What is More Efficient: Space Heater or Propane in RV?

When it comes to heating your RV, the choice between a space heater and a propane heater can have a significant impact on your energy efficiency, cost, and overall comfort. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the technical details and provide you with a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of each heating option, empowering you to make an informed decision for your RV.

Energy Efficiency: Comparing Space Heaters and Propane Heaters

Space Heaters

  • Efficiency Rating: Space heaters are generally more energy-efficient than propane heaters, with an efficiency rating of up to 100%. This means that all the energy consumed by the space heater is converted into heat, with minimal waste.
  • Heat Output: The heat output of a space heater is typically measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. A high-quality space heater can produce up to 5,000 BTUs per hour, providing ample warmth for a medium-sized RV.
  • Electricity Consumption: Space heaters draw electricity from the RV’s power source, which can be either shore power or the RV’s battery bank. The power consumption of a space heater can range from 750 watts to 1,500 watts, depending on the model and heat output.

Propane Heaters

  • Efficiency Rating: Propane heaters, on the other hand, have a lower efficiency rating, typically around 80%. This means that a significant portion of the energy from the propane is lost as heat through the exhaust.
  • Heat Output: Propane heaters are generally more powerful than space heaters, with heat outputs ranging from 10,000 BTUs to 30,000 BTUs per hour, making them suitable for larger RVs.
  • Propane Consumption: Propane heaters consume propane from the RV’s onboard tanks, with consumption rates ranging from 0.5 gallons to 2 gallons per hour, depending on the heat output and size of the heater.

Cost Considerations: Electricity vs. Propane

what is more efficient space heater or propane in rv

Electricity Costs

  • Electricity Rates: The cost of electricity can vary significantly depending on your location. In some states, such as California, electricity rates can be 3-4 times higher than propane prices, making propane a more cost-effective option.
  • Battery Capacity: If you’re relying on your RV’s battery bank to power a space heater, you’ll need to consider the capacity and charge level of your batteries, as running a space heater can quickly deplete the battery.

Propane Costs

  • Propane Prices: Propane prices can also fluctuate based on location and market conditions. On average, propane costs around $2.50 to $3.50 per gallon, but prices can be higher in remote areas or during peak demand seasons.
  • Refueling Convenience: Propane is widely available at RV parks, campgrounds, and gas stations, making it a convenient option for refueling your RV’s propane tanks.

Safety Considerations

Propane Heater Safety

  • Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial when using a propane heater in an RV. Ensure that the exterior vents are not blocked and that the propane system is well-maintained to prevent the buildup of harmful gases.
  • Leak Detection: Regularly check your RV’s propane system for leaks, as propane is a flammable gas that can pose a serious safety risk if not handled properly.
  • Overfilling Precautions: Never overfill your RV’s propane tanks, as this can lead to dangerous pressure buildup and potential explosions.

Space Heater Safety

  • Electrical Safety: When using a space heater, be mindful of the electrical load on your RV’s electrical system. Avoid overloading circuits and ensure that the space heater is properly grounded.
  • Placement and Clearance: Position your space heater in a safe location, away from flammable materials and with adequate clearance to prevent fire hazards.

DIY Installation Considerations

Space Heater Installation

  • Plug-and-Play: Most space heaters are designed for plug-and-play installation, requiring minimal technical expertise. Simply plug the heater into a suitable electrical outlet in your RV.
  • Wiring Considerations: If you plan to hardwire a space heater, ensure that the electrical wiring and circuit breakers can handle the power draw of the heater.

Propane Heater Installation

  • Specialized Knowledge: Installing a propane heater in an RV typically requires more specialized knowledge and skills, as it involves working with the RV’s propane system and ensuring proper ventilation.
  • Professional Installation: It’s generally recommended to have a qualified RV technician or propane specialist install a propane heater to ensure compliance with safety regulations and proper integration with the RV’s existing systems.

In conclusion, the choice between a space heater and a propane heater for your RV depends on a variety of factors, including energy efficiency, cost, and safety considerations. By understanding the technical details and weighing the pros and cons of each option, you can make an informed decision that best suits your RV’s heating needs and your personal preferences.

iRV2 Forums – Heating RV: Electric vs. Propane
Jeri and Penguin’s Blog – Costs Less: Propane vs. Electric
Ferrellgas Blog – RV Power Source: Propane vs. Electric-Powered RVs