Gas or Diesel powered Heater?

DTDOG

Full Member
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
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
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

Full Member
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
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
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.
 

Phil

Forum Admin
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
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
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
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?
 
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