$200 5KW Portable Diesel Air Heater

hour

Observer
Do they make engine coolant heaters/circulators as well (aka engine block heaters)?
Maybe? Just look on ebay and exclude the high dollar name brand stuff.



The cryptic keypad

I set this thing up for more testing in my living room, venting up the chimney. It seems to be drafting (the exhaust is hot as hell so I'd hope so), and in doing this fiddled with the thermostat. I was hoping it had a low fan setting that I could force, but that's not the case. As it nears its target temperature it throttles itself down and gets 90% quieter...

I actually think I like this more because when I'm camping this thing will be whisper quiet maintaining a reasonable temperature inside an 8 foot box pop up camper.

 

spressomon

Expedition Leader
Curious to hear how it works/doesn't at 8,000'-ish. The Webasto 2000 in my former KK trailer choked and was useless at 7,500'. Nice post: Thanks!
 

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
Thanks for the link, thermostat info and the controls in chinese warning.
...Been looking for an acceptable heater for years and this looks like the best (relatively low cost) heater so far.
... will be following with interest.
 

Oka 374

New member
I ended up buying a 5kw unit and installing it in the Oka, works a treat, haven't sorted out all the operation with the LCD display/controller as the chinese instructions don't cover the LCD controller only the knob version. Waiting on the ebay seller to provide the LCD instructions.
 








( E-cigarette above, unit not smoking :ylsmoke: )



( Hot air out is metal flange )



----

Parts
$200 eBay 5kw diesel air heater
$38 Dewalt DS300 tool box
$7 Spectre 8148 3" duct mounting plate (for the cool side)
$15 Spectre 81413 3" maf sensor plate (metal, for the hot side)
$0 Metal plate found in garage for exhaust and inlet holes
$0 Exhaust header wrap scraps (not necessary)
$260

Stats
17,500 BTU
200+ degree output
20lbs assembled weight including tool box
9 hours per gallon on HIGH non-stop, consuming 2 amps 12v dc

No need for elaborate steps. I used a 3 1/8" hole saw and drilled two holes on either end of the Dewalt box. I used some aluminum bar and scrap to mount the unit and ensure it wasn't capable of moving. I cut out a section of the front of the tool box and mounted a metal plate with two holes drilled in it for intake/exhaust. This ensures that nothing starts to melt.
 
I have one of those in my LR110 and it has been great. No issues. Installed under cubby box in between front seats.
I do want to re-route the fuel lines, though. What is fuel line size you went with? 1/4" OD? I would like to run the fuel through my sedimentor to help clean it out, but haven't figured out the t fitting option so as not to compete with the higher pressure engine electric fuel pump.

Open to ideas and suggestions. Really like your box version.
 








( E-cigarette above, unit not smoking :ylsmoke: )



( Hot air out is metal flange )



----

Parts
$200 eBay 5kw diesel air heater
$38 Dewalt DS300 tool box
$7 Spectre 8148 3" duct mounting plate (for the cool side)
$15 Spectre 81413 3" maf sensor plate (metal, for the hot side)
$0 Metal plate found in garage for exhaust and inlet holes
$0 Exhaust header wrap scraps (not necessary)
$260

Stats
17,500 BTU
200+ degree output
20lbs assembled weight including tool box
9 hours per gallon on HIGH non-stop, consuming 2 amps 12v dc

No need for elaborate steps. I used a 3 1/8" hole saw and drilled two holes on either end of the Dewalt box. I used some aluminum bar and scrap to mount the unit and ensure it wasn't capable of moving. I cut out a section of the front of the tool box and mounted a metal plate with two holes drilled in it for intake/exhaust. This ensures that nothing starts to melt.
Great build! can you run kerosene?
 

VanIsle_Greg

I think I need a bigger truck!
I have seen many of these on Amazon and Ebay and wondered about their quality and if parts etc were available for them? I have a friend who has worked with the Webasto and others in the marine industry and he tells me that they can be pretty finicky? I would love to put one in my camper for year round use, and would love to hear your thoughts on yours?

Cool setup.
 

Kirby McRae

New member
I have a 5KW Black/White Chinese one like in the stock picture above.

First, a couple things. They are thermostatically controlled, in a way. They are not like your home furnace where they shut completely off, they will only throttle down to the lowest setting. This is because the start up procedure takes quite a bit of power (12A for 2 minutes), but once they are running they don't use much at all. This means it's a tricky balance to find the point where the heater on low balances with the heat losses either through the walls or through open vents and windows to hold a comfortable temperature. Also, in most models the temperature used by the thermostat is taken at the air inlet inside the heater. This means that if your heater is outside your vehicle or somewhere else that is cool the thermostat will never kick it down into low.

Another thing, they are much happier at full blast then when "idling". If you run them at "idle" they can really build up quite a bit of soot and start to not run as well. Altitude can help to make this worse too, I'll touch on that in a minute though. To help with this it is recommended to run the heater at full blast for 10-20 minutes before you shut it off for the day, and to run kerosene through it at least occasionally as well.

So, the most important thing is to pick the lowest power model that will still work. I have the 5KW version inside my Ford Bronco and it is too powerful, the 2KW version would have been a much better choice. When the thermostat kicks my heater to the lowest setting, it is still way to warm for comfort unless I leave all my windows cracked quite a bit. For any slide in camper a 2KW version should be plenty.

I am not sure if it would be possible to hack one so that it does shut off rather than just idle, I've thought about trying but haven't attempted it yet. You'd have to have a dual battery setup for sure though. While it might seem, and admittedly is, inefficient to leave vents/windows open while your heater is running, the heaters are so efficient that even a moderate tank size will run them for many nights. A 5KW model burns ~.5L/Hr on max power and ~.11L/Hr on low while the 2KW does ~.28L/Hr on max and ~.10L/Hr on low. Note that both heaters have just about the same heat output on low. The tank that comes with the heaters is usually a 10L tank, although they also make 2.5L, 5L, and 8L tanks for them as well. A 10L tank is plenty for at least a few nights, if not more though.

Just recently showing up on ebay is what is being called the "V2" heater. These have aluminum cases, different controllers, and much quieter fuel pumps. Look for models that are all white or all bright blue and they should be a V2. Also, there are a couple different controller options for the V2, a black dial controller or a blue lcd control. I believe the blue lcd control has automatic altitude compensation as well as the temp sensor that overrides the air intake sensor for thermostat control.

If you get a version without altitude control it is possible to add a rheostat into the fuel pump control wires that is then calibrated to various altitudes. I live in Montana and my unmodified one has never failed to start at altitude, but I've never tried about 8,000 or so. Also, often times the finickyness of the heaters is due to not enough voltage, they come with pretty thin gauge wire that can't carry enough juice if the heater is mounted very far from the battery. Replacing the power wires usually helps them start reliably but I believe the V2 comes with thicker wires from the factory.
 

Utah KJ

Explorer
I've been thinking about putting one of these together to heat my RTT. I have a diesel Jeep so carrying extra diesel is not out of the norm. My propane heater works fine to warm things up, but the condensation that freezes makes take down complicated.
 

CampStewart

Observer
I did some searching and came up empty. Does anyone know if there are versions of these cheap knock offs that use gasoline? Id rather not have to carry an extra type of fuel besides gasoline
 

john61ct

Adventurer
I did some searching and came up empty. Does anyone know if there are versions of these cheap knock offs that use gasoline? Id rather not have to carry an extra type of fuel besides gasoline
I have heard yes, but not yet found any.

If eBay doesn't show them, ask the sellers.

I'm also looking for hydronic / block heater style rather than forced air only.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
I was participating in a discussion about running these units on gasoline (also the espar D2). Best we can tell there is not a whole of of difference between the gas and diesel versions. The combustion chamber is slightly different, and the initial fuel pump ramp speed during startup is different. Diesel and gas have similar enough energy content, that it should run successfully on gasoline. For 200$ it may be worth a try. Just test it thoroughly.

With espar/eberspacher, the D2 (diesel) and B2(gasoline) (B5 and D5 as well) use the same glow plug, same fuel pump, same blower motor etc. Only the ECU programming, and the combustion chamber are different. The Diesel versions have a mesh screen to hold the flame in place, while the gasoline versions use a couple of smaller tubes and flame holder fins.
 
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Utah KJ

Explorer
Maybe? Just look on ebay and exclude the high dollar name brand stuff.



The cryptic keypad

I set this thing up for more testing in my living room, venting up the chimney. It seems to be drafting (the exhaust is hot as hell so I'd hope so), and in doing this fiddled with the thermostat. I was hoping it had a low fan setting that I could force, but that's not the case. As it nears its target temperature it throttles itself down and gets 90% quieter...

I actually think I like this more because when I'm camping this thing will be whisper quiet maintaining a reasonable temperature inside an 8 foot box pop up camper.

I like what you've done there. Any issues with the unit getting hot in the box? I want to do something similar, and hang it off my spare tire. Then run the fuel line into one of the jerry cans on my swing arm. I would extend the vent up into the rear door of my RTT.
 
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