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Old 09-06-2021, 07:29 AM   #1
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Diesel Air Heater

I e been using my wood stove which seemed great until I was fulltime and stationary on my homestead. Last winter the back bedroom area got cold while my kids upper bunks were too hot. My middle section over the wheel Wells are the bunks. If I were to install a stationary diesel heater (I'm still learning about what they are) would having it on the ground in the back heat the bedroom and the rest of the bus enough to not have to wake up and fill the wood stove in the middle of the night? My freshwater tank is inside in the front directly across from the wood stove, so it keeps the tank and plumbing to the kitchen sink suitably warm tonot freeze. I'm also considering just getting a couple of portable buddy heaters, since I seem to understand that better and have used one before.

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Old 09-06-2021, 08:52 AM   #2
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Whether or not the diesel heater will be warm enough depends a lot on how well insulated your bus is. That said, I'll take a wild guess and say that the standard 5 kW Chinese diesel heater would work fine for you. The diesel heaters may seem intimidating at first, but they're really pretty simple. I found YouTube to be very helpful on my install.

5kW is about 17k BTU, so almost twice the 9000 BTU rating of the Buddy portable. More importantly, diesel heaters send all the exhaust gases outside, minimizing condensation and risk of CO poisoning.

Edit: had another thought... a standard cheap diesel heater has manual temp controls (i.e. "make it hotter" or "make it less hot"). There's a gentleman in Australia that makes the "Afterburner" diesel heater controller. I got one and can't say enough good things about it. It's expensive at around $125, but it turns a cheap Chinese diesel heater into a proper heating system - just set the controller to your desired temperature and let it do all the work. You can even set schedules so that the heater cranks up just before you wake up or whatever suits your needs.
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Old 09-06-2021, 09:51 AM   #3
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Our 5kw diesel air heater worked like a charm through the winter. We kept in on low or, at most, mid-range temp and it kept the bus toasty warm. We used the wood stove during the daytime but there was no way to keep the stove going at night without feeding it hourly. The diesel heater was a game changer for us...they're so cheap and easy to install too. I wouldn't plan on doing any cold weather living without one. We had a Buddy Heater starting out but there's not a chance in hell I'd choose one over a diesel heater.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:36 AM   #4
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I have installed 2 of the Chinese diesel heaters in my 40 footer. One in the rear and one in the front. They are the 5KW units sold as 8 KW units with 4 outlet hoses 42mm each. The rear one has 2 of the hoses feeding the rear bedroom and 2 feeding the walk through bath area. I have stayed in it overnight down to 8 degrees and was warm, no extra bedding. The front heater has 2 hoses/vents blowing forward to the front and 2 the center of the bus. They have been some of the only things of Chinese origin that have worked well. There are no foul odors, even outside, and they have never tripped my CO detectors. Yes I have 2 detectors. One in front and one in the rear. I have an aversion to taking dirt naps. As inexpensive as the things are I would recommend getting 2 of them and you would have built in redundancy. I used 5 gallon race car fuel cells with fuel gauge senders and, 1 per heater and did not use the mickey mouse tank that came with it. Always turn them to max rate for about a minute or two before shutting down to keep them clean, and run a gallon of kerosene through once a year. Follow the Chinglish instructions and have a list of bad words to use just in case, a hole saw and normal hand tools, and most of all common sense and you will be good to go.
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Old 09-06-2021, 12:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chess View Post
I'm also considering just getting a couple of portable buddy heaters, since I seem to understand that better and have used one before.
I have used a propane Buddy Heater in my truck camper one time. NEVER AGAIN!!!! Too much condensation. add that to my exhalation and 125 lb total canine exhalation= water running down the insides of every window in the morning...
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Old 09-06-2021, 07:08 PM   #6
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I have used a propane Buddy Heater in my truck camper one time. NEVER AGAIN!!!! Too much condensation. add that to my exhalation and 125 lb total canine exhalation= water running down the insides of every window in the morning...
Eww dog breath!

Yeah, I have a small Olympic Wave3 heater. Too small to heat much and the thought of consuming the air in the space freaked me out.
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Old 09-07-2021, 06:25 AM   #7
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I used 5 gallon race car fuel cells with fuel gauge senders and, 1 per heater and did not use the mickey mouse tank that came with it.
Any particular reason why you didn't plumb into your main diesel tank? My Blue Bird had a couple extra taps on the top of the main tank so I was easily able to do that and avoid the trouble of keeping additional diesel tanks topped off.
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Old 09-07-2021, 09:06 AM   #8
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I run additives in the main fuel tank and did not want them in the heaters. It also allows me to run a gallon of kerosene through the heaters when the tank is almost dry once a year. And with the added capacity of the 2 5 gallon tanks and the 2 5 gallon jeep cans it gives me 20 extra gallons of fuel that could be used in an emergency to go more miles. It also kept the fuel tanks and lines closer to the heaters. The little dosing pumps have a hard time picking up fuel against gravity and will loose prime if they sit for long periods. This way the pumps are fed by gravity and are self priming. I also installed a shutoff valve and filter before the pump. Yes, yes I know I over complicated it...
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Old 09-07-2021, 09:28 AM   #9
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I plumbed into my main tank. About 3 inches above the engine pickup so I won’t run the bus completely out of fuel if I accidentally leave the heater on.

Luckily with a short bus I have less than 10 feet of fuel line from tank to heater and I put the pump about half way.. was a good place to mount it with the angle they want. Mounting the pump at an angle seems to keep its prime much better. I have run it a couple times this spring and summer just to keep the fuel in the lines fresh. The older the fuel and cooler the weather the harder they are to light off.. so starting it a couple times in the warm season keeps the fuel lines fresh.
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Old 09-18-2021, 03:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chess View Post
Last winter the back bedroom area got cold while my kids upper bunks were too hot.

I am unable to envision why the addition of a simple box fan didn't alleviate the situation entirely. 8 amp hours overnight @ 120 VAC...
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:10 PM   #11
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I am unable to envision why the addition of a simple box fan didn't alleviate the situation entirely. 8 amp hours overnight @ 120 VAC...
I don't dispute that a fan would help, but don't forget to convert to 12V if the plan is to run the fan off an inverter and not shore power. For example, I just looked up a basic Lasko box fan and it draws 110W. 110W/120V is just .9 amperes. But the inverter has to get its power from the 12V battery bank, so the draw from the batteries will actually be 110W/12V (maybe 13...but let's round to 12) which is essentially 9 amperes per hour that the fan is running. Run that overnight for 12 hours and you've just sucked 110 amperes-hours from your battery bank's capacity. That is a significant draw and doesn't count the conversion loss...maybe 10% for easy math?

Either way, it's common for folks to forget to convert values and that leads to underestimating the draw of 120V appliances...I see this most often when comparing a dorm/small 120V fridge to a 12V fridge.
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:06 PM   #12
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I don't dispute that a fan would help, but don't forget to convert to 12V if the plan is to run the fan off an inverter and not shore power. For example, I just looked up a basic Lasko box fan and it draws 110W. 110W/120V is just .9 amperes. But the inverter has to get its power from the 12V battery bank, so the draw from the batteries will actually be 110W/12V (maybe 13...but let's round to 12) which is essentially 9 amperes per hour that the fan is running. Run that overnight for 12 hours and you've just sucked 110 amperes-hours from your battery bank's capacity. That is a significant draw and doesn't count the conversion loss...maybe 10% for easy math?

Either way, it's common for folks to forget to convert values and that leads to underestimating the draw of 120V appliances...I see this most often when comparing a dorm/small 120V fridge to a 12V fridge.

I can do the math. 120VA*800mA*8hrs is about 768Whrs...


Does a diesel air heater blast the warmed air clear across the bus where the wood stove produces convection only? I'm not sure where the diesel air heater moves the air better without electricity than the wood stove does without electricity?


I know both have more than enough BTUs to heat the bus, the issue seems to be how best to circulate them.
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Old 09-18-2021, 05:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TomDPerkins View Post
I can do the math. 120VA*800mA*8hrs is about 768Whrs...
And... 768Whrs at 12V is how many ampere-hours?
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Old 09-18-2021, 06:04 PM   #14
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And... 768Whrs at 12V is how many ampere-hours?
oooh! oooh! I know this! 64!
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Old 09-18-2021, 08:10 PM   #15
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oooh! oooh! I know this! 64!
Winner winner, chicken dinner!

TomDPerkins, please accept my apologies if I ruffled feathers. I don't make it a habit to try and correct people here and I didn't intend to offend, at all. I tried to make my post light and a bit of a learning opportunity for everyone. I learn new things here all the time and I've been "redirected" by many who know more than I do. I only chimed in here because that conversion to 12V draw (when on inverter power) is an issue that snags lots of people and I'd hate for the OP to plug in a box fan thinking they would only draw a few amp-hours, only to find that they might suck down their battery bank a lot more than they expected. Thanks for your participation here!
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:04 AM   #16
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Does a diesel air heater blast the warmed air clear across the bus where the wood stove produces convection only? I'm not sure where the diesel air heater moves the air better without electricity than the wood stove does without electricity?
We put our diesel air heater amidships and it distributes the air just about perfectly...blasts it towards the side of the bus and it spreads from there. Our wood stove is right next to it, but needs a fan to distribute the heat. Were we to do it again we'd put the wood stove in the living area. Just some random thoughts in case they're helpful.
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Old 09-19-2021, 08:10 PM   #17
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Edit: had another thought... a standard cheap diesel heater has manual temp controls (i.e. "make it hotter" or "make it less hot"). There's a gentleman in Australia that makes the "Afterburner" diesel heater controller. I got one and can't say enough good things about it. It's expensive at around $125, but it turns a cheap Chinese diesel heater into a proper heating system - just set the controller to your desired temperature and let it do all the work. You can even set schedules so that the heater cranks up just before you wake up or whatever suits your needs.[/QUOTE]

Any info on the seller for the Afterburner controller?

Thanks
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Old 09-19-2021, 09:49 PM   #18
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Any info on the seller for the Afterburner controller?

Thanks
He's a guy named Ray Jones out of Australia. His website is mrjones.id.au/afterburner. I got the basic model last winter and can't say enough good things about it. I paid a little over $100 including shipping, which seems pretty expensive when the diesel heaters themselves are only a few dollars more. It is well with the money, though.

There are a lot of cool features built in if you really want to nerd out on your heater. For me, the best part was the wifi connection. I can check and adjust the temperature of my bus from anywhere in the world!
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Old 09-20-2021, 09:23 AM   #19
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I also went with the 2 diesel heater design, I'm in Illinois still building the bus, so it still gets well below freezing. I basically have 2 temp zones in the bus now, front wheel well area, and read wheel well area. I basically extended both the wheel well to cover up the diesel heaters. I plumed them to a central 15 gallon diesel tank which sits in the outside accessory compartment. Then added exhaust silencers for each heater which did quiet them down.
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Old 09-20-2021, 10:52 AM   #20
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I also went with the 2 diesel heater design, I'm in Illinois still building the bus, so it still gets well below freezing. I basically have 2 temp zones in the bus now, front wheel well area, and read wheel well area. I basically extended both the wheel well to cover up the diesel heaters. I plumed them to a central 15 gallon diesel tank which sits in the outside accessory compartment. Then added exhaust silencers for each heater which did quiet them down.
Do both air heaters use the same tank tap?

Did you retain the stock fuel pump for the one in the back of the bus? I already have one air heater in the front of my bus but I'm curious if I add another one whether the fuel pump will be able to push it 20 feet to the heater in the rear.
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