If you’re one of the increasing number of caravanners who likes to go on tour any time of the year, you’ll appreciate the value of a good portable heater, to ensure you stay warm in your tourer all year round.

We, therefore, have put a collection of heaters to the test including this, the Outwell Etna. It received a four-star rating, as did the Kobe KBE-828-0130K, the Zibro LC30, the Draper 02714, the Kampa 1500W, the Dimplex Pro Series Self-Righting heater, the Clarke OFR9/90 and the Sealey CH2013, while Dyson’s handsome AM05, the Zibro RS24, the Kobe KBE-828-0140K, the Screwfix 44164 and the Kampa Diddy got three stars, and the Argos 415/1364 got two stars. However, our group test winner was the Sealey CD2013TT. So, what makes this Outwell a strong contender and, when you’re shopping for a new portable heater for your winter caravan holidays, what features should you look for?

Of course, the price of the heater you’re buying as well as value for money are very important. With a price of £63, this Outwell Etna heater wasn’t the cheapest product we reviewed, but it was by no means the most pricey, either. Another key issue is output – will the heater keep you warm, even in the coldest of weather, without overloading your caravan’s electric hook-up? Being able to lower or raise the output as appropriate is a useful function. But then some more powerful heaters are more noisy, so you’ll need to decide where the balance is for you. In addition, be sure to promote good air flow in your caravan, so there are no hot or cold spots and the heat is dispersed evenly throughout.

These are portable heaters, meaning their size and their weight are factors to bear in mind, as you’ll need to find space in your tow car or tourer for this heater when packing for your holidays. You will also want a heater that is both easy to position and stable once in place. A timer is another handy feature, meaning you won’t wake up to a cold caravan, but you won’t need to leave your heater on all night long, unattended. On the other hand, a heater with a fan-only mode to provide cooling in the summer can be useful – and might mean you get more use from your purchase.

So, what did the Practical Caravan review team make of the Outwell Etna? This is a ceiling mounted heater and although it may resemble an old-fashioned bathroom heater, its combination of instant radiant output and lofty position makes it one of the most usable radiant heaters we’ve come across. And, boy, is it well engineered. 

What is a radiant heater? It’s a unit that emits infrared rays that discharge their heat onto what sits in their way – which will hopefully be you. In other words, they don’t attempt to heat the air. However, a great advantage of them is that they produce heat that you feel as soon as you turn them on, although this means that the instant you turn the heater off, the heat goes.

Taking into account the fragile nature of awning hooks, or whatever you find on your caravan’s ceiling to support the unit, the all-alloy construction of the Outwell Etna is tough but incredibly lightweight. The small hanging chain, complete with two karabiner hooks, is as effective as it is foolproof. The 800W output is best suited to autumn or spring spot-heating. In winter, additional warming will probably be required.

So if you’re heading out on tour this winter, whichever part of the country you plan to visit, you’re now armed with all the information you need to ensure you stay warm, cosy and comfortable in your caravan.