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Double duty: stove as heater

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For some of you, heating your rig is very important. There are propane heaters, like those from Mr. Heater and Olympian, but let’s talk about a third option you might not have considered: your stove.

I’ve used this Coleman single-burner stove as my only source of heat for over ten years. Here’s why.

• I already had it for cooking

• It’s a very simple and reliable device

• The temperature is much more adjustable than heaters

• I don’t have a dedicated heater just taking up space most of the year


My stove is connected to a bulk propane tank with a hose. Bulk propane is much cheaper than the green bottles. Then I use a folding wind/splatter shield to protect surrounding surfaces from heat. And I cover the top with several layers of aluminum foil to protect the ceiling and redirect heat a bit.

During the day, if I’m stuck inside, I’ll fire up the stove for a few minutes whenever the chill becomes bothersome. And, of course, when I’m cooking   meals throughout the day, the stove is doing double duty as a heater. Later I might make a hot beverage, again heating the van. And before going to bed I might heat water for a hot water bottle to slip under the covers. In the morning, I heat water for washing or coffee.


Open flames can be dangerous. But heating with a stove is no more dangerous than cooking with one. The way I shield the stove keeps flammable things out of the flames.

Yes, the warning labels say not to use the stove indoors. But houses connected to those huge tanks are using propane stoves. RVs have propane stoves. There’s no difference between those and my single-burner camp stove. With your van windows opened a crack, and with air seeping in through your dash vents, you get plenty of ventilation. And you can have a CO2 detector to warn you just in case.

Don’t leave the stove on overnight or any other time you can’t keep an eye on it.

D I S C L A I M E R !

I have been able to use my propane stove in the van all these years because I have magical powers. It’s the only reason I’ve stayed alive. If you use one in your rig you will die instantly, because you don’t have magical powers. So I’m not recommending it. I’m just saying, I’ve done it for years and will continue doing it until I’m too old to live in a van.


  1. luke zona

    Awesome advice thanks

  2. Tom Wajerski

    Excellent disclaimer! The same magical powers have sustained me through many a camping adventures. The CO2 detector was overlooked by me in the past. Shopping for one now.

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