We have been surprised at how popular our VW campervan hire in London has been this winter, with many people opting to explore the British countryside. I can see the appeal, with those winter walks and open fires in country pubs. It also provides a very practical and cost effective way to get across the country to visit all the family during the festive season, whilst providing accommodation too!
With all the winter bookings, we decided to review the best heating options to make sure that our Campervan hire customers stayed toasty warm.
Self drive campervan hire heating solutions:
Currently we offer the following for our self drive customers:
- An electric hook up (including RCD safety device to cut protect users against any current leakage and potential shocks);
- An oil filled small portable radiator (heats the camper very well, can be left on over night, and poses little fire risk as has no exposed heat elements or moving fan);
- An optional, portable gas heater to quickly heat the van when camping without an electric hook up. Ceramic based to avoid fire risks. This uses special gas canisters which will last for 7 hours 15 mins each and cost £10 per canister;
- There is the use of the hob with free gas supply. This can provide a quick boost of heat where required; and
- Curtains for insulation go all the way around the campervan windows, including the front screen.
Wedding hire customers stay toasty warm:
Our wedding customers stay warm with the following:
- A propex heater to warm the cabin whilst on the move;
- For weddings in very cold conditions we also offer novelty campervan hand warmers – one for each hand. Just click the disk inside the hand warmer, and it emits heat to keep those hands toasty!
Pros and Cons of different heating solutions on the market place
We researched the various heating options available to us, and thought that we would share our findings for those looking to heat their own campervans. Have a look the pros and cons that we found for each solution below, and feel free to add comments on your own findings to this blog. It’s always good to share the knowledge!
A small heater that runs off gas
- Relatively cheap;
- Small sized and portable propane; and
- Most are of the vent-less type so they are incredibly efficient
- Can only be used with sufficient ventilation (eg a window open) to avoid the second and third points below. This reduces their efficiency;
- Ventless portable gas heaters give off waste gases, which could result in carbon monoxide poisoning. It is possible to fit a carbon monoxide detector in the campervan to prevent the risk of poisoning – however, it is still not advisable to use them whilst you are sleeping;
- Generate water vapour which can bring about rust;
- Present a fire risk if tipped over or overheat. Should not be used whilst driving. A heater equipped with a tip-over switch will automatically shut off if it is tipped over accidentally. Portable heaters with overheat protection switches function in nearly the same manner. When an unsafe temperature is detected, the switch automatically shuts off the unit to prevent overheating;
- Require gas canisters and spares if going on a long trip. It is best to be prepared, as the canisters often do not have universal fittings and may be tricky to source if camping overseas; and
- Use up storage space.
PRODUCT SELECTED BY BUTTERCUP BUS VW CAMPERS:
Buttercup Bus VW Campers have a portable gas heater that can be hired, as long as it is used responsibly with ventilation as described above. We opted for the BlueCat heater because:
- It provided a catalytic panel for flameless heating;
- Came with an ignition, so dod not require a match;
- High/low setting for adjustable temperature; and
- Portability at 1.7kg and handles to carry;
- No electric hook up required;
- Coleman Camping Gas canister for 7 hours 15mins heat with a CV470 cannister;
- Simple and highly effective; and
- Cost: c. £50-60
These offer automatic thermostatically controlled blown air heating systems fuelled by propane or butane gas with external vent.
- All of the combustion gases and water vapour produced are vented to the outside of the van;
- Suitable to use whilst sleeping / driving;
- Come with temperature control;
- Packed with safety switches to monitor the flame, case temperature, combustion airflow, gas and voltage levels. The heater will be switched off and the red light on the thermostat will indicate a fault if a problem occurs.
- Require gas canisters and spares if going on a long trip. It is best to be prepared, as the canisters often do not have universal fittings and may be tricky to source if camping overseas;
- Require fitting to the vehicle, with external vents made in the bottom of the bus
- Expensive c. £500 plus fitting;
- Can run the leisure battery flat if used whilst camping and stationary for a prolonged period; and
- Gas canister can use space.
PRODUCT SELECTED BY BUTTERCUP BUS VW CAMPERS:
We have a Propex heated fitted in our wedding van. This is used to keep wedding parties warm whilst on the move in winter. Kicks out excellent heat, and has a thermostat switch up front for driver control.
Heater linked to fuel tank
- Cheaper to run off Deisel than a Propex heater;
- Easy to source more fuel;
- Heats up very quickly;
- Comes with temperature control; and
- Don’t have to carry additional fuel source.
- Noiseier than a Propex;
- Can use up fuel for vehicle;
- Needs to be fitted;
- Expensive c. £500-£800 plus fitting; and
- Will drain battery if stationary camping.
BUTTERCUP BUS OPTION:
We have a disconnected Eberspacher in one of our campers. This was disconnected to conserve fuel and we opted for a combined portable gas / electric heating solution.
- Easy to operate;
- Do not emit poisonous waste gases;
- There are models that can be used overnight – for example, the small oil filled radiator. They cost a little more but work VERY well and pose almost no fire risk compared to halogen, fan or radiant heaters; and
- Cheap c. £60
- Fan heaters are cheaper and can provide instant heat – but do tend to be noisy and are dangerous if the accidentally get covered, ie like a towel or coat falling onto them;
- There is a risk if the electric heaters are exposed to wet conditions, so must be handled with care in a camping environment;
- Electric heater with cords is it increases the possibility of tripping accidents. Therefore, you have to place the unit in an area away from foot traffic;
- Many of these heaters cannot be used whilst on the move. You need to be hooked up to a mains supply; and
- Use up storage space in the campervan.
Other heating solutions
Other options to provide a cozy camping experience include:
- An electric blanket for night time;
- Double sleeping bags;
- Novelty hand warmers;
- Good insulation (including curtains that go all around the campervan); and
- A good old traditional cup of tea!