4 Ways to Heat Your Van This Winter
Did your water jug freeze last night? If so, it might be time to get serious about heating your van and preparing for winter!For some, winter may only be an inconvenient chill that makes warm morning coffee taste even better! While northerners may face sub-zero temperatures, drifts of snow, and excessive wind chill. Either way we all want to stay cozy when the temperature drops. In this guide we are going talk about everything you need to know about keeping warm during these frosty months. Creating a warm and comfortable space takes a bit more then just a good heater so first let's talk insulation.
1.InsulationInsulation. Keeping the heat it and the cold out. Believe it or not maintaining a warm temperature starts here. Proper insulation is almost as important as the heat source itself. It's purpose is to form a convection barrier ,or in simpler terms, a temperature barrier. By natural law hot moves to cold so the heat is always trying to disperse and escape to the colder air outside. This convection layer is what slows down that process and keeps in the warmth created by your heat source. So it's obvious that the bigger and better the layer the more heat you can keep inside. It's also important to insulate as many surfaces as possible to include the floor, ceiling, and walls. Any cracks or gaps in coverage will create a cold well that essentially sucks out the heat. Windows are typically the biggest source of heat loss. So it might be worth sacrificing the view to cover them with insulation during the winter months. There are varying types and quality of insulation as well as methods to install. However, we've got a lot to cover so we will talk about that in a separate conversion article.
2.Heat SourcesWhen it comes to heating there are a few good options that work really well for vans or RV's. Each has their pros and cons so we will go over each to help you find exactly what you need!
Sub-Zero Sleeping BagWhen heating the entire van is not possible or too expensive nothing is more cozy then a mummy bag. These are sleeping bags specifically designed for winter camping use. Typically rated from zero to negative forty degrees you can be sure to find one that will work for you. Keep in mind that the lower the temperature rating the higher the price. Anything below zero degrees might be sort of spendy so if your really on a budget a "blanket pile" can also do the job just as good. Think layers. More the merrier. Either way this will at least keep you warm enough to sleep comfortably. For those who have an adequate electrical system consider adding a heated blanket to the mix. On high these typically consume 75 to 100 watts. When combined with more blankets to retain heat though the low setting could suffice which uses only about 40 to 50 watts.
Propane heaters are typically the cheapest type of heater. That being said it's probably the best option to get you in the game. These heaters provide instant heat and can increase the temperature in a small space rather quickly. Fuel is usually housed in either a 1lb or 20lb cylinder. The smaller 1lb bottles are typically not refillable without extra attachments but 20lb tanks can be switched with full ones at a lot of stores.
What's a good propane heater?
- Mr. Buddy- lot's of safety features and intended for indoor use. The favorite among van dwellers. 1lb bottles or 20lb tank with adapter hose.
Diesel HeaterKnown for ease of use and reliability the "chinese diesel heater" has become very popular among van lifers. They work great in both automatic and manual modes. It's an added perk if your vehicle already runs on diesel but the unit also requires power for the control unit, fuel pump, and ignition. This system heats air by burning fuel in the heat exchanger and then blows the heated air into the van. No worries about fumes though as the system is vented. As stated in the product description "This type of heater has the advantage of compact structure, light weight, high thermal efficiency, economize on electricity and fuel" What's a good diesel heater? The Webasto Dieslel Heater is the top choice among many van owners.
There's nothing more cozy then snuggling up next to a fireplace. Compact wood stoves have become very popular in both tiny homes and nomadic vehicles. Besides the cozy aesthetics they provide dry heat and utilize cheap fuel. So not only does this option not produce extra moisture but it can actually help combat moisture accumulation. Some stoves use other forms of fuel like coals, pellets, or corn but most compact styles use wood. This means that the fuel is rather cheap. You may even be able to find everything you need in your environment which makes this choice very sustainable. Since smoke and fumes go out the chimney there is much less worry about carbon monoxide. Depending on the size you may even be able to cook on these stoves. Sounds pretty good right? Well even wood stoves have a downside. The chimney and smoke created takes away quite a bit of stealth. Also, as the fire burns down you may have to wake up in the middle of the night to add wood or stoke the fire. Another consideration is installation. It can be tricky to cut a hole in your roof for the chimney and a wood stove tends to take up a bit more space since it needs clearance from walls or fireproof material surrounding all sides. Also, these small wood stoves need the chimney to be cleaned more regularly then a typical stove. That because in it's compact size there is less heat generated then a standard sized one. This causes more creosote deposits to build up inside the chimney. If unattended for long periods creosote can catch fire and start a chimney fire. What are some good wood stoves?