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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A new style of Espar (Eberspacher) heaters are now available. Since my van will reside in higher elevations mostly, I need a way to keep it warm and possibly heat water for hot showers too. From the Heatso website there is a new RV kit that does it all but at a hefty price tag. https://www.heatso.com/espar-ebersp...ol-rv-camper-kit-for-water-air-floor-heating/. It will heat water, heat air through a water-air heat exchanger/blower and also can be adapted for radiant floor heat which would be the ultimate in comfort. My van currently has 2" of polyiso foam under a 3/4 plywood floor. The plan is to cut a 3/4" groove and lay in randiantec heat transfer plates with Pex tubing and cover it all with a nice bamboo floating floor. Here is the method I will use to install it: https://www.radiantec.com/installation-manuals/installing-tubing-within-a-subfloor/. Im now emailing Heatso to see if I can get a simpler kit with only accessories for water and hydronic floor heat. $2300 is just too expensive.
 

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I love radiant floor heat and considered it in my van but in the end KISS prevented me from going that route. Now 4 years later it might be easier as heaters appropriate to the job may be more available. A big Isotherm heated off the engine would help too!
BTW Radiantec is a great company that has helped me on several houses, solar water heat in AZ, and they did the engineering free and supplied the PEX for the radiant heat in my current NH home. No connection except a I’m a happy customer! They might be a good source to calculate the PEX engineering if you had the heat loss figures from GaryBIS site:
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
I actually use that radiant floor heating tubing arrangement in my house to provide part of our house heating with solar thermal.
The method of laying pex in grooves in a plywood floor with aluminum heat distribution plates works fine. The link above shows one way to make the heat distribution plates yourself, or I can give you a good source for commercial ones that are well made at a good price if you decide to go that way.

BUT, I'm not sure that you will be able to lay enough tubing to heat the van effectively with a radiant floor. You can get about 40 BTU per sqft of floor before the water temps get to high for floor comfort. In a 138 wheel base van you only have about 65 sqft of floor to work with (this includes under cabinets etc, which is not the most effective area). This gives you about 65*40 = 2400 BTU total output. This is a pretty small heater for a van. Some have reported that 6000 BTU for an insulated van works well for them. My furnace outputs about 12000 BTU, and when you come into a cold van that needs heating up, that 12K BTU is very welcome. It will depend on how well you insulate the van surfaces (including windows), and how cold a weather you plan to operate in, but I think there is a good chance you will be dissapointed with the heat output from a radiant floor. Maybe there is someone out there who uses radiant floor heating and could comment.
There is also the warm up from a cold soaked house/van that is a feature of radiant heat to consider.

Gary
 

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Neat kit! The water heater has been around for a long time and I think ive seen the air heat exchanger too.

I would not want radiant floor heat in my van primarily because of the large latency, that is how long it takes for the air inside the van to get warm after you turn the thermostat up/turn on the heat. Heat in a van is'nt used like heat in your house, most people do not leave the heat on in a van 24x7 but instead only run the heat when they need it and its rare for people to spend all day in their van in winter because frankly that would suck! So you really want a heat system that heats up the van quickly, like in 10 minutes or less, usually that means forced air heating. Also, there is no mention of how many amps the whole system would draw with the water pump and everything. Battery power is at a premium in a van, especially in winter when solar output is lower or non-existent. Also, the radiant floor system would eat up valuable ceiling height and its a ton of work to install. I recommend renting a camper van with a heater in winter for a weekend and using it on a trip to see what you like/dislike about a particular system before spending thousands on your own system.
 

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If needing heat on most use why would u put windows in van?

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My thoughts exactly when we built. We purchased a cargo van & installed one window in the passenger slider. The metal skins (doors) are also huge “heat sinks” but they can can be somewhat insulated, but the connected metal skins will “thermal bridge”. Well insulated walls & interior wall panel will keep heat in way better than a single pane of glass & cloth curtains.
 

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Latency is probably a killer for a van, good point. Gary as usual raises another important point. Glad you guys are here to keep me from retrofitting my floor! Once again there are facts and they are to be considered!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies. I didn't realize that I would be limited on the heat output and I guess I really don't need the hot water heat option. Im mostly going to be using it to stealth camp at ski resorts and I can probably find a hot shower somewhere. I bought on older Eberspacher air heater on Ebay for about $500 but then found out it cant be used at high elevations. Anyone interested in it? The newer models don't need the high altitude kit. I guess Ill look into getting this one. https://www.heatso.com/espar-eberspacher-airtronic-b4l-m2-petrol-12v-4kw-heater-kit-pre-order/
 

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If needing heat on most use why would u put windows in van?
So I can see out, even when it’s cold.



That’s part of why I’m one of the rare ones in afox’s comment, “its rare for people to spend all day in their van in winter because frankly that would suck!” and it doesn’t suck at all. My take: why bother to heat at all if it’s not a pleasant place to be?
 

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  • That’s one reason I ordered a ‘20 window van. My present Promaster is the first non-window van I’ve ever owned in in 53 years of vaning and it drives me nuts.
 

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So I can see out, even when it’s cold.

That’s part of why I’m one of the rare ones in afox’s comment, “its rare for people to spend all day in their van in winter because frankly that would suck!” and it doesn’t suck at all. My take: why bother to heat at all if it’s not a pleasant place to be?
That does look like a great place to spend the day! I need to heat so I can hang out in the van which usually involves cooking, eating, working, and of course sleeping but I cant remember ever running the heat for a full 24 hours straight. My van also has windows too though not as many as yours. Anyway, seems like most people use their van as means to travel somewhere and experience a place or activity, getting out and about doing whatever they enjoy with what little daylight there is this time of year...
 

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I'm looking forward to a weather weekend on the coast , little hikes between storms/showers and getting caught up on reading something written on paper . My Propex will be whirring away . No cell , just a fun AM radio station up the coast spinning the hits !
 

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The OP was stating his plans/intentions with infloor heating & a new Espar gas heater. Gary “came to the plate” with his science & engineering to explain the OP may end up with a van on the colder side. I was trying to explain The greatest heat loss/gain is via glass & thermal bridging when we consider our vans. I have been in MsNomers & MrNomers van & they have done a beautiful build & I understand “the feeling” they enjoy with the many windows especially in the beautiful places they travel to

My point was in connection to the possibility of building a van with a heating system that is ”marginal” & then coupling that design decision with a van build that will require a high btu output due to the heat loss

Windows or Not; totally an individual choice with how someone wants to use their van. No debate from me on windows or no windows as I see pros & cons to both sides

Building a van that will require large btus & then not providing a heating system that has those required btus and some to spare is not good building science to me - all I was trying to point out
 

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We need Davesnothome to chime in. MrNomer and I saw him recently and he has installed electric heating in his floor—as in, tiny little wires. He has the 159" EXT, IIRC, windows in the slider and rear, and small ones over the bed. He was pretty happy with the results. I don’t recall whether he has another heat source.
 

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Did OP or anyone else ever go with this kit? We’re looking at doing something similar and came across Rixens who uses the Espar hydronic system but builds an even more trick system as it also has a hot water tank with an electric element for when you’re plugged into shore power, can heat it off the engine when it’s running as well, and looks super well built. I was looking at this same Heatso kit before talking to Rixens, but support/instructions seem pretty limited with heatso vs Rixens offers great support and installation guidance here in the US. Their whole system is even more pricey than the heatso one, but is considerably cheaper than the van life tech system which is another US manufacturer.

If anyone has gone with this heatso kit for $2200 and could let me know how install/performance has been I’d really appreciate it!
 
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