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Heating your Caravan, Trailer, Fifth Wheeler, Campervan or Motorhome using Gas / Diesel / Other Types

Heating your RV by gas or diesel. Webasto Air Top Series and Dometic and Eberspacher Airtronic and
Truma Combi D
air blow heaters that run on diesel fuel.

 

 

 

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Blown Air Heaters

The usual safety precautions should be taken when using heaters in confined spaces.

The blown air heaters usually require 12V DC current to start the unit and for thermostat control.  As a guide only, air blown and LPG gas heaters producing 2kW of heat would adequately heat a 20 foot caravan trailer or motorhome.
 

 
 

Gas/Electrical Heaters

If you choose an air blown heater that operates on LPG gas then you may need to consider if you require a larger gas bottle source to provide enough gas for heating as well as cooking.

Truma (UK) Limited has a various range of heaters for caravans, travel trailers, 5th wheelers and motorhomes that run on electricity or LPG gas.  The manufacturer states the Trumatic S2200 is only approved for caravans and the S3002 and S3002 P are approved for caravans and motorhomes.

 

Truma Trumatic is one of their models of blown air heater that operate with liquid gas and suck air from the outside, warm it and then the heated air is passed outside by an exhaust fan.  The manufacturer claims it is best suited for the small caravan, trailer or motorhome.  The manufacturer states the gas consumption for the Trumatic E2400 model is 100g/ph on half setting and 200 g/ph on full setting.

Suburban have a range of furnace heaters for RV’s, caravans, travel trailers, motorhomes and boats.  The Suburban NT RV Furnaces are LPG gas fired with electronic ignition.  There must be a certain gas pressure for these units to operate and 12V DC to control the thermostat. LPG gas certification is also required and an annual inspection by a qualified service technician is recommended.

These Suburban heating furnaces have a heating range from 24,000 – 40,000 BTU depending on the model.  See article - What is BTU?.  The heaters can also be either standard AC power or 12V depending on the model. 

Suburban state their ducted SF Series are suitable for midsize to large RV’s and the ductless DD Series are suitable for smaller RV’s.

The manufacturer recommends you inspect the furnace during the heating season at least monthly for the presence of soot in the vent.  If there is soot in the vent they recommend the furnace be immediately shut down as continued operation in this condition could cause serious property damage or loss of life. 

Propex Heatsource provide a range of blown air heaters that run on clean burning butane gas or propane gas.  The manufacturer claims they provide quite, maintenance free operation being easy to control with an electronic thermostat.  Two models are available one with 2kW heat output and the other with 2.8 kW heat output.  Propex also have a range of gas fuelled water heaters for motorhomes, trailers and caravans.

 

Diesel Fueled Heaters

If you like to bush camp you may not always have an electrical power source available then diesel fueled heaters may be an option for you.  Diesel fueled heaters such as the Dometic Eberspacher Airtronic diesel heater and Webasto Air Top air heaters or the diesel heater are reported to be very efficient and economical.

The Webasto Air Top series are an air heating system that runs on diesel fuel.  The manufacturer claims the air heaters have a short heating-up time and are cheap to run. There are three models that cover the heating range required from a campervan up to the larger recreational vehicle.  Webasto claim the air heaters can maintain a constant temperature thanks to an electronic thermostat.  Webasto also state they have optional accessories so the air heater can be operated by digital timer, remote control or 'phone'.

Fuel consumption is very economical.  For example, for the Webasto Air Top 3500 ST the fuel consumption is 0.17 – 0.42 (partial – full) l/h.  You will also require 12/24V power for electronic ignition.

The air blower motor unit is usually installed in a cupboard with the duct outlet close to the floor.  It may be wise to also purchase the option of the muffler for the air heater if it does not come standard as this will help reduce noise.  As the motor can get some heat to it, it is best not to place items that may melt nearby. 

The exhaust is usually vented to the driver’s side of the RV so any fumes will not be near the annex or awning area.  The diesel air heaters come with a plastic storage tank for the diesel fuel and this can be mounted on the exterior of the RV.  

Most of the models of air heaters have the option for a second air blower.  Some owners have one air blower into the main body of the caravan, travel trailer or motorhome and one say in the shower/toilet cubicle which can also double for a drying room.  If you have a air blower vented into the shower cubicle make sure it is covered when showering.  If water gets into the pipe it can damage the heater and will not be covered under warranty. Some owners have also had the control switch located close to their bed so they can start the heater without leaving the warmth of their bed but Webasto also have a Remote Start Unit that can operate up to 35 metres or a Digital Timer that has three individual start-up times which you can program 24 hours in advance.


Webasto Unit in cupboard

Vent

Vent in bathroom
     


External fuel tank


Exhaust vent

The Dometic Eberspacher Airtronic operates by drawing in room air, heating it and then blowing it back into the RV compartment.  For those of you with a motorhome, the fuel burning heater can operate independently obtaining its fuel from the vehicle’s own tank. The Airtronic D2 delivers 2.2 kW of hot blown air whereas the Airtronic D4 produces 4 kW of hot blown air.

The fuel consumption varies of course, from model to model and whether the Airtonic is operating on high or low function.  For example, the manufacturer claims the Airtronic D4 Camper Plus uses 0.11 l/ph on low, 0.25 l/ph on medium and 0.38 l/ph on high.  The manufacturer also claims it is maintenance free after installation but installation must be done by an authorized installer for any warranty or liability claims.

Optional extras such as LED display, 24 hour timer as well as radio and telephone remote control are available.

Eberspacher also have a Combitronic air and water heater.  The Combitronic heats the hot water as well as provides air blown warmth and operates as a duel fuel system on either diesel fuel from the vehicles own tank, mains power or a combination of both. 

Truma also have a Combi D diesel heater, designed by J Eberspacher, which heats the vehicle (motorhome or can be modified for a caravan) and the water at the same time under ‘winter operation’.  Under ‘summer operation’ only the water is heated. The dimensions of the Truma Combi D6 are 525 mm long x 450 mm wide x 300 mm high, weights 15.8 kg (without water) and it holds up to 10 litres of water.  Time taken to heat the water only is about 20 minutes but to provide warmth to the vehicle or caravan plus heat the water boiler takes about 80 minutes.  Diesel fuel consumption is between 220-630 ml/hr in regular operation at medium heat output (1,000 W) 110 ml/h.  Rated thermal output: 2000/4000/6000 W. The current input at 12 V from 1.7A to max 7 A for short periods for heater and boiler and the power required to heat the boiler max. 1.8 A.  Standby current is approx. 0.001 A.

Truma state the asymmetrical shape of the 10 litre stainless steel hot water boiler improves water mixing providing better showering without having to adjust the temperature of the water.

For more information on any of these products, see the Google Search facility below.

 
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