Gas or Electric RV Heater – How to Choose and What to Avoid


Welcome to the world of RV living, where adventure meets comfort. One of the key components of making your RV feel like home is a reliable heater. In this guide, we’ll dive into the age-old debate: Gas or Electric RV Heaters – How to Choose and What to Avoid. We’ll help you navigate this crucial decision, ensuring your road trips remain warm and cozy.

Benefits of Having an RV Heater

Before we delve into the types of heaters, let’s talk about why you need one. An RV heater offers several advantages:

  • Comfort: It keeps you warm during chilly nights and cold seasons.
  • Health: Maintaining a comfortable temperature is essential for your well-being.
  • Extended Travel: A heater enables you to travel year-round, even in colder regions.
  • Prevents Damage: It protects your RV’s plumbing and interior from freezing.

Types of RV Heaters

When it comes to RV heaters, you have two primary options:

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters are a popular choice among RV enthusiasts. They run on propane and offer some unique benefits.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters, on the other hand, use electricity to generate heat. They have their own set of advantages.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing

Choosing the right heater depends on various factors:

Fuel Source and Efficiency

Consider your access to propane or electricity, as well as the efficiency of the heater. Gas heaters are more efficient in extreme cold, while electric heaters are more convenient.

Size and Heating Capacity

Ensure the heater can adequately heat the space in your RV. Factor in the size and layout of your vehicle.

Installation and Maintenance

Think about ease of installation and long-term maintenance. Some heaters require professional installation, while others are plug-and-play.

Pros and Cons of Gas RV Heaters

Let’s break down the pros and cons of gas heaters:


  • Efficiency: They work well in extremely cold conditions.
  • Independence: You’re not reliant on electrical hookups.
  • Quick Heating: Gas heaters provide instant warmth.


  • Safety Concerns: Gas heaters need proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Fuel Costs: Propane can be expensive in some regions.
  • Maintenance: They may require more maintenance.

Pros and Cons of Electric RV Heaters

Now, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of electric heaters:


  • Safety: Electric heaters don’t emit harmful gases.
  • Quiet Operation: They operate silently.
  • Energy Efficiency: They are efficient for mild to moderate cold.


  • Power Dependency: You need a reliable power source.
  • Slower Heating: Electric heaters might take longer to warm up your RV.
  • Limited Use: They are less effective in extremely cold conditions.

Choosing the Right Heater for Your RV

The choice between gas and electric boils down to your preferences, travel style, and RV setup. Consider your travel destinations and the climate you’ll encounter. Hybrid options are also available for those who want the best of both worlds.

Safety Tips for RV Heaters

Safety is paramount when using RV heaters. Here are some crucial safety tips:

  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure your RV is well-ventilated, especially when using gas heaters.
  • Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors: These are a must for gas heater users.
  • Regular Inspections: Check your heater and its connections regularly.
  • Keep Flammable Items Away: Maintain a safe distance from flammable materials.

Installation and Maintenance Tips

Proper installation and maintenance are key to the longevity of your RV heater. Follow these tips:

  • Professional Installation: If unsure, opt for professional installation.
  • Regular Cleaning: Keep the heater clean and free from debris.
  • Inspect for Leaks: For gas heaters, check for propane leaks.

Cost Considerations

Consider both the initial cost and long-term expenses when choosing a heater. Factor in fuel costs, maintenance, and the price of the heater itself.

What to Avoid When Buying an RV Heater

Avoid common mistakes when purchasing an RV heater:

  • Ignoring Fuel Availability: Ensure your chosen fuel source is readily available in your travel areas.
  • Underestimating Size: Don’t pick a heater that’s too small for your RV.
  • Neglecting Safety Features: Always opt for heaters with built-in safety features.
  • Skipping Maintenance: Regular maintenance is vital for safety and performance.
  • Disregarding Reviews: Read user reviews to learn from others’ experiences.

How to Extend the Lifespan of Your RV Heater

To get the most out of your RV heater, follow these tips:

  • Regular Servicing: Schedule regular maintenance checks.
  • Use Wisely: Only use the heater when needed.
  • Store Properly: Protect the heater from extreme temperatures when not in use.

Stay Cozy and Warm on Your RV Adventures

With the right RV heater and proper maintenance, you can enjoy cozy and warm adventures year-round. So, whether you choose gas or electric, make the most of your travels.


Choosing between a gas or electric RV heater depends on your preferences and travel style. Each has its pros and cons, so consider your needs and destinations carefully. Remember to prioritize safety, proper installation, and regular maintenance to ensure a comfortable and worry-free RV experience.


1. Can I use both gas and electric heaters in my RV?

Yes, some RVs are equipped with both gas and electric heaters, allowing you to switch between them based on your needs.

2. Do electric heaters consume a lot of power?

Electric heaters can consume a significant amount of power, so it’s essential to have a reliable power source, such as a generator or shore power hookup.

3. Are there portable RV heaters available?

Yes, there are portable gas and electric heaters designed for RVs. These can be a good option if you don’t want to install a permanent heater.

4. Is it safe to leave an RV heater on overnight?

It’s generally not recommended to leave an RV heater on overnight, especially unattended. Use a programmable thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature while you sleep.

5. What’s the average lifespan of an RV heater?

The lifespan of an RV heater can vary, but with proper maintenance, you can expect it to last anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more.

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