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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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Not really. You want to hear my wife's constant complaining about how a several thousand dollar heater isn't reliable even after multiple attempts to problem solve? I doubt it.
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?
 

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I have wanted to add installing heaters as a service to my shop.

The typical use locally is essentially sea level 1/2 of the year - and > 6000 ft the other 1/2.

I am still looking for a heater (of any fuel type) that would be consistently reliable for my customers. Believe it or not, wood pellets and charcoal are even on the list and I have 2 people requesting them with the belief that this would be more reliable. (at least when stationary)
 

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As I read your post, I was initially thinking about the liability concerns and reliability concerns with the Espar or Webasto... then you bring up wood or charcoal... I mean... 🤯

With that as comparison, I'd get an Espar official dealer setup and only do those. 🤷‍♀️
Those are too finicky at this point. I want to offer a "works in any brand van" solution that I can test each one on a test stand to be sure it works and then install in a customer's van with them with very high confidence that they won't need to call me due to failures on a vacation and be mad at "me" for a "heater design problem".

The viability of the charcoal based heating honestly surprised me (for stationary applications) but I am not promoting the idea. Some people have ready / free access to seasoned firewood and charcoal so they look at what they can use this way. Since wood is a biofuel and trees recycle the exhaust back into wood - there is a certain logic to it.

If I had to choose a fuel based solution today - it would probably propane based but those are not perfect either, and propane supplies are being heavily affected by so much LNG shipping to the EU right now.

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The 48 volt alternators available now start to make electrical power based heaters - potentially viable
 
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