Ever since we’be had the van I’ve thought about getting a diesel heater. The ones most people have are either an Eberspacher or Webasto. If you buy one new they generally come in at about the £800.00 mark which is why we don’t have one..
Recently a lot of heaters have been popping up on eBay that look to do the same thing but for a fraction of the price. Some are pretending to be a make they are not and others aren’t pretending to be anything other than a 2000w diesel heater with everything you need to install it. There is also a forum on facebook called the Chinese diesel heater fitting advice UK and it is a great resource for anyone that is thinking of buying one or has bought one and isn’t sure how it works,
After a bit of research I decided to take the plunge and bought a kit one of the group members recommended, it’s this one. If you take a look at this one or similar ones for sale on eBay you’ll notice they all appear to be in Manchester. They’re not, they all ship direct from China, they take a couple of weeks to arrive and when mine did, it had everything it said was included.
I ordered a few other things, some extra pipe work for the exhaust so I can run it to the back of the van where the engine exhaust is and an Eberspacher stand pipe. This goes in the top of the fuel sender and connects to the fuel pump that comes with the heater to take diesel directly from the van fuel tank. The kit comes with a 10 litre tank you can use but I’m limited on space so better to just the fuel tank I already have. Once the kit arrived I booked myself a day off to fit it.
I couldn’t have picked a worse day…
Whilst it doesn’t look too terrible it was cold and the ground was wet..
Things got off to an OK start, I got the drivers seat out and had a couple of observers visit to see what I was up to..
My first job was to relocate the amp that was under the seat, once that was done I then placed the heater where I thought it should go..
What followed from here was a lot of drilling and eventually sufficient holes were drilled for the heater to sit with the combustion’s ports, fuel inlet and securing bolts poking somewhere through the bottom of the van.
I had intended to take pictures of each stage of the installation as I thought it might be helpful to others, however shortly after the drilling marathon it started to snow and then rain, I had the front of the van jacked up so i could squeeze underneath it to run the combustion pipe work in, problem was that where they came through was just above the fuel tank with very little room to manoeuvre, especially in the the snow, rain and cold. At this point, I was covered in mud, freezing and not entirely sure if starting this was such a good idea. I couldn’t do anything with the combustion pipe work so abandoned it and set about getting the fuel line in and electrics wired up.
This all went OK but I didn’t take any pictures because I couldn’t feel my hands, at this point I stopped and went for a shower, this is what my face looked like…
I cannot tell you how much of the underside of my van ended up in my eyes, nose and mouth. I called a mate of mine and asked if I could bring the van to his garage to make use of either his ramp or the pit, the pit was free so I headed off to use the pit and all of my mates epic snap on tool collection, eventually I managed to get all the pipe work in and it was a lot nicer being dry and not lying on my back.
If I could give anyone any advice about fitting one of these heaters I’d say either get someone else to fit it, fit the heater in a box under the van and if you can, do it on a ramp. Oh, and if you are feeling brave, drop the fuel tank (on a T4), it will make your life so much easier if you have decided to fit the heater in the same location as I have.
I’d say this goes for any heater, not just the Chinese ones, the whole install was a right pain in the…..
Here is a picture of the heater underneath my butchered drivers seat and the controller up on the side of the units…
Once it was all in it was time to fire it up, the LCD control unit is not massively intuitive and neither it turns out is the manual. There is however a fantastic video that tells you how to prime the pump when you first have everything hooked up, how to fire the heater up and how to turn it off, you can find it here and I highly recommend watching it.
Watching the video, there is a bit where you select the desired temperature by clicking the arrows on the control unit up and down, mine did not do this, it just gave me some figures in Hz. To remedy this, before you have fired the heater up, hold the settings button and the up arrow at the same time for no more than a couple of second, this changes the setting so now see the target temperature instead of Hz.
Once I made that change my system worked exactly how the video suggests, we now have heating in the van which means we can head out for the night when it’s proper cold. Despite the massive pain in the rear to get the thing installed I reckon it’s worth it, time will tell in terms of how long the Chinese heater lasts but so far so good and they seem to get lots of praise from those who own them, the more expensive brands however say they are awful and unsafe, not what I’ve seen so far….
We gave it a little test down at our favourite spot in Penshurst, the van was proper toasty and outside was bitter, we would have stayed over but at the time of writing, Stella has an infection in both her eyes and wasn’t feeling spending the night in the van.
We did however make a fire and cook some stew which was lovely…