Having diesel or gas heating in a caravan means that in cold weather you can still enjoy the natural beauty of freedom camps rather than paying top dollar for a campsite in a Caravan Park just to be able to plug into their power.
We’ve owned our caravan Priscilla for close to five years and she’s probably around six years old. As her layout and size suit us quite well we’d prefer not to upgrade as we figure that she and us will probably wear out at about the same time anyway.
Because of her age we had decided not to fit diesel heating as the cost of a heating unit was approximately $800 plus installation. We’d also heard talk of manufacturers quoting up to $2800 to fit a German unit. Not that our van manufacturer is even in business today. Like so many caravan manufacturers Creative Caravans are long gone.
At a Caravan Club Muster back in May we heard that Chinese made diesel heaters are now available on Ebay and some of our members immediately purchased them online. We headed off to Queensland with that thought in the back of our minds.
As most caravanners know weather conditions can vary from year to year but it’s not unusual for inland temperatures to drop to zero at night in winter. Thanks to the drought we had particularly good weather until we got the urge to head for home. As always, our plans to wander slowly through New South Wales were thwarted by cold weather, not wet this year of course but still cold. It was then that the nagging thoughts of diesel warmth returned.
We arrived home to frigid Melbourne weather and after talking to our mates who had purchased heaters online we too ordered one (from rover.ebay.com). It arrived within days, having been shipped direct from Sydney. It cost us $269 and there were no delivery charges. We found a local Caravan Repairer who came well recommended and he installed it a few weeks later. It took 7 hours to install at a cost of $100 per hour. A fair price considering that there was quite a bit of fiddly work to be done. We had already had a bracket made to hold the fuel tank (yes, a fuel tank was included) and that cost us an extra $16 for the aluminium bracket and a crossbar for mounting it on our drawbar.
The overall cost was $985. Now I’m sure if you’re a caravanner like me you would want to do a Return on Investment and work out how many Caravan Park stays that will save and when we’ll reach break even point etc. Forget it! Trust me it pays for itself on the very first night. The warmth is cosier than our home heating and on that first night I sat up revelling in the warmth and just staring at that little black plastic vent thankful that we’d made the decision to go ahead with it.
The specs? 12 Volt, 5KW Diesel Air Heater with 2 vents, controller switch and fuel tank.
Does it use much fuel? Most diesel heater owners complain that they don’t use enough diesel and worry about their fuel ‘going off’.
Is it easy to use? We had the control switch installed beside the bed. Just roll over and press the button. When the van is warm, get up and make breakfast. Or as a friend of mine said recently “I don’t get up until it’s 18 (degrees)”.
Is it noisy? On start-up it is a little loud but much quieter than a gas water heater. (You know that sound when you’re out in the bush and you hear your mates’ hot water system go on and you know that it’s time to get up, well the diesel heater is a little quieter). Once it is up and going it drops to a purr. Ours did not come with a muffler, but it seemed no louder than either of our neighbours who both have mufflers.
Does it take up much room? Ours is fitted under the bed and yes, we have lost a triangle of about a metre but to make up for that I have removed a few things that weren’t being used enough to warrant their staying on board. Which actually says that winter warmth means more to me than a rice cooker, OK.
How much have we saved so far? $5 by taking the unpowered option at Loch Reserve.
That’s not much? Who cares we’ve never been warmer! And we use it in Caravan Parks too because it’s better than electric heating.