Vanlife Log : Campervan Fireplace Test Run

Vanlife Log. Day 5. It is 6 degrees in the morning hours of Copper Mountain.  That seems like a good time to test out our new camper van fireplace.  We worked on installing the Dickinson Marine Newport solid fuel heater, all the way until the day we embarked on this trip.  The install is now complete, but there was no time left to give the fireplace a test run.  

We opened the  Fantastic Fan vent in the ceiling, and cracked the side door.  After filling the fireplace with a few scrap pieces of wood and newspaper, we lit a match.  Flame.  The newspaper quickly caught fire and moved to the wood scraps.  An orange glow crackled in the mini fireplace.


The fire grew, and flames shot up the flue pipe, changing the stainless steel to an iridescent purple-y blue.  Wires to our IKEA recessed lights run through the ceiling, and as the fire warmed the van, the ceiling warmed as well.  We learned that this amount of flame is too much fire for our small space.  The lights actually turned off, and would not work again until the ceiling cooled down.  

Below is a fire built at a much more reasonable level for the van.


3 Tips for a Camper Van Fireplace 

Tip #1 Ventilation

Crack a vent, or window, prior to lighting the fire to allow circulation of fresh air.

Tip #2 Small is Best

A slow burning, low flame is key to creating warmth, without overheating your space.  To achieve this, chop a slowburning log (like a duraflame) into small pieces or wood chips. 

Tip # 3 Don’t Stoke the Flame

Only add additional wood to your fire when the flame is nearly out.


We have purchased a carbon monoxide detector, but have yet to let the fire go while we are sleeping, so have not tried it.  I will share our experience with the carbon monoxide detector, when we do.

Do you have a camper van fireplace, or a fireplace in a tiny home, bus, boat or RV?  

If you have any tips for wood burning fireplaces in small spaces, please share them in the comments.  As with our entire van conversion, we are on a “learn as we go process” and are always interested in learning more.

Thanks for following our scenic route

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