Heating your caravan safely

If you’re planning to go caravanning in winter, you’ll need a plan to keep warm too.

Caravanning in winter is quite different to summer, particularly when it comes to the weather and keeping warm. The further outback you go the colder it gets at night, increasing the demand for warm energy. While most caravans come fitted with heating of some sort, it may not be adequate for your needs. Here are some options to consider for keeping warm while on the road.

Heating that doesn’t require power

If you don’t have powered heating there are a few fundamental things you can do to help keep warm. Close the van and draw the curtains at sunset. Cook your dinner in the oven and eat inside.

Think about your bedding. Wool or space blankets are not expensive and, when teamed with a sheepskin mattress protector under the bottom sheet, can keep you nice and cosy in bed.

Likewise, a hot water bottle provides safe warmth, as do warm clothes and woollen socks. These will also retain body heat when you’re out of bed for a short period.

Insulation keeps the cold out and warmth in, while reducing energy wastage. Floor rugs reduce heat loss, as do thick curtains on windows and doors. Make sure heat doesn’t escape through ill-fitting window seals, doors or skylights.

Diesel-powered heating

Diesel-powered heating is relatively cost-effective if you have a large area to heat or spend a lot of time in cooler climates. The fuel tank, exhaust and air intake are mounted externally, with one or more outlets inside the van.

If you have a portable diesel heater, it must operate outside the vehicle with the hot air ducted inside. Diesel heaters tend to be relatively noisy though.

Gas-powered heating

Gas-powered heating is quiet but can be expensive and might run out after a few cold, wet days. Combination gas/electric heaters, however, allow you to save on gas when electricity is available.

Other heating options

Electric heating really only works in a caravan park. Solar power is environmentally-friendly, but offers limited capacity for warmth unless the panels are constantly exposed to direct sunlight. This is difficult to do when travelling or in cooler or wet weather.

Space heaters use diesel, gas, electricity or a combination. Air is drawn from the interior of the van through one vent, passed across the heating unit then returned through another vent. Some space heaters can be set up to operate in conjunction with the hot-water unit, while others are mounted to the chassis of the caravan.