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Home Forums General Discussion Hello from UK! Need advise to stay warm in camper :-(

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    I’ve recently ventured out into a camper lifestyle and i really enjoy it.

    Problem is i tried solar panels 100w bosch cell and they are poor indeed. Obviously we dont get a lot of sunlight so power usage is tight and soon ended up with a flat leisure battery!! :-(  so i’ve been on hook up thanks to kind friends until i get on my feet to get this issue sorted.

    Ive now got a generator, kicking 400w an hour to 12v battery.

    I have tried to stay as eco as possible with build of van, sheeps wool for insulation, old cupboards that were from my last property and basically built it all from scratch.

    My main problem now is staying warm!! Snow is showing its ugly head and i’ve only been ‘comfortable’ because i’m on hook up running a 1200w fan heater. Once i go onto a 400w generator, i obviously could NO WAY use 1200w heater! lol bye bye battery.

    So, i got bio ethanol fire, which heats up place wonderfully and is a clean burn without the need for any flumes etc…yet it burns VERY quickly and very cost consuming. It isn’t ‘that cheap’ at all :-(

    So basically, i’m trying to stay low profile so no wood burner ideas lol (people will be charging to see if vans on fire!!)

    I need some idea’s, ANYTHING to stay cost effectively and safely warm?? I dont want gas or to rely on any ‘corporate idea’s’ if that makes sense? I know metal holds alot of heat, so maybe some devise to use with my fire to keep it heated for hours after fire goes out? I’m not sure, but cant find a lot out there.

    Anything would be great :-)


    soap stone will hold heat far better then metal.

    how many 100w panels did you have?  how many batteries?  what are devices are you using that require power.

    plus if your van runs, you can hook up a set of lead wires from the alternator through an isolator and use your van to  charge  your batteries when your driving. this wouldn’t be for heat but maintaining your battery(s)




    you might be able to get a storage heater. dont know how well it would work though.


    Hi Free Spirit, hope you’ve been managing to keep warm. I lived for 5 years in my van in the UK, and had a similar problem  (I’m now in a home-built cabin).

    I used a LPG cabinet heater, which was not ideal but I managed ok. I know you’re not meant to use them in a small space but my van was old with lots of air leaks so plenty of ventilation. It also had 2 of those roundy ventilators in the roof.

    I had a carbon monoxide alarm, and made sure never to go to bed with the heater going!

    I expect your electricity shortage is less of a problem now, my solar panels have started to produce some useful power now that the days  are a bit longer and the weather is not quite so dull. When we had all that wet weather and short days they were hardly producing anything at all.

    Hope it’s going ok,



    Well, A friend of mine in Arkansas solves such a problem by building a heater box outside the structure. Its basically an insulated box with a wood burning stove in it. He then vents the hot air into his structure with fans.  In his case he uses no ducting but builds the box adjacent to one window of the structure. Puts a fan in the window and viola. Note: Fire safety is still an issue so be careful.

    Eric T Daniels

    Our plan is to buy a replacement cover for one of those canvas garages big enough to give extra living space. We have a small camper and found heavy duty 10 year covers for around $600. I also plan to use tires and dig down the area our structure would be placed. This is so the outside frost doesn’t completely invade our sheltered area. This would also have to be wrapped in insulation material. This plan would still keep me able to be semi mobile. If the site wasn’t in the future going to be for living it would be a great foundation for a more permanent storage, cabin or even animal shelter. Heating it would be done by a home made mini wood boiler.

    Eric T Daniels

    I didn’t grasp that your as they call it stealth camping in a van when I first read it. I dive truck for a living. The trend is a bunk heater that burns fuel. They are very small and don’t use very much fuel or battery life. I would see if a bunk heater would be suitable for your needs.


    would it be feasible to build a small woodburner under your camper?
    the romans heated from below and it worked quite nicely, ive often wondered why we dont do the same
    but since you built thwe unit im sure you would know if this can be done, just a suggestion

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