Ford Transit USA Forum banner

Diesel heater 2K or 5K?

318 6
I've read that the 5K heaters are a little to much. Is that true? We'd never camp in below freezing weather.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
247 Posts
I've read that the 5K heaters are a little to much. Is that true? We'd never camp in below freezing weather.
Our two cents: There's nothing forcing a 5kw to run on full blast -- they have a range from roughly 1kw to the 5kw depending on the setting. The 5kw is just the theoretical max.

but between a 5kw and 2kw as your max -- Depends on a lot of factors. 1) How much insulation? 2) How warm is considered too warm? 3) How long for it to warm up is too long? 4) What is the coldest possible outside temp ever expected? 5) If a 2kw was ordered -- would it actually be 2kw or a "de-tuned" 5kw?

For our setup, we used a 5kw and love it. 1) Our insulation is typical but not excessive as we wanted as much interior space as possible. 2) We figured we can always turn down a 5kw -- but a 2kw on max has nothing beyond...3) We don't want to run a heater for hours to keep the entire van warm...so when we do fire it up, we want HEAT! :) 4) We camp sometimes at 10,000 feet with well below zero...and have plans to see the Northern lights -- 5) A true 2kw is at least as much cost as a 5kw...but not that much smaller.

Hope that helps
Jeff
 

· Registered
2017 Ford Transit 350 Passenger Wagon
Joined
·
165 Posts
I've read that the 5K heaters are a little to much. Is that true? We'd never camp in below freezing weather.
Our 5Kw heater turns our van into a stifling 80+ degree oven when it's around 20F outside. Had to open the fans and dial it back to reach a comfortable temperature.

The challenge I have is interpreting the C to F conversion and exactly what that'll mean to the heater. (There's no room thermostat at play here). Also, I think I understand that running deisel heaters "too low" results in the accumulation of carbonization in the unit that would otherwise be burnt off running at a higher temp.

I'm sure someone out there has better detail and insight on this but this has been my anecdotal experience.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
247 Posts
Our 5Kw heater turns our van into a stifling 80+ degree oven when it's around 20F outside. Had to open the fans and dial it back to reach a comfortable temperature.

The challenge I have is interpreting the C to F conversion and exactly what that'll mean to the heater. (There's no room thermostat at play here). Also, I think I understand that running deisel heaters "too low" results in the accumulation of carbonization in the unit that would otherwise be burnt off running at a higher temp.

I'm sure someone out there has better detail and insight on this but this has been my anecdotal experience.
Switch from temperature mode to fuel mode -- it's way easier to set and forget...but a quick approximation for C to F is "Double and add 30" -- it's close enough.

They can anecdotally "soot" up if they are poorly tuned -- and run almost only at minimum -- so it's advised to run on high for a few minutes before shutting down after a long run on low. We tuned ours as best I could (30 to 40ppm of Carbon Monoxide across the spectrum) and also burn 100% kerosene in ours (in the van)...I haven't stripped ours (haven't had to...knock on wood:) but I'll pretty much bet our combustion chamber looks new. I don't worry about running on high or low...but I'm also OCD about setting the burn mixture exactly for our unit which I spent the better part of a day tuning at home (5280 ft) and again at 10,500 to get an ideal spreadsheet.
Also anecdotally -- I've run an all in one almost exclusively on low in our koi pond filter shed for years...without running on high...and on diesel -- but it's well tuned. Individual mileage may vary.
 

· Registered
2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
Joined
·
4,812 Posts
Only argument I know of in FAVOR of the 2kW was the idea that it runs at full-blast more often and thus burns off the coking / build-up. But I'd rather have a higher-powered unit that runs less often - even if it meant blasting heat for short periods of time.

We had the 2kW Espar in our Sprinter - mounted under the passenger seat. Gotta be the worst possible location as it dumps all the hottest air every time the slider is opened. We had no issues and did no maintenance for the 4-5 years we had it. We park / camp over 10K feet at times and over 8K feet 80% of the time. Never an issue. But every time that slider opened, it took quite a while for the heat build-up to get to the back of the bed/van again.

This rig, we've got the 4kW Espar located at the rear driver's wheel-well - blowing through a vent into the middle of the van. It's been about two years with it now - with even more elevation and cold camping than we used to do in the Sprinter. I don't like it being fired up all night while sleeping - just noisy when I'm otherwise enjoying the peacefulness of being away from everything. So I like to run it up to 75-80F before sleeping then shut it down to ~60F or so - letting it slowly cool off overnight but fire up if it drops too low. This has served well in temps as low as 30 below freezing or so.

But since you mention 2kW/5kW, I wonder if you're looking at the Chinese units? If so, I'd say buy the higher output one and - most importantly - get the Afterburner control. The control mechanism on our old 2kW Espar diesel was good... but not great. The control on the new 4kW gasoline unit is their current high-ish-end unit and it is a great improvement. The thermostat is more consistent and reliable, the timer works better, diagnostics are better, etc. If you're going the Chinese route, spend as much money on the control unit and I bet you'll be happy.

If you can talk yourself into the Espar unit, I'm sure you'd appreciate it after you get over what you spent. If not for function, just not having to fill the second diesel tank. But I also hear there's a gasoline Chinese version out there - haven't seen any reports of it installed yet.
 

· Registered
2021 AWD Ecoboost High Roof
Joined
·
235 Posts
I've been very happy with a 5k chinese heater. Heats up the van quickly and runs whisper quiet at night. If truly camping in cold temps, you'll need to have some venting solution to get rid of exhaled moisture. Very few people have a true air exchanger so it means windows or fan or vent cracked and running. The 5k is easily able to keep up with this in subzero temps.

The argument that the heaters need to run on high is overblown IMO. They are easy to crack open and clean or for the cost of a chinese one, just replace. I typically run kerosene or kerosene mix in the winter to prevent gelling of the fuel. Kero runs even cleaner too. In the mornings we turn the temp up before getting out of bed to warm up the van and burn off any excess carbon.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top