If you’re camping with access to EHU (electric hook up) then popping an electric heater in the car can afford you that little bit of luxury and convenience whilst camping. It’s a relatively straightforward purchase but there are few genuinely important safety bits you need to know too and some important common mistakes to avoid. You’ll notice I don’t recommend gas heaters or halogen heaters, they are both tied to terrible and even tragic accidents. Electric heaters are much safer but not without their caveats. I’ve cut the fluff in this list and just named the only ones that matter to help you make a better decision. These are the 4 best electric heaters for camping based on my own experience with them and some deep dive research from fellow campers too.
1. Best Electric Heaters for Camping: Kampa Diddy / Kampa Cuboid
The Kampa Diddy (Amazon) is a heater designed specifically for campers. It’s a fan heater which means from the moment you turn it on, heat is blown straight out just like a hairdryer. It’s got two heat settings one at 750w and one at 1500w. This means that no matter what the campsites limitations on power consumption, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to use it and not risk tripping the electrics for you or your fellow campers. (More on EHU limits below).
I have to say it’s a dead heat *wink* for first place though. The Kampa Cuboid (Amazon) and the Kampa Diddy have really similar specs but a slightly different form. The Kampa Cuboid is slightly more solid, square and stable. It weighs half a kilo more than the Diddy too. Both heaters are going to take some force to knock over but both have automatic cut off switches if they do get knocked over (trust me, they get knocked over, especially if you’ve got kids). Both the Cuboid and the Diddy are small enough to pack into the car easily and their surfaces remain cool during use, a great added safety feature.
The other plus for the Kampa Cuboid is that whilst it has two heat settings, it also has a cool setting and acts as a fan. I think fans are underrated whilst camping. They’re really great for moving air around in the tent and preventing condensation alongside keeping you cool in the heat.
The Kampa Diddy is a little cheaper although the Cuboid appears to sell out (it might even be discontinued) Rest-assured either of these is a really great option for the best electric heater for camping.
2. Cheap Electric Heater for Camping: Beldray EH3027STK
The Beldray Portable Fan Heater (Amazon) is a little beast. Just like the Kampa Diddy/Cuboid it’s a fan heater providing instant heat and getting rid of that early morning chill in minutes. It has an overheating protection system which automatically cuts off the heater if it gets too hot or it it tips over too.
I really like that this heater can be positioned either length ways or flat on the ground but it gets my vote for it’s flay lay. It’s super secure, there’s very little chance of you tipping it over due to it’s wide flat form.
The Beldray also has 3 heat settings, cold (fan), 1000w and even 2000w. A 2000w device is just about going to work on a 10 amp EHU but anything less and it’s going to trip out. 2000w of heat is amazing though and if your campsite doesn’t allow for it then the 1000w low setting is still going to heat up your tent just fine.
The lead is a little short at 1.4m so make sure you combine it with a decent length EHU cable. It’s not the quietest of heaters but I’m generally OK with the noise of fans when I sleep. I also noticed that it was much warmer to touch than the Kampa heaters. Definitely worth reading some of the safety advice about them below.
3. Best Radiator Electric Heater for Camping (and most efficient!): Oypla 2000w
The advantage of the electric oil filled radiator (Amazon) is that it’s silent. The fan heaters do make a noise, albeit very quiet so if noise is a real issue for you, I’d recommend the Oypla oil-filled radiator as your best bet.
It has three power settings which cater for varying EHU power supplies between campsites at 1000w, 1500w and 2000w. Even at the 2000w you’re still unlikely to trip most campsite electrical points. It also comes with overheat protection and a great thermostat which allows you to set the temperature and it’ll turn on and off accordingly (though I found it just stayed on whilst camping outdoors).
I had some great results running it on low heat which makes it really efficient too.
There are some downsides to the radiators however. They’re much bigger than the fan heaters so it takes a bit of consideration when packing into the car. They’re also a little slower to fill the tent with heat and honestly if there’s a bit of a draft it can feel like the heat escapes really quickly and takes longer to return. That might just be me but the heat isn’t as instant as the fan heaters. They’re also much more expensive, sadly.
If it wasn’t for the size, I’d be inclined to pack one because having a family of four with a dog means car space is limited but I like them because they feel safe and sturdy.
4. Best Oscillating Electric Camping Heater: Pro Breeze Mini Ceramic Fan Heater 2000w
The Pro Breeze (Amazon) is similar to that of the Beldray in terms of function. The one significant difference however is that the Pro Breeze oscillates, that’s right (!), it turns around a bit 😉
Joking aside, it is genuinely a great addition to the standard heater. As I mentioned above moving air around a tent is a great way to help reduce condensation and the additional oscillation helps move the air to all corners of the tent. It’s also great for distributing the heat towards a larger area. If you’re all sat on the couch then no longer do you have to fight to be in the “warm spot”. 😉
It comes with an adjustable thermostat and includes a high mode of 2000w and a low of 1200w. The heater switches off if it’s moved / unstable and it includes an overheating cut off too. These features are absolutely must-have.
It’s a little pricier but it feels really well made and features additional ceramic heating elements that are meant to be faster and more efficient at heating. I didn’t really feel that the Pro-Breeze was any faster to heat or indeed any more efficient than the Kampa Cuboid or Diddy however.
How Do You Safely Heat a Tent?
- Your heater must be stable, it must not rock or tilt.
- Do not place anything directly in front of the heater. Be careful of kids kicking toys/clothes near it if it is placed on the floor. Ideally,
- Position in the corner or near to a wall of your tent. Never have it touching a wall however, it could very quickly catch fire. The idea being that no one will trip over the cable behind it.
- Plug the heater into a well made, reliable and trusted EHU cable. Using a rubbish one can cause a fire. I wrote all about the best ones and what to know about them over here.
- Know the limitations of the electric hook up and how many of your appliances can connect to it at one time. EHU are not capable of keeping every single appliance running at the same time. You can read more about EHU here. Electric heaters draw a LOT of power and the last thing you want to do is trip all the power out.
- Never leave a heated unattended and always unplug them when not in use.
Why can’t I use a Gas Heater in my tent?
Using an electric heater is one of the safest ways to heat a tent. I haven’t recommended any gas or halogen heaters in this article because I honestly wouldn’t use them myself. Halogen heaters are typically shoddily made, off balance and easy to knock over. The cheap construction I’ve seen first hand (thankfully in my studio and not in a tent) fail and whilst the one in question had an auto cut off, it didn’t work and continued to heat the, thankfully, hard tiled surface it fell onto. I’ve avoided the hang from the roof type halogen heaters too for similar reasons.
Gas heaters come with a different and extremely dangerous factor. Gas heaters will inevitably produce carbon monoxide and carbon monoxide quietly kills by poisoning your bloodstream, causing you to pass out and then die from asphyxiation. I’m not messing around. They are designed for open awnings, gazebos with masses of ventilation and not inside tents.
Will an Electric Heater Keep a Tent Warm?
Electric tent heaters will most definitely help keep your tent warm. It’s worth saying they will work better if you’re camping in a tent with a sewn in groundsheet. Keeping draughts to a minimum will help contain the heat a bit better. Canvas or polycotton tents are generally a bit better at retaining heat over the cheaper polyester ones too.
Fan heaters like the Kampa Diddy (Amazon) will quickly replace the heat however, so you don’t have to worry too much about heat escaping and with it being directional, you can point it straight at those cold toes when you re-enter the tent.
What is the Most Energy Efficient Portable Electric Heater for Camping?
Generally speaking the higher an appliances power rating in watts, the more it costs to run. This is part of the reason campsites limit each pitch to around 2000w. Any more and it would cost them an absolute fortune if everyone is running electric cookers, fridges, ovens, TV’s etc.
The cheapest to run is the Oypla Oil Filled Radiator (Amazon) for it’s low wattage but running the Kampa Diddy (Amazon) on its lower setting for a shorter period of time is pretty close to the same expenditure and efficiency.
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The Kampa Diddy is my favourite electric heater for camping. It’s small, compact, easy to pack. The power modes cater for varying electric hook up supplies and it’s cheaper than the Kampa Cuboid too. I just don’t have the space in the car for anything bigger or the need, it ticks all the boxes.
If you have some wonderful tips on keeping a tent warm or an electric camping heater I should try then pop a comment down below or grab me on Instagram or Twitter.