I live in my van full-time. While I try to avoid cold climates, high elevation destinations during the summer are also cold enough to need a heat source in my van. I’ve built my own camper van and done a ton of research into different van build options. In this article I’m sharing the best van wood stoves with you!
Winter is coming! Have you decided how you’ll stay warm in the colder months? Summertime in the van is wonderful, but winter time can be more challenging – especially if you don’t fly south. Van wood stoves are a great idea for an easy, cozy heating solution.
Before you can determine which van wood stove is the best for your camper van there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself.
- How much space are you looking to heat? The square footage as well as your insulation and number of windows will impact the size heater that’s best for you. Your location (very cold, temperate, occasionally chilly) will impact the wood burner size too.
- Is this your only heat source? Or do you also have additional heat, like a diesel heater, which can help supplement heat. A wood stove needs to be fed every few hours, including overnight. The burn length will depend on which model you get and what type of fuel you burn.
- Is your van stationary, or will you drive with your wood stove installed? Some wood stoves are very heavy, so a stationary tiny home is better with those units.
- What is your budget? Van wood stoves cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
11 Van Wood Stove Ideas
1. Grizzly Cubic Mini
Cubic Mini Wood Stoves offer two products for vans, the Grizzly and the Cub. The Grizzly is slightly larger than the Cub, so if you have a larger van or RV this is a great wood stove for you!
The door trim and feet are customizable and come in either brass or black finish.
The Grizzly Cubic Mini is also eco-friendly due to its secondary combustion system which means it produces very little smoke.
It’s also incredibly versatile with a top rail that is removable. Or, leave it installed if you’d like to heat water or cook on the stovetop.
Cubic Mini Wood Stoves does not have a specific square footage recommendation for the Grizzly. However, for their Cub stove they recommend a room under 200 square feet. Because the Grizzly outputs approximately 35% more heat I believe it’s ideal installation would be in a room 200-300 sf.
One very important thing to note is that the Grizzly Cubic Mini wood stove does not have any certifications, meaning it is not certified by the EPA, DEQ or other organizations.
Certifications from these organizations indicate the wood stoves meet clean air standards, generate less smoke and use less wood to create more heat.
However, I think it’s important to note that a lack of certification does not always mean these qualifications aren’t met, it simply means they haven’t been reviewed or approved yet.
Dimensions: 13″ (Wide) x 15″ (High) x 12″ (Depth)
Fuel: Wood, charcoal, pressed fire logs
Output: 8,000-18,000 BTUs or 2.3-5.2 KWh
Weight: 39 lbs
2. Cub Cubic Mini
The Cub Cubic Mini wood burner is very similar to its big brother, the Grizzly. However, the Cub has smaller dimensions – 2 inches narrower, 3 inches shorter and 1.5 inches less deep – and weighs 14 lbs less.
The Cub also comes with an option of brass or black trim, and has a removable top rail.
Cubic Mini Wood Stoves recommend the Cub for spaces under 200 square feet.
From my research it appears that most users have to stoke their fire every 45 minutes to maintain warmth. Some reviewers indicated that they’d have opted for the larger Grizzly if they could do it again, specifically so they didn’t have to tend to the fire as often.
Dimensions: 11″ (Wide) x 12″ (High) x 10.5″ (Depth)
Fuel: Wood, charcoal, pressed fire logs
Output: 6,000-14,000 BTUs or 1.75-4.1 KWh
Weight: 25 lbs
3. Dwarf 3kw LITE
The next 4 van wood stoves are variations of the Dwarf stove by Tiny Wood Stove. The primary differences are their size and heating capacity, so depending on your heated space square footage you’ll likely gravitate towards one of the others.
The Dwarf 3kw LITE is almost identical to its sister, the Dwarf 3kw, except that it’s a fraction of the weight and you’ll save a bit on the price. Essentially, it’s a no-frills version that’ll get the job done.
What’s different? Compared to the regular 3kw model, the LITE model weighs 20 lbs less. The firebox is lined with lightweight ceramic fiber panels instead of the heavy duty firebrick found in the full 3kw version.
There is only a top exhaust option, but in the 3kw model you also have the option for rear exhaust.
Additionally, the 3kw LITE model does not have mounting points for accessories and is not compatible with Direct-Air (an ancillary product that allows you to connect an exterior fresh air source directly to your stove, eliminating the need for a drafty room with an open air supply).
The last primary difference between the two is that the full 3kw offers independent primary, secondary and tertiary air wash controls, whereas the 3kw LITE version has a combined primary/secondary control and a separate air wash.
The things that are the same across both versions are the large fire viewing window, efficient tri-burn technology, stay-cool sprint handle, ash pan and tools included, and a 4” flue system.
The difference in price is close to $200.
Dimensions: H17” x W10.25” x D8.5”
Fuel: Wood, coal
Output: 10,000 BTUs or 3 KWh
Weight: 55 lbs
4. Dwarf 3kw
The standard Dwarf 3kw wood stove is likely what you’ll want if you’re looking for a full-featured wood burner in your van. For a typical sized van with a normal amount of insulation, it requires a stove size of approximately 3500 BTUs to achieve 68* inside when it’s 20* outside.
This means that unless you’re planning to be in much colder temperatures, or don’t have much insulation or have a ton of windows, a larger wood stove in your van won’t actually achieve better results, it’ll just be more weight and cost.
Dimensions: H17” x W10.25” x D8.5”
Fuel: Wood, coal
Output: 10,000 BTUs or 3 KWh
Weight: 75 lbs
5. Dwarf 4kw
Dwarf 4kw is the second largest stove offered by Tiny Wood Stove. It’s recommended for spaces less than 300 square feet which makes it a perfect wood stove for a van, RV, bus or tiny home.
I love a good origin story. Did you know Tiny Wood Stove was established by RVers who couldn’t find the right wood burner for their Airstream?
After much research, and coming up short, they decided to start the Tiny Wood Stove business so they could create products intended for van life, RV life and tiny living.
This means these wood stoves are the right size, lightweight (or as lightweight as a wood stove can be), and have the best features for use in a van or RV.
Dimensions: H19.5” x W12” x D9”
Fuel: Wood, coal
Output: 13,500 BTUs or 4 KWh
Weight: 100 lbs
6. Dwarf 5kw
Dwarf 5kw wood stove is recommended for use in spaces less than 500 square feet. The square footage of most vans tops out around 100 sf, so it’s unlikely you’ll need this large of a wood stove for a van. However, for a larger bus or RV this could be a great option.
All Tiny Wood Stove products come with great add-on features to make them extremely customizable to your build.
Add-on’s include tall legs (units come with short legs), a wood storage stand, heat shielding, direct-air (this one is my favorite because it means you can pipe cold air directly into the stove without having to use an open air duct that chills the rest of the van), and enameled doors.
Dimensions: H22” x W14” x D11”
Fuel: Wood, coal
Output: 17,000 BTUs or 5 KWh
Weight: 150 lbs
7. Summers Heat by England’s Stove Works
As a larger wood stove this unit is recommended for 1800 square feet, which is probably more than most will need, but could be perfect for a larger 5th wheel with lots of windows.
Additionally, Summers Heat is the first wood stove on the list to have EPA certifications.
Due to its size, weight and heating capacity this wood stove is really only recommended for stationary builds, like larger tiny houses or RVs.
Dimensions: H35.5” x W22.5” x D26.71”
Output: 50,000 BTUs or 15 KWh
Weight: 365 lbs
8. The Hobbit by Salamander Stoves
Imagine being able to say something like “be right there, just need to turn on The Hobbit”. You either have cool friends who think that’s hilarious, or lame friends who don’t understand life.
Further, the Hobbit wood stove looks fairly similar to the Dwarf stoves. Do Hobbits and Dwarfs look similarly in real life?
Ok, back to the point. This wood stove for a van is multi-fuel, meaning it can burn wood, coal and eco logs. Its dimensions were thoughtfully crafted to be used in small spaces.
Even better, the Hobbit is winning awards! It was Eco Design 2022 approved which means it complies with new Eco Design regulations (important if you’re based in, or plan to travel in the EU) as of January 1, 2022.
My favorite thing about the Hobbit by Salamander Stoves is the ability to customize your wood stove with your own choice of color! They have over 30 color options available.
Dimensions: H18.3” x W11.9” x D14”
Fuel: Wood, coal, eco logs
Output: 14,000 BTUs or 4.1 KWh
Weight: 104 lbs
Certifications: Harmonised Standard, EC Declaration of Conformity
9. Newport by Dickinson Marine
Ok this is not technically a wood stove, it burns diesel, but hear me out. If you’re after the wood burning stove look and vibe then this could be an alternative option for you.
Similar to a wood burner, Newport is an economical way of creating comfortable dry heat. It looks similar to a wood stove. Depending on how much access you have to wood, a diesel fueled stove may be more convenient.
Additionally, there’s an optional water heating option. Best of all is the weight – just 22 lbs which is significantly less than the other wood stove options on this list.
Dimensions: H19.75” x W8.5” x D10.5”
Output: 6,500 – 16,250 BTUs
Weight: 22 lbs
10. Kimberly by Unforgettable Fire
Here’s another great origin story. The Kimberly wood stove was originally designed by Roger Lehet (owner of Unforgettable Fire for over 25 years) when The Great Recession forced him into living on a boat in Puget Sound because he was unable to pay rent.
He designed the wood burner to be nearly smokeless (a requirement to remain in the marina where he was moored), have long burn times so he didn’t need to tend his fire multiple times each night, and take up as little space as possible in his tiny boat.
As a result, the Kimberly tiny wood stove has a 2-stage gasifier combustion system. When burning wood with 20% or less moisture content there’s virtually no smoke produced. It’s also highly efficient for space saving as it only requires 6” side clearances.
Boasting a burn time of up to 8-hours, this van wood stove can heat 150-1,500 square feet.
This van wood stove also happens to be one of the most expensive ones on the market, with good reason. With so much innovation, and certifications to back up their big claims, this is a top of the line wood burner for your van.
Dimensions: H25.5” x W10” x D10”
Fuel: Wood, non-wax extruded sawdust logs
Output: up to 40,000 BTUs
Weight: 56 lbs
Certifications: EPA/CSA Certified and UL-listed to residential standards
11. Blue Ridge 100 by Stove Builder International
Another good wood stove option for tiny living on the larger side of the spectrum is the Blue Ridge 100 by Stove Builder International. This is certainly a more affordable option than some of the others on the list, but it’s much heavier.
Stove Builder International recommends this wood stove for spaces between 250 – 1,200 square feet. That’s probably too large for most vans, but would work well in a tiny home or stationary RV.
With up to a 5 hour burn time, this wood stove burns longer than most on the list, which means you can spend more time sleeping at night, and less time feeding the fire. It is also EPA certified.
Dimensions: H30.6” x W18.5” x D29”
Output: 12,000 – 45,000 BTUs
Weight: 283 lbs
FAQs = Van Wood Stoves
What Is A Van Wood Stove?
A van wood stove is a small stove which burns wood, and sometimes other combustibles, to heat a camper van.
They come in many sizes. Popular brands include Salamander Stoves and Cubic Mini’s.
In addition to wood, some van wood stoves also burn coal, charcoal, and eco logs.
Features to look for when buying a wood stove for a van include its heating capacity (BTUs), dimensions, overall weight and whether it has any government or third party certifications for safety and emissions.
What Is A ‘Multi-Fuel ‘ Stove?
Multi-fuel stoves are wood stoves that can burn additional materials, like coal or eco logs. By having the ability to burn multiple fuel sources a multi-fuel stove is more versatile.
Can you put a wood-burning stove in a van?
Yes, you can put a wood-burning stove in a van. Installation is relatively easy, although some may opt for a professional install just to be on the safe side.
It’s always best to check on local ordinances where you live or plan to travel, as they may have laws which regulate the use of wood-burning stoves in tiny houses or vans. In particular, the EU has strict rules.
An additional consideration for whether you can put a wood-burning stove in a van is insurance. Check with your insurance provider before you install a wood burner to make sure that it does not void your coverage.
It is also important to ask whether the wood burner you install must meet specific certifications in order to be covered under your policy.
What Will I Need To Install A Van Wood Stove?
In order to install a van wood stove you’ll need several things:
Enough space. Make sure that you understand the clearance requirements for your van wood stove. The dimensions indicate the size of the stove, but each stove comes with additional space requirements for safety.
A way to insulate your wood stove from walls or nearby items in your van. If you have proper clearances this is less of an issue, but always make sure to follow the manufacturer requirements. Many van wood stove brands also sell accessory items, like heat shields.
Fresh air intake. For most van builds, this means a small hole (approximately 3 inches) vented in the floor which can pull in fresh air for combustion while your fire is lit. Fancy van wood stoves have ducting so the fresh air pipes directly into the combustion chamber and doesn’t create a chill in your van.
A fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Of course, you should have these in your van regardless of whether you do or do not have a van wood stove installed. It’s even more crucial if you’ll be having a fire in your van.
Remember, smoke rises, so install your fire alarms as high as you can. Carbon monoxide sinks, so you want that alarm as close to the floor as possible – it’ll do you no good if it’s higher than your head while sleeping because by the time it alarms you’ll already have inhaled toxins.
Additionally, you’ll want a fire extinguisher that is stored in a place that is both easily accessible and near the door (so that you can be near the exit and not further trapped in your van if something happens).
Space for a flu to exhaust your smoke. Most vans have this go right through the roof. The standard flue sizes for van wood stoves on this list are between 3”-6”, so you’ll need a hole in your roof slightly larger to accommodate the flu and heat shield.
How do you install a wood-burning stove in a van?
First, you need to determine where you can install your van wood stove. It must be in a location where all 4 feet can be bolted through the van floor.
Depending on what’s under your van, this can be tricky. Many van wood stoves come with bolt holes already drilled into the stove feet. You’ll need a drill, drill bit and bolts with locking washers to mount your stove to your van floor.
Next, you’ll need to determine where your flue pipe can be installed in the roof. Ideally, your flue will vent straight up with no turns or elbows (some brands require this).
Typically, the driver’s side is the best place for your flu vent as it’s less likely to get knocked off by trees on the side of the road that have overgrown the road on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. The driver’s side rides closer to the center of the road and is less likely to encounter low hanging branches. For flue installation you’ll need a drill, and a hole saw.
Third, you need to determine where your fresh air supply will come from. Fires require air to work so it’s incredibly important that you have a fresh supply of this or else you’ll be in competition with the fire for oxygen.
Most van builds have a fresh air supply drilled through the van floor as close to the fire as the undercarriage will allow. You’ll need a drill and hole saw for this step as well.
These steps are the hardest parts as they require careful layout planning and cutting or drilling holes in your van. Cutting holes in my van is always my least favorite part about any van build project.
Lastly, you will follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble the kit components of your van wood stove. This is actually far less daunting than it sounds as there are only a few items in a kit.
After that, it’s time to enjoy your new wood stove in your van!
Are Van Wood Stoves Safe To Install?
Yes, if installed with the proper materials and clearances a van wood stove is safe to install.
It’s incredibly important to make sure you use the correct materials which can withstand high temperatures, leave enough clearance around your stove so that it doesn’t melt, burn or catch fire to anything around it, and that you have a source for fresh air to enter the fire chamber.
Is A Van Wood Stove Legal?
Generally speaking, yes, a van wood stove is legal. It’s always best to check your local ordinances. The EU has much stricter rules on wood burning stoves and only allows those which pass certain government certifications for clean burning standards.
Because a van or RV isn’t technically a residential building, the codes and ordinances for them are much less strict. However, just because there isn’t a law requiring you to use safe practices doesn’t mean common sense doesn’t dictate you should.
What is the smallest wood-burning stove available?
The smallest wood-burning stove available is the Cub Cubic Mini, which measures 11″ wide x 12″ high x 10.5″ deep. The next smallest wood-burning stove available is the Dwarf 3kw or Dwarf 3kw LITE, which both measure 10.25” wide x 17” high x 8.5” deep.
Written by Claire Fleming
I’m a travel enthusiast who spends half the year in my self-built camper van with my dog, Oscar, and the other half at my home in Raleigh, North Carolina or on international adventures.