Traveling to your favorite ski destinations and sleeping in a camper van is convenient and fun, but you will most surely need a heater to stay comfortable. The first things to consider are the source of energy, the size of the camper van, and where to install an additional device. Some of the most common sources of energy for camper van heating are electricity, propane, and diesel.
Electric space heaters are cheap to buy but use an excessive amount of power
Electricity, obviously, is a bit challenging if you go off-grid for a long period of time as you may be able to run the heater only for a few hours before it drains the battery. Electric space heaters don’t require any installation and they fit in a small space. If you have a solid power supply, for instance a solar generator, or can hook up to a power outlet each night, electricity could be an option as electric heaters generally heat the space quickly and produce dry heat.
Propane heaters don’t require 12 V power but cause condensation
Propane heaters may cost a bit more than electric heaters, but they are typically cheaper to run overall and they are more powerful. They do not require the use of a 12 V battery and propane is quite easily available for refills. However, the heat generated from a propane heater is not dry. Combustion of liquefied petroleum gas generates about 15% by volume of water vapor and produces moisture on windows and surfaces. Moist hot air is not as comfortable as dry air and not as useful for drying your outdoor gear. In time, it may even lead to problems with mold. The most important factor to remember is a propane tank will always leak a little requiring you to install it safely outside the van and having a carbon-monoxide alarm for safety. The tank must be secured properly for different terrains and high-speeds on the highways. Also, if you are looking to travel to freezing cold destinations, propane is not recommended. It is not likely your propane tank would freeze, but the volume of the propane inside the tank would shrink and lose pressure and it would not be able to reach the burner, which means you would basically not be able to use your heater. Diesel, for instance, would handle cold temperatures better than propane.
Diesel heaters are the most energy efficient but require more advanced installation skills
The most energy efficient option would be a diesel heater, which is often the popular choice in camper vans when they are used through all four seasons. Diesel is readily available almost everywhere and when the fuel is fed directly from the tank of the van, you don’t need to remember to check any additional tanks. The fuel consumption of Wallas heaters is so low you can keep them running for a long period of time without worrying about refueling. On average, a Wallas heater burns 5 liters (1.3 gal.) in 24 hours. As Wallas heaters are ultra-low emission heaters, a very small amount of exhaust is emitted and directed outside, but you should still never run the heater when the van is parked in an enclosed space. As with any fossil fueled product, the vehicle should be properly fitted with a CO detector, tested regularly and replaced as per the manufacturer’s schedule.
A diesel heater will need a 12 V power supply, but the electricity consumption is also very low. Wallas heaters require 10-12 amps to start, but once the heater is running, it will only need approximately 0.5-4 amps. While a diesel heater may be more expensive than an electric or a propane heater, you will save in the long run. Keeping also in mind that Wallas heaters have brushless blower motors, which require less servicing than many other options in the market.
When you are choosing a Wallas heater, remember that most Wallas heaters are primarily marine heaters, but they operate just as well in camper vans. However, as they are marine products, they do not have the EU/UK type approval for recreational vehicles, and can only be installed in camper vans retrofitted. You would need to check the standards in your own country in order to follow the country specific regulations regarding installations. Wallas heaters are suitable for camper vans also because they adjust the combustion in high altitudes. The Wallas model, which is designed primarily for recreational vehicles and can be installed in new camper vans is XC Duo.
A diesel heater installation requires a bit more experience than an electric or propane heater, which is why we recommend always discussing different options with a professional Wallas distributor to make sure the installation is done according to the Wallas instructions and country-specific regulations.
The smartest solutions are two-in-one heating options
Especially for camper vans where space is limited, the smartest solutions are two-in-one heating options. Wallas XC Duo is a stove and a forced air heater in one unit specifically designed for camper vans. It takes very little space and has a stylish modern design. This type of multi-purpose product saves on installation time, weight, and space. Another smart way to heat your camper van is an air-water heater combination. Wallas Viking Combi is primarily a marine air heater, but it warms up water simultaneously. It is convenient for having warm water for basic chores when you are away from electric charging stations, but for full-time off-grid living, you would need to consider something more substantial.
As you can see, there are many aspects to consider before making your investment. It is always a smart choice to discuss the options with a Wallas distributor first to ensure you get enough heating power and that you don’t get something you don’t really need.