Almost all RVs come with a propane furnace at a minimum and some RVs (like ours) also have an electric heat pump option that pushes heat through the A/C vents. Both systems have drawbacks. Propane heating costs add up quickly, and electric heat pumps are noisy as they cycle on and off – plus heat pumps only work down to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degree C).
These two systems leave a gap in your heating options – and this is where a personal space heater – like the Lasko MyHeat Personal Heater – comes in handy.
In milder climates our Lasko MyHeat Heaters keep us warm enough that we don’t use central heating at all. In colder climates our heaters reduce the amount of propane we use or reduce the amount of heat pump cycling while keeping our RV cozy.
We’ve used our MyHeat Heaters for more than two years, and we think these little heaters are a ‘must have’ for any RV, home, or office!
Safety and Space Heater Options for an RV
Our Winnebago Aspect 30C motorhome has two central heating systems: a 15,000 BTU heat pump and a 30,000 BTU propane furnace. However, once we began full-time RVing we decided we wanted a couple of space heaters as we’re often in mild climates where central heat isn’t needed. Plus they help keep us extra cozy in cold weather when we do run our furnace, as well as ‘spot heating’ the bathroom or desk area on chilly days.
However, before buying a space heater we had to address a few safety concerns. We weren’t convinced that running an electric space heater in an RV during the night was a good idea.
RV wiring is not as robust as the wiring found in most stick-and-brick homes, so continuously drawing high amperage through an RV outlet is a fire hazard and a real safety concern.
The Danger of most Space Heaters
Most space heaters are rated at 1500 Watts. Assuming you’re plugged into 120 Volts that means the space heater will pull 12.5 Amps as Amps = Watts/Volts (1500 divided by 120 = 12.5).
A good general rule is that you should never pull more than 80% of the breaker maximum rating for any length of time. Most RV outlets are on a 15amp breaker, so 12amps is the limit. Blowdrying your hair for a few minutes is fine, but running a 1500watt space heater for hours at a time on a regular basis is likely to melt your wiring and cause a fire – sooner or later.
To compound the problem, most RVs put several outlets on each breaker, just like in a home. In our RV half of our outlets are on one 15amp circuit breaker, and half are on another 15amp breaker. That means that stuff plugged into other outlets (TVs, Computers, Phones, Stereos, etc..) add additional draw to the 12.5amps the space heater is already pulling.
Short version: If you’re interested in running a more powerful space heater, make sure it either tops out at ~1400watts, or make sure it has a lower heat setting that pulls less power.
What About Propane Space Heaters?
We had equal concerns about running a propane heater as they emit carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes.
Propane heaters are popular among some RVer’s. However, we learned that all propane heaters have a disclaimer stating that you need to run it in a “well-ventilated” space. We realize that most propane heaters make enough heat to offset the draft they require, but it still seems a little counterintuitive to keep windows open when it’s cold outside so you can run your heater.
We also don’t want to carry around extra propane tanks, and propane heaters tend to be larger and harder to store.
We can still see the benefit of propane heaters. The Mr. Heater propane heater shown here can heat an RV by itself as it puts out up to 9000btu. We may revisit propane heaters some day if we buy a larger RV with more storage.
Back to Electric Space Heaters
With propane heaters off our list, we looked into finding an electric space heater we’d feel safe using in our motorhome.
We went onto a few technical websites, to confirm just how safe electric space heaters are for RVs, and if so, which ones are the safest. Of course, as with any electrical device, if you have one that is UL or ETL approved you’re off to a great start. (ETL is rated on the same level as UL, but uses Intertek as the testing laboratory.)
The other major RV safety concern is the wattage you’re using. Many space heaters use 1500 watts and are not recommended for heating an RV, since a continuous draw at this level has been shown to overheat many RV electrical systems. So we decided that to be safe, a 200 watt heater was the best option for our RV.
Next we learned there are two major types of electric space heaters: convection and radiant heaters. After researching both types, we found that convection heat would be best, since it consistently warms the air in your room. (Alternatively, radiant heat warms the person or a specific object in the room).
Of the types of convection heaters that you can buy, we saw that ceramic heaters are the most popular and the safest. This is because they use a ceramic core that allows them to run cooler to the touch, while keeping a consistent and safe level of desired heat. Plus they are energy efficient, which is a win!
So at this point we’d narrowed in on a 200 watt personal ceramic heater. Now we considered a few other features. The ceramic heater already gave us the ‘cool touch’ feature, so we wouldn’t need to worry about getting burned if we touched it by accident. We wanted a countertop model with an automatic shut-off switch – in the event that the air intake or output became blocked.
Why We Chose the Lakso MyHeat Personal Heater:
We learned that the Lasko brand is well-known for its ceramic heaters, so we checked them out. Turns out they’re ETL rated, and they’re American-made. They’ve been in business since 1906, and still manufacture their heaters, fans, and air purifiers in Texas and Tennessee.
We were sold! We bought two black MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heaters, which are a small, personal countertop model. At 200-watts, they draw less than 4 amps of electricity for both heaters. This is especially important to us, since our RV is rated at 30 amps, and we try and keep our energy usage as low as possible.
We’ve been very pleased with our heaters over the past few years! They store away easily while driving and take up little countertop space. Plus, quality is important to us, and the MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heaters still look and work like they did when they were new!
What’s Included with the MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater (Model 100):
MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater – 200-watt personal space heater with single on-off switch. Measures 3.8” deep by 4.3” wide x 6.1” tall; has a 6′ long cord and 2-prong plug. Weighs 1 pound.
- Quality, portable, lightweight product
- ETL rating with cool-touch safety feature and automatic shut-off if airways become blocked
- Manufactured in the USA by well-known industry leader
- Durable, reliable, and maintenance-free
- Easy to use with single on-off switch
- Uses small amount of electricity (less than 2 amps) and puts out decent localized heat
- Quiet motor makes a mild humming sound
- Long, 6′ cord reaches outlets, which may be sparse in some RVs
- Doesn’t have a tip-over safety feature.
- Will not replace a furnace or larger heater as 200 watts only goes so far.
- No special features found on higher priced models: (no remote control feature, dual temperature feature, or oscillating fan)
The MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater is a ‘must have’ in our RV – and we highly recommend it for RV’s, boats, homes, and offices alike. You can’t go wrong with the MyHeat as one of your basic heating options as it’s safe, portable, reliable, and cost-effective!