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Old 08-27-2018, 07:13 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
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Engine: Cummins 5.9
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Hydronic diesel heaters?

Has anyone used one of these in their bus?

It seems early to be thinking about winter but my Bluebird doesn't have glow plugs! So the options for cold weather starts are to use the block heater (with a generator, yuck!) or maybe a diesel heater. Diesel heater seems like an easy win!

BUT

How much heat do these things really make? What if you wanted it to double duty for cabin heat through the huge rear heat radiator already in the bus? Am I being nutty even thinking about this as an option? Should I just get a hydronic AND an air heater?

I don't plan to be in particularly cold places but that's what I sad last year and that's when I found out how nicely the T444E starts when it's 8 degrees outside. I don't expect my no-glow mechanical 5.9 to be so eager.

We still have our Buddy heater but you can't use that too much without having real humidity issues. So I'd like something that can be used for much longer periods than I intend to need it and the minimize the hassle of operating it. Pulling from my existing fuel tank sounds like a win, and if it IS reasonable to do double duty for coolant and cabin heat that would be a no brainer.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:20 AM   #2
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Many threads here, search.

Espar, Webasto, cheaper knockoffs.

Heat from driving, HWS too.

Great but not cheap initial setup.
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:36 AM   #3
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Thanks, I actually did search before I posted.

You may have missed that I wasn't looking for brand recommendations, I'm asking about the suitability of a diesel hydronic heater being used for both coolant and cabin heating purposes via forced air radiator. if you have any experience there I'd love to hear it!
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:10 AM   #4
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Brokedown,

The hydronic would work for both engine heating and cabin heating. Many busses and coaches are set up to do this from the factory. The heater was on a timer so it would pre heat the engine before the driver showed up in the morning. They also had a manual turn on so that the cabin could be heated without idling the bus. Somwhere in the usa has a couple treads on this. He has both in floor heating as well as use of radiators. Accorflding to him his 9.5 kw espar heats his cabin in sub zero temps.

Ted
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:16 AM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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Thanks, I'll look for his threads!
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:47 AM   #6
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Your 5.9 doesn't have glow plugs but, it should have a grid heater in the intake to aid in cold starts.

I do have an Espar hot water boiler and it is plumbed to heat the engine. It works great when I have the heat running, starts like it's summer. I don't really use it for cold weather starting, it's just a perk when the heat has been on. I do have a timer and could set it to come on about an hour before I wanted to start. As mentioned the system is a bit pricey. There are smaller units that many school buses use just for cold weather warm up, I have no experience with them but, I'm sure they would work quite well to warm the engine as well as the heaters in place. Again a bit pricey just to warm the engine.

I have one of these, it came with the bus, for cold weather starts when the heat hasn't been on. I have used them on other things and I think they work a bit better than the freeze plug type of heater since they do circulate the water, I think, a bit better.

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Old 08-27-2018, 09:36 AM   #7
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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My 5.9 does not have a grid heater either. It does have a "cold start assist" button which is supposed to inject a little ether but there's no replacement for the engine actually being heated!

I've been looking at the cheap and cheery Planar clones. My main concern is if a single unit would handle both tasks in cold weather, given a single big forced air radiator in the cabin space.
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Old 08-27-2018, 09:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJones View Post
Brokedown,

The hydronic would work for both engine heating and cabin heating. Many busses and coaches are set up to do this from the factory. The heater was on a timer so it would pre heat the engine before the driver showed up in the morning. They also had a manual turn on so that the cabin could be heated without idling the bus. Somwhere in the usa has a couple treads on this. He has both in floor heating as well as use of radiators. Accorflding to him his 9.5 kw espar heats his cabin in sub zero temps.

Ted
~10kW sounds about right for a bus. Don't waste your time with the smaller auxiliary heaters for diesel cars.
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Old 08-27-2018, 10:54 AM   #9
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Join Date: May 2016
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Rated Cap: 72
I found my Webasto Skolastic 45k BTU heater on eBay for $495.
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Old 08-27-2018, 11:27 AM   #10
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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That's a nice price, Steve! I just added an alert on Ebay for it in case another one appears.

Looking at amazon, I see a bunch of them in MUCH lower output ratings. 9kw is about 30k BTU and I can get a new one for about $600 shipped: https://amzn.to/2wgFDpi

But most of them are more like 2 or 2.5kw. I'm thinking with all my insulation that 45k is sort of absurdly over-sized? But again I'm probably overlooking something.
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