Benefits And Selection Tips For Using Diesel Heaters In Motorhomes
People usually travel with their motorhomes during spring, summer, and autumn. But, enjoying winter scenery is something special. After a heavy snowfall, the whole world looks cleaner and more beautiful.
And there are travel activities reserved for colder months alone – skiing, snowboarding, winter camping, and even hunting in the wild in some areas. However, to enjoy all this, you need to be equipped, and your motorhomes and tents need to have a reliable heating system.
This article will tell you more about heating systems for motorhomes. We will explain the benefits, and also giving you a few tips that will help you select a heater for your motorhome. By the time you finish reading, you will have enough information to make a good purchasing decision. You will be able to start spending time outside during the winter months, no matter how cold the weather is!
Types Of Heating Systems For Motorhomes
Heating systems are usually divided by the fuel type they use to produce heat. We have propane and diesel heaters, as well as a separate section for portable heaters. Let’s take a closer look, explaining each.
Pros And Cons Of Propane Heaters
Propane heaters are a very good heating system with numerous benefits. Propane burns quietly and releases only a small amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Therefore, they are a very environmentally-friendly heating solution.
However, propane has one major issue – it burns very quickly. And if you are in the backcountry skiing, camping or hunting, you are likely to stay there for a few days. You are spending time in the wild, and there are often no towns nearby, especially if you are hunting.
Because propane heaters consume a lot of fuel, the tanks are very large and heavy. You will need to carry a lot of propane if you want to be completely autonomous in the wild. The size of the tanks will mean they will take up space inside your motorhome, which is already constricted even without them.
And even if you have a big motorhome with enough storage room for fuel, storing that much propane is far from ideal. This is an easily combustible gas. If you keep a large amount of it in the back of your motorhome, that is a massive safety hazard and is not recommended, no matter how careful you are.
Another issue with propane is that you can’t refill your tanks everywhere. That makes it a less convenient option than diesel. Unlike diesel, which you can top up at any gas station, you will probably have to go a long way to find a place where you can get more propane. That is a massive time-waster, taking away your precious camping time.
Pros And Cons Of Diesel Heaters
Diesel heaters are one of the most used heating systems for caravans and tents. In the section below, you will learn why they are so popular and a perfect choice for cold winter months.
Why Are Diesel Heaters So Popular?
The central advantage diesel heaters have is their reliability – they aren’t going to let you down when the weather gets cold.
Also, many caravans are powered by diesel, which means that the vehicle itself has a massive tank you can use to power the heater inside. That means you don’t need to waste space on carrying a separate fuel tank just for your heater. Furthermore, the diesel heater has a relatively small footprint. You can easily mount the diesel heater under the bed of your RV without taking up extra space.
The combustion system and the heating system of diesel heaters are entirely separate, which means you won’t smell toxic fumes when spending time inside your RV, making diesel heaters safe to use.
Portable Diesel Heaters – A Great Solution For Rvs And Tents
Portable diesel heaters are incredibly convenient heating options, as they not only provide heating for RVs but can be used outside, in tents too. They require zero installation, and all you need to do is add diesel fuel to the heater and connect it to the power supply. After you do that, the portable heater will deliver a constant stream of heat, warming up your caravan or tent.
More Than Just Heating The Cabin
While regular diesel heaters provide warmth inside the cabin, better ones can provide hot water for the shower too. Being able to spend time in the warm cabin is good, but having a hot shower in the middle of a cold forest is something completely different. If you can have a diesel heating system that will let you enjoy this kind of beauty, you better get it!
More advanced diesel heating systems can provide underfloor heating for your whole RV, putting the entire experience to a different level.
Parts Of Diesel Heaters
The main component of the diesel heating system is a diesel hydronic heater. You can choose between two types of diesel hydronic heaters – one with a regular brushed motor, and one with a brushless motor.
This kind of heating system has a heat exchanger, which allows you to adjust the amount of heat output by using the heat regulator.
It also has an AUX heater you can connect to the heat exchanger tank. That will enable the heater liquid to pass through the AUX heater radiator. The motor will then blow the heat from the radiator into the cabin’s interior, providing you warmth.
The heat regulator will give you the option to choose between underfloor heating, shower water heating, and the AUX heater, and is what makes this heating system unique, transforming your winter camping experience.
How Do I Choose The Right Diesel Heater?
#1 Consider The Lowest Temperature Of The Coldest Month Of The Winter
Considering the minimal temperature and the elevation of the place where you plan to camp is a critical piece of information. It will help you determine which type of heater is right for you.
If the minimum temperature where you live or camp does not fall below -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), you may want to consider a 2KW-2.5KW diesel heater. It can produce 8500 BTU of heat, which is pretty much enough to meet your daily needs.
As for the altitude, a regular diesel heater will automatically adjust the air to fuel ratio whenever you’re below 3500 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level. However, you’re buying a budget heater, it’s recommended that you consult the manufacturer or seller before you buy to make sure the heater you’re buying has this feature.
#2 Consider Caravan Size And The Number Of Windows
While it is hard to generalize, using a medium-sized bus for measurement is a useful reference when figuring out which heater your caravan needs. If your motorhome is smaller than a medium-sized bus, you should take a 2KW-2.5KW heater. But, if your RV is larger than that, you will need a 5KW heater to warm up the whole vehicle.
Alternatively, you can measure the dimensions of the caravan’s interior (length X width X height X 15, in cubic feet). You’ll get a result that corresponds to the BUT value: 2.5 kW will produce 8500 BTU of heat, while a 5 kW heater will produce 16100 BTU of heat.
Heater Power Matters, So Pay Special Attention!
Many people think it’s always best to take a more powerful heater and just reduce the heating output if it gets too hot. This is a huge mistake!
Because a powerful heater will produce too much heat, you are likely to let it operate at low speed all the time if your RV is smaller. This is like letting your car running at idle all the time. Working at low speeds will start forming carbon buildup inside the heater in a much shorter time, which will take much more time to clean up later. This buildup is not good for the environment, nor health, and it isn’t good for the heater longevity either.
To get the best combustion and make the heater more thermally efficient, the heater’s fuel-to-air ratio is designed to match the combustion chamber’s dimensions.
And it comes to fuel consumption and the budget too. A high-powered heater with a large profile and a large combustion chamber requires more fuel and air to provide heat to the radiator. This means that to produce the same effect, a high power heater working at low speed will consume more fuel than a low power heater working at high speed.
Therefore, you need to choose the right heater size and power for your vehicle, as it will greatly determine the heating efficacy and ultimately reduce costs.
#3 How To Choose A Tent Heater
Tents are usually not very good at keeping warmth, which is why we recommend 5KW portable heaters.
Only when the outside temperature is above 5 degrees Celsius, you can consider a 2.5KW portable heater.
#4 The Quality Of Mounting Kits Matters Too
Most heaters nowadays do come with mounting kits, but the quality of these hugely varies. For example, most online sellers of diesel heaters usually offer a white plastic fuel tank with their devices.
You need to be aware that white tanks are not insulated from intense UV rays. Those can degrade diesel fuel, damaging your heater by clogging the fuel pump and possibly clogging the fuel delivery line.
Therefore, opt to drill holes in your vehicle’s fuel tank and then use a tank riser to draw fuel from the tank, which is the most logical choice.
But, if you don’t want to drill holes in the fuel tank, you can also use an external tank. We suggest that you consider a black plastic or metal fuel tank. These tanks will help to stop the diesel fuel from spoiling. This advice is suitable for all areas.
#5 What To Do If A Diesel Heater Is Malfunctioning
If your heater has been damaged, you can buy a heater with the same duct diameter, which will save you a lot of installation time.
The other parts of the heater, however, still need to be reinstalled. That’s because the same parts of different manufacturers are usually not compatible.
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