We’ve recently made an upgrade to the caravan with the addition of a diesel heater. One thing that has prevented us from doing free camping over winter in the past has been the lack of heating in the van. As much as we love a good campfire, the caravan can be way too cold for comfort when you turn in, so we bought a diesel heater through Aussie Outback Stores, a camping, 4×4 and accessories supplier online.
A diesel heater was the preferred option for us over gas for a few reasons including that diesel is readily available even in remote areas and it won’t drain our LPG gas supply which is used for cooking and water heating. Diesel heaters need a 12V battery capacity to run so we had an extra battery installed at the same time.
The heater is a self-adjusting 1 – 5 KW unit that uses diesel from a 10 litre tank which is also supplied with the product. Fitting the unit was left to a friend who has installed many of these in a variety of different caravans. Diesel heaters can be installed by anyone with competent DIY skills and installation kits come with instructions which our installer has gone above and beyond with. The safety of diesel over gas was another consideration in our choosing this method of heating inside the van. Diesel heaters enable you to control airflow better than LPG, meaning you can keep a constant temperature as cold air is recirculated and warmed.
The prep work for installing the heater included making sure it could fit and work from the area we had in mind. This meant moving a few wires underneath the van to ensure that the heater could be installed underneath the club lounge seats at the front of our Jayco Silverline. Heat protective sheeting and paint was also applied to areas for extra safety.
On our van the diesel tank has been installed in the front boot and at the moment it’s the plastic one provided with the kit but it may be replaced with a sturdier metal tank in time if needed. We also had a second battery installed next to the existing caravan battery under a separate one of the lounge seats to help run the heater. The heater unit is protected by a cage made by our friend from an old security door, ingenious! This will protect the heater from any accidental knocks and damage. The size of the unit is 39x14x15 cm and it weighs 8kg. Both the air intake pipe and the exhaust pipe are underneath the front seating area and the heat is directed from under the table and towards the back of the van.
The heater has a remote control to adjust the temperature and wind power, the higher the wind speed the higher the heat output. The receiver for the remote and panel that shows the temperature setting is also installed in an unobtrusive place on the club lounge frame. One more item we will be buying and installing is a carbon monoxide detector, for under $40 and a couple of batteries it is a good insurance policy to have.
Our heater has had a couple of practice runs so far and the noise is negligible. When the unit is first fired up you can definitely hear it’s on inside and it’s louder from outside of the van but once it gets going it quietens down to being no louder than any fan heater.