There’s nothing worse than waking up freezing your socks off because your RV furnace broke down during the night. Purchasing a new furnace can be expensive, and finding the right one is tough.
In this article, I’ll take you through 10 different RV furnaces that’ll last you a long time and that are worth every penny. The furnaces I’ll be covering are:
- Suburban 2017APW
- Suburban SF-30FQ
- Suburban SF-42Q
- Atwood 32690
- Suburban 2503ABK
- Suburban 2390A
- Suburban 2504ABK
- Dometic Corp 32715
- Suburban NT-20S
- Suburban NT-16S
Without further ado, let’s dive straight into what I think is the best RV furnace:
1. Suburban 2017APW
If there is one brand that leads the pack in the RV Furnace market, it is Suburban. We’re going to look at some of their best models in this list. But we kick off with one of their most popular, the Surburban 2017APW from their Dynatrail series.
An efficient LPG furnace that draws a low amount of energy (2.8 amps).
This compact unit is perfect for heating smaller RVs, with a respectable 16,000 BTU/h level. The British Thermal Unit measures heat and effectively rates the power of heating and cooling devices. This unit is a solid performer. Not the most powerful, but a decent benchmark against the other furnaces in this guide.
An uncomplicated unit, air is cycled through external intake and exhaust pipes. A sealed force-draft combustion unit, fired by a quiet solid-state electric ignition gets the temperature rising quickly.
Once hooked up, it runs smoothly in the background, keeping the noise down while maintaining efficient operation.
As with all RV furnaces, it needs installing correctly. This is a direct discharge unit that does not require ducting. And the pipes are helpfully telescopic, so positioning it where you want is a bit easier.
There is nothing quite as comforting as a reliable heat source in your RV when the days are short. This RV furnace is a quality all-rounder backed by a 2-year limited warranty that does the job.
Just keep in mind, unlike some of the RV furnaces further down the list, this lightweight unit (22 lbs, 10 kg) is best suited to a smaller vehicle.
- Quiet operation
- Efficient, sealed-force combustion
- Simple to install
- Too compact for bigger RVs
- Ordinary BTU rating
- Lightweight build
2. Suburban SF-30FQ
If you’re looking for a more substantial heat source than our previous entry, the Suburban SF-30 FQ is a compelling alternative.
This ducted unit cycles a substantial 30,000 BTU hourly, yet is still compact enough to fit into many spaces. Just 7.5 inches (19 cm) in height, with a depth of 20 inches (50.8 cm). A selection of 9 duct outlets provides flexibility on where to locate the pipes, although the short 2 foot pipes may need extending.
The Q from the model number denotes quiet, and these units are engineered to keep a low volume.
A heating unit with balanced efficiency, it draws a manageable 7 amps. While it will not drain a battery overnight, this is comparatively high. However, energy is saved via a solid-state electric ignition that makes quiet use of thermostatic control.
Let’s address a quick point about thermostats. You need one of these to fire up your RV furnace. They are sold separately unless stated otherwise. If this is your first RV furnace set up, don’t forget to factor in the cost.
Overall, this is a powerful, well-made piece of kit. Boasting a limited warranty for 2 years, it is ideal for larger vehicles.
It is a big fit at 23 inches (58.4 cm) wide and weighing 32 lbs (14.5 kg), so not ideal for every RV. It will also take a bit more effort to install.
- Decent BTU rating
- Operates very quietly
- Duct connections for flexible fit
- A bulky, less discrete unit
- Demanding installation
- 7 amp energy use is high
3. Suburban SF-42Q
Not every RV furnace is made by Suburban, but this entry demonstrates how this dependable manufacturer caters to every need. The Suburban SF-42Q is a powerful beast that purrs quietly, catering to those who crave tropical heat in the depths of a northern winter.
It cycles a whopping 42,000 BTU/h. For smaller RVs, this boosts efficiency by heating your living space quicker and running for less time. But that high rating also makes this a top choice for larger RVs.
A professional installer can take advantage of 11 connection points for flexible fitting. And a low height of 7.5” (19 cm), combined with a neat design, helps slot this quietly powerful LPG heater in tight spaces.
It also boasts all the key attributes typical of the Suburban SF models: energy efficient ignition, sealed forced-draft combustion, and a limited 2-year warranty.
An optional external door offers an easy maintenance option.
What’s missing? Energy efficiency, for starters. For a unit of this size, 8.5 Amps is fair, but will still eat into battery performance.
Easy installation is also missing. Weighing 31.4 lbs (14.2 kg), measuring 22.6 (57.4 cm) x 19.5 (49.5 cm), this requires an adequately sized space.
But if you need an RV furnace that really turns up the heat, this is a standout unit with few drawbacks.
- Highest BTU rating
- Discrete design
- Powerful, yet quiet operation
- Big 7.5 Amp energy draw
- Bulkier unit than most
- Complicated installation
4. Atwood 32690
There is more to the RV furnace market than one brand, and the Dometic Atwood 32690 is one of the leading alternatives.
Pumping a high-end 35,000 BTU/h, this solidly designed LPG unit includes some nifty features to keep the noise down and improve efficiency.
Features like reduced air turbulence, evenly distributed air exchange to reduce hot and cold spots, and a reported 10% increase in airflow to boost efficiency.
Weighing in at 29 pounds (13.05 kg), with a height of 7” (17.8 cm) it is designed to fill unused spaces. Although if you’re replacing an older Atwood model, take note of the increased depth to 20” (50.8 cm).
Although this RV furnace checks the boxes for being quiet, efficient, and powerful, there’s a couple of things that disappoint.
It only comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which isn’t improved by the mixed bag of reports on after-sale care. Moreover, this unit is a similar size to the Suburban SF-42Q at number 3, yet with a significant drop in power.
But boasting some nice technical touches and heightened efficiency, this unit stands up well to the rigors of the coldest winters.
- 10% airflow efficiency boost
- Noisy air turbulence reduction
- Neat, compact design
- Underpowered for its size
- 1-year warranty
- Disappointing after-sales support
5. Suburban 2503ABK
If you’re looking for an inexpensive option to warm a less spacious RV, the Suburban 2503ABK from the NT-SEQ series is a solid choice.
This compact LPG unit only delivers a 16,000 BTU/h rating, but its smaller width (just 9.38”, 23.8 cm) and taller face (9.5”, 24.1 cm) make this a good fit for tighter spaces.
The airflow pipes don’t require ducting and come with discrete vent covers, making it a tidy, straightforward installation.
Discretely recycling air via a sealed forced-draft combustion system, energy savings are gained via efficient electronic ignition. A low 2.8 amp power rating will give your battery a bit of staying power.
Although this unit lacks oomph, it is engineered for quietness and carries the assurance of the Suburban 2-year limited warranty.
Of the drawbacks though, its unusually tall structure will limit your options on where to locate it.
As long as you don’t expect this to heat a bigger RV, what you get is a solid performer at a more attractive price.
- Quiet and efficient
- Lower power draw
- Discrete vent covers
- Low power BTU level
- Unit height is limiting
- Too small for many RVs
6. Suburban 2390A
Emphasizing depth in the Suburban RV catalog, the moderately powered Suburban 2390 SF25Q delivers everything we’ve come to expect from the range.
It is a quiet, efficient unit packing all the key features that make Suburban RV furnaces a popular choice. Energy conserving ignition. Check. Sophisticated combustion system. Check.
It needs to be installed with ducts, although the 9 connection points offer a fair degree of flexibility. Plus, this one does not require an external door to access the unit during maintenance, saving time and money with the installation.
Pumping 25,000 BTU per hour, this is best suited to mid-sized RVs, or small RVs prioritizing efficiency.
But it is no small unit. About the same size as more powerful units in the series, so it doesn’t stand out from the pack. In fact, the output is unremarkable, especially for a ducted unit.
As ever with the models in this range, the 2-year warranty is a welcome touch.
- Quiet operations
- Energy-saving ignition
- No external door required
- Bulky unit for low power
- Complicated installation
7. Suburban 2504ABK
RV furnaces basically come in two shapes and sizes. Flatter units with wider bodies, and taller, slimmer units. The Suburban 2504 ABK (NT-20SEQ) is the latter.
Just 9.3” (23.6cm) wide, it is balanced with a tall 9.5” (24.1 cm) face. This is a typical Suburban build: featuring gasket-sealed vent accessories, the usual sealed forced-draft combustion system, and energy-smart electronic ignition.
No ducting is required for this space-saving unit. It pumps a bit more power than the similar Suburban 2503ABK, with a 19,000 BTU hourly turnover. Its energy draw is just 3.1 amps. Not bad for a heating unit this compact.
The manufacturer makes no particular claims about noise output – as they do with their other models – so this might be one for light sweepers to swerve.
And the usual caveats about lower BTU levels apply. Unless you plan on installing a couple of units, it will not do a great job in roomier vehicles.
- Space-saving width
- Discrete outlet pipes
- Solid specs in a compact unit
- Noisier than similar units
- Moderate BTU level
- Tall structure
8. Dometic Corp 32715
Not to be outdone, Dometic – another leader in the RV furnace world – delivers a mid-sized LPG device to raise RV temperatures.
Short at 7” (17.8 cm) but not as wide as some RV furnaces (12”, 30.5 cm), the Dometic Corp 32715 RV furnace is not going to reach all the cold corners of a bigger RV. A lowly 12,000 BTU/h can only do so much.
What it does deliver is improved efficiency, with a 10% higher air circulation to get your RV less glacial in no time. Built to eliminate the noise from turbulent air, it keeps the volume down. While a neat tubular design helps disperse hot air widely.
The catch? Aside from the underwhelming BTU levels, the unusual size will not suit all RVs. It needs ducting, but only has a few ports, which will limit placement options.
And it lacks a decent warranty for extra peace of mind.
- Efficient boosting airflow
- Turbulent air noise reduction
- Designed to disperse heat widely
- Underwhelming power
- Only 1-year warranty
- Limited port connections
9. Suburban NT-20S
The penultimate entry on this list is a lower-powered, lower-priced entry from the dominant Suburban brand.
This model, the Suburban NT-20S is from the skinny but tall mold, with a width of 9.38” (23.8 cm) and an outlet vent of 9.52″ (24.18 cm). It draws a respectable 20,000 BTU hourly and features all the trademark qualities found on other models in the Dynatrail series.
Aimed squarely at small RV owners looking for a decent level of propane-fueled heating, this selection even takes care of an oft-overlooked detail, the quality of finish. This one benefits from a discrete design and the addition of a decorative grill.
Featuring all the usual Suburban trimmings, including a low Amp draw of 3.1 and the standard sophisticated ignition and combustion systems, it suits the needs of many RV owners. Another quiet, efficient production from the Q series.
Installation is on the easy side. Ducting is not required, although it sports duct connections if needed. And a 2-year limited warranty completes the package.
Is this RV furnace for you? If you’re looking for a mid-powered unit for smaller RVs and a discrete finish, this unit fits the bill.
But it does not pack the biggest punch from the extended Dynatrail series.
- Quiet, smooth operator
- Clean finish
- Energy-saving, low Amp usage
- Mid-range power
- Reportedly less robust design
- Suitable for smaller RVs
10. Suburban NT-16S
We round out this list of best RV furnaces for 2022 with one of the smaller units, the Suburban NT-16S (NT-16SQ).
Surprisingly effective for a lowly 16,000 BTU, this LPG fueled unit covers all the bases for a well-rounded, lightweight furnace.
Just 9.38” (24.18 cm) wide, this is another unit designed for tighter spaces. Offering the familiar menu of Dynatrail features, it is another noiseless entry in the Q series.
A ducted option is offered alongside a direct-discharge model. Either set-up can make use of additional duct outlets for connecting to a venting network.
It draws a more than manageable 2.8 Amps, while smart engineering keeps the motor RPMs down, helping to eliminate excessive noise. One of the defining features of the Q series.
Topped off with a fetching decorative grill cover, this has got some winning features. But does it cover all the bases?
That will depend on where you want to put it in your RV. Its size and shape are only suited to the right space. A bigger RV would also benefit from more heating power under the hood.
And while it comes with the usual 2-year limit warranty, a lightweight 22 lbs (10 Kg) makes it less robust than bigger units in the series.
- Engineered for quietness
- Clean, flush finish
- All-round ducting options
- Run-of-the-mill power
- Less robust design
- Potentially awkward shape and size
Frequently asked questions
Let’s take a closer look at some of the questions you may stumble upon when looking for a new RV furnace.
How does an RV propane furnace work?
An RV propane furnace requires a power source (battery or shore power), air inlet and outlet, and, of course, liquified petroleum as (LPG), aka propane.
Air is pulled in, heated with a propane-fueled flame, and pumped into the RV using a fan. Waste air is expelled via the outlet.
If the RV has a vent system, a ducted furnace is required. This is a more complicated installation. In return, heat is dispersed more widely via vents in the RV.
Non-ducted versions are easier to set up, with a simple inlet and exhaust pipe. But unless additionally rigged to a vent system, they will only disperse heat from a single fan-assisted point. Still very effective heating, but less even distribution.
Most people opt to get RV furnaces professionally fitted as it is a tricky job to get right unless you know what you’re doing.
And proper installation makes a difference, affecting: overall performance and efficiency, maintenance requirements, the finished appearance.
While RV furnaces bring the comfort of piped heating to winter travels, they serve another function in icy conditions. Namely, preventing your pipes and engine from freezing.
Alternative RV heating options exist (including propane-powered space heaters and electrical options). But most modern RV furnaces, especially those on our list, have been engineered for maximum quietness and often feature energy-saving benefits.
Combined with their all-around effectiveness and ease of use, we can see why propane furnaces remain a top choice for RV owners seeking winter escapes.
How much propane does an RV furnace use?
A calculator and basic product knowledge hold the key to this headscratcher.
First, we need to know some BTU levels.
BTU stands for British Thermal Units, an established measure of heat used for all heating and cooling devices. This is measured hourly.
In our list of RV furnaces, the BTU/h figure ranges from 12,000 to 48,000.
A gallon of propane has a fixed BTU value of 91,502 BTUs
From here, hourly usage can be calculated by dividing the propane BTU value by the furnace BTU value. For a powerhouse 48,000 BTU furnace, continuous propane should last for 1.9 hours.
91,502 / 48,000 = 1.9 hours
A standard tank of 4.5 gallons would therefore last for 8.55 hours (4.5 gallons x 1.9 hours).
Assuming the furnace is, in practice, only active for 10 minutes per hour, we multiply the final figure by 6. This shows that 4.5 gallons of propane would last 51.3 hours or a little over two days.
That figure can never be spot-on. Plenty of variables influence final usage. You will likely have more accurate insight once you’ve tested your RV furnace on a few frosty adventures.
How long will an RV furnace run on propane?
The previous answer has a calculation to determine the volume of propane use, and how long the furnace will last on a tank of propane.
We mentioned that there are too many variables at play to get 100% accurate predictions. These include outdoor temperatures, how high the heating is cranked up, furnace efficiency, the quality of fitting, and so on. You get the idea.
But it does give a helpful indication. The key to a more accurate calculation is knowing precisely how much time your furnace is active during the hour.
With a thermostat choosing when to fire up the furnace, it could be active every few minutes or just a couple of times per hour. This is where those variables make a difference.
How do I light an RV furnace?
Electric fired RV furnaces are increasingly replacing yesterday’s method, pilot lights.
To power your RV furnace a power source is needed. Usually a 12-volt rechargeable battery.
This fires up the burner and regulates the gas flow. It circulates the fans, pulling in outdoor air to heat and expel waste air.
All the units in our list draw a low amount of energy, 2.7 – 8 amps. The lower the figure, the longer the battery life.
The brain controlling the system is the thermostat. Set your furnace to fire up at your chosen temperature, helping RV furnaces maintain a comfortable ambient temperature.
Some of the Suburban RV furnaces that we’ve picked out make use of advanced electronic ignition, which activates the furnace quickly and quietly. A world away from noisy pilot light configurations.
How do I clean an RV furnace?
While an RV furnace is a slice of luxury on the road, you do need to take a few sensible precautions to keep it working at its peak.
Cleaning the dust and dirt from the unit is an infrequent but recommended chore. A regular cleaning routine, 2-3 times per year, will usually suffice.
You also want to make sure the vented system is clear and unbroken.
For a direct exhaust RV furnace, checking and clearing vents is usually enough.
For units with ducting, checking the connectors – cleaning around them if necessary. Checking the ducting integrity will keep the unit efficient.
You can also check for dust and any unlikely critters you might have picked up on your travels.
If you need easy access, some furnaces can be fitted with an optional external door.
Parts will wear over time. If you find the efficiency dropping off or notice other problems, such as the smell of gas, a service is a good idea.
Keeping your RV furnace in good working order is straightforward, and important. Any gas-fired unit carries risk. As well as keeping your maintenance routine regular, a carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher are must-have equipment for any safe set-up.
That’s all I’ve got for you. Having a functional RV furnace is a must-have if you don’t want to freeze your socks off when temperatures plummet in the evening.
Another solution would be to get an air conditioner with a built-in heat pump. I’ve written a post covering the 10 best RV air conditioners. That way you’ll save a lot of money and cleaning 🙂