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What is an RV Furnace: Best RV Furnaces

Updated: Apr 16

Make your RV adventures in the cold all the more fun by learning about RV furnaces and how they work. A list of the best RV furnaces included.

Best RV furnaces

Imagine embarking on a crisp autumn road trip or a cozy winter adventure in your RV. As the temperatures drop, the secret to staying warm and comfortable lies in the heart of your motorhome – the RV furnace. RV furnaces are the unsung heroes of your mobile home, providing warmth and convenience on the go.

Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a novice RVer, understanding how these heating systems work and how to maintain them is crucial for a hassle-free and enjoyable experience. We understand it can be complicated to choose the right RV furnace for your motorhome, as there are many types and factors to consider. But as always, we have done the homework for you. Let’s delve into the world of RV furnaces, explore their features, and share all our best tips for keeping the chill at bay on your next journey.

What is an RV furnace and Why Do You Need One?

An RV furnace is a compact heating system designed to keep the interior of your recreational vehicle warm and cozy, regardless of the outside temperature. These devices are engineered to operate on propane or electricity. This makes them highly versatile for all types of RVs, whether you are driving motorhomes, travel trailers, campers or fifth wheels. RV or trailer furnaces are more than just appliances; they're the essential comfort solution that enables you to extend your travel adventures into the cooler months. By efficiently producing hot air and distributing it throughout your RV, these camper heaters ensure a comfortable and snug living space, transforming your home on wheels into a refuge from the cold.

So, why do you need an RV furnace? The answer is simple: it's your ticket to year-round comfort on the road. Whether you're cruising through snow-covered mountain passes or seeking refuge from a brisk evening breeze at your favorite lakeside campsite, an RV furnace ensures you can enjoy your adventures without being at the mercy of the weather. It's your assurance of a cozy, homey atmosphere inside your mobile sanctuary, allowing you to extend your camping season well into the colder months. With an RV furnace, you'll never have to worry about shivering nights or frosty mornings; you can savor the beauty of every season while staying comfortably warm.

How Does an RV Furnace Work?

The inner workings of an RV furnace may seem complicated and technological, but its operation is surprisingly straightforward. Most RV furnaces operate on propane gas or electricity, offering an efficient and reliable source of heat for your mobile haven. When the thermostat detects a drop in the interior temperature, it sends a signal to the furnace control board, prompting it to kick into action. The control board then initiates a sequence that begins with the ignition process. A small amount of propane is released, and a spark ignites it, creating a flame within the combustion chamber.

Once the flame is established, the furnace's blower motor comes into play. This motor not only circulates air within the RV but also directs it over the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger, in turn, warms the air as it passes through, transforming the cold ambient air into a cozy and comforting warmth. An integral component in this process is the RV furnace sail switch, a safety mechanism that ensures the blower is operating before allowing the main gas valve to open fully. This critical step prevents the release of propane in the absence of proper airflow, adding an extra layer of safety to the RV furnace system. In essence, the sail switch acts as a guardian, ensuring that your heating system operates smoothly and securely, providing warmth on your journey without compromise.

Types of RV furnace

The choice of RV furnace depends on your RV size, travel preferences, and the availability of power sources. RV propane furnaces are a popular and versatile choice, while electric and hybrid options offer convenience for those with electrical hookups. Here are five common types of RV furnaces.

  • Propane RV Furnace:

Propane furnaces are the most prevalent type in RVs. They utilize propane gas as the primary fuel source, making them highly efficient and reliable. A burner ignites the propane, heating a heat exchanger, and a blower fan circulates the warm air throughout the RV. Propane RV furnaces are suitable for various RV sizes and are especially favored for off-grid camping due to their independence from electrical power.

  • Electric RV Furnace:

Electric RV furnaces rely on electricity to generate heat. They use electric heating elements to warm the air, which is then circulated throughout the RV. These furnaces are convenient and easy to install but can be less energy-efficient compared to propane or hybrid systems, which use both propane and electricity.

  • Hybrid RV Furnace:

Hybrid furnaces offer the versatility of using both propane and electricity. They can automatically switch between power sources, depending on availability, to optimize energy efficiency. This makes them a great choice for RVers who may have access to both electrical hookups and propane gas while traveling.

  • Diesel RV Furnace:

Some larger or high-end RVs are equipped with diesel furnaces. These systems use diesel fuel to generate heat. Diesel RV furnaces are known for their powerful heating capabilities and can efficiently warm larger RVs. They may be more common in motorhomes and luxury RVs.

  • Wood or Pellet Stove:

While less common, some adventurous RVers opt for wood or pellet stoves as an alternative heating source. These stoves burn wood or wood pellets to produce heat and require a chimney or venting system to exhaust smoke and fumes. They offer a rustic and cozy ambiance but may demand more effort in terms of fuel management and maintenance.

7 Best RV Furnaces You Need to Check Out!

Before purchasing an RV furnace, it's essential to consider your specific needs, such as the size of your RV, power sources available (propane, diesel, or electricity), and your heating preferences. We have rounded the best RV furnaces in the market for you right here. Check out the top 7 RV furnaces that have always been the go-to RVers for their winter expeditions below!

The Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater is a powerful and versatile heating solution that boasts a unique dual heating system. Combining PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) and quartz infrared elements, it efficiently warms your space, providing comfort in colder weather. With 1,500 watts of heating power, it has two heat settings to suit your preferences. The electronic thermostat and remote control offer precise temperature control, while the built-in timer and energy-saving mode help reduce energy consumption. The heater's robust performance and efficiency make it a top choice for larger spaces, though it can be a bit heavy, and some users may find its design less appealing.

The Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Heater is a compact and reliable heating option designed for smaller and personal spaces. With 1,500 watts of heating power, it offers efficient warmth to combat the chill. It also provides two heat settings and a fan-only mode, allowing you to customize to your comfort. The adjustable thermostat enables precise temperature control, and the heater's built-in carry handle makes it easy to transport between rooms. While it excels at heating small areas, it may not be ideal for larger rooms, and some users find its noise level slightly higher compared to other ceramic heaters.

The Camco Olympian Wave-8 Catalytic Heater is a propane-powered heating solution specially designed for use in RVs, cabins, and small spaces. Generating 8,000 BTUs of heating power, it provides consistent warmth without the need for electricity, making it an excellent option for off-grid living. Unlike some other heaters for campers, the Wave-8 operates silently, and it can be wall-mounted for space-saving convenience. However, users should be aware that proper ventilation is necessary when using propane heaters, and it may require a separate purchase of a propane tank and hose.

DeLonghi Oil-Filled Radiator Heaters are known for their energy-efficient heating and quiet operation. Available in various sizes, typically offering 700 to 1,500 watts of heating power, these heaters use a sealed oil reservoir to produce consistent warmth without drying the air. While they are energy-efficient and great for maintaining a comfortable, steady heat, it's important to note that oil-filled radiators may take longer to heat up compared to some other types of heaters. Additionally, the radiator-style design may not align with everyone's aesthetic preferences.

The Dometic 35525 is a powerful 25,000 BTU 12 Volt DC furnace designed for optimal heating performance in RVs. With its robust heating capacity, this furnace is well-suited for larger motorhomes and trailers, ensuring a cozy interior even in colder climates. The electronic ignition system provides a convenient and reliable start-up, while the quiet blower motor efficiently distributes warm air throughout the living space. However, users should be aware that the installation process for a Dometic furnace might be more intricate, requiring technical expertise and regular maintenance is also recommended to sustain peak performance.

This Suburban RV Furnace is a propane-powered furnace designed specifically for RVs. It offers 30,000 BTUs of heating power, ensuring efficient and dependable warmth during your travels. The furnace features electronic ignition and a quiet blower motor, making it a reliable choice for heating in confined spaces. However, keep in mind that installation may require professional assistance, and propane furnaces can be sensitive to altitude changes, which could affect their performance in higher elevations.

The Vornado AVH10 is an electric space heater known for its even heat distribution. Offering 1,500 watts of heating power, it uses vortex technology to circulate warm air throughout the room, ensuring an even and comfortable warmth. This heater includes digital controls, a convenient remote control, and safety features like a tip-over switch. While it excels in efficient heating, some users may find its design less visually appealing compared to other heaters, and the price point may be slightly higher than similar models.

RV Furnace Safety Tips

RV furnaces are important to keep your motorhomes warm during winter trips, but they can also be dangerous if not maintained properly. By adhering to these 7 safety guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of your RV furnace while minimizing potential safety risks, ensuring a comfortable and secure experience during your travels.

  • Regular Maintenance:

Routine maintenance is vital for the safe and efficient operation of your RV furnace. It's highly recommended to schedule regular servicing by a certified technician. During these maintenance checks, the technician will clean the furnace, inspect it for any signs of wear, and ensure all components are working correctly. Any issues, including potential gas leaks, are addressed promptly. Regular maintenance not only prevents safety hazards but also extends the lifespan of your furnace.

  • Proper Ventilation:

Adequate ventilation is crucial to ensure the safe operation of your RV furnace. RVs are relatively confined spaces, and the combustion process in the furnace can produce harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide. To prevent the buildup of these gasses, make sure all air vents and exhaust outlets for the furnace are clear and free from obstructions. Regularly inspect and clean these components to maintain proper airflow.

  • Carbon Monoxide Detector:

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and that’s why you have to take extra precautions when dealing with RV furnaces. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your RV is a fundamental safety measure. These devices are designed to monitor the air for the presence of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly when inhaled in high concentrations. Place the detector near the sleeping area of your RV, as this is where you are most vulnerable to exposure while sleeping.

  • Learn the Location of the Furnace Sail Switch:

The sail switch for RV furnaces plays a pivotal role in ensuring safe and efficient operation. Familiarize yourself with the RV furnace sail switch location, typically found near the blower assembly. This small yet crucial device acts as a sentinel, confirming proper airflow before allowing the main gas valve to fully open. Regularly check and clean the sail switch on your RV furnace to guarantee uninterrupted functionality, promoting a warm and secure environment during your travels.

  • Troubleshoot When Your Furnace Won't Ignite:

For those using the RV furnace for the first time, encountering issues like the RV furnace not turning on automatically or not igniting can be concerning. Start by checking the thermostat settings and ensuring the propane supply is sufficient. If the camper furnace is not igniting, inspect the ignition system and clean any potential debris. Also, familiarize yourself with the RV furnace manual to address these problems when they prop up on your adventure.

  • Keep Flammable Materials Away:

To prevent accidental fires, it's crucial to keep flammable materials, such as paper, clothing, or curtains, well away from the RV furnace and its exhaust vents. Maintain a clearance zone around the furnace to ensure nothing can come into contact with the hot surfaces or flames. A safe distance between the furnace and any flammable materials will reduce the risk of ignition. Here’s a guide on RV fire safety to have a read before hitting the road.

  • Safe Operation:

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines for your specific RV furnace model. This includes using the furnace only as intended and avoiding any modifications or DIY RV furnace repairs unless you are a trained professional. When the furnace is operating, supervise it to monitor its performance and ensure it's functioning correctly. Additionally, turn off the furnace when you leave your RV to eliminate the risk of accidents or malfunctions in your absence.


In the pursuit of staying warm and cozy, the world of heating solutions offers a diverse array of options. Whether you prefer the efficient performance of infrared heaters or the steady warmth of oil-filled radiators, there's a heater or furnace tailored to meet your specific needs. Just be sure to follow safety measures, and treat yourself to a warm and cozy motorhome on the road!


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