Byers Guide Diesel heaters by ExPortal

Victorian

Approved Vendor : Total Composites
Matt Schwarz just published an excellent article about the Gas/Diesel heaters. There is tons of very good and accurate information. Thank you Matt https://expeditionportal.com/portable-gas-diesel-heaters-for-overland-travel/

Please allow me to chip in in terms of Diesel heaters and practical hints.

As you may know, we guide countless customers a week through the decision making on what heater to buy. We also have used and installed them for years. In that time we learned a lot!
Also important: THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Just sharing what we learned in the last 6 years.

1. Planar is now Autotherm. Re Branding happened after the Chinese used the Planar name in the knock offs. The current batch that's in inventory is still "made in Russia" .... Extra tariffs apply... The next ones coming in are from the new facility in Europe.

2. Autotherm encourages you to do the install yourself. Other then drilling a couple of holes, everything is plug and play. Very easy! Other brands void the warranty if you do that!

3. Like with any other product, things can break and wear out. If the Autotherm gives you an error code you can clear it your self. It also tells you where the problem might be. You do NOT void the 2 year warranty if you fix it yourself. With other brands, you need to visit a service centre to get the codes cleared. In other words, the Autotherm are very easy to field repair. To be honest, most codes are: Low battery voltage, no fuel.

4. Tips for ANY diesel heater:
They are like a Diesel engine . You need to pre glow the burning chamber to get the diesel ignited. Every time you go through that cycle, the heater uses roughly 15-18A/hour for a couple minutes. This means, if you have the heater on a thermostat you will go through that cycle quite often. This could be an issue if your powersource is not big enough. I like to run ours on low and may open a window to avoid a repeated starting procedure. It's also important to know that they like to run hot!!!! Turning them on and off every 20 minutes will cause soot build up (dirty burn) and sooner than later you need to open the unit and clean it out. My tip: Let it run for at least 30 minutes, run on high ones a week to burn the soot off and you will never have an issue!

5. Fuel:
For even more reliability and high altitude improvement, we run ours on Kerosene (petroleum in Europe). It burns clean and you don't have to worry about short run times. We had ours above 10,000ft with no issues.

6.Gasoline heaters:
There are plenty of reports out there showing that they are very finicky especially at altitude. I would stay away if I could.

Hope this helps.
 

Joe917

Explorer
I would add: run your heater once a month for half an hour through the warm season.
A large volume hydronic system will cycle less and give a nice even heat. I would say a hydronic system is a much better option than forced air heaters, but may not be practical in smaller vehicles.

My understanding with some newer vehicles is tapping into the gas tank can cause all sorts of error codes, maybe someone who actually knows can address that?
 

motovan_mn

Active member
What does that mean? What's not correct?
I think they are referring to the fact that you stated 15-18 Ah, which is a unit of energy, but then you state "for a couple minutes." Or maybe it's that you actually typed "A/hour," (Amps per hour?) which I'm not sure what that unit is.

If it pulls 15-18 Ah of energy on startup, you could say it pulls that amt "over the course of a couple minutes." But if what you meant to say was it pulls 15-18 amps for a couple minutes, then that is certainly not 15-18 Ah.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
>> the heater uses roughly 15-18A/hour for a couple minutes.
Thats huge consumption just to ignite a heater !
... I wish guys would print engineering expressions correctly.
Especially the easy ones.
Yes that's just silly units, meaningless.

Any of these would be clear:

X amps rate "for a couple of minutes".

X Ah used, full stop, no "per unit of time" needed.

or, X Ah per minute, or, per hour.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
Also a 24V system would be consuming double the energy watts at the same amps rate, so the 12V should be mentioned somewhere.
 

Peter_n_Margaret

Adventurer
As Joe917 said, Hydronic units......
That is a whole section of diesel heaters missing from that assessment....
I have a Webasto Thermotop E in our existing vehicle and will fit an Eberspacher D5E HS3 to the new build.
These are glycol heaters, not air heaters and they provide some useful additional advantages.
Used in conjunction with a calorifier they provide hot water in adition to central heating. They can also be plumbed to the engine cooling system which allows pre heating of the engine in cold conditions as well as providing central heating and hot water useing waste engine heat while driving. 20 minutes on the road and we have hot water. We can then heat the shower/toilet to dry the laundry using no additional fuel.

The Eberspacher D5E HS3 has some advantages over the Webasto I believe. Its maximum output is 5kW, but it will go as low as 1.3kW with stepless adjustment. That should make it more useful in smaller vehicles.
Great products.
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
 
Last edited:

ripperj

Explorer
Any of you folks that are busting on the OP for not being an Electrical Engineer even in the market for, or own a diesel heater?

Maybe it’s just wistful thinking, but it’s seems like a decade ago the OP would have been thanked for posting the info and asked to clarify energy consumption.

This forum is headed the same direction as many others……and it’s not good.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

motovan_mn

Active member
Any of you folks that are busting on the OP for not being an Electrical Engineer even in the market for, or own a diesel heater?

Maybe it’s just wistful thinking, but it’s seems like a decade ago the OP would have been thanked for posting the info and asked to clarify energy consumption.

This forum is headed the same direction as many others……and it’s not good.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
Some of the comments are poking fun, but in general it seems productive to me. At least I tried to be respectful while also providing constructive criticism. It's an important detail that makes a big difference.

I'd say the bigger issue that is causing forums to go downhill are the new users that join to post a question that is too vague (not enough detail for other users to answer) or easily answered by google. It's starting to remind me of Facebook groups, where people post things like "I need rock sliders for my vehicle," and then expect the community to provide an ordered list of what is available on the market.
 

Victorian

Approved Vendor : Total Composites
As Joe917 said, Hydronic units......
That is a whole section of diesel heaters missing from that assessment....
I have a Webasto Thermotop E in our existing vehicle and will fit an Eberspacher D5E HS3 to the new build.
These are glycol heaters, not air heaters and they provide some useful additional advantages.
Used in conjunction with a calorifier they provide hot water in adition to central heating. They can also be plumbed to the engine cooling system which allows pre heating of the engine in cold conditions as well as providing central heating and hot water useing waste engine heat while driving. 20 minutes on the road and we have hot water. We can then heat the shower/toilet to dry the laundry using no additional fuel.

The Eberspacher D5E HS3 has some advantages over the Webasto I believe. Its maximum output is 5kW, but it will go as low as 1.3kW with stepless adjustment. That should make it more useful in smaller vehicles.
Great products.
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
Correct. Most big expedition trucks have hydronic heating. A lot of the super cool systems are only available outside North America. They certainly are a very nice system. Like everything else, there are pro and cons:
1. it ads complexity and possible failure points
2. needs way more space
3. takes longer to heat a camper if you go through a warm water radiator
4. most vehicle manufacturers void warranty if you alter the cooling system
5. higher power consumption as you need to run more accessories like water pumps, fans
6. expensive

Again, these system are well proven in higher end vehicles that have the space and pay load. For myself I like to keep it simple and cost effective, hence the diesel air heater.
 

Victorian

Approved Vendor : Total Composites
Some of the comments are poking fun, but in general it seems productive to me. At least I tried to be respectful while also providing constructive criticism. It's an important detail that makes a big difference.

I'd say the bigger issue that is causing forums to go downhill are the new users that join to post a question that is too vague (not enough detail for other users to answer) or easily answered by google. It's starting to remind me of Facebook groups, where people post things like "I need rock sliders for my vehicle," and then expect the community to provide an ordered list of what is available on the market.

Don't worry. This all comes with the "package" as soon as you publish something online.
 

simple

Adventurer
I would have liked to see a review of the controller interfaces between the various manufacturers.

For a baseline camper heating system I would compare to the clunky forced air propane furnace with a thermostat that comes in every mass produced trailer and camper. Switch the thermostat on and set the temp. The heater cycles on and off to maintain temp and runs reliably for many years. This doesn't seem to be the case with diesel heaters. It seems they need to be monitored and run just so in order to retain reliability.

I recently purchased a new Planer 2D with the PU-27 controller and it leaves a lot to be desired. The controller programming is not intuitive. My sense is that this controller was made to be a one size fits all for the entire planar product range and the firmware wasn't written for an end user camper application. The instruction manual is worthless. Some You Tube videos are helpful but don't get into the ins and outs of working around a fiddly system.

I wish the PU-27 controller had an internal memory or battery so it doesn't need to be reprogrammed when the power is disconnected.

It appears that there is an upgraded controller to make the interface easier to operate but it doesn't address the need for occasionally running on high to burn the combustion chamber clean. I also requires programming and scrolling through a lot of menus.

I'm not seeing this new controller here https://planarheaters.com/spare-parts/ or here https://expeditionupfitter.com/coll...e-dial-controller-pu-5?variant=31767047503918

If the Planar 2D heater were to match the standard baseline for RV heaters, the end user should be able to turn it on, set a temp and have it run reliably for many years without another thought.
 
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