Everyone loves a fireplace for the wonderful ambience it provides. A fireplace gives a home a warm and cozy feeling. But what if you want to create this ambience in your RV? Today we’re talking about the RV fireplace – what it is, how it works, how it provides heat, and the various options available to RVers.
Similar to the way a portable propane fire pit serves to bring ambiance and warmth outdoors, an RV fireplace can be added to warm the interior of your RV both literally and figuratively.
In this post, we’ll be focusing specifically on the electric RV fireplace. Many RVers love them, and there are lots of options.
We should note that propane fireplaces for RVs exist, but because of the risk involved with working on propane systems, and the need for a very careful installation, we’re not including them in this post. The RV Industry Association (RVIA) has strict standards and regulations regarding the installation of a propane fireplace, with good reason. We don’t think this is the kind of project even competent DIYers should tackle, so we won’t be covering those today.
Meanwhile, fall is here and winter is coming so we’re just in time to warm up the RV. Let’s take a look at electric RV fireplaces!
- 1) How Does an Electric RV Fireplace Work?
- 2) What to Look For When Buying an Electric RV Fireplace
- 3) Popular RV Fireplaces
How Does an Electric RV Fireplace Work?
An RV fireplace is not only a great way to add a beautiful ambience to your rig, but some are also a reasonable way to heat at least part of your RV for fall and winter camping. And you can install them yourself!
In terms of how an RV electric fireplace works to provide heat, they’re not all that different from an electric space heater. You plug ’em in and turn ’em on.
This is why it’s so easy to add an RV fireplace to your rig. Some RVs do come with fireplaces, but for those wondering how difficult it would be to add one to an RV that didn’t come with one, it’s something that just RVer should be able to handle pretty easily. You just need the appropriate location.
Electric fireplaces (and fireplace inserts) require no ventilation, so it’s mostly just a matter of finding a space for the fireplace and plugging it in.
Some units don’t’ actually provide heat. They only provide the “look” of a fireplace for added ambiance. Others provide both heat and ambiance.
Heat is generally produced when cool air moves over a heating element that warms the air. That warmed air is pushed outward with a fan, providing heat to the RV’s living area.
Some RV fireplaces use infrared radiation to create heat.
An electric RV fireplace doesn’t require fuel – only power.
The way an RV fireplace provides ambiance is usually through fake logs and/or LED flames. Often you’ll find LED lights involved in the process. A metal reflector turns, causing the lights to appear to flicker as a flame would.
Flame color is more realistic in some units than in others so if this is important to you, be sure to read user reviews on any model you’re considering.
But the beauty of electric fireplaces is that they’re clean because they don’t require burning fuel, and they release no by-products.
As with any electrical appliance, or anything that produces heat, it’s possible for electric fireplaces to present dangers. For this reason, some models have a proximity detector for use in addition to a traditional smoke detector. A proximity detector turns off the fireplace immediately if an object (curtain, dog bed, etc.) gets close enough to become a fire risk.
What to Look For When Buying an Electric RV Fireplace
There are a number of things you’ll want to consider when shopping for an electric fireplace. Some of these features may be higher on your priority list than others.
Let’s take a look at some common features to consider.
Take a look at the area where you’d like to install the fireplace and measure it so that you can shop for units that will fit.
Some RV fireplaces provide heat while others only provide ambiance. If you’d like your fireplace to heat an area of your RV, make sure the unit you choose provides sufficient heat for that area.
Here you’ll want to look at the BTUs (British Thermal Units) provided by the fireplace. The number of BTUs refers to the heat output of your fireplace.
For example, if you want to heat an area that is 100-150 square feet or so, a 5,000 BTU unit would work well. If you want to heat 400 sq ft, you’ll want to consider a unit that has a considerably higher BTU rating.
Also, consider the climate in which you tend to travel. For example, will you be doing some winter RV camping where temperatures can dip very low?
If you’re an RVer who is always connected to shore power, then you may not be as concerned about how much power your fireplace uses.
But if you boondock a lot, powering your rig with solar, you’ll want a power-efficient fireplace and you may need to be cautious about your use. Appliances that produce heat can use a lot of juice!
Most RV fireplaces tend to use between 1,000-1,500 Watts of power. That large power draw will likely require a considerable amount of battery and solar capacity if you plan to use your fireplace off-grid.
Tip: If you’re looking at an RV fireplace that doesn’t give you the wattage consumed by the unit, but instead notes amps and volts, simply multiply amps x volts and the result will be the wattage.
If you’d like to be able to control the temperature range of your RV fireplace, you’ll want a model with an adjustable thermostat.
Some units offer a remote control.
RV Fireplace Insert or Freestanding Unit
Some RV fireplace units have their own enclosure while others simply offer a fireplace insert.
To use a fireplace insert, you’d need to either have a pre-existing space available to accommodate it or you’d need to install it where a cupboard or storage cabinet currently exists.
Freestanding units can be placed pretty much anywhere you have enough space, as long as you have a power outlet nearby.
“Fire Only” Mode
If you want your RV fireplace to be able to provide heat in fall and winter but you’d like to be able to use it when the weather is warm just for the atmosphere it provides, look for a unit that offers “Fire Only Mode”.
Safety features are always important when you’re adding anything that uses a heating element.
Automatic shut-off is a good feature to look for because it will automatically shut down your RV fireplace unit if it should overheat.
Some units also offer tip-over protection which means that should your freestanding fireplace unit tip over, it will shut down.
And as we noted earlier, some RV fireplaces offer a proximity detector so that if something should get too close to the heated portion of the unit, it will be detected and the unit will shut down.
Popular RV Fireplaces
Let’s take a look at a few popular RV fireplaces.
PuraFlame Klaus Electric Fireplace Insert
We’ll begin with a fireplace insert that can be freestanding or mounted.
The PuraFlame Klaus has a fire crackling sound as well as a glass panel door and a mesh screen.
With dimensions of 10″D x 24.8″W x 21.46″H, it weighs just over 31 pounds and provides about 1500 Watts of heat.
This PuraFlame unit offers three flame settings that use LEDs. They’re energy efficient and vary in intensity and brightness.
It can be used with or without heat and has a resin log. It also gets very high ratings from reviewers.
- Overall dimensions: Width: 24.80" x Height: 21.46" x Depth: 8.78". For more dimension details, please refer to "User Manual" in "Technical...
- 3 flame settings with variable intensity and brightness can be used with or without heat all year long; 100% energy saving LED technology
Duraflame DFI-5010-01 Electric Infrared Quartz Fireplace
With a 5,200 BTU heater, this model has an adjustable digital thermostat and uses infrared quartz. The beauty of this is that it provides heat that’s not as dry as that provided by a heating element and a fan. Infrared heat maintains the natural humidity in the air.
This unit consumes about 1,500 Watts of power. It’s freestanding and has a realistic 3D flame effect that can be used with or without heat. It also has protection against overheating.
The Duraflame weighs in at 28.6 pounds and has dimensions of 13.07″ x 24″ x 23.4″.
Two AAA batteries are required (and included), and a remote control is provided.
- 5,200 BTU heater provides supplemental zone heating for up to 1,000 square feet to help you save money
- Infrared quartz heat helps keep more natural humidity in the air, for comfortable heat without drying out the room’s air
ClassicFlame 23II042FGL 23″ 3D Infrared Quartz Electric Fireplace Insert
This infrared fireplace and heater is a wall-mounted/cabinet-mounted unit that measures 23.6 x 8.5 x 20 inches and is lightweight at just under 18 pounds.
It offers a 5,200 BTU heater as well as a 3D flame effect with 125 selectable options that can be used with or without heat.
It has a glass front panel that stays cool to the touch which is great for RVers with children or pets.
The ClassicFlame also uses something called a “Safer Plug” (patent pending) that monitors the plug temperature with a built-in thermometer.
This particular model is the 23″ version. ClassicFlame offers six different sizes up to 42″.
- Patent pending 3D flame effect technology offers a layered flame effect to create a realistic fire with five adjustable brightness and speed settings
- This insert measures 23.6"W x 20"H x 8.5"D inches
RecPro RV Fireplace 28″ (26″ Cutout Size)
This fireplace insert has a unique face provided by the curved glass. It’s a 4,600 BTU heating unit that uses 1400 Watts of power.
The RecPro fireplace has six temperature settings and five different levels of LED flames. It has a digital thermostat and a safety shut-off feature with an electronic timer and automatic shut-off to prevent overheating.
Note that this is an insert, and while it could be used as a freestanding unit, it would be odd because it’s not decorative on the sides. It’s designed to be mounted as an insert.
- Cutout Dimensions: 25 1/4" W x 6 1/2" D x 21" H (this is the dimension your wall cut-out needs to be)
- Overall Dimensions: 27 1/4"W x 21 1/4"H x 8 1/2" D
TURBRO Firelake 27-Inch Electric Fireplace/ Heater
This is a freestanding fireplace with a mantel.
This is a 1400 Watt fireplace with glass on three sides. It has a six-hour timer feature and can be heated to temperatures from 62 – 82℉. It has seven adjustable flame effects.
The TURBRO offers up to 4,780 BTUs of heat as well as a heat protection feature.
Flames can be used with or without heat and can be adjusted to use six different colors individually, or all six colors on a rolling cycle.
This model has dimensions of 26″H x 26.8″W x 11.5″D and weighs 44 pounds.
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