Vanlife Stoves: Best Options for Cooking in Your Campervan
There’s no greater feeling than hopping in your van and driving wherever the road takes you. However, there is one issue that may pop up: food. After a few days, you’ll probably get tired of eating heavy, unhealthy takeout meals.
If you spend extensive time in your van and crave good, old-fashioned home cooking, consider investing in a van stove set-up. In this article, we’ll go over the different van stoves available and help you pick the best one.
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Is It Safe to Cook Inside a Campervan?
If you’re new to van life, the prospect of cooking inside your van may make vanlife seem unsafe. Fortunately, it’s perfectly safe to cook inside your campervan as long as you implement these safety measures:
- Install a roof vent
- Install a CO detector
- Open the doors or windows while cooking
- Install a fire safety kit and fire extinguisher
- Keep flammable materials away from the cooking area
Installing a roof vent fan for ventilation, keeping the kitchen clean, and stocking your van with fire safety materials will help reduce the risk of cooking-related hazards (such as excessive smoke or a gas fire). Along with taking these steps, you should select a high-quality, reliable cooking stove.
What Is the Best Stove for Van Life?
Picking a campervan stove is not a decision you can make in a matter of minutes. There are several factors that need to be considered, including the following:
- Required fuel source
- Stove efficiency
Ultimately, you want a van life stove that fits well with your vehicle interior, falls within your budgetary demands and helps you produce delicious meals. Let’s go over a few of the best stoves for van life.
Propane Van Stoves
Propane stoves are a huge hit within the van life community. These stoves are portable and designed to work in both indoor and outdoor environments, making them ideal for camping trips. As an added perk, outfitting your van with propane will allow you to heat your van without the use of significant electricity.
- Propane fuel is readily available
- Affordable price point
- Propane fuel can be used to fuel other appliances (like propane heaters, refrigerators, or water heaters)
- Easy to cook with
- Expensive installation (outfitting your van with a propane or diesel fuel system for cooking/heating can cost upwards of $1,000 just to install)
- Consumes space (when installed inside the campervan)
- Comes with a fire risk
Who Are Propane Van Stoves Best for?
A propane stove is a good option if you’re looking for an affordable, reliable and portable cooking solution for your camping trips. It’s best for van lifers who cook often (since propane fuel is readily available in most gas stations in the US & Canada).
Butane Van Stoves
Butane stoves are light, portable cooking stoves that use butane fuel. This fuel is a colorless, liquefied gas that’s stored in 8-ounce canisters. Typically, the butane flame can reach temperatures of 1,970 degrees Celsius (which is high enough for cooking or warming meals).
- Smaller and more compact than propane tanks
- Does not add considerable weight to vans
- Affordable fuel
- More efficient than propane stoves
- Butane fuel is not readily available
- Burns at lower temperatures than propane stoves (resulting in longer cook times)
- Efficiency is affected by temperature (less efficient in colder climates)
Who Are Butane Van Stoves Best For?
A butane stove is a good option if you have a small van and need an appliance that won’t add significant weight. However, it’s not ideal if you cook very frequently, as butane fuel can be difficult to access.
Induction Van Stoves
Induction cooktop stoves are becoming increasingly popular among van lifers due to their high energy efficiencies and impressive safety features. These stoves use induction to transfer heat to the cookware, which means no heat is generated at the stovetop. Furthermore, they generate heat energy that makes your food cook faster.
- Shorter cook time
- Campervan stove top is safe to touch (even during cooking)
- Compact size
- Easy to clean (glass surface is resistant to burn spills)
- Safer than propane and butane stoves
- Can be noisy when operating on high cook settings
- Need to be paired with induction-friendly cookware (which can get expensive)
- Expensive, complex installation
- May drain the van’s battery quickly
Who Are Induction Van Stoves Best For?
If safety is a major concern of yours, an induction stove is a great choice. The induction technology makes it safe to touch the surface during cooking, while the small size is easy to manage. However, keep in mind that this stove type can drain your van’s battery — thus, it may be more suitable for van lifers who power their vans through an easily rechargeable source (such as solar PV panels).
Mini Wood Burning Stoves
A wood-burning stove for campervans is a self-contained unit that produces heat by combusting wood. Unlike other stoves, it can be used to keep your campervan warm during winter.
There are two main types of this stove: exterior and interior models. Exterior wood burning stoves are compact, portable appliances that are set up outdoors. Interior stoves, on the other hand, are installed directly into your van.
Because this stove model involves burning wood, you might be wondering: is it safe to install a wood burning stove in my van? The truth is, it’s perfectly safe provided you implement a few safety measures. In addition to the stove, you’ll need these fixtures:
- Flue pipe
- Air vent
- Fire extinguisher
- Carbon monoxide detector
Moreover, you’ll need a considerable amount of space in your van. This stove type consumes more room than the average propane or butane stove.
- More environmentally friendly than other stove types
- High efficiency and substantial heat output
- Easy to control (once you’ve learned how it works)
- High installation and material costs
- Learning curve for new users
- Consumes space
Who Are Wood Burning Stoves Best For?
Wood burning stoves are an appealing choice if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to fuel-based stoves. However, unless you’re willing to use an exterior model, you’ll need plenty of space in your van.
What Is the Best Van Stove Brand?
Once you’ve decided on a van stove type, the next step is to pick a specific brand. To help you make a choice, we’ve assembled a list of some of the best campervan stove brands out there.
Best Propane Stoves for Van Life
Are you interested in a propane stove? Here are a few of our favorite models.
Coleman Classic Propane Stove
The Coleman Classic Propane Stove stands out due to its high functionality. It comes with two adjustable burners, each of which has a cooking power of around 20,000 BTUs (British thermal units). Top features include:
- Even, consistent heating performance
- Built-in pressure control technology
- Rotating dial with precise temperature control
- Wind-blocking panels
The stove is affordably priced at around $60. Moreover, it comes with a 3-year limited warranty (which protects you if the stove develops issues down the line). On the downside, the flat design can make it difficult to heat evenly.
Camp Chef Everest 2 Burner Stove
Camp Chef has established itself as a powerhouse in the camper van stove industry. The company produces a wide range of propane stoves for van dwellings, with the Everest 2 burner stove being one of its top sellers. Top features include:
- Two high-performance burners (which generate 20,000 BTUs each)
- Stainless steel drip tray for easy clean-up
- Carry handle for easy transportation
- Simple starting procedure
- Dual latch system that lets you prepare two meals simultaneously
The dual latch technology and portability makes this stove a great option for people who have multiple residents in their van. However, with a price point of around $150, this stove is on the expensive side. Moreover, the gas regulator takes some getting used to.
Texsport Compact Dual 2 Propane Stove
This Texsport stove is a compact, sleek appliance that’s light in weight and on the budget. The red exterior offers a pop of color, while the double burners facilitate fast cooking. Top features include:
- Two burners (capable of generating 5,500 BTUs each)
- Long cooking time (can cook for up to 2.5 hours)
- Large burners (capable of holding two 10″ skillets)
- Wind baffles that shield burners from the sun
- Baked enamel finish and heavily alloyed steel
You can get this small, functional stove for under $50. While the compact size is a huge plus for van lifers with small vehicles, it also works against the stove — compared to other models, this one can’t cook too many items at once.
Best Butane Stoves for Van Life
If you’re looking for a butane stove for camper vans, check out these options.
Coleman Portable Butane Stove
The Coleman portable butane stove is easy to use thanks to its insta-start ignition technology and matchless lighting. Although it’s small in both weight and size, it can deliver up to 7,650 BTUs of cooking power, making it one of the most powerful butane stoves out there. Top features include:
- Adjustable burner for precise temperature control
- Broad, stable base that supports pans up to 10 inches in diameter
- Rust-proof aluminum burner that supports long cooking times (over an hour)
- Easy-to-clean, scratch-resistant and porcelain-coated grate
The stove is a bit on the expensive side (but still reasonably priced) at $80. Furthermore, it comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which promises replacements or refunds if certain problems occur. The only shortcoming is its single burner style, which makes it impossible to cook two meals at once.
Chef Master 90019 Portable Butane Stove
The Chef Master 900019 is a single burner butane stove capable of delivering 15,000 BTUs worth of cooking power. Thanks to this high output, the stove can quickly and efficiently heat any dish you desire. Top features include:
- Easy-to-use electric ignition system
- Wind-guard that shields flames from breezes
- Hard-shell, portable carrying case
- Compact size
- Built-in safety measures (such as a pressure-sensing shut-off and in-line regulator)
You can get your hands on this stove for just over $50. Although it’s highly compact and affordable, there is a downside — the high cooking output means that this stove will burn through your butane fuel supply fairly quickly.
Iwatani VA-30 Portable Butane Stove
This Iwatani VA-30 stove is both easy to use and transport. Despite its small size, it can support pans over nine inches in diameter. It also comes stocked with safety amenities, including a pressure-sensing device. Top features include:
- Stainless-steel windbreaker
- Strong drip pan
- Easy-to-use ignition
- Pressure-sending and canister setting devices
- Carrying case for convenient transportation
The stove is reasonably priced at just under $60. On the downside, it only has one burner.
Best Induction Stoves for Van Life
For those who are interested in induction stoves, take a look at these high-ranking models.
Duxtop 1800W Portable Induction Cooktop
The Duxtop portable van life induction cooktop is a compact stove unit that can be enjoyed both inside and outside. It features a wide range of watt and temperature settings, which let you precisely control your cooking conditions. Top features include:
- 170-minute countdown timer
- Ability to heat up to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit within a minute
- Angled control panel
- Auto-pan and over-heat detection
- Low and high-voltage warning system
- Easy-to-clean surface
The stove leans toward the expensive side with a cost of around $75. However, considering the abundance of safety features and temperature settings, the price is well worth it. The only issue is that it can drain your battery quickly.
SUNAVO Portable Induction Cooktop
The SUNAVO portable induction stove is made from cast iron and weighs 6.5 pounds. It’s compatible with several magnetic induction cookware materials, including steel, iron, cast iron and enameled iron. Top features include:
- LED touch control panel for adjusting temperature and power settings
- Child safety lock
- 300-minute countdown timer
- Up to 15 temperature and power settings
- 1800W high power coils that can boil 1 liter of water in three minutes
- Automatic shutdown feature
This stove is available for just over $50, which is a very reasonable price considering all the features it includes. However, you can only cook one meal at once, which isn’t ideal if you share a van with several people.
iSiLER 1800W Induction Stove
The iSiLER 1800W stove is a sleek, stylish induction cooktop that’s portable and can comfortably heat pans up to 8 inches in diameter. Top features include:
- Easy-to-clean glass surface with excellent wear and heat resistance
- Built-in overheating protection
- 180-minute countdown timer
- Multiple power outputs (ranging from 100W to 1800W)
- 17 preset temperature levels and adjustable temperature settings
You can buy this stove for $75. If there’s anything to criticize, it’s the built-in fan — many users remark that it makes annoying sounds.
Best Mini Wood Burning Stoves for Van Life
Are you interested in a wood burning set-up? Here are some of the best indoor and outdoor wood burning stoves for camper vans.
The Dwarf 3kW Mini Wood Stove
As the name suggests, this mini wood-burning stove is relatively small. It stands on metal legs and can heat spaces up to 300 square feet. It also features a large viewing window, which closely resembles a traditional wood stove. Top features include:
- Air control options for efficient fuel usage
- Grate and ash pan that promotes easy clean-up
- Customizable height
- Multiple door and color options
You may need to save up for this stove model, as it costs about $800. However, you’ll be getting a highly functional, long-lasting stove in exchange for your investment. The only problem is that it’s a bit heavyweight and requires regular refueling.
The Dickinson Newport Solid Fuel Heater
If you’re looking for a small, lightweight mini wood stove for your van, look no further than the Dickinson Newport solid fuel stove. It weighs 15 pounds and measures under 14 inches. The stainless steel design offers a modern feel, while the strong cooking output supports speedy meal production. Top features include:
- Ability to burn logs, charcoal and other solid fuels
- Removable ashtray
- Damper control
- Can generate 8,000 BTUs of usable energy
The stove is available to buy for just over $600. However, it may not provide adequate heating for larger RVs. It also lacks a viewing window.
Solo Stove Bonfire Portable Fire Pit
This portable mini wood stove is designed to be used outside your campervan. It features a cylindrical stove with a minimalistic, stainless steel design. Top features include:
- Bottom vent holes that facilitate the free flow of oxygen
- A bonfire stand
- A singular unit design (which facilitates transportation)
With a price point of about $300, this is one of the most affordable wood burning units you’ll find. However, unlike other models, it can’t be used for space heating.
Hit the Road and Get Cooking!
There’s nothing like having a delicious, home-cooked meal. As long as you have a functional, high-quality stove installed in your van, you can enjoy good home cooking everywhere you go. If you have any questions about finding the best van stove, our team is here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our experts with any questions!
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