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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I digestive the masive volume of material I have viewed in the last month in order to plan a well thought out future van conversion, I can't help but think about the problem of maintaining a comfortable temperature. I cannot imagine that I will have access to shore power all that often so the question is, how do I go about climate control. I will leave A/C alone for now, and focus on heat.
So the question I have for the forum is very basic. I am a newbie to cargo vans and conversions. If mounting a horizontal tank is way too much trouble, and storing a 20lb cylinder inside is dangerous, why is storing 20, 1lb Coleman cylinders, in the van acceptable...or maybe its not. It seems like the only
option. I rather not use a heater, like Mr Buddy, that will release water vapor into the van. I did read that Webasto makes a gasoline version of its heater, but its seems a little cumbersome to install. That leaves the Propex system and the propane issue.
Might not be reality, but I do picture myself parked at a ski resort in the spring. I need to be able to stay warm!
 

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I doubt the Webasto is any harder to install than propane, particularly if you plan for it at the beginning. The hardest part is deciding on a location compatible with your build, but with no obstruction underneath. There are several options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I never heard the name Webasto until I read your thorough thread on the subject MsNomer. I don't recall if you have a diesel Promaster. And honestly I have read so many threads on so many subjects and until I reread for a 2nd and 3rd time am still confused. Don't recall if its the diesel Sprinter or Promaster that has the easy connection to the fuel line.
Regardless , since I do not want a diesel, I would have to learn how to safely tee off a gas fuel line. I'm sure its not all that complicated, but I would rather do it to the standards of the technician.
Other than that, you did make the install seem less than complex. Why do most install the unit under the passenger seat?
 

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Don't recall if its the diesel Sprinter or Promaster that has the easy connection to the fuel line.
An auxiliary tap is an option on Sprinters, but standard on both gas and diesel PMs. All you need to know is right here (somewhere). If we end up needing more heat, we'll go with the gas Webasto over propane. Tapping into the gas line will be way easier, and probably less expensive than a propane heater plus external tank. We have space set aside for a Webasto just in case. Right behind the drivers seat on the floor, under the raised floor extension for the swivel seats.

If you are more adventurous than us, there are Russian and Chinese knock-offs. Search "Barking Heater" on this forum.
 

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Steve, RD put his there with no conflicts below.

Tapping into the fuel line is as easy as unscrewing and removing a cap, then screwing on the connection to the Webasto fuel line. PM gas and diesel tanks are already prepped for this. The hardest part of this task is getting the cover off the access hole in the floor between the seats. One of the screws is hard to reach.

I suspect people put it under the seat because it is an out-of-the-way spot less likely to constrain later design decisions. IMHO, it is not a great location from a circulation perspective, in part because there is little separation between intake and output and in part because the cab would be heated preferentially to the main living area.
 

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What is you cooking fuel going to be? If propane you are probably best to install a propane tank underneath and use propane heat. If cooling is by other energy consider an Espar or similar. If you have a gasser and are uncomfortable using a gas heater you can use a diesel with a tiny separate (about 4 gal) diesel tank. Search this forum for much info.
 

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Propane is the 'old" way. I wouldn't have it in my van for all the reasons mentioned above. Go with the Webasco (gas or diesel) and cook with butate.
 

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It is easy to do w/o propane in a gas van. Heat- Wabasto heater in the bottom of a cabinet or under a raised section of the floor like we did, for cooking a single or dual Butane cooktop designed to use inside.
https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-2000020951-Butane-Stove/dp/B00FGPXVSM/ref=sr_1_1?
https://www.amazon.com/Webasto-Gaso...qid=1500892860&sr=1-9&keywords=webasto+heater
ie=UTF8&qid=1500892781&sr=8-1&keywords=Butane+cooktop
https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Po...=wnFPk&psc=1&refRID=J32HZCF42AYEYZFPH2D8There are cheaper sources for each but those are the products. Wabasto <$1000.
A small microwave works on a good sized battery set and an <$200 inverter.
If you are willing to spend a couple of thousand extra you can put in a lithium battery set and and more solar and a sine wave inverter and have an induction cooktop, yes it has been done!
Good to have someone ask before going on a direction that they may not be happy with later.
Propane is an option but being used less and less as good electric 12 volt refrigerators are more common. DON’T buy a 3 way propane refrigerator!
 

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Lots of people still using propane without issue. We have a propane cooktop and a nice little vented propane heater that does a great job of heating up the van quickly on a cold morning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the great informatiion.
Without propane, how do you heat water for a shower, that I am planning in my build.
I suppose I can do it Orten's way with a submersible element in a tank, run off the van battery while it idles for 45 minute. Or use a solar shower when the sun is shinning. Or maybe heat up water outdoors on a portable stove and combine it with room temp water. And of course a diy coil of copper mounted on the roof driven by water pump. I did forget the Aquacube as well. But then I would have to contemplate refilling the 1 lb cylinders because of the cost factor.
So much to consider in a build. At this point in my life...chapter 3...I have a love/hate relationship with problem solving, but a diy-er through and through.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
This has been discussed a lot already, so a lot of info in past threads.

I use propane and have a propane cooktop and an RV (Atwood) propane furnace. Am happy with both.
My propane tank is a regular 20 lb tank installed in a strong sealed compartment in the van that is vented to the outside. I've had propane tanks underneath the van on past RVs and I think the well protected inside tank is overall likely safer than a tank under the van. Sealed inside propane lockers are fairly common on European RVs and on boats.
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-co...van-conversion-installing-the-propane-system/

Installing a regular RV furnace is a half day job, and they are reliable and cheap because they have been the standard solution for the last 50(?) years on RVs. Mine is pretty quiet inside the van and very quiet outside the van.

One issue is that I think Atwood has stopped making the 12K BTU/hr furnace (9.3K BTU/hr output) I have and I don't know if anyone else makes an RV furnace this small. Most of them are larger (like 19K BTU/hr) , and may cycle more than you would like on a well insulated camper van.
edit: apparently they make a "new and improved" 12K BTU furnace: http://www.americanrvcompany.com/Atwood-32715-AFSD12111-DC-Small-Furnace-12000-BTU

If you want an idea of propane use and how long the 20 lb tank lasts in cold weather, I tracked it on this winter trip: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/trip-reports-experiences-and-lessons/banff-trip/

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Gary, I am well aware of your build, and have read over your website several times. A great resource!
Don't know if I agree with you on the quantity of information on the subject. Of all the subjects I have searched this subject is least discussed, and in many cases on forums and blogs, the majority feel there is too much danger carrying propane. I am aware in Europe it is apparently quite common.
I do have on my checklist to call my auto insurance company on the matter.
 

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Here is what we do for propane in our van (see pictures below) I have everything inside a weather guard truck box mounted on a stow away swing away frame with a drop down leg on the far side to level the box when I swing it to the side. Right now we just cook with the propane but I'm still trying to make the decision on a propane furnace or a wabasto style parking heater for heat. right now I use a very warm sleeping bag (coleman Big Game) which I have used In a tent down to 15 degrees with no problem staying warm. I also have a cabinet style electric heater when we are plugged in or as a last resort a buddy heater.

It fits a larger 20lb bottle or I like to use the 5 lb bottle that I use for my buddy heater while ice fishing. if your just cooking it lasts a long time and weighs less. The carrier is rated at 250lbs and i know we are under that by far. The only issue i had is we had the cheaper curt hitch and we bent it so i upgraded to the draw tite hitch that mounts to the frame.


If we go with the propane style furnace I'm just going to put another quick connect at the back of the van underneath so i can hook the tank to the van. i like this setup because i can take it all off the van and I'm not always hauling everything as we still use the van as a semi everyday driver when going places as a family as its just so much nicer than our 2 SUV's or car plus we can throw the potty in for the kids.
 

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