Best heater for extreme altitude

86scotty

Explorer
Due to simplicity, I'm about to install a CDH and tweak it (as you did not what to discuss) for a more favorable air / fuel mix and run it on high to burn it off after each trip. If it fails in this application, so be it. I kind of want to see what the hype is all about.
Lol, I just did not want it to turn into a discussion about those only. I’ve had a Planar that sold with my Transit, I also have a CDH on my bench now that may go in something soon and also have an Espar in my work rig which get used nightly half the year, every year.

I do not ever take this truck over about 6k but the Espar has always run on diesel (never kerosene) from the main tank and has never been cleaned, not once. It’s 6 years old. Also, I’ve never run it on high to burn off soot though I always have on campers. They are an amazing product. I will continue to abuse it until I’m forced to clean it one day. For now, if it starts, I run it.

Anyway, whether I like it or not, the conversation is headed the way of these wonderful little diesel heaters only.

I just want to consider all options and also keep a good thread going with alternatives for people including myself.


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1000arms

Well-known member
... I just want to consider all options and also keep a good thread going with alternatives for people including myself.
Maybe a Dickinson Solid Fuel Heater?

 

Red90

Adventurer
All fired appliances need to be adjusted at high altitude. It is a silly discussion to rule that out.
 

ScottPC

Active member
Lol, I just did not want it to turn into a discussion about those only. I’ve had a Planar that sold with my Transit, I also have a CDH on my bench now that may go in something soon and also have an Espar in my work rig which get used nightly half the year, every year.

I do not ever take this truck over about 6k but the Espar has always run on diesel (never kerosene) from the main tank and has never been cleaned, not once. It’s 6 years old. Also, I’ve never run it on high to burn off soot though I always have on campers. They are an amazing product. I will continue to abuse it until I’m forced to clean it one day. For now, if it starts, I run it.

Anyway, whether I like it or not, the conversation is headed the way of these wonderful little diesel heaters only.

I just want to consider all options and also keep a good thread going with alternatives for people including myself.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Yeah, it seems like the Diesel heaters are worth considering if 1) you have a diesel vehicle or 2) you don't mind a stand alone fuel system.

I'm not comfortable tying into a gasoline tank as they always tend to be small so you need every drop of range and it's easy to find yourself with low levels for the heater to work.

There are some really terrific propane solutions, but to have to add a propane tanks and plumbing in addition to the heater is not a DIY for most. It's harder to do a retrofit. Truma makes some great products. Propane appliances tend to be cleaner burning, moe quiet, and don't smell. They tend to work well at altitude. If it's a vented system (using a heat exchanger like the diesel and gasoline heaters) it provides a dry heat. Propane gets a bad rap as it's so versatile and ubiquitous that there are some cheap products that fail. People group the buddy, catalytic heater and stove tops with the higher end force air heaters and assume they all produce condensation inside the camper. People misuse the canisters and test for leaks using a flame and not soapy water, so there are some safety issues associated with propane.

As a result, diesel is the safest of the fuels and most energy dense. It does smell, appliances are louder, it can gum up in the cold, and carbon builds up. It has a high flash point so it's it takes a lot to catch on fire. As a consequence, it takes a fair amount of 12V when the glow plug is running.

Gasoline is less dense than diesel and doesn't gum up as much in the cold. It does coke up more than diesel at altitude. It is highly flammable too.
 

greg.potter

Adventurer
Extrapolating from the original question does anyone know of any vehicle heaters that measure excess O2 in the exhaust gas and adjust / trim the air-fuel ratio based on that measurement?

That is very common strategy on large industrial heaters and boilers and is how you maximize the efficiency of those units. Based on their being an O2 sensor on the exhaust of pretty much any modern vehicle the cost of these sensors is relatively low today. This would automatically compensate for the lack of O2 that is the primary issue at altitude.

One consideration with respect to propane and butane is that Propane bioils at -40C and Butane at around 0C. As you approach those temperatures the vapour pressure you get from you tank, or the delivery pressure to your burner goes down. At -40C you get essentially 0 psi from your propane tank. In colder climates it is common to put heaters on large outdoor propane tanks used for residential purposes to ensure they continue to work when the Mercury drops precipitously.
 

86scotty

Explorer
That's good info and a great idea on the O2 sensors Greg. Perhaps there isn't enough of a need (people having this problem) for the makers of small and cheap heaters to worry with it? I can't imagine more than a couple percent of people who use a fueled RV furnace use them at high altitude.

I've never known the numbers on butane/propane but this definitely explains why my butane single burner stove is so unhappy on cold mornings. I have taken to carrying a backup propane stove just for this purpose which sort of defeats the purpose of having one tool on board to do it all.
 

Axelwik

New member
I run a Dickinson Marine Newport solid fuel heater and burn charcoal and anthracite coal. Works like a charm at any elevation. Probably won't work in space - yeah, probably not space.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
That's good info and a great idea on the O2 sensors Greg. Perhaps there isn't enough of a need (people having this problem) for the makers of small and cheap heaters to worry with it? I can't imagine more than a couple percent of people who use a fueled RV furnace use them at high altitude.

I've never known the numbers on butane/propane but this definitely explains why my butane single burner stove is so unhappy on cold mornings. I have taken to carrying a backup propane stove just for this purpose which sort of defeats the purpose of having one tool on board to do it all.
Yes butane is not for cold conditions.

LPG internationally can include both but away from the equator is propane.

Most devices designed to burn butane, can just feed off propane without adjustment, resized nozzles etc.
 

grizzlyj

Tea pot tester
The advise I have heard is to go small so you can run more at full output. Low heat setting is bad for sooting. High heat setting is better for self cleaning, which is why it is recommended to run on high for several minutes before shutdown.

I have a 2kw sitting in the pile of parts to be installed. Not a super rush at the moment, summer is coming.
Running at full power is one thing, saying that means you should go small is ridiculous.
I would go at least 10KW, run full whack maybe with a bowl of water in front of the outlets, then strip off and enjoy your mobile steam room. Fewer visits to the launderette too :)
 

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