If you live in a static caravan all-year-round, you take winter holidays in your static, or a guest is using yours over a winter holiday period, the question you’re bound to be asking is what’s the cheapest way to heat a static caravan?
Even though today’s caravans are a lot more luxurious and comfortable than latter-day models, the cold winter months can still pose a few headaches and worries. It might freeze the pipes, and having to contend with masses of condensation, never mind that it might just be too cold to stay there.
Let’s examine what type of heater would be the cheapest way to heat a static caravan, especially if it needs to be on for long periods and has to be safe for you to use.
Choice Of Heaters For Caravans
There are many types of heaters available that will work well in a caravan, from gas to portable electric heaters to the newer style of Japanese paraffin inverter heaters.
If you’re leaning towards the portable electric heaters, then there’s something to add into the equation.
That is the electricity wattage loading of the heater because depending on where your caravan is in situ, some Caravan sites with metered electricity will limit each pitch to 16 amps or 20 amps.
Still seems ok though until you figure out what amps your electric appliances use. For example, a kettle and a toaster on at the same time will use approximately 22 amps. So checking the amps used by a portable electric heater is important if you don’t want to keep tripping the electricity supply.
Electricity has some good things going for it, though. It’s 100% efficient. You need not worry about fumes if you fall asleep. If you compare that to gas or LPG heating where you’re going to lose 50% of the heat because it disappears up a flue, it means electric comes in cheaper. And there’s always a risk of gas fumes and naked flames.
Heating A Summer Static Caravan
Summer vans are brilliant for the summer months, even if some nights can be a little cooler than we like. But if you’re holidaying in one in the winter’s cold, they can be darn right miserable.
So what’s the answer to heating a summer static van in the winter? First, you need to stop wasting money by heating the outside air, because a huge percentage of the heat you generate will disappear out the roof, windows and wall panels.
What you need is a heater that warms the occupants of the van and not the air. For this, you’ll need a quartz halogen heater. The downside of this heater is you have to sit close to it to benefit from the heat it gives off. But at least you’re not wasting money trying to heat the whole caravan site.
If you want the heater to be portable and easier to store, you need to buy the two-bar version, with heat settings of 400w and 800w.
A different electric heater which still heats people, rather than the surrounding air, is the infrared panel heater. They use infrared heat, which is hotter and will heat a wider area, meaning you won’t need to get close-up and personal with it to stay warm. They use between 350w and 700w.
Staying with portable electric heaters, there are the oil-filled radiators. The wattage on these will go from 600w up to 1500w.
If you use a 600w, it’s great for a bedroom as background heat. To heat the whole caravan, you would need to use the 1500w model and to do so would be costly. To give you a comparison, it will still work out cheaper than an LPG heater.
Paraffin Inverter Heater
These originate from Japan and burn paraffin/ kerosene. So running costs will be lower than both electricity and LPG. If you opt for one of these the initial outlay is much more than any of the other heaters. But within a couple of seasons use, you could have saved enough to cover the difference in the purchase price.
The manufacturers claim they don’t require a chimney, flue, maintenance or ventilation, perfect for caravans. Although, we wouldn’t suggest you leave them on while you go to bed at night.
There are two designs of these heaters. One is electric to blow the warm air around the room. The fan isn’t a big drain on the electricity, using only about 22w, when in use. The second version doesn’t require electricity. It uses radiant heat, similar to an electric heater, but has a wick and burns paraffin/kerosene.
In tests, these paraffin inverters cost about 60% less to run than LPG gas fires or warm air heating, and 45% less than metered Electricity.
So it makes them the best option in terms of ongoing running costs. But remember, you have a substantial outlay to buy one. From our research, we see they are now available to buy in the UK from £200 to £350.
If you’re going to use your caravan frequently during the winter months, think about doing some insulation and not only looking at the cheapest way to heat a static caravan. Whichever heating method you choose, adding some insulation will still reduce your heating bills.
You could try some of these suggestions:
Insulate your caravan floor
By installing underfloor heating your not just warming the caravan, underfloor heating will also reduce the possibility of damp and moisture spreading over the floor area. If you have underfloor heating in your home, you know how pleasant this form of heating it can be. If you don’t, you’re in for a delightful surprise.
Seal Draughty Windows
A lot of heat escapes and cold air comes in with bad seals. If they have perished, they need replacing. Same goes for your doors. Also, I know it seems basic common sense, but open the curtains in the daytime to let the sun heat the glass. Close them in the evenings to help keep heat inside.
It’s fair to say most people know that cladding helps keep heat in. It works with caravans. It costs some money, but in the long run will save you more than the cost in only a few years.