Thanks to the widespread adoption of mains hook-up, and advances in insulation and draught-proofing, using a caravan all year is ever more popular. Still, some form of heater is needed for winter touring.

The simplest option is an electric space heater: a unit that takes cold air in, heats it and expels it to increase the temperature in a living area gradually. Some rely on natural convection, like domestic radiators, while others use fans to force the air through.

Heating the air is not always the best option, though, particularly if your tourer is draughty, has poor insulation or you want to warm the awning. As well as wasting energy, the continual loss of heat may well be more than a space heater can keep up with. In these situations, radiant heaters make more sense. 

Radiant heaters simply emit invisible infrared rays that travel through the air without warming it, but discharge their thermal energy into whatever is in their path – such as you, if you’re close to the unit, rather than attempting the impossible: heating the air around you. 

Although they are normally silent, radiant units produce heat that you feel instantly. Unfortunately, you’ll only get any benefit from them when you’re close by. Move away or turn the unit off and that warmth will disappear just as quickly as it came.

Whether you opt for the space heater or radiant route, your first buying consideration should be power. Enough oomph to cope with really cold weather is essential to help keep you toasty on your winter caravan holidays, but be mindful that not all hook-ups are 13A or more. The ideal unit has an output that can be lowered depending on amperage.

Oscillating models spread the heat more evenly than stationary ones, and it’s a bonus if the heat output can be aimed precisely. Size, ease of positioning and stability are other important considerations.

With space heaters, a thermostat – which simply turns off the heater when the desired temperature is reached, and switches it back on when the temperature falls – spares you the trouble of switching the heater on and off repeatedly. Fan-only modes are a bonus for cooling in summer.

Speaking of fans, a decent air flow is crucial to spread heat evenly around your tourer, which can prevent cold and hot spots. Increased output has to be factored against unwelcome noise generated by some forms of more powerful fans. 

Timers are a desirable feature as well. After all, nobody likes to get out of a warm bed into a freezing cold room. Equally, many of us would not be happy leaving the heating on all night without supervision.

So in order to work out which are the best portable heaters for sale to make your caravan holidays comfortable all year round, we at Practical Caravan have done the legwork for you, trying many models as part of our portable heater group test.

Here we have the Sealey CD2013TT. In terms of output, this is a heater that will always keep your tourer warm. The maximum setting of 2000W is more than adequate for most UK winters, but reduced outputs of 1250W or even 750W prevents problems if hook-up is limited to 4A, or simply a little creaky. 

Despite its radiator-like appearance, this is actually a panel heater, so positioning it is easy. Thanks to the 60cm x 9cm footprint, it can go practically anywhere provided its top and lower edges are unobstructed. Other features we like are the built-in timer, the silent operation and — to spread warmth quickly — the optional fan mode.

The price we’ve quoted for this heater is £53.94 (£44.95 plus VAT), which is Sealey’s published price for this product. However, looking online, we’ve seen it stickered at much less – for example, Tool-NET quotes £38.62 (all prices correct at the time of publication). So perhaps you could save a few pennies by shopping round but, either way, we think the Sealey CD2013TT is well worth it. Our expert test team awarded this portable heater a glowing five out of five, and crowned it our Editor’s choice. A top class portable heater for your next tour.

One heater that came close to stealing the Sealey’s crown during our group test was the Kobe KBE-828-0130K which retails for £40, so it is also well worth considering, as is another Sealey product, the compact CH2013.

We also tested the Clarke OFR9/90 which retails for £36 and received a four-star rating in our review, while the Outwell Etna and the Dimplex Pro Series Self-Righting heater got four out of five, too, as did the Draper 02714 and the rather similar Kampa 1500W. The Kampa Diddy, the Screwfix 44164, the Kobe KBE-828-0140K and the Dyson AM05 scored three out of five, while the Argos 415/1364 got two out of five.

Or how about going off-grid and using a fuel heater? Find out more about them in our Zibro LC30 and Zibro RS24 reviews.