Summer heat is just beginning and winter is probably the last thing on your mind today. But now that good weather is here, there’s no better time to kick off those long-awaited RV upgrades. Here’s a unique RV mod you might not have considered: a wood stove for RVs.
Can you burn wood inside your RV?
The mere idea of a wood stove for RVs sounds crazy to many campers. But a growing number of fearless cold-weather loving RVers see this upgrade differently. If you do any cold weather RVing you might want to consider this off-beat way to keep warm. Many RVers have installed wood-burning fireplaces and lived to tell about it.
“When I’m stretched out in bed in wintertime, it doesn’t get any better than this,” says hardcore winter camper Justin Credible. Justin is the founder of the popular JustinCredible YouTube channel and lives in a 21′ Class C motorhome. In this video about his RV fireplace, he gives this RV hack rave reviews.
The Kimberly™ is the most well-known wood stove for RVs. “Our EPA-certified and CSA-certified Kimberly small wood stove is ideal for homes, tiny houses, cabins, yurts, RVs, bus conversions, tree houses, boats, and emergency preparedness,” writes the inventor Roger Lehet. The wood stove idea came to him after he lost his home in the last recession.
“We took refuge on a 30-foot boat in the middle of the Puget Sound near Vashon Island, Washington, where I grew up,” he told Mother Earth News. To keep warm in the chilly Northwest, he created a small, safe, EPA-certified wood stove for RVs, boats and tiny homes.
“What a beautiful invention,” says Johnson in the video. “Roger, good job on building the stove!”
The pros and cons of wood stoves for RVs
The benefits of a wood stove for RVs still doesn’t win over many people. In the iRV2 Discussion Forums discussion about “Wood stove in your motorhome or trailer,” member 38special says “Having been in the fireplace and wood stove business for 35 years, there is no way I would put one in an RV.”
However, in the same discussion, akartist writes:
“I have a vintage 69 trailer and I have been using a cast iron tiny wood cook stove in it now for 10 years. I am able to live in my trailer even in the winter because the wood stove does not create any condensation that would ruin most trailers in the winter. Common sense is all that is needed to have a wood stove in a camper or RV.”
Wood stoves for RVs aren’t for everyone. But if you ever camp out in arctic temperatures, that old-fashioned heat source could be just what you need to stay warm.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
I grew up on a farm. We used wood heat to stay warm and cook. Love the huge amount of heat a wood stove can put out, but they don’t belong in a RV IMHO.
Actually wood stoves belong anywhere you need them to heat up an area…They do very well in RV’s I have one in my Rv but that is because I live out of my rv and it comes in very handy in the winter up here in Lake Tahoe NV
Hey Paul, I live in my camper up in Tahoe and I’m interested in installing a stove. I woumd love to check yours out or at least get some advice on brand and installing… Thanks in advance for your time.
Mike 971 284 6944
Mark Otis says
looking to install a wood burner. need some advice. thanks, mark
RVs are made of materials that could catch fire.
Houses are made of materials that could catch fire.
Perhaps a wood stove doesn’t belong in a RV it depends on the person with the RV and how the RV is used. There are people who have successfully installed and used wood stoves in RV’s. However if you have lots of different people using a RV with children, etc. perhaps a wood is not a good idea as a wood stove needs to be maintained. Though some will burn up to around 4 hours without any intervention, depending on the type of wood being used, etc. Small wood stoves normally require the wood fuel be cut to size. Using smaller pieces of wood that don’t burn as long as used in larger s wood stoves.
Small wood stoves have been more commonly used in boats. Where people live on board year around or seasonally. I have friends and house boats who live onboard ocean going sailboats and permanent houseboats, with wood stoves. However when traveling in a boat you often can’t carry a lot of wood so a diesel or gas fuel type heater is usually preferred.
Justin Credible says
Hi, Justin here from your article. You have totally confused me with that ex-wrestler person. I am not Peter, and I don’t even watch wrestling lol! But thanks for mentioning my YouTube channel!
I think a small peller stove would be ideal if they had a small poweless unit as all they need is a vent pipe
Stephano Eaton says
I think downsizing is the way of things now for whatever ur reasoning is, and I have heard some very interesting and legit reasons for doing so. I’m a New Englander, New Hampshire to be exact. downsized 2 years ago into a mobile home. Cheaper than the traditional dream home. Everything is so much less. Still not quite enough for me though. I want to again downsize. I have seen some of todays Campers that are so modern inside, they put most homes to shame. My Mobile home is paid off. So now I’m toying with the idea of buying a camper, 5th wheel style to live in, A good used one that I have priced out is easily $50-60k. Any ideas. Do I stay put, or take on a payment for say a few years, 10. My place is now needing work, roof work. I’m 51 so I either take out a loan here for $10k and stay….with a roommate by the way, or get a much nicer place and enjoy it. Can also take it on vacations with me up North. Any input greatly appreciated.
I’m sure there are other good used 5th wheels but I am only familiar with Travel Supreme and would recommend looking for a good used one if you decide to go with a 5th Wheel. I personally own 2000 triple slide and was impressed with it when I bought it in 2007 and still impressed when I compare it to those being built today. It has a very sturdy frame and structure and I feel it was built for full time living. You may be able to find one for sale for around 10K maybe even less. The biggest problem area might be the refrigerator, mine is still working after 18 years and I expect it will die soon but I will replace it with a household model. Good luck on your search and ultimate decision.
Kelly Mccabe says
You can buy an older rv. The rehab isn’t all that expensive, and if you put on an elastomeric roof coating, they are good for decades. I wouldn’t buy a 5th wheel model tho. They are too hard to unload if you decide it’s not for you, and the added stairs will be a problem later on. They go down in value, like a car, so why pay for the depreciation. I bought mine for $5k. What to look for: check that the plumbing works, especially the toilet and black water tank. Tires cracked? If you are going to haul it, uv damage on the tires is expensive to replace. Title clear? Doors or windows cracked or missing? Expensive to replace. If solar, is there a charge controller or batteries good? Is there an oven? Do the locks work, and are there keys? Check the suspension for cracked parts. Is there a shower? All the rest is easily replaceable or upgradable.
Fred Huling says
I owned a stove shop for many years and agree it cam be done but there are a few problems.
First the installation codes vary state to state. You may install legally in one state but not be legal in another state. A grey area would be fire insurance coverage should the installation not meet the code in a new location.
Many local governments prohibit burning during air quality problems.
Transporting wood may not be allowed due to rules in place to restrict spread of various pest so owner will be searching for new local wood supplies, if traveling.
Our concern about an installation was securing to superstructure to eliminate tipping while traveling while not voiding the hearth integrity.
Monte Jones says
Just make sure your stove is done right or this could be your fate. (can’t get it to post or copy the picture. Picture a gutted bus with black walls and hanging insulation) I bought this after the fire. They had put an old OLD cast iron stove in the bus with nothing behind it but wood and nothing under it but vinyl flooring……
HMMMM wonder why they had an issue?
Good news is I got a steal on this 1951 GMC school bus and got a blank canvas. Still going to use a wood stove just going to surround it in rock and using triple wall pipe out the side. Nothing closer than 3 feet from the stove on the open sides. I will also have a rv furnace as well when I’m not boon docking it.
I have 3vintage trailers all with woodburning stoves..in canada it gets cold. I prefer the dry heat, i dont like useing propane its a wet gas, and of i was ever snowed in its piece of mind i can stat warm, cook and use it as my dishwasher i use paper plates, throw them in when yr done…very versatile the woodstove.
FYI, propane might be a “wet gas”, but none of the moisture from the furnace combustion chamber will enter the RV, that is all vented out the exhaust. If you are using one of the catalyst propane heaters, then yes, you will get moisture in your RV.
Linda Jordan says
I know Roger Lehet. I just had to say that!
We live in a 40′ fifth wheel and have winters at 0 degrees and below. We can’t afford a Kimberly yet, but as soon as we can we’re getting one.
Like the guy from the IRV2 forum says; common sense. Be sure to install up to code using the proper venting system with the right kind of stove pipe inside where called for (double walled stove pipe is recommended for RV’s because it reduces the clearance to combustibles from 18″ to 6″), the Type A insulated pipe going through the wall or roof using a thimble for a wall installation or a support box for a roof, and out to the termination at the end cap, and use the right configuration, keeping proper clearances from combustibles and you’re fine.
Anyone know what insurance companies will insure RV with wood stove installed? Thanks
No insurance company in Alberta will insure an rv if there is a wood burning stove in it or a pellet stove if you lie and something happens then you’re insurance is void and so is the land owners insurance becomes void because fire regulations protocol between propane and fire source being to close and you’re nieghbors insurance also gets voided when it catches fire or blows up and if the person living in said rv dies of carbon dioxide then the land owner gets sued directly and not the business just found all this out today Nov 4 2020
David Gordon says
Just installed a test stove with excellent results. Used a Gordon Rocket Stove for fuel optimization. Can also burn coal. No emissions with a rocket stove.
Ive got a 96 hitchhiker 2 5th wheel and installed a full size wood fireplace all the right ways .weve had no problems except cooking every one out .it works way better than. We expected
Dan Greatley says
We live full time in an Airstream with a Hobbit stove installed with the RV/Bus kit from tinywoodstove.com, and it’s been fantastic. There’s really nothing like being able to watch the fire on a cold day, or being able to get your home as warm as you want regardless of the temperature outside, and without an electrical hookup. We crack a roof vent with the stove running when humidity starts building up on the windows, and the stove drives all of the moisture out within an hour or so.
I want a woodburning stove in my van conversion. Problem is, the ones I would like are way too expensive – along with the fact that so few stoves will burn for 8 hours straight. I don’t much feel like sleeping 4 hours then feeing the stove. One I like is a coal stove, but can’t get coal every where. But one that burns charcoal would work, charcoal is easy to fine, but it can be made for nothing, and very easy to make. A stove will be back up cooking stove too. But there are a number of DIY heaters that would work, so may do without a wood stove, but may put one in regardless.