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Furnace/water heater combo that runs on gasoline?
#1
I'm pretty sure I read about a Webasto/Espar/Propex heater model that would serve as both a furnace and a water heater, but for the life of me I've been searching and cannot find it again. 

My furnace goals are to have constant heat all night long. (Yes I own good sleeping bags but I hate being confined by them, and breathing in 30F air all night usually gives me a sore throat.) I do not think a 5.4L V8 would be a very cost efficient heater to run all night, so coolant heat exchange would not be a good option for me. I do not really care about stealth/noise. 

My logic is if I'm gonna spend $1,000 I might as well get a dual purpose unit that serves as a water heater too. I'm pretty sure they make combo heaters that do both. My van is gasoline, so I would prefer to run on that; I would consider propane to be a viable option though. 

Can anybody help me identify some heater models that fit what I'm looking for? Any US dealers of said models would also be appreciated. 

Thanks!

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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#2
Propex is propane, maybe air-blower space heaters only.

Webasto / Espar run from your vehicle fuel. As well as the above,

They also make engine heaters that heat your block / coolant, which the lets you use stock vehicle heating.

Hydronic systems can be added, radiators in the living space with or without blowers, and also HWS as a bonus.

Canada and Northern Europe these are more common for big trucks, not allowed to idle when standing.

USA less common, start with big rig service places in bitter cold places. Contact the mfg, see if they know any RV service places sell their units.

DIY handyman-level stuff physically, but the overall design, sourcing parts etc more of a challenge, maybe a heating / plumber guy could help?
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HumbleBeginnings (12-29-2017)
#3
And you're looking well over a grand for just the base unit, unless you source Russian / Chinese knockoffs, then quality suspect no effective warrantee, sourcing parts more difficult.

An RV HWS can also be adapted with a heat exchanger.
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#4
And remember, all of those units require a steady supply of DC all night long to run the electronics, the blower, and the dosing pump. You have to replace that power with something, probably solar (or driving a few hours) to recharge the batteries. 

In regards to the Webasto/Espar/Airtronic units:

IF I were to install one on a gasoline powered vehicle of mine, I would add a diesel tank to run it. Easy to buy anywhere, fairly safe, you can carry extra cans of diesel that are not under pressure, and the diesel powered units are probably a bit easier to have serviced. 

And yes they work well, when you buy quality, and have it installed professionally. 

DIY, I would defer to your skills, good or bad, only you know that. 

But they are not all rainbows and unicorns, I operated several trucks equipped with them. 
 
They are expensive, and require some space for all the components. They are not plug-n-play.

And due to the complexity of the systems, they can fail on a cold winter night at 3 am (blowing nothing but cold air!) and now you might need a backup heat source (or idle the engine) until you can get service or replacement parts...and this is not easy in the middle of nowhere. 

Places like Joe's Garage, Lowes, Tractor Supply, and Autozone will probably not be able to help you. 

But: determination, an open mind, and an open wallet, can overcome just about anything.

Cool
Never trust a camp cook with lots of shiny new pans...
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HumbleBeginnings (12-29-2017)
#5
I've got 200Ah of battery currently and should have solar in the next 30-90 days. I'm no pro, but I think I can do the install. A dedicated diesel tank... I have considered that. I could go that way, but the advantage of gasoline would be I would never have to think about an additional fuel supply.

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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#6
(12-29-2017, 06:08 PM)HumbleBeginnings Wrote:  but the advantage of gasoline would be I would never have to think about an additional fuel supply.

But now you are MORE concerned about your existing fuel supply! 

Those heaters burn about one gallon per night on really cold nights, not including running it for water heating if you get that option. 

You would then need to arrive with a full gasoline tank if you boondock for let's say, 2 weeks, in cold weather, where it could burn maybe 10 to 15 gallons of gasoline. 

How big is your gas tank? 30 gallons? 35? (my E-250 is 35 but I would not want to see it below 1/4 while in the middle of nowhere)

One of my gripes against them for non-commercial use is having to pay federal and state highway motor fuel tax on the fuel that is NOT being used for a motor, or on the highways or roads. In commercial use, we get a motor fuel tax credit back for the fuel we burn that is NOT powering the engine. 

Not trying to talk you out of it, just helping with a reality check for you. 

Maybe John will help with info about the Propex units which I have never used. At least they burn propane with no motor fuel tax added.
Never trust a camp cook with lots of shiny new pans...
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HumbleBeginnings (12-31-2017)
#7
A big propane tank is expensive and a lot of weight.

Yes I can see the tax argument but personally would prefer the simplicity of sticking to the one fuel for heat and propulsion.

The feed to the heater can be set to leave 5 gallons so you're not stranded.

Some vehicles can add a second tank, worst case strap on a NATO gerry can or two.

Personally I wouldn't run all night, good bedclothes, sleeping bag, just get the timer to kick it on 30 min before rise and shine.

And finally, since thermostat controlled, insulate very well and you can really cut consumption.
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HumbleBeginnings (12-31-2017)
#8
FarOutRide posts here.........Here's some pros/cons and a HEATER install in a Transit used in cold weather......(I don't know about the WH): 

http://faroutride.com/ford-transit-campe...e-control/
Fulltime in a Ford Transit High Roof Extended since October 2017.....Camper Conversion by me
......See Ya'll out there on the road and RTR 2018............Two Cats and a Doug
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4x4sporty (01-03-2018), HumbleBeginnings (12-31-2017)
#9
Update - I finally got a clear answer from my buddy about his setup. I misunderstood him; he has two separate units for air and water.

The air heater is a Webasto Air Top 2000.

Their water heater hooks into their van's heater core (which I'm not really interested in, since I don't want to have to warm up my engine to get some hot water).

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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#10
The air-only will certainly be more straightforward.

If you don't need block heating, a hydronic setup can be done with its own heat exchanger isolated from engine coolant.

More complex and expensive, but also more flexible and provides HWS as a bonus.
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