience and ease of use, an electric heater may be the more suitable option.

Calculating the Cost-Effectiveness

To determine the most cost-effective heating solution for your RV, it’s important to carefully consider all of the factors mentioned above and do some research to find the best option for your specific needs. This may involve comparing the cost and efficiency of different heating systems, as well as considering any additional features or benefits that may be offered by different models.

One way to calculate the cost-effectiveness of each option is to estimate the total annual heating costs based on your expected usage and the fuel costs in your area. This can help you determine which option will provide the most cost-effective heating solution over time.


In conclusion, the decision of whether to use electric or propane heat in an RV depends on a variety of factors, including fuel costs, system efficiency, maintenance requirements, and environmental considerations. By carefully evaluating these factors and your specific needs, you can find the most cost-effective and convenient heating solution for your RV.

RV Propane Heater vs. Electric
Heating an RV: Electric vs. Propane
Cost of LP vs. Electricity