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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We have had a few tiny RV rigs ie. VW van, Truck Campers, etc. and have never had a heating system we liked. Mostly because they heat the air with a loud roar which we cannot use at night and sleep, or CO2 or O2 depletion. In the Ducato... Oops... Promaster we want a quiet system. I am researching radiant heat using the coolant but it may be too hot for PEX and may not be able to transfer enough heat to keep us warm enough. Unless someone has found a way we are instead thinking of a coolant heater supplying the vehicle's "normal" heater. My questions fall in three areas:

1. What is the rear heater/ac option on the build list? I assume I can use it to put a rear heater in the cabin and run it separately or run both it and the front? What do you get with that option? If I only have the front heater will it keep this huge area fairly warm? Say +30F over ambient and warm it up fast when we get up?

2. Except for the fan(s) on the vehicle heater how loud will the "heater" be? I'm thinking Wabasto or
(at half the price.) If these are located in the engine compartment how loud will they be in the van with good sound insulation?

3. I have eliminated an air heater like the
air or Espar D5 mounted inside as too loud but I don't know.
 

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Did a lot of research on a heater for a pop-up camper, when is had it. Never did get one but these heaters seem to be a pretty good set-up:

http://westyventures.com/propex.html

http://www.westyventures.com/Heatsourcebrochure.pdf

Low power use,quiet, easy to use, propane if you're ok with that.

Quite a few VW folks seem to use them. I remember seeing a few posts here and there on people installing them. Somebody even was selling one they adapted to an aluminum box, so you could carry it and use it in a tent or ice fishing shack, ect.
 

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These are nice heaters, low propane useage and they are vented by a very low amperage draw fan to the outside. No noisy hot air fan roaring away at night.
No worry of gassing yourself in your sleep.

Make a small metal box for the tank with a vent thru the bottom of the van then run the supply hose to the heater, one more very small hole with a hole saw in the side of the van for the heater exhaust vent hose.

http://ventedcatheater.com/6.html
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I didn't set all the parameters clearly I guess.

NO PROPANE.

Also the Wabasto or Smugger do heat the coolant so you can heat the cabin without running the van engine at all, that is their purpose, and they can be used to warm the engine on a cold morning.

NO 110 volt power either as we remote camp with no hookups. I'll have 200-300 watts of solar and batteries to store it and a 64 quart 12 volt refrigerator to run so NO 12 volt or 110 volt resistance heaters... it just won't work. We tend to camp for 3days to a week without starting the van.

Now I hope that is clear???.... any idea how loud the Wabasto coolant heater is? We want to sleep. I have seen a couple of Youtube videos of them running and they seem LOUD!

Anyone got the rear heater option? Tell me about it.

BTW The Smugger/Webasto would do the radiant heat fine but would need to be disconnected some way when the engine ran as PEX can take the 175 degrees of the diesel coolant heater but not 220 degrees of the engine coolant (when under pressure and working hard)

Thanks for the replies, keep the ideas coming.
 

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There are of course electric radiant heating options you could use for homes but the better option would be to use one for 12v applications like RV's: http://www.warmfloor.com/en-us/residential-floor-heating/step-rv-heating-rv/s-motorhomes-boats-etc
That Warmfloor option is intriguing to me- once I get my shelving setup and figure out how I want to insulate that radiant would work great- It could easily keep my carpet nice and warm on the way to a jobsite up in the frigid Fargo cold- not to mention sweet for camping-
 

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I have eliminated an air heater like the Smugger air or Espar D5 mounted inside as too loud but I don't know.
I can't provide any info on the Webasto COOLENT heater, but I do have the Webasto DualTop Heater (hot air and water) installed in my PM coversion. It's diesel fired (no propane) and my electrical system is similar to what you plan (300 amps battery + solar). The unit is installed inside, vented to outside and noise is not an issue once it moves on from it's startup phase. I've run it all night and it's located across the isle from my bed - no problem. I've got 60 nights in the van without shore power in cool (not frigid) weather without issues. The van spent the recent cold snap (in the 20s here) in the driveway with the heater in "auto mode" (freeze protection) with no problem.

You might not want/need the hot water capability but both Webasto and Espar make heater only models which I would suggest warrant a look. If you can't get any first hand info on this forum I would check the Sprinter Forum - lots of folks using these air heaters in their conversions over there.

My coversion thread might might might be worth a look - http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16609

Good luck with your conversion.

My travel blog is - http://www.takethelongway.us
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Steve,
I have been following your conversion thread, in fact several of your entries and your success have led me to decide no propane. If the Dual top inside is ok in your build I can use it in the engine compartment I am sure. The option of heating the floor with coolant in PEX is becoming more attractive to me. The D5 heater in the diesel van can be used to heat the engine for a warm start for the van and defrost prior to starting the engine. I will camp below freezing so coolant is the choice. I am working on thermal calculations to see if the gain and loss of heat works out.
I need to research the induction cooktop more. I believe it needs to have an inverter running like the microwave does. Still happy with them?
I am looking at Lizardskin and am impressed with it as an anti condensation surface and a thermal break for the dark Blue or Red van I will get. I won't have any A/C except what the van has running. Perhaps drive if the weather is too hot to camp? Insulation otherwise and lots of it. Windows and ventilation for night to keep cool.
You said you would give the Norcold model refrigerator once but I missed ever seeing it. The refrigerator power usage scares me so your having two running (ok one is a freezer) makes it seem possible. How is that? How long between drives? Have you stayed off the engine for 4 or five days?
Travel lots and keep us in the loop.
Ralph
 

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You can get a gas webasto 2000 (not diesel) so no need for a diesel tank and hooks up
to your spare nipple on your gas tank. I have one. Quiet on the inside and a little bit loud
on the outside. I am still looking for the proper muffler for it.
I have not camped with it yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I plan to buy a Diesel. The fact it is quiet on the inside is good news.
 

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Thanks Steve,
I need to research the induction cooktop more. I believe it needs to have an inverter running like the microwave does. Still happy with them?
I am looking at Lizardskin and am impressed with it as an anti condensation surface and a thermal break for the dark Blue or Red van I will get. I won't have any A/C except what the van has running. Perhaps drive if the weather is too hot to camp? Insulation otherwise and lots of it. Windows and ventilation for night to keep cool.
You said you would give the Norcold model refrigerator once but I missed ever seeing it. The refrigerator power usage scares me so your having two running (ok one is a freezer) makes it seem possible. How is that? How long between drives? Have you stayed off the engine for 4 or five days?
Travel lots and keep us in the loop.
Ralph
I REALLY like the induction cooktop. Use it both inside and outside the van. Uses less power than the small microwave I have - but yes, it requires a inverter.

Agree on the Lizardskin - used with batt insulation I think it does a pretty good job. I tend to move on (that's what the four wheals are for) if it gets too hot or cold. My two MaxxAir fans can cool the inside down pretty fast once the sun sets.

I've got the Nova Kool RS4500 (5 cu ft) without the freezer, which I think is the biggest single door they make. Could have gone smaller, but got a good deal. With my 300 amp of batteries (150 useable) I'm running the fridge, freezer, microwave, lights, fans (heater and vent) plus charging all my gadgets without issue. I tend to "stay put" for 2 or 3 nights then move on - so I would think 4 or 5 would be doable (remember I've got 300 watts of solar on the roof) if you watch your consumption.

Hope this helps.

 

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Discussion Starter #13
I spent the evening researching the heating for a camping conversion when the diesel's become available. I'm planning to buy a 1500 diesel 136" high top, with rear and curb side windows. The more I look at what others have done and what has been reported as satisfactory I am moved towards a Wabasto or Espar air heater, like the D2. They are used in big truck bunks, euro-caravans, motorhomes etc. Mostly it is the KISS principle that makes me think this is the best route. I'd love floor radiant, coolant heat and pre-engine warm ups but..... all that complicates what can be such as simple system. Fuel, 12volts, one exhaust, air in and hot air out... and lots of it. $$ savings in the purchase too and an easier instal. The ability to put it under a cabinet to attenuate the noise and temperature control from the bed to start it or turn it up while the coffee perks is a plus. YMMV, I'd still appreciate others opinions and experience.
 

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Lots of members on the Sportsmobile forums use both systems. Look on YouTube for the Sportsmobile walkthrough of their Sprinter van where they explain the stove/heater/hotwater system.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I settled on the Espar Airtronic D2. I have just used GaryBIS's spreadsheet to calculate the heat loss for the PM 136 insulated. Turns out it is 2970 BTU/hour when the temperature is 25 degrees F outside. So how do I use the heater above that? The minimum output of the Espar is just under 3000BTU/hr.
 

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Espars do not just click on and off. When started they run at max until the temperature reaches the thermostat set point. Then, rather than shutting off, the fuel flow and fan speed are reduced to maintain temperature. If the temperature falls a couple of degrees below set point fuel flow and fan speed are increased. The heater finds the happy spot and makes slight adjustments. It will only shut off if the interior gets very warm such as when the sun rises and heats the van in the morning.

Quiet operation is obtained by having lower fan speeds moving more air through slightly bigger ducts. This is achieved by going to the D4 size instead of the D2. It has higher ratings as shown by the data on the website. Ducts help as you can put the heat at one end of the van and cold air return at the other to get heat distribution.

They are fantastic heaters and a small diesel tank is easily provided for fuel (if van has a gas engine). They use fuel measured in fractions of a liter so only a tank of a few gallons is needed.
 

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I settled on the Espar Airtronic D2. I have just used GaryBIS's spreadsheet to calculate the heat loss for the PM 136 insulated. Turns out it is 2970 BTU/hour when the temperature is 25 degrees F outside. So how do I use the heater above that? The minimum output of the Espar is just under 3000BTU/hr.
The only issue I've had with my DualTop is too much heat because it's sized for a larger space than the PM interior. It has a thermastat (like your D2 should have) and cycles between 64 and 70 - a wider spread than the typical home furnace, but apparently (in my case) that's because it's sensors are a little confused by the small space. Seapro is right, these things don't click on and off like a traditional furnace - it just TRIES to keep the temp set to what you've selected. Depending on the outside temp I sometime just open one of my MaxxAir fan vents (fan off) and it stays comfortable for me.

I really think the D2 is a good choice. Will take you a bit to figure out the best setting and what to leave open (or shut) but those units have a good reputation.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have read on Hein's build on the sprinter forum some discussion about controlling these heaters to attain a closer range but the trade off is they need more maintenance if they are short cycled. Some say it is not a significant issue. You might search there or Hein might have some help concerning what he found when trying to use his thermostat to control his heater.
Earlier I considered a radiant floor heated with a hot water tank from the engine and a hydro 5 espar but it involved lots of controls. That would have had the Hydronic 5 run a few times a night and the heat in the tank would keep the cabin RIGHT AT 65. The D2 is available for <900 from http://www.lubricationspecialist.com and is such a simple install. KISS
 

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Yes, with Espars short cycling may increase need for maintenance as I believe that most sooting often happens at startup. My first Espars were on boats in the 1970s before proportional control -- in those days they started and stopped like most home heating systems and they needed frequent cleaning. Computer control and today's improved pulsing (watch your ammeter at startup!) "glow" plugs reduce maintenance.

As to the temperature swing before the heater adjusts its output, thermostat location may be a factor. On a new installation perhaps the thermostat could be left with long wiring so it could be moved about for experimentation. Even heat distribution is difficult in a boat or van as they tend to be least insulated and coldest at the ends. My best results have always been with locating the heater at one cold end with no cold return air duct. Hot air is ducted to an outlet at the far end with one intermediate outlet in the middle; most heat going to the far cold end. If the toilet is a separate compartment a small outlet there will dry things and give you the warmest seat in the campground! Espar sells a wide assortment of duct T and Y fittings and directional/adjustable outlets. Generally you reduce the diameter as you pass outlets; just look at the duct work below the ceiling in commercial buildings. T and Y fittings and straight couplings are available as reducers. Espar has literature on all this stuff. Ultimate luxury is having the thermostat within reach of the bed!
 
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