Improvements in caravan draught-proofing and insulation mean that year round caravan holidays are more popular than ever – and increasingly so. And if you’re going to have a go at some winter touring, you’ll need some form of portable heater, so here at Practical Caravan we’ve reviewed a range of products to help you make an informed decision.

An electric space heater is the most simple option, taking cool air in, heating it and then expelling it, thus slowly but surely upping the temperature of the room. Some of these make use of fans to force the air through, while others use natural convection.

However, if you’ve got a draughty or badly insulated van, or if what you want to do is to get some warmth into your awning, heating the air might not be the way to go. This is because as well as wasting energy, the ongoing loss of heat could be more than a portable space heater can cope with, meaning a radiant heater might, in this case, be a better bet.

So, what is a radiant heater? This is a unit that sends out invisible infrared rays. These pass through the air but don’t heat it, instead giving off their heat into whatever sits in their path which, if you’re sitting nearby, could be you, rather than heating the air around you. These types of heaters are usually silent and produce heat you feel right away. The downside is you only feel the benefit when you are near the heater – if you move away or turn it off, the heat will go as quickly as it arrived.

You might also like to consider a fuel heater – and these have come a long way in recent years. Find out about these in our Zibro LC30 and Zibro RS24 reviews. These are super options if you want to go off-grid.

Your number one consideration when buying a portable heater for your caravan, be it a radiant heater or a space heater, must be power. It’s about finding the balance between a product that will keep you toasty warm even when the weather gets really cold and remembering that not all electric hook-ups are 13A or more. In an ideal world, you’ll get a heater that can be lowered depending on the amperage available.

You will also want to bear in mind the size of the heater, its stability, how easy it is to position and whether it’s stationary or oscillating – the latter disperse heat more evenly.

If you’re buying a space heater, one with a thermostat that turns the heater off when you’ve hit the temperature you want and turns it on if the temperature dips is an advantage. In addition, a heater with a fan-only mode will be handy as it will be able to provide cooling in the summer months, too, so you will get more use from your purchase. While a timer function is useful, too.

To avoid having hot and cold spots in your caravan, you need to ensure there’s decent air flow. But for ease of use, you also want to weigh up the unwelcome noise of some more powerful fans against the benefit of their increased output.

Here we review the Dimplex Pro Series Self-Righting heater, a cute-looking little unit that costs £25.

One of the problems with small, ground-hugging heaters is that they’re too easy to trip over. Most models these days have safety devices that switch the unit off the instant it’s knocked over, but Dimplex goes one better with its Pro Series. Thanks to its broadly spherical shape and a very bottom-heavy weight distribution, it lives up to its self-righting name: even if it is knocked right over, it quickly returns to an upright position. Clever – and very handy.

The Dimplex’s maximum output of 2000W is more than ample for most caravan holidays, and there’s a lower setting to satisfy lesser mains supplies, too. The built-in fan is powerful, which is great for summer cooling but also means that the unit is a touch noisy. However, our experts still think this is an impressive product and gave it a four-star rating.

Other heaters reviewed in our group test include the Sealey CH2013, the Screwfix 44164, the Draper 02714, Outwell’s Etna, the Kampa 1500W, the Kobe KBE-828-0130K, the Dyson AM05, the Argos 415/1364, the Clarke OFR9/90, the Kampa Diddy and the Kobe KBE-828-0140K, as well as our five-star group test winner, the Sealey CD2013TT.