Making a portable heater part of your go-to caravanning gear is essential if you’re planning to take some winter caravan holidays – but what are the best products to buy? To help you avoid plumping for a dud, Practical Caravan is here to help.

Our expert testers have put a collection of portable heaters through their paces to see how well they will heat your caravan and awning when enjoy a break in the colder months of the year, because although caravan insulation and draught-proofing have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, some extra heating power when temperatures nosedive is a great comfort.

Of course, you need to be careful to not overload your electric hook-up, therefore we’re fans of portable heaters which have a number of different output levels, so you can adjust the heater according to the facilities offered at the campsite you’ve pitched at. We also like heaters that have timer functions, so you don’t need to get up and dressed in a freezing caravan, because you don’t want to leave a heater on overnight, unsupervised.

You also need to decide what type of heater you want, a space heater or a radiant heater. Space heaters simply heat the air, taking in cold air and warming it before discharging it. They gradually warm the space they are in and some have fans to force the air through. Radiant heaters, on the other hand, don’t attempt to warm the air. They emit infrared rays that are invisible, which travel through the air and give off their thermal energy to whatever is in their path which, in your caravan, is probably you.

Space heaters aren’t always ideal if you’re trying to heat your awning or if the caravan you’re in is a bit draughty or has poor insulation. This is because, in addition to wasting energy, the continued loss of heat might be more than a space heater can keep up with. In this case, you will probably find that radiant heaters make more sense.

Here we review the Argos 415/1364. Heaters don’t come any plainer or more simple than this. The 61cm x 44cm panel has no fan, no oil filling, or anything else. It simply gets very hot and works much like a conventional domestic radiator. We like the no-nonsense, silent operation, but at this price we’re surprised that there’s no thermostat. Also, the 450W output is enough for a caravan in the middle of winter.

Being just 20mm wide, this is a pretty easy heater to position, even if your tourer is quite compact. And, should you wish to mount it permanently in your caravan, you’ll be pleased to know that it comes with all necessary clips and fixings. The Practical Caravan testers gave this portable heater two out of five.

In our group portable heater test we also reviewed the stylish Dyson AM05, the ceiling mounted Outwell Etna, the Zibro RS24 and the Zibro LC30, both fuel heaters that are good for off-grid camping, the Kobe KBE-828-0140K, the Kampa Diddy, the Draper 02714, the clever Dimplex Pro Series Self-Righting heater, two products from Sealey, the CD2013TT and the CH2013, the Kobe KBE-828-0130K, the Screwfix 44164, the Kampa 1500W and the Clarke OFR9/90, so you’re sure to find the perfect unit to keep you cosy on your caravan holidays.