So you have an older vehicle and found the heat in it to be a bit…finicky. Or maybe you just need some extra warmth not provided by your vehicle or RV. If you’re budget is tight but your butt is cold, you’re likely looking for a solution. Many have found the solution to chilly cars to be portable car heaters. These small heaters can pack a serious punch and will do a good job at making you car warm during the coldest months.

What to Consider When Choosing a Car Heater

Specific Heating Need

When looking for a car heater, you need to decide how much heat you need and where you need it. Some customers are looking to heat their car and defrost their windshield at the same time. Others may just be looking to warm themselves. And you may find those looking to heat a very large space almost as much as an oil filled heater will. Before you shop, figure out what you need to heat and that will help guide your decision.

Power Source and Installation

Next you’ll need to review the type of power source the fan runs on. Since this is for a car, truck, or vehicle, you may only have a access to a certain type of power. Most cars come with a 12V cigarette lighter which is the easiest way to implement these secondary heaters.

Additionally, you can hardwire a heater to your battery allowing for a more seamless integration. This will obviously take some additional time and knowledge to install. So consider the mounting and installation when reviewing the car heater choices.

Here’s a great tutorial on how to hardwire an accessory to your battery.

BTU Output

So how warm is warm? The size of your car, truck, or RV will determine how many BTUs you’ll want to aim for. Some heaters may have fans included which will help dissapate the heat. Other options may be for localized heating only, like a car seat heater.

You’ll also want to match the size of the vehicle with the heat output. When heating a small coupe or hatchback you may not need a huge heater. But larger trucks, SUVs, or recreational vehicles may need substaintial heat.

Size of the Car Heater

The size of the heater may play a roll in which one you choose. Small cars will likely not have enough space for a large, wired car heater. And a small dashboard heater may not be big enough to heat up a large truck or RV. Consider the size before shelling out any dough on the heater.

Additional Features

Some of the additional features you’ll want to look for are warranties and safety features. Safety features will be one of the biggest draws considering a heater is very dangerous if left unattended.

Additional features may also include cooling elements or multiple modes of heating. These should be considered when making your final decision.

Car Heater Reviews

Thermtec Road Worthy Back Seat Heat Plus 12V Heater

Thermetc Road Worthy Back Seat Heater
Thermetc Road Worthy Back Seat Heater

The Thermtec Road Worthy Back Seat Heater is a 12V portable heater that you can use to warm up cold spots in your car. It has an 1100 BTU heat output and a built-in thermostat. And it can be mounted on a wall if you need to (perfect for RVs). It also has a 30 amp in line fuse and 20 foot wiring harness and mounting bracket. This allows for you to connect directly to your car’s battery. I like this option but it does require some hook up in order to work.

This heater heats up pretty quickly which is good for those on the go. It’s also an extremely lightweight and small heater coming in at 11/2 in by 3 1/2 in by 10 and 1/2 in.

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Upgrade Car Heater, 2 in 1 Portable Fast Heating Car Heater with Heating & Cooling Function Defroster Defogger

Upgrade Car Heater
Upgrade Car Heater

Upgrade car heater is a and cooler that plugs into your cigarette lighter this heater is definitely one of our more friendly options it’s extremely easy to use you just plug it in switch it comes with 180-degree rotary holder so you can adjust it and force the air wherever you please.

it comes with an adhesive sticker for mounting and a 12 month after sale service assistance. It is marketed as a product that not only keeps you warm or cool, but it will help defog or defrost your windshield. The defrost/defrogging option is a great perk since this is another feature that goes when your heater goes.

For those looking for a long-term solution this would not be our recommendation.

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Road Pro 12-Volt Direct Hook-Up Ceramic Heater and Fan with Swivel Base

Road Pro Direct Hook Up Ceramic Heater
Road Pro Direct Hook Up Ceramic Heater

The Road Pro 12v direct hook-up ceramic heater with fan and swivel base is a direct hook-up. You’ll hook this directly into your vehicle battery and you’ll be able to control the heater with a switch to switch from heat to cold.

This heater draws 25 amps and requires a 30 amp in line fuse. This is not included so you’ll want to purchase that as well if you choose this option.

This product is a heater with a fan that moves the hot air. It will move hot air around but won’t necessarily heat up an entire space. Keep that in mind when shopping for different options.

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RoadPro RPSL-581 12V All Season Black Heater and Fan with Swivel Base

Road Pro All Season Heater with Swivel Base
Road Pro All Season Heater with Swivel Base

The RoadPro heater and fan is a 12V fixture that plugs into your cigarette lighter. It is 180 watts and draws 15 amps. So you’ll need to make sure the plug is at least 15 amps otherwise you may blow a fuse.

You can mount this directly or just place it on your dash. There is a 6 foot power cord so you can even put it in the back seat or further away from the dashboard if you want.

Customers are conflicted about the effectiveness of this type of fan. The heat generated by this optio nis not as powerful as other options.

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KINGLETING Heated Seat Cushion with Intelligent Temperature Controller

Kingleting Heated Seat Cushion
Kingleting Heated Seat Cushion

The Kingleting heated seat cushion is a great option for those looking for personal seating heat instead of heating an entire space. If you’re like me and have an older car without heated seats you’ll love this.

You’ll feel the heat almost instantly as soon as you plug it in. It sits on top of your car seat and within one minute your full back hips and thighs. At full throttle this will heat up 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You’re actually able to adjust the temperature between 86° Fahrenheit all the way up to a hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit.

On the safety side it does have an overheating switch so it will keep you safe in case you forget about it or get too hot.

Also the pad is made with a rubber underside so you won’t be shifting around too much on your chair. The placement of the plug wire is also in the middle of the seat. This is a bonus because you can place it on the driver or passenger side and it won’t cause issues with plugging it in.

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Getting your car heat fixed is usually the best approach to cold cars. But when that’s not an option, you’ll want to choose an affordable and effective car heater. Our top pick is the Thermtec Road Worthy heater because this will do the job at heating up a larger section of the car.

Our second place picks is Kingleting Seat warmer. This is obviously the choice if you’re looking to warm up your body.