Gas or Diesel Heater

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David Kirk

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Hey,

I'm new here.  This is my first post.  I'm in New Zealand and I'm converting a 9.5m Mitsubishi Fuso bus in to a motorhome for full time living.

Winter is nearly here and the temperatures at night will get down to just below freezing.  I'm going to need some kind of heater to keep me warm.

At first I was going to put in a Propex Heatsource or Truma LPG gas heater.  I was looking around for the best deal, and I was told that a diesel heater would be better.  I have information about the Eberspacher and Webasto diesel heaters.

I'm looking for a second (and third, fourth, ...) opinion.  Which would be the most appropriate heater for a 9.5m bus.  Keep in mind that the bus only has 12v.  There is no mains power coming in to the bus.

--
Thanks

David Kirk
http://housebus.objectis.net
 

Ron

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From what I have seen the diesel heaters are maintenance hogs compared to LP gas heaters.  When working they seem to work well but the annual maintenance costs almost as much as the propane furnace does new unless you are inclined to do it yourself but then there is a cost for the required bits anyway.

 

Ron

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Since we don't have one I am not sure about all that is done but I think a jet has to be replaced and cleaning.  Location can make a difference too.  Hopefully Terry or somebody that has actually done their own maintenance will jump in with the details.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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US Rvs nearly all have propane furnaces as standard equipment, though some may  have electric or engine-assisted (hot water) heat as well.  Propane works nicely but can suck down a lot of LPG, so make sure you have a good size LPG tank. If your LPG is limited for any reason, you might find diesel a better option if you can plumb to the vehicle's fuel tank.  I don't know anything about 12V diesel furnaces, so can't give pros and cons.
 

Jackliz

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dkirk said:
Hey,

I'm new here.  This is my first post.  I'm in New Zealand and I'm converting a 9.5m Mitsubishi Fuso bus in to a motorhome for full time living.

Winter is nearly here and the temperatures at night will get down to just below freezing.  I'm going to need some kind of heater to keep me warm.

At first I was going to put in a Propex Heatsource or Truma LPG gas heater.  I was looking around for the best deal, and I was told that a diesel heater would be better.  I have information about the Eberspacher and Webasto diesel heaters.

I'm looking for a second (and third, fourth, ...) opinion.  Which would be the most appropriate heater for a 9.5m bus.  Keep in mind that the bus only has 12v.  There is no mains power coming in to the bus.

--
Thanks

David Kirk
http://housebus.objectis.net

Howdy, David.
We live in a 1993, 40 ft Bluebird Wanderlodge that has a hydronic heating system which uses a diesel-fired Webasto boiler. It works very well and puts out the heat fairly quickly. I like the idea of using just one fuel source for the engine and heating system.  In our previous motorhome, a Serengeti, we had a propane-fired Sububan furnace. It pushed hot air. Once the blower fan turned off, the coach would cool down quickly. I guess that is the real disadvantage of a hot air heating system.  Our hydronic system keeps our coach warm for a good long time before the boiler comes on. I'm sorry but I can't give you any maintenance info on the Webasto system as it is very new to us, also.  We are going to find out more about it when our Wanderlodge goes in for some routine maintenance. OH and one more thing, this Wanderlodge previously had the propane-fired Primus heating system. But the former owner had the Primus removed and the Webasto installed. The reason given was that the Primus was really a propane hog. Hope this helps you somewhat.  :)  :)

Regards,
Liz
 

John From Detroit

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Though most US RV's do indeed have Propane heat, A diesel heater is exactly the same as the furnance in many homes... IN fact there is one grade of Furnance oil that can be subbed for the other grade of Diesel or the other way around, in an emergence.  (I understand Diesel fuel is better filtered than home heating oil so don't use furnance oil in the motor tank unless there is no other choice) As it happens my parent's house used that grade of oil for heat.

A properly adjusted oil burner does not really require much in the way of additional maintance.

Modern LP furnances use electronic ignition.. ... Modern oil fired furnances... Same exact ignition

In an LP furnace you have a electric controled valve that turns on the gas, ONLY when it senses the fans are up to speed.  Oil fired,,, It is a pump, instead of a valve,  Same sensors

In an LP furnance you have a flame sensor that shuts it down in the event it does not fire properly.. OIL, same

In an oil furnance you may wish to inspect and clean the tip from time to time... LP, same

Major differences.. 1: The pump is a more complex piece of hardware than the valve  2:There is a spider that loves LP gas and likes to build it's nest actually in the burner or oriface clogging up the works  I have never seen this with oil fired furnances

I helped to maintain my parent's oil fired furnance for around 20 years  In this time we had two problems, both caused by improper instalation

1: Air damper ajustment, the locking screw was stripped out by an installer so it was loose and needed to be re-set.  This was the original furnance installed about 1960/1961

2: Ignition points on the new house (they had two, moved in the late 70's) were set too far apart resulting in occasional failure to ignite,, Safety systems shut it down when this happend... I re-set to spec and far as I know, other than filter changes, it's still working

NOTE: Loose screws (See problem with first furnance) are a MAJOR issue with vehicles, as opposed to a fixed in place house
 

Ron

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A properly adjusted oil burner does not really require much in the way of additional maintance.

Much more than propane from what I have seen.  I may be in error but if I recall correctly somebody that has the Webasco system indicated at it takes least a two hundred dollar bill to have it done.  That is much more than I have ever put into maintenance for any of the propane furnaces on any the MH we have owned.

Now I am not saying the diesel fired heat doesn't do an excellent job cause it does from what I have heard but there are additional maintenance costs.
 

rhmahoney

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I have the Webasto on my country coach magna, 13 meter and love it.
All it needs is annual cleaning and filter [email protected]$90.00. You can do the maintenance yourself if handy.Fuel filter and second sintered filter at the nozzle are the consumables. Also need to swab out the burner chamber.

This year's service fee was higher because I needed a new spark coil.

These units are quite popular with the boating crowd.
 

Ron

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Thanks for the info Russ.  I guess the cost of service depends on accessibility.  Our LP furnace maintenance has been the cost of filters about $3 a year.
 

Terry A. Brewer

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David

I have a Webasto unit & do my own service, It requires a yearly fuel nozzle change, although some people go years without changing them, I follow the PM schedule cost about $17, you also need to change the fuel filter depending on the kind you have $2-12.

 

Chet18013

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We have propane in our Beaver Marquis. It is noisy when running and in very cold weather, tends to cycle often. I wish that it had the oil fired heat. I have not yet looked into converting, but plan to do so in the future.  If starting, as you are, I would only consider the oil heat. It has the additional advantage of heating your water and the engine, as well as using the engine for heat and hot water when under way. I agree with Russ and Terry that the maintaince on oil heat is no big deal.

Chet18013
 

John From Detroit

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An oil fired furnance won't be any quiter Chet, in fact they may be noiser.  Propane furnances make just 4 sounds

1: Fan sound. it's loud because it has to move a lot of air
2: Click of valve opening (if you can hear it that is)
3: Snap of electronic ignition (If you can hear it)
4: Roar of flame

Oil burners also make 4 sounds, only #2 is replaces by the sound of the pump motor
 

Chet18013

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John In Detroit said:
An oil fired furnace won't be any quieter Chet, in fact they may be nosier.  Propane furnaces make just 4 sounds

1: Fan sound. it's loud because it has to move a lot of air
2: Click of valve opening (if you can hear it that is)
3: Snap of electronic ignition (If you can hear it)
4: Roar of flame

Oil burners also make 4 sounds, only #2 is replaces by the sound of the pump motor

The oil burners I have seen have been much quieter than the propane unit. They tend to have 3-4 small convection units with much smaller and quieter blowers. The one central blower is the BIG noise maker on the propane systems. A properly installed oil fired heating unit is in an insulated compartment and is essentially not heard inside the motorhome. The better oil fired units even have a muffler on their exhaust to farther reduce the burner noise.

Chet18013
 

Tom

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Chet18013 said:
I have not yet looked into converting, but plan to do so in the future.

Let us know what you find out Chet. The dealer told me it couldn't be retrofitted, but that was the dealer.

I've talked to folks who've retrofitted them in boats. One guy told me it cost him $5,000 for the system vs $10,000 installed. IIRC he said it took him and his father 73 hours of work to install, partly because of the routing of all the plumbing for the various registers.
 

Jim Dick

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John In Detroit said:
An oil fired furnance won't be any quiter Chet, in fact they may be noiser.  Propane furnances make just 4 sounds

1: Fan sound. it's loud because it has to move a lot of air
2: Click of valve opening (if you can hear it that is)
3: Snap of electronic ignition (If you can hear it)
4: Roar of flame

Oil burners also make 4 sounds, only #2 is replaces by the sound of the pump motor

John,

In many cases the propane heaters are mounted at floor level and create quite a loud noise when running. One of the reasons I traded my previous coach was we could not talk or watch TV when the heater was running. Most oil fired burners are mounted in a bay thus there is much less noise inside the coach. Our Dream still has propane heaters but they, too, are in a bay. Very little noise inside the coach compared to others.
 

David Kirk

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Thanks everyone for your input.  Very much appreciated.

Although the diesel heater is more expensive, I think I'll go for it anyway.  I'll let you all know how I get on.

--
Later

David Kirk
 

Jim Dick

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David Kirk said:
Thanks everyone for your input.  Very much appreciated.

Although the diesel heater is more expensive, I think I'll go for it anyway.  I'll let you all know how I get on.

--
Later

David Kirk

David,

I think you'll be very happy with your choice.
 

Terry A. Brewer

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Tom

>>Let us know what you find out Chet. The dealer told me it couldn't be retrofitted, but that was the dealer.<<

One of the attendees at our QZ rally converted his Newmar using an Espar heater, unfortunately he left before I could see it. Jim Godward knows him well I think his name was Tom.
 

Chet18013

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Terry A. Brewer said:
Tom

>>Let us know what you find out Chet. The dealer told me it couldn't be retrofitted, but that was the dealer.<<

One of the attendees at our QZ rally converted his Newmar using an Espar heater, unfortunately he left before I could see it. Jim Godward knows him well I think his name was Tom.

Thanks for the heads up on ESPAR.  It looks like the ESPR Hydronic 10 is just about what I have been thinking about. I have downloaded all thee manuals, accessories, and installation data for a good review.

Chet18013
 
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