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How to Use a Catalytic Heater in an RV


It’s not always as warm as you’d like it to be in your RV or trailer, that’s where the use of space heaters and catalytic heaters can come in handy.  The industry has been divided on the use of catalytic heaters in particular when you’re driving, but you can safely use one inside your RV or trailer with our guide.

Running your forced-air furnace all day and night will quickly drain your battery and use up your propane.  If you’re on a long road trip, this just won’t work so finding an alternative is the key to staying warm during the fall and winter months.  That’s where a catalytic heater comes in handy.

What is a Catalytic Heater in an RV?

A catalytic heater requires no electricity whatsoever to operate.  This means that your battery can be used for other tasks when on the road.  Catalytic heaters still use propane, but since they require no open flame, the propane rate is the much lower rate.  This is where the issues with this type of heather come up.  There have been deaths attributed to the use of a catalytic heater in a small space.  However, these deaths are mostly due to carbon monoxide poisoning and not issues with the heather itself.

If you use a catalytic heater, you want to ensure that you have proper oxygen flow in the RV.  This means making sure vents are open, and that air flows freely since the heater itself absorbs oxygen.  Many catalytic heaters come with an oxygen level reader which will automatically shut off the heater when the oxygen in the room reaches a certain threshold.  You also want to ensure that along with a fire alarm; you have a carbon monoxide detector in working order in your RV or trailer.

What Types of Catalytic Heaters Are There?

There are two primary types of catalytic heaters on the market:

  • Portable
  • Mounted

Portable catalytic heaters utilize a disposable propane tank to work.  You can use an extension hose to run it off your RV or trailer’s regular propane tank if you want.  These can be good if you don’t need a permanent solution like the mounted catalytic heaters.

Mounted catalytic heaters are permanently installed in your RV or trailer.  They’re heated from your propane system directly and usually come in a variety of sizes to fit each RV or trailer type.  You can get the right model for your RV or trailer square footage for maximum effect.

Safety Tips for Catalytic Heaters

If you opt to use a catalytic heater in your RV or trailer, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Only use indoor catalytic heaters
  • Make sure your vent system is in working condition and open at all times
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector installed
  • Ensure the heater has tip over protection
  • Cover your catalytic heater at any time when it’s cooled off and not in use
  • Make sure your catalytic heater isn’t sitting on anything; it should be in an open space, at least a foot away from any object or wall

A catalytic heater for your RV or trailer can be an efficient way to stay warm so long as you’re using them safely during your travels.

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