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Oil Filled Electric Heater for Winter Camping?

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#1 Log Hog

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Posted 19 December 2015 - 08:09 AM

Is anyone using an electric heater when parked with electric hookup for taking the edge off the cold overnight? An oil filled heater looks to be the safest option - no open element, and temperatures under 200F, less than all common materials' combustion temperatures.


I wonder if this is a good pick - compact and could be put up on the kitchen counter away from bedding / upholstery? I have the thermal pack (thanks to Santa coming early), so I think a 500W heater would do just fine, even in sub freezing outside temps.




What is the outlet rated at inside the camper? 30A?





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#2 dorocks


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Posted 19 December 2015 - 02:39 PM

I just use the same ceramic type heaters that people use under their desk at work, All new ones have tip over protection, and turn off if knocked over. Definitely takes the edge off and I like the sound of a fan-heat and white noise. Does not put off fumes. They are compact. Stored under the couch while traveling. I sit it on the counter over the refer when in use.

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#3 JaSAn


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Posted 19 December 2015 - 03:57 PM


What is the outlet rated at inside the camper? 30A?



Probably 2 wire grounded 15 amp.  Though it could be 20 amp.  




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#4 Old Crow

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Posted 19 December 2015 - 03:57 PM

We've used a 1500-watt baseboard-style electric heater in our sport-top van for many years.  It has gotten most use at any one time when we visit relatives or friends in winter and camp in their driveway for a few nights.  It works quite well for that.


We typically only need our Buddy heater when we camp as we travel in cold weather.  But we also take the electric heater for those times we camp somewhere with hookups (which isn't very often). I must say, though, that we only take it because it stows out of the way on an overhead shelf and doesn't weigh much.


I once took my Honda generator along to run the electric heater off-grid during a snowy upstate-New York weekend.  It had the capacity but I didn't like listening to it kick in and out every few minutes as the heater cycled.  Also, I realized the next morning I'd much rather just reach over and start the Buddy heater from my sleeping bag than go outside to start the generator.


I'm wondering if the 700-watt capacity of the heater you link to will be enough.  You say 'take the edge off' and I don't know where you'd be using it but that sounds low.  On the one hand I know I have to keep my 1500-watt unit turned down low in temps above freezing.  But in temps below freezing, it seems like the heater isn't doing well for quite a while after turning it on. Perhaps others with experience more specific to a Four Wheel camper will chime in.


Overall, if I had the opportunity to use my electric heater every time I camp in cold weather, I'd do that.  But unfortunately, it's not practical off-grid and that's most of our camping.




PS- Your outlets are likely 15-amp max.  Even a 1500-watt heater only draws 12.5 amps but you would of course have to plan for total load on the circuit.  I run a 12-gauge cord for my baseboard heater and the only other load is LED lights. 

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#5 Wallowa


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Posted 19 December 2015 - 10:11 PM

I don't mean to be a spoiler but any non-vented heater that uses combustion to generate heat generates CO and depletes the oxygen.  In a confined space like a FWC the oxygen level can drop from nominal 20.9% to 9% with a catalytic heater [Google "fumes from a catalytic heater"].  CO is a by-product and is especially elevated in a confined space; how much depends on the heater and any venting.  CO is nasty stuff and ties up the hemoglobin that carries the oxygen in the circulatory system as a persistent carboxyhemoglobin [sp?] complex ; combine that with a lowered oxygen and it ain't good.


I would love to have a supplemental heater to use while "dry camping" in our Hawk that is on order.  But alas I do not trust any non-vented combustion stove [FWC stove use will require an open roof vent] or heater inside our camper; even with vents [2] and fans on [2].


External electrical power? Sure, an oil type electric heater would be my choice.  Even with our double batteries and solar input the amps drawn would be excessive without external power. 


Again, I am not trying to preach; but combustion has by-products and uses oxygen.



Edited by Wallowa, 19 December 2015 - 10:13 PM.

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#6 Squatch


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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:31 AM

I've got one of those radiator type heaters. Works fine but it's heavy and bulky. They also take forever to get hot and then stay hot for a while after they are turned off. Which has pros and cons. They can also get too hot to touch on the surface.


When my kid graduated college he was going to leave his space heater behind. I grabbed it. It's a little plastic cube type ceramic heater that's about 10" square. It puts out great heat, doesn't weigh hardly anything, and seems to be safe to set most anywhere. The element is contained deep inside and the housing never gets HOT. Warm but not hot. It will heat my Eagle up nice and quick in the driveway at 30*. If cold weather camping where we have shore power I'll use that. Save some propane and my battery.  


This is it.



That was out of stock. Looks like Holmes/Sunbeam bought the brand.


Edited by Squatch, 20 December 2015 - 01:55 AM.

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#7 Trailbob


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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:35 AM

I own an oil filled electric heater, similar to what you listed, but the 1500w size.  I have used it in a residence, garage, and cabin, and it worked well.  I thought about using it in a travel trailer and did some research on it on another forum.  I like the idea of the steady, consistent, heat that an oil filled electric heater provides, but I never have brought it in a travel trailer, mainly due to the size of the unit.


In a camper, I'm not sure this type of heater would be the best choice for a couple of reasons. First, the 1500w model it is a large heater that takes up considerable storage space.  Second, I don't think 500 or 700w size, even with the thermal pack, would be adequate near or below freezing.


I use a small 1500w ceramic heater in in our camper, and two of them in our 25' travel trailer, for those times when we have have electric hookups.  They work great, but if it is really cold we still use the furnace to bring it up to a comfortable temp first.  They have a 1500 and 700w setting, have a fan, and store easily under the seat in our camper, and in a storage compartment in our trailer.  I bought them from Amazon, and I think this is what we have:



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#8 Squatch


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Posted 20 December 2015 - 02:02 AM

Great minds think alike.

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#9 Freebird


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Posted 20 December 2015 - 03:59 AM

I went to Walmart and bought a cute little electric resistance heater with a small fan as part of the unit. I like that the fan is slight white noise. I also like that the fan moves air/heat around, and has a couple speeds.
It can also just be used as a small fan when appropriate.
I think it cost about $30 or less.... To long ago to remember (couple months- lol)

It is slightly bigger than a cube, but the hot parts are contained/protected. I like that. A cube can heat things up a little too well for my taste... if it accidentally gets aimed/bumped close to something "susceptible"....
Lots of choices out there for all our the different preferences. :-)

Edited by Freebird, 20 December 2015 - 04:06 AM.

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#10 iowahiker


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Posted 23 December 2015 - 01:01 PM

We used a hot oil electric heater in our small folding Aliner trailer when we had hookups with two settings, 700/1500 watts, and it worked well down to freezing on our 15 amp electric outlet circuit (30 amp service).  Hot oil was bulky and does not warm up a space as fast as radiant or a fan style electric heaters but we liked not having an ignition source in such a small camper.

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