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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have owned 2 Sprinters with V6 diesels and now have a PM gasser DIY camping van. I do not know about PM diesels, but the Sprinters did not like to be idled for a long time due to the complex pollution controls involving exhaust gas recirculation and DEF. I mostly stealth camp and camp off the grid. I am currently in northern New England with cold nights. I find that running my engine for periods recharges batteries quickly and provides quick cabin heat. Is there any harm in letting the gas engine idle for periods of 45 minutes twice each 24 hours?
 

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A better question would be "Do I need a co2 detector?"

I believe kip does exactly what you are suggesting and hasn't reported any problems. I think he even has the fuel consumption down to the last drop. I think the biggest problem might be the noise of the engine fan cycling on and off while idling.
 

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Have the CO2 detector for sure but that amount of idling does not seem excessive at all. Adrian, a former poster and diesel owner idled his diesel all night when he needed to. Your gasser should be no problem IMHO. However........ I faced the same issue early in the diesel production and decided to instal an auxiliary heater for just such conditions. We travel a lot in the fall and spring when it can be freezing overnight. I opted for an Espar Airtronic D2 which has been wonderful. My solar keeps the batteries up so between them both I don’t idle.
 

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That's what Roadtrek has designed their PM gasoline camper to do. They offer a second high-capacity alternator option in lieu of a regular Onan-like generator, so in effect the V6 becomes the generator. The idea is that the van's engine will idle as needed to keep the large battery bank charged up. Their system can even start the van's engine like an automatic generator starter does.

Whether it will create long-term future problems for V6 I have no idea, but expect Roadtrek to have done some testing before offering the system as an option.

I like their system, other than the very high cost.
 

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If idling gas engines for that amount of time was a problem, folks in the big cities (LA, Seattle, DC, etc) would be having some serious issues.
 

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I have often idled my PM when it is parked under my carport and I want to work on the inside in the winter. The PM heater makes the complete (mostly uninsulated) windowed van nice and toasty in just a few minutes! Yes, I have a CO detector installed!

If you have some time, read this:

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/CompilationofStateIdlingRegulations.pdf

This document was compiled in 2006, and I'm sure that some states are more stringent now. Most have loopholes for idling to maintain refrigeration units... it just doesn't say how much of the van needs to be refrigerated (my Engel fridge/freezer qualifies, perhaps?) Many states mention both gas and diesel idling.

ed
 

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It's all true - the diesels risk damage to the DPF if they idle for long periods. But a there's no such problem on the gas engines. Not so much this winter, but last winter there were times when I'd idle the PM for 12 hours at a time. Under 30 degrees outside and the engine will kick into a fast idle, burning 0.6 gallons per hour at idle. Above 30, it's 0.4 gallons per hour.

I wouldn't worry about exhaust fumes, since the exit is pretty far out of your way. I've heard that modern car exhaust is actually cleaner than the air going into it in some cities, and that you run the car in a closed garage all you want but it won't kill you (other than theoretically using all the oxygen in the air). I am unwilling to prove these statements personally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Since my post to start this thread I have added a CO detector. Thanks for the suggestions for this.

I do have a very effective Espar heater but idling to get heat while charging batteries is often the only heat needed to just take the chill off in the evening and early AM. (My winter "camping" needs big time Espar heat!) Since starting this thread I had a few days of very hot weather and idled the engine a lot for air conditioning before sundown. After sundown my 2 Maxxair fans both running at 30% speed, one in and one out, keep a nice breeze through the interior. Forgetting climate control, I generally only need to idle or drive an hour a day for my optional 220 amp alternator to keep my house battery (220 amp hour) up. I use the low power microwave oven about 4 minutes a day and keep the water hot in my 750 watt 4-gallon water heater. I am careful to manage power -- never use the microwave and water heater at the same time as I only have a small inverter. I have been on the road 28 days stealth camping and staying in Walmarts without any plug-in power. Tomorrow I will be at a bluegrass music festival in Maine and plugged in for a week and then it is up to my 20 amp smart marine charger!
 

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I'm an expedite driver currently researching heating cooling options for my desiel. I boon dock almost exclusively and my "living space" is entirely portable with walls made of fabric clipped to sides and ceiling. I use a battery operated inverter for my fan and electronic devices. I need cheap alternatives to expensive conversions.

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Swamp cooler and mr buddy heater are my go to for now, but I'm going to do some kind of deep well battery, inverter and if absolutely necessary, a front mounted generator thing

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Dove Me, I too am an expediter and have battled this stuff for 2 years now. What I've learned:

Car batteries don't really work. They lack the power to fire all but the smallest electric heaters, they have no hope of running an air conditioner, they are bulky, and in the end the electricity in them comes from gasoline, at far lower efficiency than just running the engine. Also unknown is how much stress they put on your alternator, and if they do shorten it's life...alternators ain't cheap.

Insulation does more than you think. The first winter in the PM, I put 1" foam (home depot) panels on the ceiling only. That alone kept heat in the van for close to 4 hours, meaning with heavy sleeping bag I could get 3-4 hours of sleep before the cold would wake me up. That same insulation, or indeed ANY insulation, also works in the summer to keep the cold in. This summer I had only "space blanket" which is just basically mylar with shiny stuff on it on the ceiling only. That alone kept a good amount of heat out. Combined with foam board sunshields on the front and door windows (zero light leakage) made sleeping in the van tolerable with an $8 walmart battery powered fan.

But most expediters come to the place where they want real heat and real A/C, and the only thing that can do this is a generator. Maybe mount them on the front bumper, some carry them on-board and just set them outside. The best I've seen is a swing-out mounted to the receiver hitch. This swings out of the way when you are loading. Slick. I'm also looking at mounting one right to the rear door itself. Full time RV-ers will chime in, but seems to me you'd need at least 3000watts.

Walmart sells a "roll around" room air conditioner for well under $300. A dryer hose out the window would be the venting system. Walmart also sells a few cheap fake fireplace type heaters that I think would be great mounted to an inner wall. You could roast real marshmallows on your fake fireplace!

I tried the Lil' Buddy propane heater (around $80, Rural King was cheapest). These are nice products, but I had mixed results. In an uninsulated promaster in 15 degree weather - basically useless. It just can't keep up. Also some are bothered by the smell. They have built in O2 sensors, and I was able to drench myself in carbon monoxide and lack of oxygen enough to get it to shut itself down. With insulation, and used sparingly, and using the bigger model with 2 cylinders, Lil' Buddy is a great way to cheap heat. The fuel cylinders to run them are available at Walmart and might run you $2-3 per night in fuel cost.

The driver in my other van built an ice chest based swamp cooler. Results were mixed. On my list of things to do is try dry ice in an old car radiator attached to a fan. This may work. Another option I'm about to research is a cool suit. Race car drivers use them - a shirt that circulates ice water. Why not an ice blanket? Another option: O2 Cool sells a misting fan for around $40. This has a water tank that periodically squirts into the fan path. Might work, or it might just make a muggy night even more muggy. Dunno about that one.
 
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Thanks for your input.I'm sill for the Mylar plan, what a great idea!. I'm leaning heavily toward eventually getting the portable air conditioner and front mounted generator or maybe solar. Cool king makes one that also has a heating element for around 480.00. I'm totally over the propane heat and swamp cooler plan. Explored that path and hated it. I recently heard of a thermal paint with an insulating factor of 30 (that's NOT a typo). I'm considering painting it on the roof. The literature says it bonds best to unpainted metal so I'm stalling while I think it over.

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Insulation, any type of insulation, has the added benefit of noise reduction. Also, its totally free in the sense that you are driving around with the heat or tge a/c blasting, you park, and if you can keep that heat or cool from
Leaking out, its all free. And insulation is relatively cheap.

All that said, keeping warm in winter has proved to be easier for me than keeping cool, especially during the daytime. But that one crappy 8" fan I have makes the difference between sleeping and sweaty misery. A better fan, and some kind of way to draw outside air in, would probably negate the need for any kind of cooling, especially at night.

Then again, $500 for a genny, $300 for an a/c, and $50 for an electric heater and ALL these problems are solved, along with a tv, maybe a fridge, phone charging, a toaster oven, and one of those hot water foot masssger thingies.

Go to the Detroiter truck stop in Woodhaven Michigan (exit 32 off I75), and there will be 50 vans in the front parking lot with every permutation of generator. There you will see those swingout hitch mounts I mentioned, as well as lots of ways to do a front mount.
 
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I have seen those swing away hitch mounts, are they home made are is someone making them for sale?
 

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They aren't homemade, but I have no idea where you buy them. RV places?
 

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Just search " swing a way hitch " there are a few out there.
I have seen those swing away hitch mounts, are they home made are is someone making them for sale?
 

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Webasto makes heaters that use the vehicle fuel (both gas and diesel), can go about 20 hours on one gallon, and don't require the vehicle to idle. Minimal draw on the battery. I transport pets and sleep in my van overnight, so I need to maintain heat for myself and the animals at all times in the winter. I insulated my van and even in single digits outside its comfortable inside. Mine is located on top of the wheel well. The fan in the unit is not strong so in a large van you may need a small fan to help circulate the heat.
 
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