As improvements in draught-proofing and insulation come to the caravanning world, and as more campsites have electric hook-ups, more and more people are making the most of their tourers all year round, so are needing to top up their caravan accessories to ensure they’re always warm and comfortable, whatever time of year they’re on their holidays. But with so many portable heaters on the market, how do you know which one to buy? Practical Caravan is here to help.

We’ve put a collection of portable heaters through their paces to help you find the perfect product for you that will keep you cosy on your caravan holidays. But first, you need to decide whether you’re in the market for an electric fan heater or a radiant heater.

Electric fan heaters are the most straightforward heaters, taking in cold air, bringing it up to temperature and releasing it, thus gradually warming the space in which they stand. Some use natural convection, other heaters feature fans which force the air through.

Radiant heaters, on the other hand, don’t heat the air. They emit invisible, infrared rays that travel through the air but don’t warm it, instead discharging their thermal energy into whatever is in their path – hopefully you if you’re near it. The advantages of a radiant heater are that they’re usually silent and you’ll feel their heat right away. The flip side of this is that if you move away or turn the heater off, that’s it, the heat is gone immediately. However, if you’re looking to heat your awning or if your van’s a bit draughty, these could be more efficient and effective than electric heaters.

When considering which portable heater to buy, you also need to be sure that it has the power to cope with really cold weather, while also remembering that different campsites have different hook-ups, so it’s good if your heater has an output that can be lowered depending on amperage. Of course, the benefits of heaters with higher outputs must be weighed against the fact that more powerful units can be more noisy. 

Two other useful features are thermostats (so when the temperature you want has been reached the heater turns itself off and then back on again if the temperature dips) and timers (because you don’t want to leave a heater on unsupervised overnight, but you don’t want to wake to a freezing van).

In addition, oscillating models spread the heat more evenly than stationary ones, while you’ll want a model that isn’t so large that it’s hard to store and is stable and easy to position when you’re using it.

Here we review the Sealey CH2013. As we also reviewed the Sealey CD2013TT and it won this group test, hopes are high for this model.

The Sealey CH2013 is a good alternative to the Draper 02714 and the Kampa 1500W. On paper, all three have broadly the same spec: max output is 1500W, a lower output of 750W is available, there’s a built-in thermostat, and the heating element can be switched off so that the unit can also be used as a cooling fan in the summer, meaning you’ll get more use out of it. Why is this Sealey so cheap? It doesn’t oscillate, as the other two do. Still, we prefer this unit’s cute and compact size, mainly because it’s incredibly stable.

In our group test for portable heaters, we also reviewed the Kobe KBE-828-0130K, the Kampa Diddy, the Clarke OFR9/90Outwell’s Etna, the Zibro LC30, the Dimplex Pro Series Self-Righting heater, the Dyson AM05, the Zibro RS24, the Argos 415/1364, the Kobe KBE-828-0140K and the Screwfix 44164.