Diesel, gas or electric - which is best?
To the untrained eye, the two main types of camper space heater are pretty similar. They’re both compact (many install theirs under the driver’s seat), both work from thermostat readings and both blow a steady supply of heated air to keep your cabin cosy.
But whether you choose to plug yours into your fuel tank or a propane/butane canister can make all the difference to cost, usability, noise and neighbourliness. To take some of the heat off your decision, we outline the pros and cons of diesel and gas.
We use: Webasto Airtop or Eberspacher Airtronic
The very top of the range, many choose to swallow the expense of the Webasto diesel heaters for their dependability and super rapid performance. The former are fitted in the cab of most large trucks, used throughout the marine industry and come as standard in the VW California campers. There aren’t any significant differences between the two, except that the Eberspacher is slightly more prestigious and the Webasto a decibel or two quieter.
NOTE: If you are thinking of buying a petrol van, both these models of heater are also now available in petrol version.
We use: Propex HS2000
If a little slower performance-wise, the Propex heater gives the diesel a run for its money as a compromise on cost. These provide the same air-blown heating but tap into canisters of propane, butane or Camping Gaz (a butane/propane mix). Your pockets will therefore feel the most relief if you already have a gas installation in your van.
If you only expect to need artificial heating now and again and are looking to keep costs low, a Propex makes more sense.
If you are on a campsite with hookup, then using electric heating is the most economical option. Most commonly a small fan heater is favored for its compact size, but in such a small space the frequency with which the thermostat switches the element off and on can make for a disturbed night sleep. Another option is to go for a small oil-filled heater, this might take up more valuable space, but the silent and even heat distribution may be worth the trade off.
For ease of use, if you are going to be on hook-up much of the time, it’s worth considering the Propex HS2800 gas electric combo heater.