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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to RV Wood Stoves

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to RV Wood Stoves

If you’re an RVer traveling to cold locations, RV wood stoves have probably crossed your mind once or twice. Or maybe more than that! Who wouldn’t want to cozy up next to a crackling wood stove on a frosty night? Before you add a wood stove to your rig, you need to do your homework to make sure you get everything just right so you stay safe and warm this winter. 

What is an RV Wood Stove?

While most RVs heat with a propane furnace, an RV wood stove allows you to heat with, well, wood. RV wood stoves are designed specifically for RVs and maximize space and safety. 

Heating with wood has advantages besides just the romantic feel. It also provides an excellent heating source to battle even the most frigid temperatures. And another bonus is wood is a cheap option for staying warm. As RVers, we usually have to worry constantly about condensation in the winter months. But since wood produces a drier heat, it can cut down on this constant challenge. 

Is It Safe to Burn Wood Inside Your RV?

It is safe to burn wood inside your RV as long as you correctly install your stove and you follow basic safety guidelines. Because of the heat given off by a wood stove, you need to have enough space in your rig to allow for proper clearance. You need to install a heat shield and place the stove where it won’t set anything on fire from the radiant heat. Installing a chimney flue to vent the fumes out is also necessary for safety 

Why Choose an RV Wood Stove Over an Electric Fireplace?

While an RV wood stove and an electric fireplace both give the ambiance of the dancing flames, an electric fireplace simply can’t replace the real thing. With an electric fireplace, you’ll miss out on the crackle and the smell of the wood, which can really make your RV feel like a home. An RV wood stove will also provide superior heat as compared to an electric fireplace without using any electricity.

Pros & Cons of RV Wood-Burning Stoves 

Like any life choice, there are pros and cons to installing a wood burning stove in your RV.

Pros: RV wood stoves are an excellent source of heat that doesn’t require electricity – perfect for boondocking! They are affordable to install and use, especially if you have a place to gather wood for free. And you can use them for cooking if the top surface is large enough. With a wood-burning stove, you will also reduce the condensation in your RV because of the dry heat.

Cons: Wood-burning stoves are not a good option for people sensitive to smoke or people with poor lung function. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a risk. RV wood stoves must be installed (which usually requires cutting a hole in your RV), used, and maintained properly for fire prevention. You have to clean out your stove and flue regularly as ash and fumes build up. If it’s cold outside and your fire goes out at night, you could end up with burst pipes or hoses. You also can’t leave the fire burning while you are away.

Heating with wood is also a lot of work because have to harvest the wood and cut it to size to fit in your stove. Plus, you’ll need to store the wood, which takes up valuable storage or floor space in your RV.

Choosing the Best Wood-Burning Stove for Your RV

There is no one-size-fits-all RV wood stove. It depends on your rig’s layout and size and your intentions for the stove. 

Is It the Right Size for Your RV?

Wood stoves take up a good amount of physical space in your RV. In addition to the size of the stove itself, you have to ensure you leave enough open space around the stove so nothing catches on fire. If you have a bigger rig, you’ll need a bigger stove to keep warm. That means you will lose some living area.       

Will the Stove Be Used for Cooking or Heat Only?

Some stoves aren’t designed for cooking on. If you want to use your stove for heating and cooking, you’ll need to get one that is a bit bigger. If you don’t want to cook with your stove you can forego some of the added features of a cookstove.     

Is It EPA Certified?

This is a very important factor when picking out your RV wood stove as it ensures safety and quality. EPA certification means that the stove and the company that created the stove meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. Meaning, your choice is safe for both people and the environment!

Does the Style Match Your RV?

RV wood stoves come in a variety of styles – from old-timey to modern looks. You will want to pick one that fits with your tastes and the rest of your RV décor so it doesn’t look out of place. 

Installing an RV Wood Stove

So, you’ve decided you want a wood stove in your RV. Now it’s time to install it! Installation is a critical step in the process because your safety depends on doing everything right. If you’re not confident with this step or you aren’t much of a handyperson, do yourself a favor and have a professional complete the process or inspect it when you’re done. 

Mounting Options

You can install your RV wood stove on a small heat resistant hearth or a raised platform. This, in part, comes down to preference. If you use a heat resistant raised platform, you could gain some storage space under the stove. 

We have seen a range of hearth options designed to fit the décor of any RV. You can use tile or stone in any color, design, or shape. 

Venting Options

You can install venting through your roof or a wall in the RV by cutting a hole that the chimney flue can pass through. Some people also choose to vent their stove out a window so they don’t have to cut any holes in their rig.  

You must add a stovepipe, chimney pipe, and mounting at the exit point. You also need to ensure you have a watertight seal once you’re done so you don’t end up with a leaky stove. The good news is, there are kits available to ensure everything is designed to meet safety standards.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you can either hire a professional or check out this detailed and step-by-step guide.

Clearance Requirements

Different stoves have different clearance requirements. Make sure you follow the guidelines in your RV wood stove’s manual very carefully. Some stoves require mere inches of clearance, while others need much more.

While RV wood stoves aren’t for everyone, they can make for a warm and welcoming addition to any rig if done right. We know you’ll love cuddling up next to a fire on a cold, snowy night – just be sure to properly install and maintain your stove! 

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Marc Stauffer

Tuesday 11th of May 2021

We have a Woodstove installed in our small travel trailer and love it. It is a Dickenson marine stove designed for boats and burns small twigs, wood chunks and even hardwood coal. It is a wall mount and takes little space. Remember to provide for an outside air source when using. We have an adjustable vent next to the stove that brings in fresh air.


Saturday 5th of December 2020

Though most of the pros/cons are the same I wish you had included pellet stoves in your article because there are distinct advantages to using them including super high efficiency combustion.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 7th of December 2020

Thank you for the suggestion!

Not So Free

Tuesday 1st of December 2020

I have a series of RV pictures of rigs from the 20's and 30's on my laptop. Almost every one of them had a wood stove. Like the old saying, Everything old is new again.

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 2nd of December 2020

That's so cool! Indeed, the tried and true things stick around. :D