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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This forum is fantastic - I am so grateful for all that I have learned so far! I have combed through threads and come back more confused than when I started, so I'm asking for help. As the title suggests - I'm tapping into the hive mind for advice on my plans for heat and hot water. I will use the (well insulated) van part time, year round, mostly boon-docking.

Plan A:
Hot water plan: Isotherm 5.3 Gal pulling heat from engine coolant or an element if I'm plugged in to shore power.
Heat plan: gasoline air heater under passenger seat (espar/webasto/Chinese?)

Plan B:
A single unit for both? Like a Dual Top ST6 or an Espar Hydronic unit?

I think I could "live with" running my engine for 15 min every couple days (will likely need to charge batts from alternator anyway). I am attracted to the elegance of plan B, but plan A is a lot less expensive. Am I over thinking this? (probably).

For the HW I found this to compete with the Isotherm: SureCal Horizontal 10 liter / 2.64 gal Single Coil Calorifier - anyone have any thought or experience with it?

Thanks all - totally open to any and all ideas
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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1,024 Posts
I used plan A, with a few modifications. My isotherm is about 4 gallons, and I mounted my Webasto more towards the rear since that is where I felt I needed heat more than the front of the van. It also seemed to be less crowded back there.

As far as I know those hydronic units are only diesel (but my knowledge of that is limited) and I wanted a gasoline solution.

I love the heat exchanger water heaters, I had one on my old 1989 Class B. I put one in my promaster. I do not plan to every have a motorhome without a heat exchanger water heater, they are the best.
 

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2017 - 2500 159
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885 Posts
There exists a propane air/water heater, Truma Combi (sp)?
Looks good to me, but I already settled on Propex for air heating. I was going to do propane instant water heater, but went with the Isotemp (to be installed in the coming weeks). I like the option for hot water INSIDE. That way we can wash our hair if it's too cold or too in town to shower out the back door.
Propane is also good for cooking. Cooking requires propane or electricity (or butane if you use a small camp stove).
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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This forum is fantastic - I am so grateful for all that I have learned so far! I have combed through threads and come back more confused than when I started, so I'm asking for help. As the title suggests - I'm tapping into the hive mind for advice on my plans for heat and hot water. I will use the (well insulated) van part time, year round, mostly boon-docking.

Plan A:
Hot water plan: Isotherm 5.3 Gal pulling heat from engine coolant or an element if I'm plugged in to shore power.
Heat plan: gasoline air heater under passenger seat (espar/webasto/Chinese?)

Plan B:
A single unit for both? Like a Dual Top ST6 or an Espar Hydronic unit?

I think I could "live with" running my engine for 15 min every couple days (will likely need to charge batts from alternator anyway). I am attracted to the elegance of plan B, but plan A is a lot less expensive. Am I over thinking this? (probably).

For the HW I found this to compete with the Isotherm: SureCal Horizontal 10 liter / 2.64 gal Single Coil Calorifier - anyone have any thought or experience with it?

Thanks all - totally open to any and all ideas
Hi @Geoff Greenfield

My opinion all things heat “including cooking” need to be resolved at the same time. So that being said, I am not sure if you are planning on cooking or how you indent to getting heat for that.

That being said the “plan B” I am assuming to be proprietary & expensive. I have found building things I typically do better being able to keep my options open, less proprietary, & more off the shelf. Maybe I have trust issues 😳, but I do not like having to rely upon one company or manufacturer. If possible I like to keep it simple.

So without knowing much about how you will be using your van or cooking, I think your “Plan A” is best options that “you” presented. I also do not know if there is a Chinese gasoline heater yet or what the cost of these are. The failure of these gas heaters at altitudes might have gotten better, but they have had issues (I do not have one).

I like to keep it simple if I can.

If you are looking for alternatives to the Isotherm style you can check out “Johnson Pumps”;




I cook with propane, so I heat with a Propex heater. I like the idea of an engine coolant heated hot water tank. The Achilles Heal of those systems is the unlikely but possibly fatal possibility of “antifreeze poisoning”. Slim chance, but possible.

I am doing my 2nd build when I get my 2021 PM EXT some day 🙄. I still do not know what I am doing for a HWT, but I am leaning towards the Isotherm & a 2 fresh water tank system (the non-drinking tank would be hooked up to the Isotherm).

Good Luck with Your Build !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all - I ordered the isotemp unit for my hot water! Next up is to focus on heat... probably a gasoline air-top. @RV8R I left cooking out - good point. We have a beefy power system and are going with induction 2-burner (and even a toaster-oven!)
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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Thanks all - I ordered the isotemp unit for my hot water! Next up is to focus on heat... probably a gasoline air-top. @RV8R I left cooking out - good point. We have a beefy power system and are going with induction 2-burner (and even a toaster-oven!)
That seems like a good plan to me then 👍

IMO; All things “Heat” & all things “Cooled” need to be sorted out @ the design phase. Further Heat/Cooled can be done from a 12v system “harvesting electricity” for the house batteries, but as you are already aware it has got to be beefy.

Good Luck with Your Build !!
 
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