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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm within a week of purchasing a gas Promaster. I'm working on my build designs and I'm conflicted on fuel source for heating, cooking, and hot water.

I've read the posts in the forum where everyone recommends using a gas Webasto furnace, and a butane cooktop. However, I'm not sure this fits my build.

I'm planning a complete buildout; nice integrated stovetop (likely not butane, those seem portable?), a REAL hot water heater (nothing hanging off the back doors, it's for an indoor fully plumbed shower), and a heater.

For my purpose, I've come up with two options. I'm not interested in running a huge lithium bank and running a hot water heater and induction stove top off electricity, I've run the numbers. Nor am I interested in using an engine heat exchange hot water heater.

1. Mount an auxiliary diesel fuel tank. Run a Webasto Dual top for heat/hot h20, and a wallas diesel cooktop. I know the issues with ambient heat being added with a diesel cooktop.

2. Use propane for everything. Likely a 5.9 gallon tank mounted under the chassis.

Between these two options, and based on my build requirements, which would you choose? Pros/cons? Any help is MUCH appreciated. Cheers.
 

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Propane for sure! Gary BIS can give advice about how it is best done. Propane will be much cheaper and can easily do all you want. Professional help is available most places too. Go with one fuel and do it right.
 

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If you already have a gas engine van, then I'd suggest going with a propane setup as you'll have a lot more options for heaters for both water and air. The Webasto dual top is supposed to be a nice unit, but by the time you add a secondary tank it's going to get pricey and you are still working with two fuels (though probably easier to do fill ups). If you were starting with a diesel van, then I'd say go 100% diesel.
 
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Another option is the Isotherm water heater which runs off engine heat (heater hose) with a supplemental 750 watt electric heater.

It's a marine solution. In my build I plan to hook one to a solar heater, with a fallback of engine heat if it doesn't work out.

P.S. between your two solutions, I'd reluctantly go with propane. Looked at the tank options and clearance-wise and fill-wise it can be a challenge, but a better option.
 

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We have a 4 gallon Isotherm hot water heater that's connected to the engine cooling system where the heater hoses go into the go into the firewall.

It provides hot water for showers and washing dishes for up to 48 hours depending on usage. There's a 750 watt heating element if your plugged into shore power. If we need to run the hot water on shore power, we have to reset the over limit switch in the isotherm because the engine coolant will cause it to trip. Thanks to member Hein for that tip.

We use a diesel Espar D2 for heat and Wallas / Webasto diesel cooktop for meal prep.

We have a 3 gallon aluminum tank that supplies diesel for both units. We've been on a camping trip for 2 months now and used about 2 1/2 - 3 gallons so far.

If we're camped longer than 2 days, idling the engine for 15 - 20 minutes provides plenty of hot water for showers and charges our lithium batteries a little as well.
 

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I use a Excel tankless water heater and a Propex heater both propane.Both work great and very trouble free.
I' used propane for 40 years without any problems,but I do take caution when using
 

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2. Use propane for everything. Likely a 5.9 gallon tank mounted under the chassis.
I was initially going to go this route, but became concerned with clearances and filling of a horizontal tank. People said you had to have a skilled worker with an adapter to fill a horizontal tank. Was all set to post this idea for using vertical tanks instead, but people had already talked me out of propane.

It's probably half-baked, but here goes...

Take the spare out and mount it on the back.

Take two #11 cylinders side by side with an auto-switch manifold valve and a cut-down dual carrier like you'd have on the back of a trailer and mount it where the spare goes. When you need a fill, you lower the tanks as you would the spare and take them in to get them filled.

For reference here's what a #11 looks like: http://www.propanetankstore.com/11-lbs-2-5-gallon-manchester-low-profile-propane-cylinder/

Might also work with a slide-out mount where you'd normally mount a horizontal tank.

As I said, it's probably half-baked, but thought I'd put it out there in case the idea was useful to someone.
 

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I have not used my spare on any of my 4 vehicles even once in the past 10 years and I am beginning to think the can of fix-a-flat and a compressor (which I do carry) might be a way to get that space under the van. Many new cars go spare-less and I know my wife is not changing a tire anyway. Her ’95 Miata has about half the tiny trunk filled with the dinky spare!
I have to take a spare on desert excursions with our 4 Runner of course, but for on the road with a vehicle that has a common tire size it may be time to rethink.
That space could be for gray or black water tanks, or a horizontal propane, or ??
 

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I have not used my spare on any of my 4 vehicles even once in the past 10 years and I am beginning to think the can of fix-a-flat and a compressor (which I do carry) might be a way to get that space under the van. Many new cars go spare-less and I know my wife is not changing a tire anyway. Her ’95 Miata has about half the tiny trunk filled with the dinky spare!
I have to take a spare on desert excursions with our 4 Runner of course, but for on the road with a vehicle that has a common tire size it may be time to rethink.
That space could be for gray or black water tanks, or a horizontal propane, or ??
Funny, I just had a flat in my driveway last week' I decided to rotate my tires at the same time. The spare tire came down and went right back up easily now that I know to look for the yellow indicator on the tire lifting mechanism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks all for the comments. Looks like going with propane is my solution-going with a propane cooktop for sure, so it makes sense to go all propane to avoid extra fuel sources.

I'll look into tank options and underbody mount locations, aiming to maximize clearance.

One question I haven't really seen given many answers on the forum is: Which propane hot water heater do people use/recommend for an in-vehicle permanently mounted/plumbed solution? If you have a different solution but have researched or heard good things about a particular unit, any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone!
 

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I’ve had a Suburban 6 gal in our pickup camper and was not super pleased with it. I had to pull the anode rod and rinse it out after each camping trip and it used up a complete anode rod every 3 years due to corrosion. It was manual light and required an external door for access. It seldom went out even in high winds. A couple we sometimes camp with had an on demand heater and found that at low flow it would not heat. They got so disgusted they pulled it and installed an Atwood 6 gallon tank.
Both of these options are $400 and not great IMHO.
 

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Another company with a tankless rv friendly solution

http://stores.ebay.com/AQUAH-ONLINE

Here's one of the rv models. I think I saw a guy testing one on YouTube with the requisite eye-candy girlfriend/wife.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AQUAH-12L-O...SE-/201099269665?_trksid=p2141725.m3641.l6368

There's also various flavors of Mr. Heater water heaters on Amazon if you are looking for a portable or outdoor solution.


In the marine forums it seemed there was nothing but complaining about aluminum and porcelain/steel tank heaters which is something that attracted me to IsoTherm's stainless tank.
 

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If you go propane, and want an efficient cooktop these look sweet. Pricey but really sweet and efficient. Never seen an easy to clean propane/gas cooktop. They claim they are 50% more efficient than propane flame.
We have a removable kitchenette and they now have an auxiliary power supply (not on the site yet) to power the control panel. Trying to justify the cost. Less water needed to clean up. Less fills of the propane. Less money on Propane...actually it will pay for itself in propane savings in about 15 years! ; )
Anyone have any experience with these?
https://flamelesscooktop.com/product/gas-cooktop-2-burners-1/
 

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just an observation on our personal use of both Tank, and Tank-less heaters...
We full time in a 43ft toyhauler, our second 5th wheel. Our first had a 12 gallon tank and we always had hot water but at the cost of fuel, and there is a cost as the system is always attempting to maintain the heat (in our case electricity if plugged in OR propane if away from shore power).

Our current rig has a tankless heater. Here is what i can tell you, for sink use? amazing and economical. BUT FOR SHOWERS? > >.. my wife's words; "I will never buy an RV with a tank-less heater again!"
I will second her statement. For one thing they are fickle, you must make sure all pilot tubes are free of any moisture or blockages. Also be aware that they are not designed to get the water temp any higher than XX F above ambient temps. This can be a drag as outside temps drop into the 30's.

Thom
 

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Hi,
Our last RV before the PM conversion was a small Coachman. It had a Suburban 6 gallon propane water heater. It was trouble free for the 6 or so years we had the RV and it did have electronic ignition, so all you did to start it up was push a rocker switch inside the RV until it showed lightoff.

The regular RV gas tank type water heaters have been used for so long that I'd guess they have the kinks pretty well worked out?

Not to try to change your mind about the propane tank under the van, but on our PM conversion we used a regular 20 lb BBQ tank mounted in a strong, sealed and vented to the outside compartment. I like this arrangement better than past RVs with propane tanks under the floor. One nice thing about using a standard 20 lb tank is that you can exchange your empty tank for a full one in about a million places -- we usually do this when we have stopped for groceries anyway as most of the grocery stores have these tank exchanges.

Some details here:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-co...van-conversion-installing-the-propane-system/




Total cost of our proane "system" was $60 :)

Gary
 

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Another negative about tankless water heaters is that they use a lot more water. You have to turn the faucet wide open to get it to lite and then if you turn it to low to slow the flow and save water the flame goes out and you start the process over again. You will use a lot more water with a tankless.
I am about to install a small Whale DC water heater in my build and will let you all know how it works out.
 

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I have not used my spare on any of my 4 vehicles even once in the past 10 years and I am beginning to think the can of fix-a-flat and a compressor (which I do carry) might be a way to get that space under the van. Many new cars go spare-less and I know my wife is not changing a tire anyway. Her ’95 Miata has about half the tiny trunk filled with the dinky spare!
I have to take a spare on desert excursions with our 4 Runner of course, but for on the road with a vehicle that has a common tire size it may be time to rethink.
That space could be for gray or black water tanks, or a horizontal propane, or ??
I know this is an old post, however I have often thought of the spare tire space as wasted on a spare tire. On many of the commercial vans I have seen, the spare tire is under the bed & a generator or under chassis tanks are mounted in the spare tire location (& the exhaust is redirected to the drivers side short of the rear tire).

once I decided to go propane, I really tried to sort out large under-mount tanks, but decided against it & went with a propane locker (seems to be the marine solution albeit in below the waterline they need a ventilation tube & a fan - in the van we just need a pipe in the bottom of the propane locker tovent the heavier than air propane thru the van floor).

I have had at least 2 vehicles recently that do not carry spare tires. I also do not look forward to ever having to change out a spare on my van at some gravel or dirt uneven road. I’m on the fence about traveling without a spare. But that space is very valuable in my opinion,,,
 

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We had a total tire failure up in the Yukon on the Dempster highway and were literally a hundred miles from the nearest tire facility. Very glad to have the spare and I'm thinking about mounting a 2nd spare on the back door for future similar trips.
But, agree that most of the time on regular roads its tempting to dump the spare and get the space.

Picture of the mangled tire on this page: The Big Yukon Trip – Build A Green RV

We carry a compressor, one of those rubber plug kits, and one of the aersol cans with flat sealant all the time, but this tire failure was way beyond those. While waiting for the new tire, we met a couple that had had puncture and were able to use their rubber plug kit to get it good enough to get to the tire place.

Gary
 
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