Curious- Diesel fueled vehicle heaters.

While investigating a new motorhome, a few we looked at had the option of heaters fueled by diesel, rather than the more common LPG (or LPG
and/or Electric). I've also noticed that diesel fueled heaters are quite popular with those who do their own conversions to vehicles like VW vans, Transits, etc. I also suspect they are used in HGVs, at least when then drivers are parked up and sleeping in the bunks etc. I also remember the M1 Tank having one when I did some trials in the US. It kept 'waxing up' as the tank had been fueled with 'summer' diesel and it was Jan in Michigan (ie very cold).
We didn't opt for a motorhome with one but I'm still curious about them, more from general interest. Has anyone on the group any experience on one, probably on a van or HGV? Do they have a 'real' burner or some kind of catalytic affair (if such a thing exists for diesel)? How are they vented etc? What about fuel consumption?
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There are a couple of brands, or rather there used to be a couple of brands (Webasto and Eberspacher) but the Chinese have started copying the latter and you tube reviews seem fairly positive.
They do have a real burner (with glow plug ignition I believe) but are “room sealed” heating the cabin air through a heat exchanger so you shouldn’t get gassed. ;-)
No idea about consumption but gotta be cheaper to run than propane heaters and obviously you can buy diesel everywhere. If you use conventional gas cylinders getting refills abroad isn’t possible.
Video picked at random...

https://youtu.be/rolWGW5WSWw

https://youtu.be/rolWGW5WSWw

Tim
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Tim+ wrote :

I checked the consumption of mine out of curiosity, for a one hour run, but running on its thermostat. It outputs 5Kw max, but could ramp its output down and from memory it consumed 1/4 Litre per hour.
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You can fit refillable kits to campervans / motorhomes. So long as the fill point is permanently affixed externally, you'll not be challenged for filling from an 'autogas' pump.
We use Campingaz in our campervan, it's not as cheap as a standard UK cylinder, but they're exchangable Europe-wide.
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Steve H

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I invested in a Le Cube, available in most places in France. I carry it plus a UK bottle- well have done so far, I’m considering buying a couple of refillable cylinders. While the numbers don’t really work out- you need to use a lot of propane to cover the initial cost, the guarantee (well almost) that you can always get gas may be worth it.
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Pal travelled across France to his place in Spain a couple of weeks ago in his camper van. Had problems with the gas freezing. And very few sites open where you could hook up.
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Daft bugger shouldn’t be using butane then! ;-)
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In article

Is there a choice? I'd guess he's using what it says to use.
Of course diesel can freeze too.
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It'll say to use the appropriate gas for the prevailing conditions!
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On 15/01/2019 18:04, Tim+ wrote:

I read a discussion on one of the motorhome forums re the 'mix' of Autogas in France vs the UK. It was claimed France uses more Butane and, if you fill your refillable bottles (or tanks) with it, it can separate out- so, unless you empty it, you end up with more butane in your mix when you top up. If you are in a warm climate, no big deal. If you aren't, you can have issues and perhaps wonder why.
On first reading, it sounds plausible, although I don't have experience of butane/propane mix separating.
As for sites being closed, while sites do close (even in France), you can generally find somewhere. Some of the Aires even have electric hook up. We've not used Aires ourselves but my brother often uses them. Some are as good as a basic campsite- eg have electric hookup, water, toilets etc.
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On 15/01/2019 14:20, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

In general, people use Propane in caravans/motorhomes.
Some use butane but it isn't really recommended.
Some use Camping Gaz which is a mix of propane/butane. I assume the idea is that the propane 'warms up' things for the butane (in simple terms). However, Camping Gaz is expensive compared to propane or butane.
Some people use refillable bottles or special tanks (fixed under the vehicle normally), which they fill at petrol stations with Autogas. While this is cheaper to refill, the initial cost of the special bottles or tanks (not the same things) is high. You need to use a lot of gas to break even.
However, there is another issue. UK gas bottles (mostly Calor) aren't available in Europe (mainland Europe that is). So, if you run out while there, you have a problem. I invested in a French Le Cube bottle, which are widely available across France, and carry it plus a UK bottle while in (mainland) Europe.
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Diesel is even easier to get hold of and the capital cost would be recovered a lot more quickly with a diesel heater.
Eg. https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F292761773441
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The gas abroad problem has several solutions- as Steve mentioned refillable cylinders, using Camping Gaz, or having something like a LeCube, a French cylinder which is readily available ( and slightly cheaper to exchange than Calor- at least it was).
The LPG ones tend to be dual fuel, mine can run on either LPG, electricity, or a mix- that is quite common. In the UK, where the electric hookup is generally 16A, we use electric- not least as it is included in the pitch price in nearly all cases. In Europe, while we don’t normally need heating (we tend to head somewhere warm), the hookups are often limited to 10 or even 6A so you need to use LPG for any heating/ water heating. Even the microwave trips some pitches.
As for being gassed, anyone who doesn’t have a CO detector in a motorhome is an idiot.
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Brian Reay explained :

My car is fitted with one, it is called a Fuel Burning Heater (FBH). They burn rather like a conventional oil burner. A metering pump, pumps (drips) the fuel onto a mesh, an ignition pin gets red hot which ignites the fuel then the pin turns off and is then used to monitor the combustion. A fan blows are into the chamber and the chamber is cooled/ transfers it heat to a water jacket. A pump, pumps the heated water around the cooling system. It is all computer monitored and controlled. There are optional items, to allow it to come on at set times, or be remote controlled, or even an option to phone the car up to turn it on and off.
In winter I can switch mine on and allow the car to warm itself up, then go out, start the engine and drive away in a nice warm car.
HGV drivers call them night heaters.
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Harry Bloomfield presented the following explanation :

I understand they are also popular on narrow boats, as winter heaters. I believe they sometimes use other than diesel as the fuel - waste cooking oil and waste engine oil.
You can also quite legally use red diesel in an FBH, providing the FBH has a separate fuel tank to the fuel tank used for propulsion of the vehicle. I know this for a fact, because I became embroiled in an argument with the authorities on this point - I won.
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On 14/01/2019 19:13, Harry Bloomfield wrote:

Very common. LPG, being heavier than air, also has its own issues on boats and many avoid gas.

To be honest, I've not heard of boats burning anything other than diesel. Furthermore some makes have a reputation of sooting up, so I doubt there would be much enthusiasm to use an alternative fuel. They are also not cheap to purchase and need regular servicing.

Boats are allowed to have one tank and then claim a percentage propulsion vs alternative and pay the duty accordingly. It seems to work well where every sale is recorded.
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Fredxx used his keyboard to write :

I was on about using red diesel in a car's FBH. I fitted an additional tank small into the boot, just for the FBH.
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I’m curious Harry, which car is that? Is it something you had fitted as a special (or fitted yourself?) I’ve never heard of one in a car.
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Brian Reay laid this down on his screen :

Rover 75. It was a standard fit on the early ones, an expensive option on the most recent ones. A not fitted option on my car. However, it was all wired and plumbed up ready for an FBH, it just needed the pump, the FBH unit and its exhaust fitting - so, as it had every other possible option in place - I bought and fitted it.
It is a very efficient BMW diesel engine, which takes an exceptional amount of time before it warms up, so the FBH was fitted by Rover as a very effective workaround. It sounds like a rocket motor when it is running.
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In general, diesels do take longer than petrol to heat up the coolant. And many cars had a direct burning heater as an option - very popular in cold countries where you could heat up the car on a timer before starting it in the morning.
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