The Most Efficient Space Heater for a Motorhome: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to keeping your motorhome cozy and warm during the colder months, the choice of space heater can make all the difference. Among the various options available, the oil-filled electric heater stands out as the most efficient and practical solution for motorhome owners. This comprehensive guide will delve into the technical details, advantages, and considerations of using an oil-filled heater in your RV.

Understanding Oil-Filled Heaters

Oil-filled heaters, also known as oil-filled radiators, are a type of electric space heater that utilizes diathermic oil as the heat transfer medium. This oil is heated by an internal heating element and then circulated through the heater’s columns, which in turn release the heat into the surrounding air. The key advantages of this design include:

  1. Consistent Temperature Maintenance: Oil-filled heaters are renowned for their ability to maintain a consistent temperature in a room without consuming excessive energy. Unlike other types of heaters that can cause temperature fluctuations, oil-filled heaters gradually warm the space and maintain a stable, comfortable temperature.

  2. Energy Efficiency: These heaters are highly energy-efficient, drawing relatively low amounts of power while providing sufficient heat. According to industry data, oil-filled heaters can have an energy efficiency rating of up to 99%, making them a cost-effective choice for motorhome owners.

  3. Quiet Operation: The silent operation of oil-filled heaters is a significant advantage in the confined space of a motorhome, where noise can be a major disturbance. The lack of moving parts and the gradual heat transfer process contribute to their whisper-quiet performance.

  4. Safety Features: Oil-filled heaters are equipped with various safety features, such as tip-over protection, which automatically shuts off the heater if it is accidentally knocked over. This helps to mitigate the risk of fire hazards in the motorhome environment.

Technical Specifications and Considerations

Most efficient space heater for a motorhome

When selecting an oil-filled heater for your motorhome, it’s essential to consider the following technical specifications and factors:

Power Output and Heating Capacity

  • Oil-filled heaters typically range from 500 watts to 1500 watts in power output, with higher wattage models providing more heating capacity.
  • The optimal power output for a motorhome will depend on the size of the living space and the desired temperature range. As a general guideline, a 500-watt heater can effectively heat a small to medium-sized motorhome, while a 1000-watt or 1500-watt heater may be more suitable for larger RVs.

Dimensions and Weight

  • Oil-filled heaters tend to have a taller, more vertical design compared to other space heater types, which can make them challenging to secure during travel.
  • The average dimensions of an oil-filled heater for motorhome use are around 24 inches in height, 7 inches in width, and 14 inches in depth, with a weight range of 15 to 25 pounds.
  • It’s crucial to ensure that the heater can be safely and securely mounted or positioned in your motorhome, as the tall design can make them prone to tipping over during transit.

Thermostat and Temperature Control

  • Most oil-filled heaters come equipped with a built-in thermostat, allowing you to set and maintain the desired temperature in your motorhome.
  • Some models offer advanced features like digital temperature displays, programmable settings, and remote control capabilities, providing greater convenience and precision in temperature management.

Safety Certifications and Features

  • Look for oil-filled heaters that are certified by reputable safety organizations, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Conformité Européenne (CE), to ensure they meet industry safety standards.
  • Key safety features to look for include tip-over protection, overheat protection, and automatic shut-off mechanisms to prevent potential fire hazards.

Energy Consumption and Efficiency

  • Oil-filled heaters are known for their high energy efficiency, with some models boasting up to 99% efficiency ratings.
  • The actual energy consumption will depend on factors such as the heater’s wattage, the size of the motorhome, and the desired temperature setting.
  • As a general guideline, a 1500-watt oil-filled heater running at full capacity can consume around 12.5 amps of electrical current, which is important to consider in the context of your motorhome’s electrical system.

DIY Homemade Space Heater Considerations

For motorhome owners who prefer a more hands-on approach, it is possible to build a homemade space heater using a heating element and a thermostat. However, this endeavor requires careful planning and attention to safety:

  1. Heating Element Selection: Choose a high-quality heating element that is rated for the desired power output and can safely operate in the confined space of a motorhome.

  2. Thermostat Integration: Incorporate a reliable thermostat to regulate the temperature and prevent overheating, ensuring the safety of your DIY heater.

  3. Enclosure Design: Construct a sturdy and well-insulated enclosure to house the heating element and thermostat, taking into account the dimensions and weight constraints of your motorhome.

  4. Safety Considerations: Ensure that the DIY heater meets all relevant safety standards, including proper grounding, fire-resistant materials, and the inclusion of safety features like tip-over protection.

  5. Consultation and Testing: It’s highly recommended to consult with a professional electrician or HVAC specialist before attempting to build a DIY space heater. Thoroughly test the device to verify its safety and performance before using it in your motorhome.


In the world of motorhome heating solutions, the oil-filled electric heater stands out as the most efficient and practical choice. Its consistent temperature maintenance, energy efficiency, and quiet operation make it an ideal companion for full-time RV living. By understanding the technical specifications and considerations, motorhome owners can make an informed decision and ensure a cozy and comfortable experience throughout the colder months.