Do you fancy taking a few caravan holidays in the winter? With more and more campsites open all year and with good facilities including heated washblocks and electric hook-ups, increasing numbers of caravanners are heading out on tour in the colder months of the year. This, of course, means updating your caravan accessories to ensure you’re prepared for cooler weather.

Portable heaters are great for keeping you toasty in your tourer, but with so many on the market, which should you buy? The Practical Caravan test team has reviewed a range of heaters to help you choose.

First, you need to decide if you want to have a radiant heater or an electric fan heater. The former is usually silent and gives out infrared rays that discharge their heat on whatever they come into contact with. Radiant heaters give you heat right away, but if you move away from them or turn them off, the heat goes instantaneously. Electric fan heaters, however, heat the air around them, quite simply taking cold air in, bringing it up to the desired temperature and releasing it, which gradually warms the space they are in.

There is a third option: how about going (potentially) off-grid and using a fuel heater? Which is what we have here with the Zibro LC30.

Electric heating will rapidly run down a leisure battery, so staying warm away from a mains supply requires fuel. But the instructions for many paraffin, butane and propane camping heaters warn against using them in caravans! 

But do not fear. The UK importer of the Zibro heaters featured here says that using fuel heaters in vans is safe, as long as enough ventilation is provided. Caravans hold lower volumes of air than a room in a house and tend to be far better sealed; air leakage doesn’t occur. 

A fuel heater will use all the oxygen in an unventilated caravan and make CO poisoning inevitable. So always supervise the unit when you are using it and be sure to invest in a CO detector to ensure adequate ventilation.

So, how did the Zibro LC30 perform in the Practical Caravan review? Dismiss memories of stinky paraffin heaters belching out soot and damp: these slick Japanese models couldn’t be more different. A mains supply is required, but the 13W demand is modest enough for a leisure battery and inverter, making this unit and its 3000W output ideal for off-grid camping.

The heat produced by the Zibro LC30 is intense and dry, and the unit’s operation convenient, thanks to the timer. There’s also a sophisticated thermostat that, rather than switching the unit on and off, throttles output back to maintain the desired temperature, which is rather clever. Our testers gave this heater a four-star rating.

From the same manufacturer we also reviewed the Zibro RS24, another fuel powered unit that gives excellent, off-grid heating.

The winner of our group test was the Sealey CD2013TT. Other models put through their paces that are worth considering are the Dyson AM05, the Argos 415/1364, the Kobe KBE-828-0130K, the Kampa Diddy, the Sealey CH2013, the Clarke OFR9/90, the Outwell Etna, the Dimplex Pro Series Self-Righting heater, the Draper 02714, the Kampa 1500W, the Kobe KBE-828-0140K and also the Screwfix 44164.