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Espar B4L Heater not starting at Elevation

37448 Views 322 Replies 60 Participants Last post by  brío
So I installed a Espar B4L in my 2020 transit, under the passenger seat and have a problem with the heater starting when I am at elevation.

I live in Boise ID, at around 3k feet elevation, when down here in the valley my heater starts 99% of the time without issues. When I travel to my local ski area around 6800K feet the heater NEVER starts first try and generally will take around 30+ minutes of trying to get the thing started. Once it does starts at elevation, it will run absolutely fine stopping and starting. When I got back down in elevation it also will always start fine, and then back up to elevation I again have the problem.

Ive completely taken apart the entire gas line from the pickup in the tank all the way to the heater, ensuring rise, fittings, etc are perfect... still have the same problem of getting it started at elevation.

Heatso has been sorta OK to work with, but I feel like they dont really know either. They will be sending me a new ECU (when they get them in a couple weeks).

Has anyone had this problem, is there a trick to getting it started I could use until i get the root cause sorted?

Appreciate any pointers!
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@DrkGrn Yeah - Ive cleared the errors, done factory resets, etc before going up in elevation, and still have the problem. Always get a spattering of error codes after trying to start it at elevation. Yeah it was suppose to be the new model that "just works" at elevation, thats exactly why I spent the extra money on this one :)
I'm in the same boat man.

At 7000 feet it takes a try or two. At 8500 feet a few more. At 10k feet I want to punch a wall. At 12k feet I've given up on the heater working at all.

Expensive overcomplicated German sensor nonsense just like their cars. I have a backup propane heater.
 

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Getting error codes?
I'm having trouble with mine, but isn't throwing any error codes. Runs fine if it starts, but often takes many, many times to get it to start. Just wants to reset over and over again.
Yeah I get tons of error codes. What do I do about them? Contact Germany? Buy a tool? Download an app?

Lol it is the modern way of product support. All digital nonsense.
 

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You guys are being super helpful but....as we are saying there isn't anything wrong. It is the product that is inconsistent and has goofy sensors, hardware, and software. Mine is brand new and we are going to warranty after I get finished with my ski season. I didn't pay this much for a product I have to troubleshoot.
 

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Trev I've found around 9,000 feet is where the espar starts to really struggle to the point of failure. No surprise it has the issue at 8,300 feet. Mine shuts off in the middle of the night often. Full fuel tank and it still struggles. I think espar should recall these petrol heaters or something. They absolutely suck at altitude and their overly complicated software is not helping.
 

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Big thanks to the folks who figured out to go through the sending unit and not the factory aux location.

We replaced the previous pick up line with the straight one from esparparts.com and put it through the sending unit. Got heat pretty much immediately at 9,600 the other night.

I'll quit bitching about Espar software/hardware if it works well through the winter. Cheers
 

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Been getting around. Heater is working great below 10k. Around and above that it is not igniting. I smell fuel but cold air. I still hate this heater. Putting in a propane system this summer. Gasoline is a terrible heat source.
 

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I have the proper pipe after first using the Ford aux. You'll see my posts well up in the thread. Not new to this. At this point I'm here to tell people in Colorado to not waste their time with a gasoline powered heater. Diesel or propane works much better.


Three places I've tried to camp in Colorado this week. Ophir, Red Mountain Pass, and Berthoud Pass are too high to camp or even hang out with the heater running. Yeah it is screwing with my normal routine. I camp more in the winter than I do the summer.
 

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@simple, wondering if you should be looking into it as @RidingRoadsAndTrails did? Or is there some reason yours is definitely a no-go? Curious...
As I put it to another question similar about a motorcycle I had that has known fueling issues...I will always try to fix something but after a certain period of time it isn't worth it anymore. I try not go down rabbit holes or spend hours with customer service on the phone or via email once it is clear the product is never going to work properly and consistently in all conditions (and can't be easily replaced) I buy something else and sell what doesn't work well for cheap and someone else can figure it out. I've got enough projects and problems to solve on a daily basis. Maybe when I'm retired I'll have that kind of time. It keeps my garage open for basic maintenance of all the stuff here.

As I've been dealing with this since day one we already have a second propane heater but it is small. This summer we will install a larger system so the Espar can be retired and used for camping lower than say 8k feet where it seems to work great minus the noisy burble at the exhaust.
 

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I asked because as far as I have seen, most reported altitude problems have involved the Ford tube. I had pretty much convinced myself that this was causal. There are certainly plenty of folks who report no problems @ 10K. [emoji2369]
Name 3 people who use their gasoline espar heaters regularly above 10k. I don't recall any, definitely not plenty.

I know at least dozen people who use diesel espar above 10k. In my regular group everyone is using propane. My last van had it as well.
 

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Unfortunately I understand this concept very well.

Do you have a propane heater in mind that can run reliably from relatively low altitudes to over 10K ft?
I've used Suburban furnaces before. Pretty standard in RVs. Since this is a fancy #vanlife rig I'll likely go propex. Catalytic cranks out great heat but the moisture is main issue to contend with.
 

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My van guy told me Espar developed a new unit that is designed to be functional up to 18,000 feet. This goes with my theory that they designed their current unit to go to 10,000 ft (just more than highest pass in Europe) and didn't take into account that roadway passes throughout the world go well above that. Yes there is a 18,000 ft roadway pass btw.
 

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" My belief is that these systems are only "finicky" in the sense that they are not robust to out-of-spec installations."

That's how I describe most German products lol

Meanwhile I can drop an American V8 into a riding mower application if I wanted.
 

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I've never been able to get that noise to go away at high elevation. Heater still works right? It's just noisy? Never starts first try either. Did you try the backpack trick I posted a while ago?
 
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