Heaters: Comparative data

kerry

Expedition Leader
Having recently installed a Camco Wave 3, purchased a dual remote thermometer to monitor the fridge, and having a frigid cold front come through while the camper is parked outside the house so I could do some work on it, the conditions were ripe to test a couple of different heating options. 1995 Northstar TS 1000, uninsulated initially. 1500 watt small cube ceramic electric heater with high/low and thermostat left overnight on high with thermostat set at about 3/4. Outside low temperature 18 degrees. Camper never dropped below 51 degrees. Turned off the electric heater and turned on the Camco Wave 3. Outside temperature 19 degrees. It could only heat the camper to 43 degrees. I installed Reflectrix around the inside of the canvas. 50 minutes later the outside temperature had dropped by one degree and the inside temperature had increased by one degree. I then turned off the Camco and turned the electric heater back on with thermostat set at maximum. One hour later it was 15 degrees outside and 51 degrees inside. Lesson: a 1500 watt electric heater has quite a bit more oomph than a Camco Wave 3 Catalytic heater. If you're going to camp in these kinds of temperatures a Camco 3 is probably going to be inadequate for most people's tastes. I've just turned on my Buddy Heater so it will be interesting to see how it performs compared to the Camco. I'd probably be happy with a heater that could maintain 55 degrees inside at 10 degrees outside or something like that.---edit Little Buddy heater: It was 23 outside and 19 inside when I started the Little Buddy (outside figure is suspect--sensor was in direct sunlight to probably more like 19 inside and outside) One hour later it was 46 degrees inside and 27 outside (again with the same suspicion on outside sensor accuracy. Phone says 14 degrees outside) So the Little Buddy heater is substantially more powerful than the Camco Wave 3.
 
Last edited:

john61ct

Adventurer
Reflectix is close to useless.

A tightly installed vapour barrier plus 2-4 inches of foam is what's needed.

The diesel parking heaters or Propex with big tanks, for most of the load, but takes time to get the temp up.

The Wave-type heaters are instant, take the edge off, rub your hands in front of them while waiting

but yes they do not put out big numbers in total
 

kerry

Expedition Leader
Anyone tested a Dickinson propane heater in similar circumstances? The small version is rated for 4500BTU's on high which is half again as powerful as the rating for the the Wave 3. Not sure of the rating on the bigger one. Those diesel heaters require 12 volts to run don't they?
 

plh

Explorer
Anyone tested a Dickinson propane heater in similar circumstances? The small version is rated for 4500BTU's on high which is half again as powerful as the rating for the the Wave 3. Not sure of the rating on the bigger one. Those diesel heaters require 12 volts to run don't they?
propane kicks out a lot of water unless its externally vented forced air. Not sure about the little fireplaces. The diesel heaters do require 12V (or 24V) to run. Current prices are really cheap, ~$120 delivered on Amazon
 

Verkstad

Raggarkung
Those diesel heaters require 12 volts to run don't they?
If you mean Dickenson diesel heaters, they dont require electricity to operate. But electric air circulating fan is a valuable addition, and depending on its specific installation plumbing, it may need an elecric fuelpump.
But some get installed using airpressure to feed fuel, pumping its fueltank as need.
 

kerry

Expedition Leader
I was thinking of Dickinson propane heaters. They get combustion air from outside and have a .17 amp hr blower which can be turned on or off
 

Pshin

Member
I recently picked up a 5kw diesel "parking heater" off Amazon for about 110 bucks. It's a "made in China" copy of the Webasto or Espar-type heaters. It requires a 12v power supply and diesel fuel to run. I bought one of the all-in-one units that comes pre-assembled in a small box. All it needed was some diesel and 12v power and it fired right up. I haven't had a chance to give it a solid test run on a trip yet, but my garage testing shows it puts out a decent amount of heat that is warm and dry. I routed it into my truck bed camper and ran it for a few hours yesterday. Inside temp reached 70-72 degrees while the outside temp was in the 40s (sunny but windy). Obviously, the inside/outside temp diff will differ based on how good your insulation is. Part of my camper is soft-walled so prob not the best insulation.

Anyways, in my testing the diesel heater seems fairly efficient in both electricity and fuel consumption. For electricity, it draws the most during startup and shutdown. I believe this is because the glow plug needs to heat up during both those phases. It draws about 100-115 watts during startup and shutdown which takes 5-10 minutes. However, while it's running it uses minimal power. On the lowest setting it draws 6 watts and on a medium setting it was about 15-20. Since it draws most power during startup/shutdown it seems most efficient to just leave the unit running while you're hanging out rather than turning on and off repeatedly. The lowest power setting seems sufficient in a small space. For larger spaces, or really cold temps, you could use a higher setting. As far as diesel fuel consumption, I think you could run it on the lowest setting for at least a couple nights on the supplied 1 gallon tank.

If you search online for "chinese diesel heater" you'll find a rabbit hole full of reviews. I'm planning to give it a test while camping this upcoming weekend and doing a small writeup about my setup on my build thread.
 

plh

Explorer
I recently picked up a 5kw diesel "parking heater" off Amazon for about 110 bucks. It's a "made in China" copy of the Webasto or Espar-type heaters. It requires a 12v power supply and diesel fuel to run.
I bought one as well. Arrived a couple days ago, have not had a chance to mess around with it yet.
 

86scotty

Explorer
You will be impressed with the Chinese diesel heaters. I have had Espar, Planar and now I bought one of these as well just to check it out. The glow plug does use some power at start up but once going there is no better bang for the buck available today. Many, many threads and videos on these little things.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

kerry

Expedition Leader
Anyone have any comparative data on electrical consumption of the Chinese diesel heaters compared to typical RV forced air propane furnaces?
 

schmugboy

Observer
I'm sure I could search the forum, but I'll be lazy. Would you replace the propane furnance with a diesel one, or just add it. Not sure how much winter camping I want to do, but I was hoping to use this when my kids go to hockey tournaments, but a hotel is looking much more appealing at the moment.
 

kerry

Expedition Leader
I installed the Camco because I wanted heat not dependent upon electricity. I think a Camco 6 or 8 might function that way in a pop up camper. The 3 is too small, given my experience. The Dickinson, since it vents outside and gets combustion air from outside is a better option in that sense than the Camco but fairly expensive. Despite their widespread use in boats, and being OE on a newly designed truck camper, I would have to see more data on how it performs at lower temperatures before going that route. The diesel heaters require electricity but I don't know the exact comparative data on their consumption of battery power compared to the typical Suburban RV propane furnace. I'm partly motivated by the fact that I once owned an early 80's motorhome in the UK which had a heater which did not require electricity and seemed adequate for a 21' Class A motorhome. Granted the UK doesn't typically get as cold as the USA>
 

Wrathchild

Active member
I have a wave 3 installed on the wall of my OVRLND. The coldest I’ve used it down to was about 17 degrees outside Bridgeport, CA in January. I slept with it on high all night and it used a whole 1lb Coleman bottle. Although it wasn’t warm inside, it did keep the inside temperature above freezing so I call that a win. This was also prior to completing all the insulation and wall covering. More recently did an overnight and it went down to high 30s. On high all night and it was comfortably warm in the am (at sea level).
If you want it to stay t shirt warm I would recommend going to the wave 6 or some sort of forced air. The 3 just doesn’t put out enough BTUs.
8A904254-997A-46C4-BAE9-5F0B2A004EA0.jpeg91CCC0F8-5DBD-4C49-B33D-13C73E574A39.jpeg
 

kerry

Expedition Leader
Yes. I’d say my experiment leads me to believe a Wave 3 could probably keep our large pop up truck camper above freezing down to maybe 10 degrees.
 
Top