Auxiliary (non-factory) heat and heaters


toddhubbard

New member
I hope I'm in the right section this time. I have a '90 Westy and plan on taking some winter camping trips in Michigan this year. I am interested in adding an aux. heater that works while parked without the engine running. I have added a second battery and thought of using a 12V heater, but wondered if there is other options that I should consider? I understand that the Syncro model came equipped with an aux. heater, but I don't know much about it or if it is even feasible to install in non-Syncros. Please advise or direct me to an archive if one exists.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Regarding the 12v heater -- do the math (V x A = W). A 72Ah battery (standard VW heavy duty) can power an 864 watt heater (about the size of a small travel hairdryer) for an hour. Such a heater would also eat up much of the 90 Amps the alternator is capable of putting out at full speed.

Some have tried with varied degrees of success to install LP furnaces at considerable cost in LP consumption and interior cabinet space.

I personally use a Coleman Propane heater:

Model 5440-751
3000-5000 BTU
Uses standard 14-16 oz disposables.
Piezo igniter; standard model also available w/o lighter.
Typical evening & morning use gets about 5-7 days from a cylinder.

I've used it winter camping and camping in AK and NW Canada in snows and down into the teens (°F.) We find it quite satisfactory.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred from another post titled "Alternative Heat in 73 Westy" by pbeitz, Junior Member on 08-02-2000 01:50 AM to consolidate similar topics.

My heat exchangers are shot & I'm not thrilled about replacing them. Does anyone have any ideas or experience with alternative heaters(perhaps electic?) that could be installed to run off the auxillary battery?

Any input is, as always, greatly appreciated!

Capt. Mike, Moderator, 08-02-2000 05:04 PM

Before you get too wrapped up in electric heat for your van, do the math! A typical 1500w space heater (about the output of a good hair dryer) uses about 10 amps. Your alternator only puts out 55 amps and is busy generating as many amps as your 20,000v coil pumps to the plugs, fast charging dual 72 Ah batteries -- say 15+ amps -- and covering about 10-15 amps of lights. The starter can draw short-term up to 200 amps. Add your other electrical consumers and you may heavily tax your alternator, leading to possible damage &/or battery failure.

Heat exchangers have a good life expectancy if not abused or subject to excessive salt. 150,000 miles is not unusual. There are also exhangers on the aftermarket, but do be careful you get OEM quality. Consider your costs long-term, not just purchase price.
 

Steve Suby

New member
How much ventilation do you provide when you use the Coleman Propane heater?
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
When using any oxygen consuming heater, you must have adequate through ventilation. Be it propane, catalytic, kerosene or even wood-burning (Saw a wood stove in a Westy once!).

The amount would be dependent on the heater's consumption but I have found, for both an old Coleman catalytic and my current Coleman propane, that if I crack the side windows (Vanagon) to their 1st notch on both sides and then open the screened 'window' on the top a few inches, I get good flow and no signs of CO or fume build-up. When I say a "few inches" on the top, what I usually do is open it at one corner so I get a triangular fold out. I figure this gives a opening about half the size of an 8½x11 piece of paper. Usually my skylight is cracked open too, so combined I'd guess about the size of that full sheet of paper. This has been adequate even when we add a stove burner to heat the morning bath water.

Westies are quite bad about condensation. If you are getting condensation forming on your roof, canvas or skylight, increase the size of the top opening. As heat rises, the increased draft will help flow, taking moisture with it. Keep the top slightly larger than the bottom to provide this thermal draft. Thus condensation can be a guide in adjusting ventilation.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I notice Coleman now has a smaller, electric start LP heater that mounts directly on the disposable cartridge, P/N 5033-750. I'd consider its safety features, but the P/N 5440-751 seems to be harder to find.
 

RichardBulis

New member
We use a portable catalytic LP heater in our '87 Westy. It's made by Olympian and it is about the size of a big-city phone book. It sits on little removable legs ( and could be mounted to a vertical surface, but we keep ours portable). I got it through Camping World for about $300 for everything (BTW, watch them closely as things frequently go on sale and with thier "membership" you can save alot.)including a little tank for LP, which looks like your standard BBQ tank at half the size ( but twice the price, natch!), a 12 foot flexible rubber hose with regulator and the best part (I hope) quick disconnect hose fittings. The whole kaboodle goes in a plastic milk carton case, like the old metal kind we all used to "borrow" from behind Safeway, so it packs nice in the bus. It puts out alot of heat and fits between the front seats in the morning for a warm up. We also use it outside in the nippy parts of the day while lounging.
 

john.tracy

New member
I'm currently looking into adding an aux. heater to my '76 Westy and I am checking out the Espar B1LCc (#20176605, $875.88). It is self-contained, burns gasoline, and would mount under the vehical and tap into the existing duct-work. It has four settings and if memory serves me, on the low setting it puts out ~1500BTU consuming 0.1 liters of gas/hr. and 0.2A/hr. The cost is high, but it wouldn't drain your battery too bad, or your gas tank. Check out their web-site: www.Espar.com . They don't show the gas version, but the diesel version is D1LCc.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
I browsed the Esper site and found out first I've been misspelling Eberspächer all these years!

When I was custom ordering my '90, I spent several hours with the then Bus manager for VW US. We discussed the auxiliary heater and VW's decision to drop it from the US market -- it was still available in Canada. But at $1,600, it wasn't a hot-selling option in the US. At that time, Eberspächer had opened an office in the US, but I didn't have any luck getting them to supply a factory kit. We then tried various VW routes through Canada and others. Net result = zero. Would have to order parts piecemeal, which would make the National Debt pale in comparison . . . if we could even figure what was needed from the parts fiche. Thus I went to the Coleman Model 5440-751
3000-5000 BTU and don't regret it.

I pass on the following from Esper:

Although just about any one of Espar’s heaters may be installed into a VW van, the most suitable heaters are the D1LC compact air heater or the Hydronic 4 or Hydronic 5 coolant heaters. These heaters are available in both diesel-fired and gasoline-fired versions. (The Hydronic 4 is included in the Dodge Ram kit.) The universal installation kit includes all parts required for installation.

I would expect that there are few replacement parts available for the BA6 heater . . ..

Matthew Frais
Engineering Manager
Truck and Bus
Espar Products Inc.
The D1LC is an air furnace (suitable for the air-cooled Westies). I assume it could also be used on the 2WD water-cooled since VW stayed with their air-furnace BA6 as well. It is a 4-setting unit 2,900 - 7,500 Btu. Electrical consumption is a low .8-2.5 amps. Base unit size is 14"x5"x5.3". Also quite compact and well below the original Ebersächer, though at far less power (20-23,000 Btu). You still have to route in air feed, fuel feed and exhaust lines. I'm assuming you can feed the warm air into the VW duct system with minimum custom duct work.

The Hydronic D4 & D5 would be for water-cooled Westies only as they heat the vehicle coolant. The Vanagon Syncro used a similar system when it was offered. The D4 has 3 settings, 5,500-13,000 Btu at 1.5-3.3 amps. It's physical size is 9"x3.5"x6.3" plus feeds & exhaust. Since it would T into the existing cooling system, it wouldn't require ductwork.

This unit is included in their Dodge Ram pick-up truck kit. Now -- and sit down for this -- I didn't say they were cheap! The D1LC lists for $1,374 and the D4 lists for $1,450. That is for complete kits. Their site www.espar.com lists dealers & distributors in your area.

In '90, I'd have sprung for VW's $1,600 option; today I'm not so sure. I really liked it in my '79 and the '90's regular system leaves a lot to be desired on the road. Maybe when I get back from 2 weeks in the winter Northwoods of Wisconsin, I'll do another cogitatin'! :p
 
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G

Guest

Guest
I noticed the Coleman heaters mentioned in this post and thought I would share my experience also. I got a Coleman "Black Cat" catalytic heater for use in my 70 Westy (got it as a gift, but I'm sure they're available at any sporting goods store). It uses standard disposable propane cylinders and will burn (according to the instructions) for 8 hours on one cylinder without flame or noise. No electrical requirements. Coleman even advertises this as suitable for use inside tents.

Although some might question the safety of this, I took my Westy on the road with the heater running between the front seats and it was more than adequate. In 20 degree (F) weather, we had to crack the window to keep from getting too hot! Forget the Carhartt coveralls! Great for cold nights camping, too!!

I would recommend one of these catalytic units from Coleman as alternative to the seemingly complicated and expensive installation of the VW gasoline heater. And FORGET the electric heater "option", Capt. Mike is absolutely right about the high current draw requirements.

Check one of these little sweeties out and I'm sure anyone could devise a way to make a stable and safe mount inside their bus. Be safe, and I hope this helps some of you stay a little warmer!
 

Birdmaster

New member
I too use a colmen propane heater.I have it between the two front seats,and it works great.It's a simpler,and cheaper way to get heat.I believe it is safe as long as you have it firmly mounted.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred from another post to consolidate similar subjects.

Internal LP Heater

Geoff Barnes, Junior Member, 04-22-2001 03:27 AM

My newly acquired '85 Westy (Type 216 093) has an internal LP Gas heater. I haven't found anything about this in my manuals, so figure it's an aftermarket. This heater runs off the LP tank and is connected to a thermostat which is located on the outside of the 'clothes closet', just in front of the air conditioner.

The 'manufacturer' is "CAT" and the model is "The Platinum". It sits next to the fridge, and takes up all the space normally allocated to the "cupboard" and "silverware drawer."

I've been unable to light it thus far, and I figure that there's something electrical that's not happening. It does look like it would throw out substantial convective heat.

I haven't seen it mentioned here, and was wondering if this is a one-off, or if someone else has this puppy and is familiar with it.

Thanks,
Geoff
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred in from "Camping Talk".

Supplemental heat

You must vent regardless of type -- catalytic, propane or liquid fuel. Certain built-in styles have external furnaces that exchange heat to inside air, but you pay in size, cost & bulk. The VW factory auxilliary heater was of this style. Any built-in furnace will consume a fair amount of electrical power.

Dave in KC Member # 135 posted 09-20-2000 11:01 PM

I just picked up a Coleman catalytic heater like the one Capt. Mike uses. I tried it tonight for the first time and am very satisfied with it for use in my 85 Westy. The instructions recommend at least 6 square inches of fresh air ventilation while it's in use.

Dave in KC

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 09-21-2000 08:26 AM

Ventilation is a requirement for ANY heat system. The Westy is notorious for condensation build-up and any system should have some ventilation for safety sake. 200 cu.ft. isn't all that much air for just the occupants consuming oxygen. Anything that does a controlled combusion eats it up rapidly.

6 sq.in. isn't all that much. I leave my screened window in the pop-up open that much for condensation to escape all the time. I also leave the sliding windows open one notch while using the heater or stove. But do have both an intake supply as close to the heater as possible and then an exhaust as high as possible (heat rises). Just common sense! Camp safe.

Scraping the INSIDE of my windows?

westyjohn, Junior Member, 12-13-2000 07:35 PM

Recently, I've been working at a ski hill in Northern Ontario, Canada, and have been staying in my van to save transportation, gas, etc. I don't have any heat in my van, as my heater doesn't work. My problem is condensation inside the van. After reading other messages, I think I'll pick up one of those coleman propane heaters, but will that solve my frosted windows on the inside?

Thanks, westyjohn ('81)

Capt. Mike, Moderator, 12-14-2000 04:52 AM

Probably not. Even the factory auxiliary furnace with it's nearly 50,000 BTU didn't do that well. The problem is not so much the cabin heat, but the physical fact that our breath and interior washing/cooking/etc. produce so much warm moisture that then hits the cold glass and condenses. The solution is getting that glass warm -- not possible since it's not double-pane thermal -- or having enough air-flow to keep it dry.

I have installed a pair of Hella rotary fans on my dash (pictures on my pic post site linked from the home page) which can be directed to assist the defroster by moving large amounts if air, but even that is a slow job -- typically 10-15 minutes to dry the windshield completely. I've tried a heated 250W one that plug into the cigarette lighter. Almost better than nothing. Obviously, it goes much faster when the vehicle is in motion and that moisture starts to escape and vent out. But that still leaves you with waiting or manually wiping the windshield until you can see enough to drive.

I've often wondered if an insulated windshield blanket would help -- maybe held on with magnets. I see them advertised for big RVs all the time.

Gary B. Dixner Member # 27 posted 12-14-2000 11:16 AM

When you heat the air inside your Westy you increase the air's ability to hold moisture. This moisture condenses when the air comes into contact with cold surfaces. Look at your glass of iced tea on a warm, humid summer day. In the winter, probably the two coldest surfaces are the windows and the poorly insulated top. Suggest you keep air moving inside the vehicle. You might also try some experiments: Monitor relative humidity (it should be between 30 and 50%), try a small dehumidifier if too high. Also consider insulation blankets over the vehicle when camped. I wouldn't heat water inside the vehicle as it has a humidifying effect. Also recognize that our bodies produce a lot of moisture but don't try to hold your breath.
 
G

Guest

Guest
We use the same Olympian as Richardbulis mentioned above and am very happy with this system. I also picked it up at Camping World and took advantage of a sale. I think I had to join their president's club to get the sale price and some discount. It worked out math wise but you get lots of junk mail from them and others that is mainly geared towards the large RVer.

We usually just hang ours from the poptop locking mechanism between the seats (or you can just use the legs as already mentioned). I wrap a towel around the locking device and then use a simple chain to hang it down the 30" required. I put the tank outside (never inside) in the luggage rack running the hose through the driver side window which provides a nice crack for fresh air.
It seems no matter how many windows we crack open, we stay nice and warm. When moving locations the system quickly breaks down and it all fits under the rear seat.
We used this system from mid-Feb til spring starting in CO and all the way the Rockies to Jasper with no troubles!
 

anitalennon

New member
I have an '87 Westy and just purchased a Coleman Powercat portable heater. This is essentially the same Coleman catalytic unit already mentioned, except it is encased and has a fan (run on 2 D batteries) that helps circutlate the air, and let me tell you, it heats up that camper within minutes. It also has an electronic ignition for simplicity. I just used it on a trip last week where we ended up in some damp cold nights, and it worked flawlessly. You can get up to 8 hours on one canister of fuel. It is a radiant flameless heat designed for indoor use, but the ventilation rule still applies. Also, it fits nicely between the two front seats so I just leave it there like a permanent fixture. I found mine at Target for $69.99. I found this to be the most simple way to get auxilliary heat into my Westy without making any permanent modifications. I'm very happy with it.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Eberspacher Gas heater

eurotrash_77 Junior Member # 2635 posted 01-21-2002 05:35 PM

77 westy with 2.0/FI

Curious if a factory installed Eberspacher from a type III would work, or even one from a Thing? I don't know about the design or layout but would be willing to make adjustments. Thanks
 

bemuzed

New member
My wife, new born baby! & I are going to be traveling this winter and wanted to make sure that we had enough heat in our bus. We already took Capt. Mike's suggestion on the Coleman Propane Heater last year and found the heat from that very suitable. I've seen from several peoples posts that they run the Propane heater even while driving? I guess I'm just wondering how safe that is, and if there are suggestions to making it atleast as safe as possible? How do you stabilize it? Do you semi-permanently mount it or what? which window(s) do you leave down for ventilation? etc...

I had also checked out many of the 12v heaters that are out there and was going to try one called the "Back-seat Heater" it says it kicks out 1,100 BTU's on a 25 amp Draw. Capt. I know you always tell people to "do the math", but what is your opinion on this kind of set up?

Which Heating option would be better?
 

windchill

New member
Am interested in purchasing a Trumatic e2400 LPG/propane-fired heater for our '90 Westy.

Truma GMBH in Munich, Germany, makes this very compact, carefully designed - air flow, heat transfer, controls, combustion air-exhaust air management, current draw, fan noise, energy efficiency, etc. - forced air heater for vehicles, campers, and marine applications. (If you want more detail, check out www.trumauk.com.)
Those who know about the Carver P4 heater may be interested to know that Truma purchased Carver recently - the Trumatic 2400 may, in fact, be the Carver P4.

However, while Truma lists "international distributors" on its website (www.truma.com), none exists for North America. I've contacted distributors in the UK, Switzerland, and Austria, but none of them was willing to sell me one.

Any ideas about how to go about finding one and some associated installation bits? Also, any thoughts on how far 2400 watts (Truma specs in SI units) of heat will go at, say, 25 deg. Fahrenheit?

Thanks,
Jeff

[Mod. Note: Links dead 11/5/08]
 
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Mike Robinson

New member
Hi Todd

I have an '82 Diesel with a propane heater. It works very well and has a thermostat like your average house thermostat. The only power draw is the fan and (although I have not tried this) the previous owner used the heater all night and had no problems starting the vehicle the next day. The heater is not small. It is mounted under the sink (floor level) and half the the storage unit is used by the heater - and the door is cut in half - it sounds butchered but is quite good. I can take some photos and mail them if required. Prior to purchasing this Westalia I had enquired at RV centers and a Superior Propaine dealership about having one fitted. Both say it is possible - but about a $1000 CDN touch. The heater I have is a common model found in a lot of tent trailers etc.
 

windchill

New member
Have just received my new Trumatic E2400 from Whispaire Ltd in the UK (www.whispaire.co.uk). They were happy to charge my credit card for the main unit, some installation bits and pieces, and air shipment.

Will post a description of installation and test soon, I hope.

Jeff

[Mod. Note: Link dead 11/4/08]
 
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