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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Our Transit is being converted into a camper van and we'll be needing a heat source.

I've seen many options on the internet but cannot decide which one to either buy or make.

We plan on doing more boondocking then staying in campgrounds. Not sure our solar energy will be enough power for an electric heater, unless it's very efficient.

Any suggestions on this would really help us out.

Thanks :)
 

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Electric heat isn't going to useful for boondocking unless you use something like a 12v electric blanket, anything that heats the interior space would drain a typical house battery in a matter of a couple hours. Some have used the Espar and Webasto heaters with mixed reliability. The other option is something like a Dickinson marine heater, they can't be tucked into a cabinet but they are simple and well made. I am considering one of the solid fuel versions.

Oddly, I haven't seen anyone use anything like a typical Atwood forced air heater, these are installed in nearly every RV in North America so parts and repair would be easy to find.

I use a Buddy heater hooked up to the big propane tank. With the roof vent open a few inches there are no moisture problems, no worse anyway than 5 mammals aspirating in a small enclosed space. It has no thermostat so sometimes I have to get up a few times in the night and turn it on or off. Catalytic heaters are common in the Westfalia world, I think some models can run on a thermostat.
 

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"Oddly, I haven't seen anyone use anything like a typical Atwood forced air heater, these are installed in nearly every RV in North America so parts and repair would be easy to find. "

Hi,
I use the Atwood Everest propane furnace. Its a 9000 BTU unit. Heats our van conversion fine -- we have used it down to 20F, where it runs about half the time.

I like it. Easy to install compared to the Espar and Wabasto units. Reliable and lower maintenance as the propane burns cleaner than diesel or gasoline. Cheaper that most furnace options.

The details on our install: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/promaster-camper-van-conversion-installing-the-furnace/



Gary
 

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Search Fordtransitusa forum for boat heater, Webasco/Espar (yes, Webasto was misspelled in the thread title). Other searches on Webasto, Espar, Propex, Eperspacher (Eberspaecher) and Dickinson will yield more discussions (and confusion) than you could possibly want. I'll add one more brand: Truma, though I am disappointed they have no intention of supporting an air-heat-only unit in the USA at present. I hope a Truma employee sees this, gets upset that I said that, and vows to change this.

GaryBIS, thanks for adding Atwood to list of possibilities. Less expensive, bigger, requires a cut-out in exterior van wall, probably quite reliable, and not "finicky" like the Webasto & Espars. pros and cons...as with all the other options.
 

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People are getting away from Suburban/Atwood old-school type RV furnaces because they are loud and take up so much space. There are simply better options these days. If everyone could agree on the biggest need for camper vans it's definitely to save space! The Webasto/Espar types are tiny and efficient, that's why so many are going for them. If you have a diesel van it's a no brainer for sure. I have a gas Transit but still installed a Planar diesel heater under my driver's seat in all the wasted space next to my battery. It takes up absolutely no space in the van since that space is really not thought of. The older Atwood/Suburban types take up a 12x12x24" space in a cabinet and worse yet require a big hole to be cut in the exterior of the van.

I'm no knocking the older propane furnaces but they are just too big compared to newer options. As stated above, they are cheap though. Everything is a compromise. A Propex is a phenomenal option if you have propane. About the same cost as the diesel heaters. They have a model that can be mounted outside (under) the van as well. I have installed them and really like them but I don't want a dedicated propane tank on my Transit. I chose the diesel heater with it's small 7 liter fuel cell mounted inside the rear door. I'll have some pics of this setup soon.
 

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You can decide not to heat the van interior and just heat yourself. I use a heating pad under my 0 degree sleeping bag to stay warm. Let the van interior get cold at night. Refrigerator runs less so uses less power and is quieter. Heating pad is very quiet so works well for stealth city camping. Solved the cold head out of the bag problem with a balaclava.

Bought the remote start option so I can start engine in the morning to heat interior before getting out of bed. Do have a 750 watt baseboard electric heater in back of van under the bed. The vehicle powered 1000 watt inverter starts automatically when the engine runs. A selector switch is used to preset the inverter 120 volt power to run the electric heater in the morning.

Another choice is to reduce the space that is heated. Instead of heating the whole van interior you can partition off the sleeping area and heat only that volume. Half the volume would use half the heat required. I have a set of insulated curtains that I have not used yet. Will see if I can retain some of the body heat and heating pad heat inside a insulated tent inside the insulated van. Will see if the curtains make a difference.
 

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I have a gas Transit but still installed a Planar diesel heater under my driver's seat in all the wasted space next to my battery. It takes up absolutely no space in the van since that space is really not thought of. ----- I chose the diesel heater with it's small 7 liter fuel cell mounted inside the rear door. I'll have some pics of this setup soon.
I've been reading tales of finicky gasoline heaters. How is the Planar for reliability?
 

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We like the Espar D2 in our Sprinter and will install a gasoline fired one in (maybe under) our Transit.
We do have air filters on the combustion and house air intakes. The unit has operated flawlessly for 4 years
both at low and high altitudes. We do also have electric floor heat which is great but won't heat the van.

The only tricky part of the Espar install was figuring out the wiring but I see some vendors are providing a pre-assembled
harness. Other than that it's straight forward. There are some specific requirements for the fuel delivery that
could be missed if not following the installation instructions closely.
 

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I've been reading tales of finicky gasoline heaters. How is the Planar for reliability?
I just installed it. I'm not sure yet. Hopefully about the same as Espar/Webasto which, according to the above comment by Hein, is great. I have been told they like to be run wide open on occasion to clean out the soot and also a tank of kerosene from time to time helps.
 

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What about something like a wall mounted Flat Panel Convection Heater? They are for smaller homes and you can get them from 200w up to 2000w depending on the size of the room you want to heat. I haven't been able to find a good American manufacturer but they seem to be very popular in Europe.
 

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I have one of the Atwood, Suburban type heaters, same as I had in my last van. They are simple and reliable if you can spare the space, which in my case was not a problem. I like the fact that you can simply reach up from bed and hit the thermostat and warm the van up in a few minutes. I have a diesel van and looked at the Espar heaters but they were very pricey, very complicated and I didn't like the idea of burning more diesel fuel in a stationary position, instead of cleaner propane. As to the installation of the Atwood, the exterior hole is small and easy to do.
 

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I have one of the Atwood, Suburban type heaters, same as I had in my last van. They are simple and reliable if you can spare the space, which in my case was not a problem. I like the fact that you can simply reach up from bed and hit the thermostat and warm the van up in a few minutes. I have a diesel van and looked at the Espar heaters but they were very pricey, very complicated and I didn't like the idea of burning more diesel fuel in a stationary position, instead of cleaner propane. As to the installation of the Atwood, the exterior hole is small and easy to do.
I used the suburbans for years in many RVs. Fast heat, low maintenance. Only thing is I would wake up every 25 minutes when it fired up. Never understood why they couldn't make them a teeny bit quieter.?

Sent from my ASUS_Z00TD using Tapatalk
 

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Yes, my old one was a bit noisey but the new one is suppose to be quieter. I don't have it hooked up yet, next week or so and I'll let you know. The new model (Suburban) has a Q at the end of the model number. for quiet.
 

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We like the Espar D2 in our Sprinter and will install a gasoline fired one in (maybe under) our Transit.
We do have air filters on the combustion and house air intakes.
Can you share any thoughts on the "under" the van install? I assume it means:
1) you're poking bigger holes in the van floor to pass the heated and return air conduits instead of the combustion pipes
2) you might prefer to rely on a thermostat within the cabin, not at the intake on the unit itself
3) it would be good to shield it from road spray / dust, so maybe an enclosure is appropriate.

Also, could you describe how you did your filters?
 
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I have a gas Transit but still installed a Planar diesel heater under my driver's seat in all the wasted space next to my battery. It takes up absolutely no space in the van since that space is really not thought of. ----- I chose the diesel heater with it's small 7 liter fuel cell mounted inside the rear door. I'll have some pics of this setup soon.
I've been reading tales of finicky gasoline heaters. How is the Planar for reliability?
I'm thinking of installing a y connector inline the gasoline fuel line ,,,, occasionally feed the Espar with a source of gas that's been treated with seafoam , just do a occasional cleaning.....
I'm more worried about how loud a Espar will run?
 

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I installed the Dickinson P9000 last month. it has been lovely so far. search my username on reddit or instagram for a pic. I cant post one as this is my first post here!

cheers
 

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Can you share any thoughts on the "under" the van install? I assume it means:
1) you're poking bigger holes in the van floor to pass the heated and return air conduits instead of the combustion pipes
2) you might prefer to rely on a thermostat within the cabin, not at the intake on the unit itself
3) it would be good to shield it from road spray / dust, so maybe an enclosure is appropriate.

Also, could you describe how you did your filters?
Yes to all 3 comments above. We used a lawnmower filter on the combustion air intake and an automotive cone air cleaner filter for the return air.
 

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i have installed a propex 2211 under the right side of the van. installation is fairly straight forward, takes up no interior space and it is quiet. i have not had a need to heat the van with it, but winter is coming my way soon. regards
 

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I plan on installing a cubic mini woodstove in my transit. I don't have it installed yet (awaiting shipping), but I'll probably do a similar setup to these folks: youtube.com/watch?v=bg2gYEJf5e8

Personally, I went with the cubic mini instead of that dickinson unit because it is more of a traditional woodstove, whereas the dickinson unit is more of a fireplace. It is a bit larger though, about a foot square.

Wood stoves are certainly not for everyone, but the reliability (the gasoline webasto/espar units are pretty finicky) and simplicity is a big selling point for me. Plus not having to deal with sourcing/buying propane for a propex/atwood/etc. I work in the woods by trade so sourcing and dealing with firewood isn't a huge deal for me.
 
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