Heater system which one to choose in a small self build?

Benjimoan

Full Member
Hi I am new to this forum and been trying to search previous posts... We have a lwb renault trafic that we got a company to make and now I wish we had a heater... No idea which one or where to put have a microwave that we never use should have got an oven but may have space there. Looked at eberspacher. Anyone any advice?
 
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Molly 3

Full Member
Go diesel , cheaper to run but uses more 12 volt .unless you have refillable gas . then about the same, gas can be harder to find .lots of chat on hear about heating.. Good reports about cheap Chinese diesel heaters .
 

Rec

Full Member
We chose an eberspacher as it was recommended by our conversion chap. He said that we could get cheaper Chinese ones but reading about them, they seem variable and we just decided not to risk it. There are a couple of threads on here, search eberspacher.
 
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Asterix

Full Member
There's a lot of info on YouTube for different systems.
 

wildebus

Full Member
On the "Genuine Eberspacher" vs "Cheap Chinese", you need to ask yourself a few questions:

1) How often do I need the heater?
2) How vital is it to work? (i.e. What do I do if it stops working)
3) Can I service/repair/change it myself?

(how much you can afford is not actually a question - the answers to the above will tell you how much you need to spend!)

If you are living in the van, you want a heater you can rely on - the Eberspachers are much more proven than the Chinese jobbies and usually just work out the box and go on for years and years.
If you are a very occasional heater user, the Eberspacher is a costly accessory compared to the Chinese ones. For the number of nights I used my Eberspacher in my T5 Camper, I could have saved money by not buying it and checking into a B&B instead on those nights!

I am running a Chinese Heater in my LT. The first one I fitted failed the first time I went away after fitting it and tried to use it (the driveway tests were fine!). I turned on the electric blanket instead. It was not a very cold night (this was August after all, but in Scotland), so not that bad. If in the Winter it would have been less fun, but I would have used my portable gas hob to get some heat (with suitable ventilation as well of course!) if stuck (and in fact did that a couple of times when away between getting the van and fitting the heater)

If you can live with the heater failing for a short time, and are able to troubleshoot/repair/swap it out yourself, then the Chinese Heaters become a good prospect due to their cheap buy prices. I can swap out one of these heaters in around 30 minutes on my van - and I know this as I have had to remove and refit/replace numerous times due to the low quality of the product. I am on my third different heater in my Camper now, although the one I fitted to another van worked straight off and stayed working, so running a 50% success rate currently.
If you would need to pay someone else to sort it out for you, then it becomes more tricky as Eberspacher parts are available next day, but the usual fix for a Chinese heater is throw it away and get a new one (that is cheaper than troubleshooting it!). I have a spare heater in a box if (when) the current one goes wrong.
 

witzend

Full Member
Our first van had a gas fire exhausted thru the roof there was a fan if needed which we used only occasionally to get heated quickly when getting back to the van, it supplied all the heat we needed. Several times since we,ve said that we wished we still had a fire like that instead of the blown air system
 

mk1

Full Member
It's likely that my van is identical to yours, bar the badge, & here's how I fitted an MV Airo which has been faultless & I still love. Recently fitted an intake exhaust to make it even quieter (easy/cheap).

 

mk1

Full Member
...having said that, if you like the sound of hot water on demand, have spare internal space (there are heat losses from the boiler body) & don't mind the complexity of more plumbing & tanks I was impressed by a Truma Combi recently (few nights in a caravan). Whisper quiet.
 

Caz

Full Member
..........................
If you would need to pay someone else to sort it out for you, then it becomes more tricky as Eberspacher parts are available next day, but the usual fix for a Chinese heater is throw it away and get a new one (that is cheaper than troubleshooting it!). I have a spare heater in a box if (when) the current one goes wrong.
When the Eberspacher in my Autosleeper Trooper stopped working a couple of years ago it took 3 visits to the nearest repairer (22 miles away) and over £700 to sort it out.
 

wildebus

Full Member
When the Eberspacher in my Autosleeper Trooper stopped working a couple of years ago it took 3 visits to the nearest repairer (22 miles away) and over £700 to sort it out.
You can buy a brand-new Eberspacher D2 for less than that AND sell the old one and extra parts for a couple of hundred. I'd find a new repairer next time!
 

Millie Master

Full Member
You could look on our sister site https://motorhomebuilder.com/ for more info. (just register with the same email address you use on here)
I have a LWB Renault Master and find our eberspacher very good.
I totally agree with your comment Chris, any and all self builders ought to come over to the other side and join us.

As for the heater to install, I too have a LWB Renaut Master but in my case I fitted a Propex 1800 that I bought brand new/still boxed for only £50 off Gumtree. It is gas fired, very small to install, a bit noisy, but boy oh boy does it warm the van up! Another advantage of buying a Propex heater is that the company itself must be one of the most helpful and generally cooperative when it comes to customer service and the supply of spare parts to be found.

Phil
 

bobj808

Full Member
Have a look at ACLS Retail website (only fit in south of Scotland) just to give you an idea - my friend (Bob Bertram - on the company's reviews) has one fitted in his LT and swears by it - puts out loads of heat and very frugal on his diesel. As pointed out in another post, they don't guarantee the glow plug but plenty on YouTube showing how to easily replace it yourself. Bob's only criticism is the pump ticking bothers him at night when there is no ambient noise although I'm not sure why he runs heating at night. Bob.
 

wildebus

Full Member
Cos' it's cold at night?

I use my heater overnight as well (it is running right now in fact as well as the electric blanket!). I don't find the pump really obtrusive, but I have used the technique of making the fuel hose in and out run at a 90 degree angle which is meant to quieten down the noise (I think it stops any vibrations transmitting along the fuel pipes)
 
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Caz

Full Member
You can buy a brand-new Eberspacher D2 for less than that AND sell the old one and extra parts for a couple of hundred. I'd find a new repairer next time!
Maybe - but I'd still have had to pay someone to fit it, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to sell the old bits. The Warranty people put £500 towards it anyway.
 

Exwindsurfer

Full Member
I have a Propex 2000 and the reason is gas is half the price of diesel .I have a 38 litre underslung gas tank for heating and cooking fridge is a compressor so no gas.
 

Lioncrunch

Full Member
A thumbs up for
MV Airo heater from Kiravans about £650,,(no connection with them)
Noisey on start up And
Smokes til Gets going don't know if ebber does this or not.
I think it's because it has 2 goes at lighting and second time it is burning excess fuel from first start.
 

familywagen

Free Member
As others have said your use case is the most important factor here.
1. Do you always use campsites with EHU
2. Do you already have Gas on board
3. Do you want hot water
4. How often do stay in the van when its cold
5. Does noise disturb you when sleeping.
6. what space do you have as you are retrofitting in an already built van.

If you are limited on space internally due to the fit out, under the floor or on the roof are your best options, I say roof as you can aircon units with a heat pump, but I've never looked at these because of the power consumption. Under floor the choices are not bad as many have mentioned there are the Eberspacher and Propex options (Propex do an under vehicle model) if you use sites with a hookup consider getting a version which is dual fuel i.e. Gas / Electric, that way you don't burn fuel when you could be using.

Gas burners are not as noisy as diesels, however if you are going for blown air the blown air itself can be pretty noisy, which is fine during the day but can be disturbing at night when it switches on and off. Constant noise is easier to ignore. We had a propex in our old van and couldnt use it at night because of the noise in the cabin, so just turned it on in the morning before getting up, you can wrap up warm when your in bed so not that bad really.

If you don't already have gas on board and you go for a gas option you need space for the tank, as your van is already fitted under the floor is probably the best option, there are some easy to fit kits available for most commonly used vans, to fill these up you need to find a garage with LPG which if you travel widely (i.e. outside of the UK make sure you have adaptors)

If you only need a heater occasionally and always have a hookup, take a small electric radiator, this will easily heat your van, silently, quickly and cheaply.

Some of the diesel underfloor options include a water heater, this can be combined with a heat exchanger on the engine which will provide heat whilst driving again saving you burning fuel unnecessarily, and you get hot water without wait at your destination.

As an aside an alternative for hot water that we had on our old van for hot water was a marine calorifier which heated up the water off the engine when driving and also had an electric immersion for when on sites with EHU, as the tank was insulated water would stay hot for about 12 hours after driving, enough for washing up, strip washing.. again totally silent.

I am assuming that you don't have space for a Truma or Alde type system though this depends if you have a large storage area under your rear seating for example with an outside edge for the vent/air intake, you could have a truma type system, but think about where the internal vents need to go and whether there is space for the pipework.

You can rule out Alde on a fitted vehicle as it requires a lot of installation.
 
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