Best Solar Powered Heater for RV: To BUY or To DIY?

dr Drashco
dr Drashco DIY and HowTo Guides

Today I'm going to show you how to decide on the best solar powered heater for RV.

My first thought was to simply buy it straight of the amazon, instead of building it myself.

You might be asking: why would anyone want to build a solar heater instead of simply buying it?

Well, the truth is there are not that many good options to choose from Amazon.

That is why I have decided to build the solar powered heater for my camper, from scratch.

Continue reading to see how it turned out.

See also: What is a solar powered outlet?

DIY 12 Volt Heater for RV running on Solar Power

Maybe you are wondering, why do we need 12 volts if the heater is running on solar power?

Well, solar power can provide RV with heating during the day, but stil we need a fan to drive the airflow and push the warm air from the solar powered heater to the camper.

As a first step, I have decided to start with a smaller version of DIY 12 Volt heater for my RV. Here is how it looks like:

RV solar panel

You cannot be wrong if you first try the proof of concept by building a downsized version of a portable 12volt RV heater. This is recommended also for those who want to start a full-scale homemade solar project, but have certain doubts regarding DIY Solar Heating System efficiency.

You can quickly build (in a few hours at most) a downsized prototype version of the solar powered RV heater, and test the "proof of concept" to see how the system performs in real conditions.

Besides demonstration purposes, solar heater can preheat your RV cabin, a car, or a boat. If you want to use it as a solar powered car heater, you simply need to bring it inside the vehicle and put it onto a windshield (facing the sun).

Have in mind to park the camper in the correct spot and direction, with the windshield facing the east side where the sun will come out in the morning. And there you have it, a simple but extremely effective solar heating device for car, RV, truck or boat cabin!

Solar Powered RV Heater DIY Project: Parts specification

  • 15 beer cans, preferably larger (0.5 liters);
  • Few cardboard boxes, preferably with thicker sides;
  • Piece of glass, or a polycarbonate (Lexan, plexiglass);
  • 12 Volt Cooler fan recovered from an old PC power supply;
  • 12 Volt DC plug to supply the power for the fan (PC cooler), or,
  • 12 Volt PV solar panel if you're going to preheat your car with autonomous function.

Here is some cool picture of this unique, cheap, and simple sun collector for solar powered RV heater. All material and parts come from the re-used junk. Something that would most probably end up in the trash if there wasn't the opportunity to use all that to build our Do-It-Yourself solar heater.

solar panel for solar RV heating

It is an extraordinary feeling when you find out that your mini solar powered heater works! As you can see from the picture, this small solar thermal panel heated the air to 88ºC / 190ºF after barely half an hour under the sun! You can only imagine the amount of heating power produced by a regular-sized solar thermal heater sitting in the sun all day.

People think that you have to live in southern or tropical areas to use solar energy.

In fact, solar thermal panels work very well in southern parts and on an overcast day.
Usually, it is sufficient to have some sunlight or at least diffuse light.

Of course, more direct sunlight translates into more energy for harvesting by our solar powered RV heater...


Solar Powered RV Heater FAQs

Can I heat my RV with solar?

Sure you can, solar powered heater for RV will do the job perfectly well. However, keep in mind that solar powered heaters work only during the day. So you would stil need to have an alternate heating solution for the night (or to snug up into the sleeping bag).

Is there a heater that runs on solar power?

Yes there is, solar powered RV heater is using solar power to heat your camper. However, although the heat is free, keep in mind that the fan driving the airflow needs to use electricity from the 12 Volt socket.

How can I heat my RV without electricity?

To heat your RV without electricity, one option is to use solar powered heater. Although there is no need to use electricity for heating, keep in mind that the fan driving the airflow is running on 12 Volts. However, power consumption of a fan (especially comparing to a fully electric heater) is very small (around 6 Watts).