Can you heat a pop-up camper? (5+ unique ways)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you heat a pop-up camper? We will discuss effective methods of heating a pop-up camper for your cold season travels. 

Can you heat a pop-up camper?

Yes, it is possible to heat a pop-up camper either by using an electric heater, a furnace or an external propane heater. 

Below, we will discover which one of the following methods is the best to heat a pop-up camper: 

  • Electric heaters and their alternatives;
  • Camping lanterns;
  • Boiling water;
  • Hot stones. 

Heat a pop-up camper: Electric heaters and their alternatives

Putting a small electric heater inside your pop-up camper is the fastest way to heat the inside of your shelter overnight. On the other hand, some of these heaters require an electrical outlet, which most of the time is only available in camper vans or motorhomes.

Our solution is: if you want to take an electric heater with you and you do not have access to an electrical outlet, just plug the heater into a small electric generator or a power inverter, it- even plugged into your car battery.

Either way, this solution requires transporting and installing additional equipment during your overnight camping trip. But, if you think that this solution is the best for you and your needs, then you will find for sale in the market small electric heaters from some big brands such as DeLonghi, Lasko and Holmes.

There are also hot air generators that run on propane and are easier to transport and use in a pop-up camper. On the other hand, they produce CO2 and are therefore more dangerous than electric heaters. It is therefore imperative to inform yourself well about their use before acquiring one and using it during your nights camping.

However, with proper ventilation, which is usually built directly into the interior of most pop-up campers, you shouldn’t have a problem with the carbon emissions from the generators; although it is crucial to always remain vigilant.

In case the thought of asphyxiation worries you too much, you still have the option of opening your pop-up camper windows while the propane generator is on: yes, some of the heat will be lost, but you will be sure to good air circulation inside your pop-up camper; and most importantly, you can fall asleep with peace of mind.

Also note that there are heaters on the market that run on propane and have been designed specifically for use in pop-up campers. Most of these radiators are made by the brands Coleman and Mr. Heater.

These are catalytic heaters: they, therefore, produce heat without any flame. However, if you choose this heating system, you should never forget to turn them off before going to sleep.

It is advisable to turn them on an hour or two before going to bed and turn them off as soon as you feel the air inside your pop-up camper is warm enough for your comfort. If necessary, you can always turn it back on the next morning, as soon as you wake up.

Heat a pop-up camper: A camping lantern

Lanterns are another efficient way to heat your pop-up camper without the discomfort of an electric heater and the danger of a propane heater.

This is an object in which you must place a lighted candle. The candle flame is inside a glass container that will provide you with light and, as long as it is not freezing cold outside, it will be quite able to ” increase the temperature of your pop-up camper by ten degrees.

Of course, since this is an open flame, it must be handled with care and you should never fall asleep with your lantern still lit. It is best to extinguish your candle before going to sleep, like catalytic heaters.

Thus, your lantern must be lit inside your pop-up camper before going to bed, in order to guarantee you sufficiently warm, cosy and welcoming internal air. Once installed in your sleeping bag, it is imperative to blow out the flame of your candle.

Heat a pop-up camper: Fill a non-plastic bottle with boiling water

Fill a bottle with boiling water just before going to bed so that it does not get cold.

Once your water boils, pour it into a bottle (not plastic) and place it at the bottom of your sleeping bag, near your feet. Similar to a hot water bottle, hot air will flow from the lower part of your body to the upper part to keep you at a sufficient temperature. Tip: put on a pair of socks!

Be careful not to fall asleep with a heat source directly in contact with your skin, as this could overheat this part of your body and thus evaporate the water naturally present in your internal organs; which is a serious danger to your kidneys. That is why it is advisable to place this bottle at your feet. 

Also be careful that this bottle is not in direct contact with your bare skin, as it could burn to several degrees if you fall asleep. The scars and scars of such a burn could remain for a number of months or even your entire life. To have experienced it, it’s not very pleasant. The frozen ground beef effect in a hot pan hurts and healing is slow!

Lastly, and of course, DO NOT drink the boiling water inside your bottle, unless it is your thermos filled with tea. It is also important not to drink the hot water that is contained in a plastic bottle, even if it has cooled.

Heat a pop-up camper: Use hot stones

This is little advice, which, done correctly, remains a totally effective and worthwhile solution to warming up your pop-up camper.

The principle of hot stones remains more or less the same as that of boiling water in the bottle, although it will take longer to heat your stones than your water.

But more importantly, hot stones take longer to cool than the water in your bottle, and therefore the interior of your pop-up camper will be kept at a good temperature for longer.

What you’ll need to do this little trick:

  • A source of fire;
  • one or more pairs of socks;
  • a handful of stones the size of a hand and with a smooth surface, because a stone with a rough or angular surface can cut the sock it is in, in addition to being unpleasant to the body.

Once you have gathered everything you need and lit your fire, position your stones 10 or 20 cm from it depending on their size and the size of the fire. Turn them every now and then to make sure the stone is charging with heat from all angles.

When the stones have reached the desired temperature (therefore, when they are too hot to be touched with bare hands), you will know that their centre will have been sufficiently heated and that they will therefore be able to keep your pop-up camper and your body warm.

It will take about two hours for the stones to heat up properly.

Once you have reached this level of heat, put your hand up to your wrist in your upturned sock and grab a stone in your fingers (still protected by the sock), then, with your free hand, pull the part of the sock. the sock that is wrapped around your wrist and wrap the stone inside the sock. Do this with all the rest of the hot stones.

Now you can place the hot stones anywhere you want in your pop-up camper. For example, you can put one at each corner of your pop-up camper or all in the centre, near your sleeping bag. And if you prefer, you can even put them right inside your sleeping bag just like the boiling water bottle.

Note: Never place them directly on your skin, even if they are rolled up in a sock.

Conclusions

It is possible to heat a pop-up camper just like you would heat up any other camper! It is important to feel warm in your recreational vehicle especially on cold nights. Insulating your camper is therefore essential: it will limit noise, cold and prevent water from entering. Do not miss the thermal bridges (interruption of insulation, heat loss) with hollow bodies, cutting points, bodywork reinforcements, windows and bays. 

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any tips or questions on how to heat a pop-up camper!

FAQ on Can you heat a pop-up camper?

Are caravans cold in winter?

Yes, caravans can get quite cold in winter, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot travel during the cold time of the year. As long as you are well-prepared, you can live and travel in a caravan no matter the weather. 

Do pop up campers stay cool in summer?

Pop up campers are not known for staying cool in summer. In fact, the vice versa is more accurate: if you are not prepared, you will start sweating in your pop-up camper every summer night. 

Does AC work in a pop-up camper?

Yes, AC works in a pop-up camper. We recommend you invest in a portable AC, that is easy to install and a great long-term acquisition. 

Can you sleep in a pop-top in winter?

Yes, you can most certainly sleep in a pop-top (also known as a pop-up camper) in winter, as long as you take all the necessary precautions to stay warm during those cold nights.

Is insulating a pop-up a good idea?

The insulation of the pop-top camper can be more or less valid and efficient, but it is still there. This means that the interior can be heated and the heat maintained, perhaps some models “hold better than others”, but this is not very important: your camper can face the cold. 

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