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Espar B4L Heater not starting at Elevation

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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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Tell Mike to send me an EasyScan and I'll show him what's going on. Espar Parts has them, $1463.86 each.
If it was only that easy. Do you have a van upfitter in your area that has one? If you have a Transit specific upfitter that has experience with the gas heaters, that would be even better. I got lucky with Adventure Vehicle Concepts near me.
 

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Update after a two week road trip at altitudes mostly 7k to 9.2k and nighttime temps in the 20's and 30's.
The brick is the key. With the output closed the heater runs when started in the AM. (Had to restart two times). If I open the vent too soon the heater quits and does a restart and if I put the brick back it will restart and run again. With a data logger and temp probe I could tell you at what temp it quits. You can leave the vent closed and it will run for hours but I was trying to find the sweet spot for cfm and temp. It is pretty obvious to me that the if you have too many cfm the internal temp drops and the temp sensor tells the ECU to shut down.
I have a 2018 short wheelbase tall roof with a fixed bed, big garage, two reefers, and lots of cabinets, so not a lot of volume. The heater runs full speed for a couple hours in the morning and does not come close to overheating the interior. Insulated with rock wool. Overnight interior temps in the 40's. So I can't see anything fuel related in spite of the error codes it throws when it quits and the BTU's are marginal for the application. YMMV.
 

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These heaters - along with the webasto - are very finicky - not a trip goes by where we do t think … oh God are we going to have heat this time or not. The problem you are experiencing is most likely related to the OEM standpipe in your fuel tank being too big - what happens is that pathetic little pump cannot draw a head on the fuel and so it takes forever to get fuel to the heater. A smaller diameter standpipe fixed that problem - however it’s an intensely arduous job installing it as you pretty much have to remove and dismantle the entire fuel tank. The real problem is the lousy design of the pulse fuel pump - unfortunately this happens nearly all the time unless the standpipe is replaced.

It is not uncommon for our heater to take 4-5 tries to get fired - and yea, it’s worse at high altitude. Crap design if you ask me … hard to believe they charge as much as they do for something that is such a PITA to get fired.

Letters to both companies have been completely ignored and the dealers don’t really even know the products well enough to actually support them. Wish there was a better alternative .
 

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I'm going to Tahoe tonight and might need to use the Espar heater for the first time in about 6 months, it'll be interesting to see if it works? I'll be at about 6,000 feet.
 

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It sure seems like a roll-of-the-dice thing for so many people. @Bazz99 has had great luck - even with the factory supply line. We've had zero problems with B4L or with the previous D2 we had - lots of time from 8K-11K feet and we often run the heater for hours while we're snowboarding. Maybe it's needed to restart once or twice when it hasn't run for a while? Doesn't seem to be a clear pattern on what any of us DID to have good luck or bad. 🤷‍♀️
 

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These heaters - along with the webasto - are very finicky - not a trip goes by where we do t think … oh God are we going to have heat this time or not. The problem you are experiencing is most likely related to the OEM standpipe in your fuel tank being too big - what happens is that pathetic little pump cannot draw a head on the fuel and so it takes forever to get fuel to the heater.
I don't think that last bit is quite correct. The problem isn't an inability for the pump to draw a head. Rather, it is a tendency for large diameter fuel paths to experience cavitation, which introduces air bubbles into the fuel flow. The fuel pump is just fine. In fact, a larger one would likely make the problem worse.

My only significant experience is with a diesel Espar, but once I got the fuel feed setup properly sorted, it has been totally trouble-free. My belief is that these systems are only "finicky" in the sense that they are not robust to out-of-spec installations. Using the proper standpipe is well worth the effort IMO.
 

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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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...My belief is that these systems are only "finicky" in the sense that they are not robust to out-of-spec installations. Using the proper standpipe is well worth the effort IMO.
Since @simple commented on this... I'll be the antagonist and suggest that there's more to it than this. We've got at least one person on the board who really went hard to try to fix an Espar issue. Some mega-guru employee person finally did something to get it resolved; but it was finicky beyond basic install issues. And Bazz' experience regularly reminds me that - for no apparently different reason - there are also factory fuel lines that work perfectly at 10K feet.

I'd love to just think we nailed it on our two installs... but it seems there is some finicky-ness in here somewhere. 🤔
 

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Since @simple commented on this... I'll be the antagonist and suggest that there's more to it than this. We've got at least one person on the board who really went hard to try to fix an Espar issue. Some mega-guru employee person finally did something to get it resolved; but it was finicky beyond basic install issues. And Bazz' experience regularly reminds me that - for no apparently different reason - there are also factory fuel lines that work perfectly at 10K feet.

I'd love to just think we nailed it on our two installs... but it seems there is some finicky-ness in here somewhere. 🤔
Well, maybe. But two things:
1) There are such things as sample defects. One problematic unit doesn't tell us much, except perhaps about the manufacturer's QA.
2) Any complex analog system like this is going to have engineering tolerances that will produce a range of performances clustered around the "ideal" engineered behavior. Each unit will operate at some point on a spectrum, but if the engineering and manufacturing are good, then all of them will be "within spec" and operate properly if used as specified. BUT some units will operate BETTER than spec, and so may prove to be more robust than other units, even though the others are working as designed. For this reason, it is not surprising that some folks can get away with a sub-par installation. Luck of the draw.
 

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Makes you appreciate how well designed modern car engines are. Computer monitoring and adjustment sure helps.

I used to race small Rc cars with fuel/nitro two stroke carbureted engines, it was crazy just how much those had to be tuned. It was a constant battle to get the air fuel fixture just right, half a turn on the high or low speed needle and things were out of whack.
 
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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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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)
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. 🤷‍♀️
 

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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.

___

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

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If I were to look for a reliable-ish sell-able option, it would be radiant. Multiple water-heating options - engine, fuel-driven hydronic, and electric - and then have the heat-exchanger option for blown heat. IOW, Rixen? Or that other one that isn't retail for sale anymore (can't recall name).
 
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