Ye Olde Portable Radiator

Posted In: Blog, Product Review, RV Lifestyle, RV Products

Recently I was discussing winter storage with an RV owning friend of mine.

“We don’t winterize our RV,” he explained. “Instead we keep a DeLonghi Safeheat radiator ( running during our coldest nights. It helps to keep the pipes and tanks warm.”

Understand that we’re Southerners, and we enjoy a relatively mild winter. Even during the coldest month of the year (January), the average daily low temperature remains above freezing (34 degrees, to be precise). We rarely experience sustained periods of temperatures below the freezing point.

We have the 1500W DeLonghi Safeheat radiator and it does a great job. (Click the pic for more info.)

We have the 1500W DeLonghi Safeheat radiator and it does a great job. (Click the pic for more info.)

In the Deep South, it’s not uncommon for RV owners to go a full winter without winterization – we’ve just got to make sure our RV pipes and tanks stay warm throughout the occasional freezing night. We typically run our propane heat furnace (with the thermostat set to a temperature just above freezing) on nights when temperatures are dropping below the freezing mark. But an electric radiator can help accomplish the same goal.

BUTT-COVERING DISCLAIMER: Please note that everyone’s RV heating needs are a little different, as it depends on your local temperatures and the size and design of your RV. If you have doubt about the effectiveness of a heating technique, proceed with caution.

I was intrigued by the radiator solution. My parents also have a DeLonghi Safeheat portable radiator in their house that they enjoy. So we got one ourselves. Our radiator is one of DeLonghi’s larger and taller 1500W units, similar to the Safeheat EW7707CM.

Our purpose is twofold. Sure, we may use the radiator in our RV from time to time. But we will also use this heater in our brick-and-mortar home. In some cases, it’s possible to heat an individual room with one radiator instead of running the home’s central heating system (thus saving quite a bit of money on heating expenses). There’s no need to heat an entire house if you’re only using one room.

For RV purposes, we’re looking at the TRN0812T. The smaller unit is a 1200W model. I simply think the size will work better in an RV, and suspect the heating output will be more than sufficient.

If you’ve never used a portable radiator before, here’s a brief primer.

These heaters consist of a series of oil-filled fins. The fin design maximizes heater surface space so that a large amount of cold air is exposed to radiant heat.

The radiator heater operates by warming an internal diathermic oil. The oil within the unit is not burned – it is simply warmed. You never need to change the oil. These are sealed units. Some people complain of an oily smell, but this typically goes away after the first couple hours of use.

The heaters are almost 100% silent. There are no fans, so they sound nothing like the average noisy space heater. With our DeLonghi Safeheat heater, there’s a slight clicking sound for a couple of minutes as the oil comes up to temperature. Then it goes quiet.

This smaller Safeheat is a 1200W unit, a nice size for an RV. (Click the pic for more info.)

This smaller Safeheat is a 1200W unit, a nice size for an RV. (Click the pic for more info.)

In fact, for those of us who are accustomed to loud space heaters, the silence can be a little off-putting at first. It’s so quiet, you may find yourself wondering whether the heater is working.

Yes, it’s working. In fact, you will probably be surprised at how well these radiators work. They aren’t the fastest, but they are highly effective. They warm an average room over the course of an hour or two. Of course the speed depends on the size of the room. An average RV will be toasty warm in short order.

I believe these oil-based radiator heaters are safer than most space heaters. Every year we hear of some horrible fire that was started by a malfunctioning space heater. With the name “Safeheat,” it had better be safe.

DeLonghi claims that it goes above the United States safety requirements in the design of this heater. Safety highlights include rust-resistant construction, a gently rounded design, and a thermal cut-off function that automatically turns the heater off if it starts to overheat. These heaters are advertised as being safe for bathroom use, since there are no exposed heating coils to worry about.

Our 1500W unit has a basic thermostat. The smaller 1200W portable unit has an antifreeze function that maintains room temperature at 42 degrees (which would be useful with an RV).

Some portable radiators have self-timers and remote controls. While these are nice features, they are certainly not essential.

So far our experience with the radiator has been very positive. In fact, we plan to pick up a second unit and will report on its effectiveness.

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