Can you heat your van without electricity?



In the winter, electricity can be hard to come by, especially if you plan to recharge your batteries using solar power. It’s much harder to recharge a battery in the winter because solar isn’t as efficient. It’ll drain more as you use lights and heat longer. You can heat your van without electricity by using the following methods:


  1. Freestanding gas heater
  2. Paraffin/ Bioethanol heaters
  3. Wood stove
  4. Terracotta/pot heaters
  5. Soap Stones

1. Freestanding Gas Heater

Hardware stores or Amazon sell these small portable heaters for a reasonable price. No electricity is required to operate them because they run off gas canisters. The boat used to have them when it was anchored in a cove. Keep these things in mind:

  • A canister will last around 4-8 hours, so you will need a LOT!)
  • The space must be ventilated; otherwise, condensation will form, and you will become sick from carbon monoxide. Before using, open a window or a hatch.

Gas heaters of this type are usually accompanied by some kind of warning that they should only be used outdoors. Awnings or outdoor spaces can be heated with them.

2. Paraffin/ Bioethanol heaters

It’s great to have one of these on the boat. Bioethanol works really well in tabletop fires. The space will heat up quickly, but you will have to be careful about ventilation. You need to make sure you purchase the right type of fuel- some fuels are cheaper but smell terrible.

3. Wood stove:

Many people install wood stoves in campervans, particularly those who live in them long-term and on a budget. It’s a great way to heat your camper without having to use electricity. Despite the many benefits of having a wood stove in a camper van, there are also a number of disadvantages:

  • Having to carry wood or stopping near it.
  • Temps inside the vehicle are hard to regulate.
  • Requires a long time to cool down.
  • Insurance for motorhomes and campers is extremely difficult to obtain.

There are several options available for campervan heating, but this is the least favourite option. There are too many stories about things going wrong for this to be considered. Before purchasing one, you should do comprehensive research.

4. Terracotta/ pot heaters:

Even though vanlife communities have been using them for a long time, the concept is relatively new. A pot is heated, and then the heat is retained for a long time. Using nature as a heat source is a wonderful idea, but it has many drawbacks like a wood stove – naked flame, hard to regulate, slow cooling, carbon monoxide poisoning risk and long cooling time.

5. Soap/ Heat Stones:

There is nothing better than soapstone when it comes to retaining heat for a long time. These work similarly to bed heating pans, although they use coal. Use as follows:

  • Place the stone in the oven/fire for about 30 minutes.
  • To prevent the stone from burning your sheets, wrap it in a protective bag or towel.
  • Put it in your bed. For several hours, this will keep your bed nice and toasty.
  • BEWARE: these get extremely hot! Get into bed without burning yourself! It is also possible to find them quite hard, so be on the lookout.

More to explorer

Which RVs should be winter-ready?

RVs can withstand freezing temperatures with the following features.  If you plan to camp in cold weather, look for these RV features. 

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