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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for reliable and low-fuss heat for my (soon to be delivered, supposedly onloaded at port and about to get put on a truck) gasser - I have ruled out the diesel heater plus aux tank under the hood approach, as well as propane. I'd prefer the Espar B4 because of the supposedly automatic altitude adjustment - but realistically I'm not sure if that's necessary given the probably limited amount of camping we'll do above 4000' of altitude (plus I'd be OK with reduced heat on a permanently altitude adjusted Webasto burning lean).

It looks like US sources for the Webastos and Airtops are hideously expensive. Heatso has the Espar for about $1,700 for a complete kit, and the Webasto for just under $1,000 (once you add the mounting plate and exhaust muffler). Is the price difference really just reflective of the Espar's higher capacity (4k BTU vs 2k) and the altitude adjust? Any reason not to just go with the Webasto between those two options?

And then the elephant in the room - Heaters4You in Russia sells both for significantly less. Are those current models and legit product, or are these old leftovers and/or knockoffs, or units that fell off the back of the proverbial truck? Any bad experiences with that seller? Too good to be true?
 

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Your conundrum is why we gasser owners went with a diesel heater with an aux tank under the hood. I have $250 in my install and I haven't adjusted my heater for altitude and it works fine. No more than I use my heater I can't justify that kind of expense. With that being said, if I were going to be in ski resorts all winter, I probably would spend the extra money so I wouldn't have to think about refilling fuel every 3 to 4 days. Sorry my response is no help to you :)
 

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I read your post;

I summarize, you are looking for a low cost, gasoline, no problem, heater, not from a Russian “no support” supplier. 🤔

I was looking for that unicorn also.

If you find it please let us all know
 

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[QUOTE="G-42, post: And then the elephant in the room - Heaters4You in Russia sells both for significantly less. Are those current models and legit product, or are these old leftovers and/or knockoffs, or units that fell off the back of the proverbial truck? Any bad experiences with that seller? Too good to be true?
[/QUOTE]

I recommend messaging folks on ebay who bought those non-domestic units from the seller you’re interested in. I did, felt very comfortable (don’t recall seller), received 1 mo later, install went great, appears to be most updated model (airtop stc 2000). I’m stoked.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I read your post;

I summarize, you are looking for a low cost, gasoline, no problem, heater, not from a Russian “no support” supplier. 🤔

I was looking for that unicorn also.

If you find it please let us all know
Close - it's not the "no support" bit I worry about, more the fake and potentially unsafe/unreliable heater thing. With Heatso, I know I'm getting a genuine Espar or Webast at a bit of a discount, but have to deal with email-only "support". I'm wondering whether that is true with Heaters4You as well, or whether with them I run the risk of getting a fake, or really old stock with way outdated firmware.
 

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I bought the Webasto from Russia for 648.00 and free shipping From eBay. I was nervous it was a scam and that they were going to drag it on long enough to go over 30 days and I wouldn’t be able to go through eBays resolutions to get my money back. It did take 3-4 weeks to go through customs but I did get it and it is a genuine Webasto with everything included. Turned out I’m very happy with my purchase.
 

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Close - it's not the "no support" bit I worry about, more the fake and potentially unsafe/unreliable heater thing. With Heatso, I know I'm getting a genuine Espar or Webast at a bit of a discount, but have to deal with email-only "support". I'm wondering whether that is true with Heaters4You as well, or whether with them I run the risk of getting a fake, or really old stock with way outdated firmware.
I looked at going the gasoline heater route, & understand your concerns. I also thought about the diesel heater and actually purchased a cheaper $300C & set it up in my cabin. For my van I finally settled on a propane Propex HS2800.

Having some experience with the diesel & also the propane, I am happy with my propane choice for the van. There are pros & cons with all heater types. Wishing you the best with whatever you decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So the more I think through this, the more I'm starting to rationalize myself into some pretty crazy ideas.

The Chinese diesel heater route makes so much **** sense from a cost perspective - but I'm using the van partially for business, too, and I've gotten pretty clear instructions from my insurance broker on what is and isn't insurable for my particular use case (mobile office, with the odd bit of expensive and client-owned IT equipment in the van) , and non-brandname heaters with home-installed auxiliary tanks are not part of that equation. Neither are propane systems. Anything branded Eberspaecher or Webasto might pass (even if self-installed, as long as I get it "serviced" at least once by a licensed technician).

But then I kept thinking through this a bit further... I'm already thinking about installing a pretty beefy battery bank (mobile office use - and to be able to charge ebikes when traveling). And my need for heat is pretty minor. If it costs me about $1,000 for a Webasto that might have issues at altitude, or $1,600 for an Espar - well, that more than pays for an extra (as in, beyond my other needs) 100ah usable capacity (either as a 100ah LiFePo4, or 200ah AGM). And that should easily run a 150W appliance for a night. So if I get a 150W infrared panel and mount it on a swivel so it's either aimed at the seating area inside the van, or at the bed, and I do a decent job insulating - well, that means if I start with fully charged batteries, I easily have a good night's worth of heating sufficient to what I expect my use to be (no long term winter-camping in boondock mode, but the occasional winter-night spent in the van as part of a road trip to warmer places, as well as just wanting to take the chill off a bit during spring or fall).

I've got a 300W infrared panel in my garage to keep things toasty when working out or working on bikes or other gear. That thing is definitely overkill for what would be required in a van (especially if you start with a van that's toasty warm from the stock heater after a long drive) - half that much power would be plenty, especially if mounted right over the bed. The neat thing is, I can start this by way of experiment - my plan for electrical was to start simple, with 100ah usable capacity. Well, I can build it like that, but with a slightly bigger DC-DC charger/solar controller combo (say $100 more) and then test it with the infrared panel I have in the garage run at 1/2 power for a cold night in my driveway. So I could conservatively test that out, and if there's just no way it'll do the job, I can still break down and go the Espar/Webasto route.

But if it works, it would buy me:
  • One fewer thing to maintain/worry about (infrared heaters are totally maintenance free, and the additional battery doesn't really add maintenance/worry above the one or two I'd already have)
  • Additional battery capacity to use for non-heating loads during the vast majority of the year where I don't need a lot of heat (all of summer, most of shoulder season) - so more available joice to charge ebikes, run a fridge and a fan, what have you

I get that the energy density in battery storage is rather puny compared to what you get out of fossil fuels - duh, that's why we're still years away from full size electric vans that have enough range for campervan travel use (as opposed to in-town delivery, which is only now becoming feasible). But for my use case, maybe this is good enough. I'll run the experiment and report back.
 

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So the more I think through this, the more I'm starting to rationalize myself into some pretty crazy ideas.

The Chinese diesel heater route makes so much **** sense from a cost perspective - but I'm using the van partially for business, too, and I've gotten pretty clear instructions from my insurance broker on what is and isn't insurable for my particular use case (mobile office, with the odd bit of expensive and client-owned IT equipment in the van) , and non-brandname heaters with home-installed auxiliary tanks are not part of that equation. Neither are propane systems. Anything branded Eberspaecher or Webasto might pass (even if self-installed, as long as I get it "serviced" at least once by a licensed technician).

But then I kept thinking through this a bit further... I'm already thinking about installing a pretty beefy battery bank (mobile office use - and to be able to charge ebikes when traveling). And my need for heat is pretty minor. If it costs me about $1,000 for a Webasto that might have issues at altitude, or $1,600 for an Espar - well, that more than pays for an extra (as in, beyond my other needs) 100ah usable capacity (either as a 100ah LiFePo4, or 200ah AGM). And that should easily run a 150W appliance for a night. So if I get a 150W infrared panel and mount it on a swivel so it's either aimed at the seating area inside the van, or at the bed, and I do a decent job insulating - well, that means if I start with fully charged batteries, I easily have a good night's worth of heating sufficient to what I expect my use to be (no long term winter-camping in boondock mode, but the occasional winter-night spent in the van as part of a road trip to warmer places, as well as just wanting to take the chill off a bit during spring or fall).

I've got a 300W infrared panel in my garage to keep things toasty when working out or working on bikes or other gear. That thing is definitely overkill for what would be required in a van (especially if you start with a van that's toasty warm from the stock heater after a long drive) - half that much power would be plenty, especially if mounted right over the bed. The neat thing is, I can start this by way of experiment - my plan for electrical was to start simple, with 100ah usable capacity. Well, I can build it like that, but with a slightly bigger DC-DC charger/solar controller combo (say $100 more) and then test it with the infrared panel I have in the garage run at 1/2 power for a cold night in my driveway. So I could conservatively test that out, and if there's just no way it'll do the job, I can still break down and go the Espar/Webasto route.

But if it works, it would buy me:
  • One fewer thing to maintain/worry about (infrared heaters are totally maintenance free, and the additional battery doesn't really add maintenance/worry above the one or two I'd already have)
  • Additional battery capacity to use for non-heating loads during the vast majority of the year where I don't need a lot of heat (all of summer, most of shoulder season) - so more available joice to charge ebikes, run a fridge and a fan, what have you

I get that the energy density in battery storage is rather puny compared to what you get out of fossil fuels - duh, that's why we're still years away from full size electric vans that have enough range for campervan travel use (as opposed to in-town delivery, which is only now becoming feasible). But for my use case, maybe this is good enough. I'll run the experiment and report back.
An electric infrared could be a benefit if your test proves out. So would an electric mattress heater or blanket. I would rather spend the money on more lithium than go through the gas Webasto debacle again. Though expensive, lithium is just about trouble free and reputable suppliers have a solid warranty. Business write-off too.
Looking forward to your real world test results.
 

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Two thumbs up for my Webasto 2000STC purchased from Heaters4you. Install was painless and puts out great heat using my gasoline aux port.

I would buy from them again. I don't see a difference between Russia vs China. At least you know China knockoffs stole the intellectual and design rights from Webasto and yet people still buy them and support the continuance of this just to save money.
 

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Two thumbs up for my Webasto 2000STC purchased from Heaters4you. Install was painless and puts out great heat using my gasoline aux port.

I would buy from them again. I don't see a difference between Russia vs China. At least you know China knockoffs stole the intellectual and design rights from Webasto and yet people still buy them and support the continuance of this just to save money.
Stole or Given ?

I am not privy to the corporate “deals” that are struck around the World & even if I was, keeping up with what is going on “even if the information was presented non-deceptively”.

Even though I still have to learn what Globalization is and means to me, I have found I need to change my thinking.

Webasto can buy from China, but I should not? Did Webasto setup in China to ummmmm, save money in manufacturing?


69004
 

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The espar and webasto patents on the diesel heaters are expired. Instead of lowering the sales price, they simply allowed various Chinese manufacturers to under sell them. The units are not complicated. This happens all the time in many business areas. Enjoy a cost effective heating solution.
 

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The espar and webasto patents on the diesel heaters are expired. Instead of lowering the sales price, they simply allowed various Chinese manufacturers to under sell them. The units are not complicated. This happens all the time in many business areas. Enjoy a cost effective heating solution.
Yep. Happens anytime there's a fat profit margin enjoyed. A downside is that as more players enter the game, there can be a race to the bottom with the price, resulting in attendant declines in quality.
Tech support is effectively zero with the new providers. And some parts have now been substituted with more dubious pieces. (e.g. fuel lines, fuel filters).

A plus is that sometimes the new entrants improve on the design. For example, some controllers have a built-in altitude adjustment that I understand the originators never had. My cheapo unit has a remote control, which I believe is also a development. And newly offered units are putting out a purported 8KW...or so they say (I believe some have been investigated by the youtube crowd and were determined to be rebadged 5KW models).

All in all, I'm happy to have found out about the cheaper units. I wouldn't have bothered at the $1500-$1800 CAD price of the originals. Cold weather camping is simply not that attractive to me. But for $200-ish, well, that's another matter. :)
 
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We've been happy with our Webasto Airtop. Wish we'd put it in sooner. We camp in cooler seasons when there are fewer people about. That and a down comforter have made it very hard to get out of bed some mornings. We use it in the evenings while sitting inside reading or playing cards, and in the mornings when we get up. Very rarely we will wake up in the night to run it for 20 minutes or so. We carry several thicknesses of comforter which we combine or not to stay warm in bed. So we are maybe running the heater a max of 3 hours a day, usually less. It works fine, just a little finicky. Sometimes it won't start up right, and you have to shut it off and restart. No biggy. We don't have the fancy thermostat, just the dial.

We paid to have someone who knew what they were doing put it in. I think our total, install and purchase came in at about$2K. That's a lot of dough, but we've never looked back. Much easier to have something that sips off your gas tank than to add yet another fuel system to deal with. Simpler generally saves you time, and perhaps money, in the long run.
 

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We are really enjoying our Espar B4L heater. We have been camping with the long long nights here in CO. We are generally running heat from 5:30-10pm and then again first thing in the morning while we wait for the sun. We like the comfort of our van and enjoy having a reliable heat source.
 
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