Diesel Heater

Well with travelling south in the winter (something we swore we would never do) we decided a diesel heater would be a good option for the colder nights.. I looked around and with the size of the van decided on a 5kw unit, though in hindsight a 2kw would probably have been sufficient. However we also then thought we could open the windows into the Annexe and let the heat into there as well!

So first off I hunted around and after a lot of reading decided on a Chinese version from ebay. Price was really cheap, $140 delivered. However on looking they had ‘upgraded’ the fuel line to a green soft tubing rather than the correct white hard lines. The hard lines are required from the pump to the heater to allow the fuel to spurt forcefully onto the glow plug, assisting in the burn process. So I bought some of that too..

The Installation:

Space was a premium in the van and after looking around at all options I settled on the left side under the bed. I had to have the main body a fair way back so the piping through floor was in front and clear of the water tanks and framework. The hole through the floor I drilled out at 100mm and used a galvanised tin downpipe adapter, glued to the floor with heat resistant silicone. This allows the pipes to protrude through easily with room to access them if needed.

To cover the heater, I bought two 900×200 shelf panels from Bunnings and a strip of 20x20mm to attach it. I left the end behind the heater open to allow plenty of airflow in to it. As the bed does not seal against the wooden frame there was no need to add additional venting.

The electrics are run directly to the battery through the supplied 15amp fuse, with a switch installed near the heater to shut it off completely over the summer months. The switch is still just sitting behind the heater, I will find a recessed mount for it one day and put it through the side wall so I don’t have to lift the bed to turn it on/off. The switch must be hard to access though, as you do not want to accidentally turn off power whilst its still running!

From the outside the end result is barely noticeable, with just the vent poking out the base of the bed and the controller on the side cupboards.

The fuel tank supplied is the typical flat 10 L white plastic. Most people advise these are pretty flimsy and deteriorate in the sun from UV fairly quickly. So I decided on mounting a dual Jerry can holder up the back (partly to help balance out the bikes up the front!) and used one of them as the fuel tank, the other spare diesel for the car or the heater

I used the supplied green fuel line from the tank to the pump, mounting the pump about midway on the van, then the hard white tuning from the pump to the heater. The hard line is held in place with cable tie mounts on the frame, foam around the tubing then a cable tie. The foam stops the tubing pulsating against the frame and helps to reduce the ticking sound.

Testing was done in Summer, on a 37 Deg C day… So I had all the windows and roof vents wide open and cranked it up. It took a while to fire up, 3 goes in fact then off it went. As the temp started to rise, heavy QLD rain set in and I had to madly close everything up. So now I was in a hot and humid van with a diesel heater cranking! You can’t just turn them off either, they need to go through a shut down procedure (automated) where it first stops the fuel coming in but keeps running until the internal temperature drops below 60 deg C, this takes about 8 minutes. As you can imagine I looked like I had been in a sauna by the time it was complete!

Well, now we are in Victoria and looks like it will get a workout over the coming month or two as we make our way across to Adelaide early May then up the centre.

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2 Responses

  1. Sally says:

    Thanks Dave, we’re thinking of purchasing one ourselves especially being in Vic…brerrrr 😁

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