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Gas or Diesel powered Heater?

DTDOG

Full Member

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20
So, I've just bought this home build van which hasn't got any heating system (the previous owner used it on hook-up and stuck a portable electric heater in). I'm looking at these little blown air units and can't decide on using a gas powered one or diesel powered one. They seem similar in size and similar in difficulty (or ease) to fit, with the only big difference being the source of fuel needed to power them. Both of which I can tap in to (gas from the fridge supply or diesel from the fuel line). I'm swaying towards diesel at the moment as they seem to be more heat output for cost and I'm less likely to run out of diesel in the middle of the night (I'm not worried about running out of diesel and not being able to run the van as I'm a stickler for keeping plenty of fuel in the van). The other plus, is you can run the diesel ones while on the move.
Okay, so any counter arguments as to why gas ones are better?
 

St3v3

Full Member

Messages
749
I'm not sure if you can tap into a diesel line, it might have to be a separate pickup on the tank. Not sure, so check that out.

The cheap Chinese eberspacher copies seem to be generally getting good reviews - my brother has one he's used a few times over the last 6 months maybe.
 

nabsim

Full Member

Messages
1,864
The only thing I would say if you go diesel is to buy and fit the inlet and exhaust silencers, it has made mine extremely quiet not much difference to a fridge running on gas in a 2018 van.

Mine has a separate pickup in the tank as a feed and it’s own pump for the heater, I believe you can’t tap into the fuel lines for this. You can run it from it’s own small tank though allowing other fuels to diesel, (paraffin/kerosene).
 
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wildebus

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1,860
I'm not sure if you can tap into a diesel line, it might have to be a separate pickup on the tank. Not sure, so check that out.

The cheap Chinese eberspacher copies seem to be generally getting good reviews - my brother has one he's used a few times over the last 6 months maybe.
My "Chinese" Heater works well and I am very pleased with it. But as I have said before, the Quality Control of them in the factory is poor and many supplied parts are poor quality and need replacing for installation. So I would only recommend one of these to someone who is willing to accept they may have to faff around initially to get it working. Once setup and working, it's nae bother as they say up here ;)


The only thing I would say if you go diesel is to buy and fit the inlet and exhaust silencers, it has made mine extremely quiet not much difference to a fridge running on gas in a 2018 van.

Mine has a separate pickup in the tank as a feed and it’s own pump for the heater, I believe you can’t tap into the fuel lines for this. You can run it from it’s own small tank though allowing other fuels to diesel, (paraffin/kerosene).
I'll echo the above for the silencers. Some of the kits now come with an Exhaust Silencer but even then still want to add one for the inlet.

Ref the fuel ... the key rule is the fuel line to the heater pump MUST be an unpressurised supply. This usually means that you cannot tap into the fuel pipe that goes to the engine fuel pump. However many vehicles are ready-prepared with a heater fuel takeout point (Later model Sprinters I think have these often?).
I opted for a separate tank on mine rather than a main tank take-off so I could use Kerosene at ~60p a litre rather than Diesel at ~£1.35 a litre.
 

Caz

Full Member

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317
Having had vans with loads of different types of heating, my preference (although it costs the most in fuel) is a gas convector Carver/Truma "caravan" heater, as it doesn't need any 12v power to run the fan, but you do need a lot of space so really only suitable in coachbuilts.
Diesel (I've only experienced Eberspacher, no the chinese or Planar ones)) needs a lot of 12v power to start up and run but fuel costs were very little and the big advantage over gas is that you can run it whilst driving so the back of the van can be nice and warm when you stop. Mine was fitted so it would cut out when the fuel level got low so you wouldn't be stuck with nothing to run the engine on.
Gas cost a lot to run unless you have refillable, and they can't be used whilst driving unless you have a very modern system where the gas can be safely left on. They do seem to be quieter than diesel and heat the van up more quickly as they don't seem to go through the long winded starting up and slowing down procedures.
 

Caz

Full Member

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317
Caz I run my Propex while driving no probs at all .
Maybe you have the modern system with cut off safety valves? All mine have been older and gas has to be turned off at the bottle for safety in the event of a collision.
 

Geeky Philip

Administator

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1,525
Personally, I prefer gas. My last van had a diesel heater and I really did not like it. The noise inside the van when it was starting up in the night always woke me up. Gas is great and cheaper if you are using refillable gas bottles, but if you had to exchange the bottles then diesel could be cheaper. You can also fit a small tank and run the diesel heater on red diesel.
 

davef

Full Member

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9
I was told by someone who had a lot of experience of both types that the gas ( Propex) heaters tended to be more reliable. They also use a lot less electric as they dont need the glowplug heating the diesel every time it is ignited. On the other hand, the diesel heater must be cheaper to run if fitted with a seperate tank running on red diesel or heating oil.
 

Morse

Full Member

Messages
5
I have a Planar heater with a feed from the vehicle fuel tank. it is very quiet when running and overall I am very pleased with it - the annoying thing is the ticking from the fuel pump. I am sure I can do something to make it quieter - any thoughts?
 

wildebus

Full Member

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1,860
I have a Planar heater with a feed from the vehicle fuel tank. it is very quiet when running and overall I am very pleased with it - the annoying thing is the ticking from the fuel pump. I am sure I can do something to make it quieter - any thoughts?
What you can apparently do is, assuming you have a flexible rubber fuel pipe going in and out of the pump, is to make a 90 degree angle on those two pipes at the point they go in. This is a tip from the Eberspacher pages on the yacht varnish website, which has the best info on the web for the Eberspacher heaters and I would think this would apply to any oil fired heaters?
 

daygoboy

Free Member

Messages
227
Gas, for me, reasons..... less complex, burn cleaner less sooting up. consume
less electrical power. There always seem people looking for spare parts for
Eberspachers, Webastos, Planars, and Chinese various, I wonder why.
 

ActiveCampers

Full Member

Messages
83
Propex branded are cheap and effective, but use gas. How much gas can you carry, ,or can you refill? We had refillable gas and no issue. But without refillable, then heating won't last long.

Branded diesel heaters are very ££££ but unlimited fuel. We have one in current van. With silencers. If you tap into fuel, I'd not recommend tapping into a fuel line as that can cause many issues! You need to go direct to tank ideally (issues with engine high pressure pumps, air, etc)

Next time, I'll use Chinese diesel and buy 1 just for spares!). and accept its iffy! And get one with a separate fuel tank (run on kerosene/heating oil, but diesel if out and about)

*most* issues with diesel heaters are from DoA or poor installation. If installed Ok and they are understood, then they work well. Electrically, lots don't spec cable correctly - and that makes a massive difference as (above) they do pull 20A or so during startup (pulsed, so ammeter reads 10A)

No correct answer, each user has different needs, and each van different fuel capacity
 

wildebus

Full Member

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1,860
Propex branded are cheap and effective, but use gas. How much gas can you carry, ,or can you refill? We had refillable gas and no issue. But without refillable, then heating won't last long.

Branded diesel heaters are very ££££ but unlimited fuel. We have one in current van. With silencers. If you tap into fuel, I'd not recommend tapping into a fuel line as that can cause many issues! You need to go direct to tank ideally (issues with engine high pressure pumps, air, etc)

Next time, I'll use Chinese diesel and buy 1 just for spares!). and accept its iffy! And get one with a separate fuel tank (run on kerosene/heating oil, but diesel if out and about)

*most* issues with diesel heaters are from DoA or poor installation. If installed Ok and they are understood, then they work well. Electrically, lots don't spec cable correctly - and that makes a massive difference as (above) they do pull 20A or so during startup (pulsed, so ammeter reads 10A)

No correct answer, each user has different needs, and each van different fuel capacity
Just a note on the point above in bold .... the Chinese Clone Diesel Heaters come with a very long power loom (just the 2 wires, mind) and not the thickest of cables so if installed as supplied it is easy to have spurious low-voltage issues. Best to truncate the loom and loose all the excess! (I also added a switchable boost regulator close to the heater to make sure the voltage at the heater end would never be low enough to cause an issue.)
 

daygoboy

Free Member

Messages
227
I have 2 Propex heaters a 1600 and a 2000 not by design I might add but I was given one
& felt compelled to use it.
My real preference is for any one of the iniquitous Truma gas heater range starting with the 1800W model
and ending with the 5000W with or without fan assistance. Without fan on they are quiet, they require little
maintenance, wide range of temperatures. If you have the floor/wall space, worth considering. I personally
don't think they can be beaten.
The Propex's have one heat setting and only thermostatic control, on/off, with a fair bit of time lag, and with
no-choice fan noise, they frankly get on my tits!
 
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mistericeman

Full Member

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82
Gas, for me, reasons..... less complex, burn cleaner less sooting up. consume
less electrical power. There always seem people looking for spare parts for
Eberspachers, Webastos, Planars, and Chinese various, I wonder why.
Out of theany many thousands of wagons fitted with fuel burning heaters.....

How many of those aren't Diesel???

IF diesel heaters were unreliable and or thirsty to run, fleet owners wouldn't fit them.

I've had both propex/eberspacher AND carver fan/convector heaters....
Even after fitting 2 x 9kg refillable gaslow cylinders....
I'm still fitting a eberspacher (with inlet/exhaust silencers)
Dip tube fitted into tank sender above the pojnt the low fuel light comes on = not running out of fuel for the engine and simple cheap to run, safe push button heat.... Simples.
The ebers use so little fuel its not noticeable and IMHO not worth the pfaff of running a separate tank.
 

Caz

Full Member

Messages
317
.............................
My real preference is for any one of the iniquitous Truma gas heater range starting with the 1800W model
and ending with the 5000W with or without fan assistance. Without fan on they are quiet, they require little
maintenance, wide range of temperatures. If you have the floor/wall space, worth considering. I personally
don't think they can be beaten.
.........................
I agree, my favourite. That's what I would go for if I was building a van and had the room.
 

daygoboy

Free Member

Messages
227
Why have thousands of wagons fitted with diesel heaters? Well, they already have a
diesel supply, infrastructure etc. why introduce another fuel and create potential problems.
However, thousands of wagons do and did have gas heaters, I believe the Propex heater ( and other gas
heaters) were developed for the truck industry and not for the miniscule camper market at the time
as an alternative.
But still campervans/motorhomes are a different proposition, most campers already have need of a gas
supply for cooking, fridge so fitting a gas heater is no real imposition.
 

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