Best 12v Heater – Electric Car Heaters & Defoggers

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If you live in a wintery climate, or have taken your RV out for some winter camping, you know the headache that is waiting for your windshield to defrost. Then there are the issues that come when your passenger is shivering but you’re sweating. Thankfully there’s a solution. 12V heaters offer a compact and affordable way to rapidly defrost your windshield, warm up the inside of your vehicle, and give different passengers different temperatures. Today we’re covering the best 12V heaters on the market to help you find the perfect one for your specific needs.

Best 12V Heaters

12V heaters evolved from portable defrosters used by those who live in extremely cold climates. When you’ve got an inch of ice and snow on your windshield it can take 15 minutes or more to get your car engine warm enough to clear it off.

12V car heaters allow you to speed that process up tremendously while also warming up the interior of your car much faster.

We compared a lot of different 12V heaters while putting together our list. It includes multiple models with varying designs across a range of price and performance levels.

ROYADVE 12V Portable Car Heater

Portable Car Heater Defrost Defogger

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The ROYADVE 12V Portable Car Heater is a lightweight and collapsible tool used mainly as a defroster. It’s designed to sit in a stable position on your dash and includes a folding handle that allows you to quickly clear your windshield in icy conditions.

It does double duty as a heater or portable fan. It plugs right into a standard cigarette outlet and draws 150W, putting it right on the edge of power requirements for standard car cigarette outlets.

We like how flexibly it can be used a lot. You can set it up as a fan during summer months, a personal heater during the winter, or use it to prep your car by rapidly defrosting your windshield.

All in all the ROYADVE 12V Portable Car Heater is a reasonably priced heater that provides good performance in a useful package.

Drtulz Portable Car Heater

Portable Electric Car Heater

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The Drtulz Portable Car Heater is a small swiveling 12V heater with multiple possible uses. It’s primarily designed as a defroster and defogger for your windshield, but can also be used effectively as a personal heater or fan.

It has three small fan sections and provides a surprisingly powerful blast of air without too much noise. It weighs just a pound and draws 150W of power from a standard 12V cigarette lighter outlet.

The only real downside we saw with the Drtulz was that it needs to be permanently mounted. It comes with an adhesive pad to connect it to your dash. Once it’s stuck in place you’ll need to get a new adhesive if you want to move it around.

Given its low price point and acceptable performance, the Drtulz Portable Car Heater is a good choice for motorists in cold weather climates.

Bamoer 12V Plug-in Car Heater

Portable 12v Car Heater Windshield Defogger

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The Bamoer 12V Plug-in Car Heater is a compact and lightweight miniature heater designed for car and RV use. It uses a non-skid base rather than an adhesive, allowing you to move it around as needed for comfort or spot defrosting.

It can be used as either a fan or a heater, depending on your needs, and heats up in under 30 seconds to quickly start warming your car. One thing we really liked about it was the included handle.

It allows you to move it around your windshield as needed to quickly defrost even the highest edges. You can also share it around if you have multiple passengers to help warm up the inside temps.

For those in cold weather climates, the Bamoer 12V heater can seriously cut down on the time it takes to get moving.

IAXSEE Car Heater 12V

Electronic 12v Heater

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The IAXSEE Car Heater is a combination fan and miniature heater good for use in a car or RV. It can be either permanently stuck into place with the included adhesive or used freely about your car.

It heats up rapidly and allows you to remove built-up snow and ice a lot faster than waiting for your car engine to warm up. You can also use it as a personal fan during the warmer months to help save on your fuel efficiency running the A/C.

The fan itself isn’t quite as powerful as some of the others on this list, but overall the IAXSEE car heater does a good job getting you rolling in the winter months.

Ofimon Portable Auto Electronic Heater Fan

Fast Defrost 12v Heater

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The Ofimon Portable Auto Electronic Heater is a compact defroster and demister for use in cars and RVs. It plugs right into your 12V cigarette style outlet and can quickly melt off snow and ice from your windshield.

It has a 360-degree swivel base and can either be permanently mounted with an included adhesive or used as a portable unit. The swivel allows you to cover most of your windshield from a centrally located point or acts as a handle for moving it yourself.

The 55-inch cable is plenty long enough to reach most areas of a car or RV cab that need heating or cooling.

For most automotive or RV users the Ofimon Portable Heater Fan provides a good level of performance at a very inexpensive price.

Wodesid 12V Car Heater Fan

Car Heater Fan Defog

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The Wodesid 12V Car Heater Fan offers both heating and cooling combined in a compact and attractive package. It plugs right into a standard cigarette outlet and has a power cord just under five feet long.

This allows it to be used throughout your vehicle and to reach every part of your windshield. It can be either permanently affixed to the dash or used as a handheld heater for hitting specific areas for defrosting.

It offers good performance at a reasonable price, making the Wodesid 12V Car Heater a very viable option for those looking to speed up their start time in the winter months.

Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best 12V Heaters

There are several key factors to consider when comparing different 121V heaters. These include the power level, the type of heater in question, and how efficiently they can heat a specific space.

Price

12V car heaters are extremely affordable. You can pick up virtually any model for under $20, with value-priced units running as low as $10.

Type of Heater

You can choose from several different varieties of car heaters depending on your needs. There are ones designed to warm you directly, to act as defrosters, or to warm up your vehicle a bit before going out on a cold winter day.

What type you choose really depends on your climate and what level of warmth you need.

Car, Camper, RV Size

The type of 12V heater you need will vary depending on the size of the space you’re trying to heat. Cars and SUVs are good with pretty much any heater given their smaller size.

For campers and RVs though you really need to consider how much space you’re heating. If you just want to warm up the cab of your RV while driving you can use most any heater. For warming a larger area you should look for more powerful models.

Climate Conditions

The length and severity of winter conditions where you’re located plays a big role in how powerful your 12V heater has to be. Depending on what kind of heater it is you’ll need at minimum enough power to defrost your windshield and raise the internal temperature to a comfortable level.

Noise

Any heater with a fan will have a certain level of added noise. More powerful 12V heaters are consistently louder than less powerful ones.

If you plan to use your heater in a significantly confined space make sure you consider just how loud it’s going to be.

Heating Capacity

The heating capacity for a 12V heater refers to the area size a heater can effectively warm. The smallest heaters aren’t good for much beyond defrosting your windshield and warming your hands a bit.

Larger models are designed to warm small spaces such as a car or SUV to a comfortable temperature. There’s, unfortunately, no standard measurement used to determine what heater will heat which area, but there are things you can look at.

The wattage drawn by a heater helps you figure out how much heat it will output. Higher wattage generally equals more heat.

Energy Efficiency

With electric heaters, there’s a pretty finite energy efficiency. It takes a specific amount of power to raise temperatures a specific amount of degrees.

The most important thing to keep in mind is whether or not your outlet will support a specific heater. Most standard 12V outlets can only provide about 10 to 15 Amps at 12V. That means you can only use heaters that draw up to about 175 Watts.

Depending on the type of outlet you’re using there are more powerful models available.

Temperature Control

Being able to control the temperature of your 12V heater is a really nice value add. Defroster only models sometimes don’t offer this feature.

Having a basic temp setting that lets you increase or lower the temperature output makes it a whole lot easier to get comfortable in your vehicle.

Heating Speed

One of the biggest benefits of a 12V heater over your car or RVs internal heater is how rapidly it can get up to temp. It takes at least several minutes to warm up your car’s heater, while a 12V heater can provide a warm blast of air mere seconds after turning it on.

Check and see how rapidly a heater can get up to working temperatures and how long it can stay there safely.

Construction & Durability

The construction and durability of your 12V heater are second only to performance in importance. It’s designed to work in a vehicle. It needs to be sturdy enough to handle movement and a few bumps.

It should also include something to help prevent overheating on the nonheated parts. Common materials to look for include ABS plastics and other sturdy, heat resistant polymers.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, 12V heaters are easy to pick out.

So long as you keep how and where you plan to use it in mind you can quickly identify the best 12V car heater for your needs.

Don’t forget to take into account multiple vehicles. If you would like to be able to use it in your car and RV it pays to spend a little more on a more powerful unit.

About Karan Riley

I am the owner and main contributor to RV4Campers. I first got bit by the RVing bug when I joined a friend who was into Van Life for weekend getaways. It became apparent very quickly that this was a style of life I enjoyed and wanted more of, so it wasn't long before I had my own travel trailer. I didn't have a lot of money to throw around back then so I did lots of research into all the gear and gadgets. And this is how my RV passion exploded, I've now spent countless hours playing around with many different bits of kit and reading user manuals. And it's this wealth of knowledge I bring to RV4Campers.