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RV Stoves: Gas, Induction, or Diesel – Which Is Best?

RV Stoves: Gas, Induction, or Diesel – Which Is Best?

There is much to love about having a home on wheels. One feature that makes an RV a home is the ability to cook meals wherever you travel, using your RV stove. Several types of RV stoves are available, each with its own pros and cons.

Today we’re looking at gas, induction, and diesel RV stoves. Which type is best depends on a number of factors, including the way you like to RV.

What Kind of Stove Does an RV Use?

There are generally four different types of RV stoves (or RV ranges or cooktops) — propane-fueled, diesel-fueled, alcohol-fueled, and induction.

In this post, we’ll be looking at three of the four, focusing strictly on the stove component rather than ranges with stove/oven combos. (See our post on RV ovens if you’re looking for information specific to that topic.)

A gas RV range

Although ovens are often found in RVs, in this post we’re specifically covering RV stoves/cooktops.

We also won’t be covering alcohol stoves in this post because they’ve become difficult to find.

Alcohol stoves were quite popular, especially for marine use. But two-burner alcohol stoves like the popular Origo models that Dometic once sold have been discontinued. Even West Marine no longer carries Origo stoves. Most of the alcohol stoves that remain are tiny portable units with small sterno cans for heat.

So, we’ll focus on the three types of RV stoves that are most commonly available, two of which run on liquid fuel and a third that uses electricity. These can be “drop-in” style stove tops that sit down into an opening in the countertop, or “slide-in” style RV stoves that slide into the counter from the front.

Let’s take a look at each of the three types of RV stoves and the pros and cons of each, along with some of the most popular examples.

LP Gas RV Stove

An LP (liquid propane) gas stove represents the most common type of RV stove. Obviously, this type of stove requires the presence of a propane tank onboard the rig. In RVs that use other propane-fueled appliances like fridges, heaters, and water heaters, you can also expect to find a propane-fueled stove.

Generally, you’ll find propane RV stoves with either two, three, or four burners, usually depending on the size of the RV.

Pros

Propane heats well and quickly and is an economical option. It’s generally convenient, especially if you have other propane-fueled appliances. It’s also easy to obtain portable DOT propane cylinders for any size camper and to replace or refill them when they’re empty.

It’s also easy to see how high the heat/flame is set, making it easy to monitor and adjust the temperature up and down as you cook. Propane is also a robust source of energy, so an LP cooktop pretty much sips propane.

Cons

If an RV doesn’t already require a propane tank to fuel additional appliances, then the need to carry a propane tank just for cooking would likely be seen as a negative for most RVers.

Also, safety concerns around propane need to be considered. When propane appliances are in use (particularly those that don’t vent outside, like a cooktop), the RV should be vented. Turning on a range hood that vents to the outside is also a good idea, as is opening a window, roof vent or fan. And you must always have a working RV propane detector onboard.

Propane detectors are required safety equipment for any vehicle that carries propane. These devices are designed to detect a propane gas leak in your RV. If a leak is detected, they emit a loud warning tone to alert everyone inside the rig to the fact that there’s an LP gas leak. This is important because a leak can be deadly.

For more information, see our post, “What Is an RV Propane Detector?“.

Lastly, running out of propane when you’re in the middle of cooking dinner is no fun. The video below shares our simple trick for making sure that never happens to you!

Options

Here are three popular options for propane RV stoves. Note that the first is a drop-in style, while the other two are slide-in models.

Dometic DROP-IN COOKTOP - Two Burner Cooktop Cast Iron/Flat Wire Grate -Top Mount Stove for RV and Outdoor Camper Kitchens
  • TWO BURNERS STOVE - This Dometic Drop-In Cooktop is a versatile cooking solution, featuring two burners with multiple ignition types, including...
  • VERSATILE COOKTOP: Choose between cast iron or flat wire grates to suit your cooking needs. The cast iron grate provides even heat distribution and...
Chevrolet 2985A Glass Cover-Slide-in Cooktops and Ranges
  • Provides a stylish, sophisticated look for your RV
  • Glass cover fits slide-in cooktops and ranges
Sale
Furrion 2021123926 Slide-in 3 Burner Gas RV Cooktop with Glass Cover - 20", Black w/Rocker Switch
  • POWERFUL COOKING - Three burners with a heating output of 21,000 BTUs total give you the flexibility to become the master chef of your mobile kitchen
  • GLASS COVER - The glass cover acts as extra counter space while the cooktop is not in use and helps keep your RV kitchen clean, serving as a...

Induction (Electric) Cooktop

Induction cooktops have become increasingly popular RV stove choices in the past several years. This is partly due to concerns over health issues related to open flames in enclosed spaces and the hydrocarbons that are released (and are potentially dangerous).

Induction is usually the choice for all-electric RVs with 120V AC or 12V compressor fridges, and, most often, diesel-powered hydronic heat and hot water. Those features on an RV mean that a propane tank isn’t needed at all. So why bother installing propane just for the cooktop?

Since those all-electric RVs already have to be equipped with substantial battery banks to power a residential or 12V fridge, they also have enough power for a cooktop too.

Induction cooktops look and function a lot like glass-top electric stoves. However, they generate their energy from an electromagnetic field below the surface of the glass cooktop.

Pros

Induction cooktops heat up immediately and can be used inside or outside. Regarding cooking ability, induction units offer fast heating and excellent simmering.

They’re safer than propane, as there’s no open flame that could start a fire. Induction cooktops are even safer than traditional electric stoves because the heat is concentrated under the pan and not around the rest of the surface. And when you remove the pan from the cooktop, the surface cools very rapidly, making it safer, especially when kids are around.

The smooth surface of an induction RV stove is also super easy to clean. If something boils over, it won’t burn onto the surface, which you can simply wipe clean.

Because induction cooktops heat using magnetic current, there’s no need to carry a liquid fuel source like propane or diesel, as long as your other appliances don’t use one of those fuel sources.

Finally, other types of RV stoves throw a lot more heat into the room you’re cooking in. That can be a real negative in the heat of summer. There’s also no need to worry about venting for safety. (You still may want to vent when you cook for other reasons.)

Cons

The high power draw is the biggest negative of an induction cooktop for an RVer. They use a significant amount of electricity. If you’re connected to shore power, that may not be an issue (as long as you’re on a 30- or 50-amp connection). If you’re boondocking, that might present a problem, especially if your battery and solar system (or your generator) capacities are already somewhat taxed.

So, induction cooktops may not be the best option for RVers who boondock a lot, unless their rigs are equipped with enough auxiliary power to handle it.

Another potentially significant drawback — you may need to purchase all new cookware if you upgrade to an induction RV stove. They require pots and pans that contain ferrous (magnetic) metals.

If you already have compatible cookware, this may not be an issue for you. To test your pots and pans, hold a magnet up to the bottom. If the magnet adheres to the pot, it will work on an induction cooktop.

Options

Nuwave PIC Double, Portable, Powerful 1800W with 2 Large 8” Heating Coils, Independent Controls, 94 Temp Settings from 100°F to 575°F in 5°F Increments, 11.5” Shatter-Proof Ceramic Glass Surface
  • MAKE ADJUSTMENTS ON-THE-FLY – Want hotter temperature or need to cook it longer? No problem. Simply adjust on-the-fly any time. No need to start...
  • 96 PRE-PROGRAMMED TEMPS - Select from the 6 convenient preset temperature settings or fine tune your own temperature from 100°F to 575°F in 5°F...
Sale
Nuwave Pro Chef Induction Cooktop, NSF-Certified, Commercial-Grade, Portable, Powerful 1800W, Large 8” Heating Coil, 94 Temp Settings 100°F - 575°F in 5°F, Shatter-Proof Ceramic Glass Surface
  • MAKE ADJUSTMENTS ON-THE-FLY – Want hotter temperature or need to cook it longer? No problem. Simply adjust on-the-fly any time. No need to start...
  • 94 PRE-PROGRAMMED TEMPS - Select from the 6 convenient preset temperature settings or fine tune your own temperature from 100°F to 575°F in 5°F...
Sale
Duxtop LCD Portable Double Induction Cooktop 1800W Digital Electric Countertop Burner Sensor Touch Stove, 9620LS/BT-350DZ
  • 【DUAL HEATING ZONES】→ This professional digital countertop induction cooktop by Duxtop is equipped with two independent heating zones that allow...
  • 【SAFE—EASY TO USE—EASY TO CLEAN】→ Child safety lock system helps protect from injuries such as scalding. Touch control panel is simple to...
ECOTOUCH 3 Burner Induction Cooktop 24 inch with Booster,220-240v 6500W Built-in Glass Ceramic Electric Induction Burner,True High Power,Drop in Hot Plate 24" Induction Cooktop Hard Wire(No Plug)
  • 【Sleek Induction Cooktop】Nice elegant and sleek appearance, compact and built-in design it is, the ECOTHOUCH induction cooktop 3 burner offers you...
  • 【Powerful Induction Cooktop】The ECOTOUCH electric induction cooktop is applied with burners ranging 1500W to 3000W (max), which coverts...

Diesel Fuel Stove

Diesel-powered RV stoves are often found in smaller motorhomes like Class B vans, where the propane tank has been eliminated to save space & weight. Diesel-fueled RV stoves are somewhat rare but are becoming more popular in some types of rigs.

They look similar to an electric or induction stove but use diesel fuel to heat the cooking surface. The difference is that there’s no open flame like there is on propane stoves, making them a safer alternative when set up and used properly.

Pros

Diesel RV stoves provide another good option for boondockers who generally camp without hookups. They’re fuel-efficient, and diesel fuel is easy to find nearly anywhere.

Cons

A diesel RV stove can heat up the galley (and the whole RV), the same way propane stoves do. They also need to be vented for safety.

Of course, a diesel stove requires having diesel fuel on board. So these are best limited to rigs with other diesel-powered appliances. Diesel stoves can have difficulty functioning at high altitudes. And finally, a big disadvantage of diesel RV stoves is that they’re not easy to find in North America.

Options

While diesel RV stoves are rare in North America, this Whale 2-in-1 Diesel Cooktop and Air Heater, available through General Components in Vancouver, Canada, is a nice option.

Have You Upgraded Your RV Stove?

Have you upgraded your RV stove? If so, what was your choice, and how happy you are with it? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

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Chris

Sunday 9th of July 2023

We like our two-burner propane cooktop in our class B van. The bonus is we use an Omnia stove-top oven (stored in the microwave) for baking since we don’t have a gas oven. The van already has an onboard LP tank for the Truma air furnace/hot water heater (which sip propane) so we have a lot of flexibility. And if we wanted, we could easily bring along a 120V induction cooktop if we think we ever needed one.

Gene Sannes

Sunday 9th of July 2023

I was in the process of looking for a method or tool to check the propane level in my 30# tank. Then out of the blue comes your trick of using hot water to tell approximately how much Propane is still in my tank, is outstanding. Thanks so very much.

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Thanks for letting us know we've been helpful, Gene. Always great to hear. We love this trick, too!

Dean Lovett

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Yes, we have swapped out our propane cooktop/oven for Duxtop two burner induction cooktop. Our first reason was environmental and second is my wife likes it better for all reasons you mentioned in article. It was one of the best things we have done and we are safer because of that change.

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Thanks for sharing your experience, Dean! Great to hear.

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