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Whether you’re fully embracing van life or just headed out for a winter adventure, you need some form of heater in your van.

Sure, you could buy some free-standing electric heaters, but they can be bulky and battery draining. A better option is to use a diesel air heater.

Diesel air heaters burn diesel to heat up the air and thus the interior of your van. They can be fueled directly from your van’s fuel supply, or they can have their own diesel supply. It’s up to you and what you prefer.

Either way, the great thing about diesel air heaters is that they are small enough to be concealed under your cab seats. This means that you don’t lose any of the already scat floor space in your Sprinter van.

There are plenty of choices when it comes to diesel air heaters, and it can be a bit overwhelming trying to choose just one. That’s why we’ve pulled together this list. Here, we will discuss 5 of the best diesel air heaters on the market today, so that you can choose one to suit your build.

We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide and some FAQs so that you can make a fully informed decision.

Best Sprinter Conversion Van Diesel Air Heaters

1. MaXpeedingrods 12V 5KW 5000W Diesel Air Heater

maXpeedingrods 12V 5KW 5000W Diesel Air Heater LCD Thermostat Remote Control 10L Tank for Pickup Truck Bus Trailer Boat

This is our favorite diesel air heater. It has a wealth of great features at an incredible price. You can’t really go wrong with this heater.

Let’s start with the heat output and overall size of this heater. At 5kw, this heater is large enough to heat your whole van. It will be more than powerful enough to manage vans where the cab bulkhead has been removed as well.

At 5” x 5” x 15” this heater is remarkably discreet. It can be fitted in a number of different locations in your Sprinter van including between your cab seats, under your back seats, and in the trunk space.

The fact that this heater doesn’t have to take up lots of space is wonderful. You can stow it away and still stay toasty and warm.

Another thing to love about this heater is the fact that it has a remote starter. It works from 30 feet away which means you can get a head start on heating up your van. This is going to be particularly wonderful if you’re returning to your van on winter mornings.

There are, so far as we can tell, only two issues with this heater. The first is that the installation instructions are rather vague and unhelpful. Luckily, there are lots of videos and guides online that can make up for the poor instructions.

The second issue is that the LCD only uses Celsius. You can’t change the units to Fahrenheit which means that you’re going to have to get used to converting.

Otherwise, this heater is a phenomenal piece of kit.

Pros:

  • Great value for money.
  • 5kw of power.
  • Low fuel consumption.
  • Small enough to fit out of sight.
  • Remote start.

Cons:

  • Vague and unhelpful instruction manual.
  • Only displays temperature in Celsius.
maXpeedingrods 12V 5KW 5000W Diesel Air Heater LCD Thermostat Remote Control 10L Tank for Pickup Truck Bus Trailer Boat
  • NOTE: It's very important to install the heater by correct steps, please double check before use. If you need any help, please contact us.
  • Power: 5KW, Rated Voltage:12V
  • Fuel Supply: Diesel only, Fuel Consumption(L/h):0.14-0.35L/H
  • Tank Capacity: 10L, Item Size:39*14.5*14.5cm
  • Independent heating device: Blow out warm air independently without causing wear and tear or carbon deposits in the engine, which can extend engine life by 30%.

2. Diesel Heater,12V 5KW Diesel Air Heater 

Diesel Heater,12V 5KW Diesel Air Heater with LCD Monitor,Remote Control,10L Tank & Silencer,Diesel Heater for Trucks,Boat,Touring Car,Bus

At 5KW, this heater will have no issue heating an entire Sprinter van. In fact, many reviews point out the fact that you have to turn the heater down to avoid getting too warm.

Customers have used the heater in temperatures as low as -30 degrees to stay warm and comfortable. This is incredible and shows just how reliable this heater is.

We also love how good the fuel efficiency is. Most reports state that the heater uses about 0.1 or 0.2l per hour on the lower settings. This means that you can run the heater for 5 days straight before you use up the 10l fuel tank it is supplied with.

Even on higher temperatures, users report that they can get 2 to 3 days of use before they need to refill. However, the heater works so well that you rarely need to use the high temperatures consistently.

There seem to be a few complaints about the noise of the fuel pump. However, this is easily solved by mounting the pump outside the van as per the instructions. In general, this heater is a quiet operator.

Like many other Chinese heaters, the instructions are rather vague or mistranslated. Luckily, there is a large online community that can help you out. Searching for installation or maintenance help returns a wealth of resources and information.

The other thing to be aware of is that the customer service is exceptional. Customers who received damaged, or faulty parts are keen to praise the speed and service of the manufacturers when offering replacements or refunds.

Pros:

  • 5kw power output.
  • Excellent fuel efficiency.
  • Reliable at low temperatures.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Awesome manufacturer and customer service.

Cons:

  • Vague installation instructions.
  • Noisy fuel pump.
Diesel Heater,12V 5KW Diesel Air Heater with LCD Monitor,Remote Control,10L Tank & Silencer,Diesel Heater for Trucks,Boat,Touring Car,Bus
  • 12V 5KW aluminum alloy diesel air heater with LCD control(Fahrenheit), remote control,10L tank,silencer and other necessary accessories(shown as the picture)
  • Diesel heater can be used for cab heating of lorries, van, battery cars ,trucks,boat,touring car,bus.
  • Remote control can preheating,oil quantity, temperature and wind speed can be adjusted,window's frost can be eliminated.There is a protective film on the LCD controller screen! Fuel pumps are tested during production and there will be a little fuel inside.
  • Tseipoaoi diesel air heater compact structure, easy to install.When the vehicle is replaced, it can be disassembled to the new car.
  • The engine coolant can be preheated to avoid engine wear and tear at low temperatures. We have detailed operation videos, please contact us if need.

3. 12V 5KW All in 1 Air Diesel Heater

12V 5KW All in 1 Air Diesel Heater LCD Display Controller for Car Van Boat Truck Bus Motorhomes

This heater is manufactured and sold by Tuningsworld, a Chinese automotive parts company.

It is a trusty little heater that compares favorably with the other heaters in this article. For instance, it is a 5kw heater with a 12v hook up like the others.

The difference really lies in the fuel tank configuration. You see, this heater has a built-in 5l fuel tank. This makes it much bulkier than its competitors. In effect, the heater is locked into an aluminum case with the 5l fuel tank.

If you are planning on fueling the heater from your van’s fuel tank, then you’re getting a lot of wasted space. We’d recommend this heater to people who are not going to use the van’s fuel tank.

On a more positive note, the heater works well. It puts out more than enough heat for a Sprinter van even on the lower settings.

Once you’ve worked out how to install the heater, as no instructions are provided, it is easy to operate and maintain.

A remote starter is included which is great to see. It is particularly good for defrosting windows and windscreens ready for you.

Similarly, one thing that continually comes up with reviews is just how quick this heater gets to work. After about 2 – 3 minutes of start-up, the heat is pouring out of this machine.

While we’re talking about start-up, it’s important to note that the heater has quite a large power draw when starting up. You really need to factor in about 10-15 amps in your battery calculations.

When running, it only takes about 2 amps which means that it can run overnight without killing your battery. However, that initial 10 – 12-amp draw can be a killer if you’re not expecting it.

Pros:

  • All-in-1 design makes it simple to mount.
  • Puts out a lot of heat.
  • Quick operation.
  • Remote start.
  • Low fuel consumption.

Cons:

  • Larger than other units.
  • Big start up draw.
  • No instructions.
12V 5KW All in 1 Air Diesel Heater LCD Display Controller for Car Van Boat Truck Bus Motorhomes
  • Applicable for motorhomes, campervans, caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers and truck campers, Truck, Pickup, Van, Bus,C ar,S UV, Boat, Forklift, Electric Tricycle, Engineering Vehicle, Yacht
  • Heater Power: 5KW, Fuel Gasoline: diesel, Fuel Consumption: 0.1 liters per hour oil, Remote Control Effective Distance: 30 meters
  • Environmentally product, low emissions, low fuel consumption; heater exhaust emissions to meet euro IV engine emissions requirements.
  • Can be operated whilst on the move, can dismantle to a new car when replace vehicle.
  • Low noise operation, most of the noise get reduced when it works, more comfort through wide control range, quiet night-time operation

4. Superfastracing 5KW 12V Remote Control LCD 10L Tank Air Diesel Fuel Heater

Superfastracing 5KW 12V Remote Control LCD 10L Tank Air diesel Fuel Heater For Truck Bus Car Van

First things first, with a name like ‘Superfastracing’ we can’t help but chuckle. It’s not what you normally see for van or RV related products.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on what the heater can do.

Like the others on this list, you’re getting a 5k, 12v heater. It has an LCD and remote starter that let you easily and quickly operate the heater.

One thing to note is that the display works in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit. This is common with Chinese heaters, so you will need to learn the conversion.

One of the best things about this heater is that it includes a silencer. This significantly reduces the noise made by the fuel pump. It is probably the quietest heater on our list for that reason.

The heater is supplied with a 10l fuel tank but can be plumbed directly into your van’s fuel tank. It has a decent fuel consumption rate, taking about 4 hours to use a liter of fuel. That gives you 40 hours to use the whole tank which is just under 2 days.

It’s not the best fuel consumption rate, but it will be good enough for mild to cold areas where you don’t need to run it continuously.

Pros:

  • 5kw of heat output.
  • Great customer service.
  • Quick and easy to operate.
  • Fast to heat up.

Cons:

  • Displays in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit.
  • Average fuel consumption.
Superfastracing 5KW 12V Remote Control LCD 10L Tank Air diesel Fuel Heater For Truck Bus Car Van
  • 5kw diesel heater 12v :Heater power:5kw,Rated Voltage:12V
  • Low noise: noise reduction processing with minimal noise.
  • Easy installation: the compact design is good for using in a variety of narrow spaces.
  • Applicable to: various diesel mechanical vehicles such as cars, buses, RVs, trucks, engineering vehicles, etc.
  • Working temperature:-40℃~20℃.The use of advanced automatic control technology, with a reliable abnormal operating conditions.

5. Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater

Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater 12V Diesel Parking Heater Muffler with LCD Thermostat and Remote Control for RV Bus Trailer Motor-home and Boats

This little machine puts out a lot of heat. It will keep your Sprinter van and cab nice and warm in temperatures as low as -40 degrees.

The small size means you can install it comfortably under your cab seats or in other small areas. This is awesome and particularly good for vans where space is tight.

The heater is sold with a muffler that should fit to the exhaust pipe. However, the diameter of the muffler and exhaust seem to be identical. This means you’ll need to add an attachment to get these to fit together.

In terms of fuel consumption, you can get about 3 full nights out of the included 10L tank. This isn’t wonderful, but it’s certainly not the worst we’ve seen. On the lower settings, you’ll probably be able to get longer running times.

You do get a remote control for this heater, but it seems to have some issues connecting with the heater itself. Unfortunately, the instructions are somewhat vague and confusing which means that it can be difficult to fix this issue.

Pros:

  • 5kw heat output.
  • Small size.
  • Decent fuel consumption.

Cons:

  • Poor instructions.
  • Controller is difficult to work.
  • Muffler doesn’t fit the exhaust.
Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater 12V Diesel Parking Heater Muffler with LCD Thermostat and Remote Control for RV Bus Trailer Motor-home and Boats
  • Efficient Diesel Heater: Heater Power: 5KW; Rated Voltage: 12V; Heater Working Temp: -40℃~+20℃; Oil Pump Working Temp: -40℃~+20℃. On cold winter days, we have got you covered with this diesel air heater to warm your car and eliminate the windows' frost. With fast heating and low noise, the aluminum heater runs smoothly in any harsh environment.
  • Low Energy Consumption: Fuel Consumption: 0.11-0.51 (L/H); Fuel Gasoline: Diesel Only. The diesel heater features an oil pump that precisely controls the fuel inlet for thorough combustion, saving energy while working smoothly. A full 10L/2.6 gal fuel tank will power your heater for up to 100 hours, ensuring low emissions and long-term running.
  • LCD & Remote Control: Our diesel parking heater is equipped with an intelligent LCD monitor and remote control. Once activated, the heater's timer and thermostat can be automatically or manually adjusted by the built-in LCD panel. Moreover, You can change the temperature via remote control, allowing you to warm the car before entering it on the cold winter morning.
  • Effortless Installation: Complete Accessories: 1 x Oil Pump, 1 x 10L Tank, 1 x LCD Switch, 1 x Remote Control, 1 x Silencer, 1 x Oil Filter, 1 x Air Filter, 1 x Inlet Pipe, 1 x Exhaust Pipe, 1 x Installation Kit. The full accessories set makes it a breeze to install this parking heater in your vehicle. It can be flexibly installed in the passenger room, trunk, or under the container.
  • Wide Application: As a warming companion for any diesel vehicle, the bunk heater is widely used to heat the cabs of cars, RVs, caravans, trucks, ships, etc. This heating device blows out warm air independently without causing wear and tear or carbon deposits in the engine, thus prolonging engine life by 30%. With the compact and portable design, it is also an excellent choice for home and shop.

Best Sprinter Conversion Van Diesel Air Heaters Buyer’s Guide

Not all diesel air heaters are made equal. As such, you need to pay attention to a few key ratings and specifications when buying a heater. Ignoring these things could see you end up with a diesel air heater that is not fit for purpose.

Size/Output

The first thing you need to check is how large and powerful the heater is. This is important because the size and heat output will determine whether the heater can actually warm up your van.

If you have a large van and a small heater, it won’t warm the whole living area. Similarly, a massive heater in a small space will cause you and your van to overheat.

Sprinter vans are classed as large vans and will therefore need a 4 or 5kw output heater. If you’ve got lots of cabinets, and you’ve kept the cab bulkhead, you can get away with a 4kw heater. If you’ve removed the cab bulkhead, you’ll need a 5kw heater.

Noise Levels

Diesel air heaters are combustion heaters, this means that they burn fuel in order to heat the air. The combustion process, along with the fuel pump can make these heaters quite noisy.

This is less than ideal if you’re trying to relax or sleep in the van while the heater is on. It can also be quite disruptive to any neighbors, human or otherwise.

When you look for a heater, be sure to check the decibel rating. Not all heaters will volunteer this information. In those cases, check whether the design incorporates any mufflers or noise reducing technology.

Heaters tend to be noisiest when starting up, shutting down, or running at full power. You can help reduce the noise output by using your heater efficiently and making sure it is the right size for your van.

Fuel Efficiency

Whether you hook your heater up to the van’s fuel supply, or have a dedicated fuel supply, you’ll want a fuel-efficient heater.

If your heater drinks diesel like there’s no tomorrow, you’ll end up spending a fortune to keep warm.

Most diesel heaters are pretty fuel efficient. They generally use about 0.1 and 0.5 liters of diesel an hour. Obviously, you want to look for a heater that uses the least amount of fuel.

Altitude

Diesel heaters will have an altitude rating. This tells you the maximum altitude they can be used at. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this, or you could end up injured, ill, or dead.

The issue is that as you go higher, the air gets thinner. This makes it difficult for the diesel to burn cleanly and correctly.

If you know you’re going to be at high altitudes, look for a heater that has a high-altitude rating or a feature that can let it work at higher altitudes.

Power

Most diesel heaters use 12V power supplies which makes them easy to install and use in your van. The thing you need to be aware of is how much power the heater draws on start-up. In some cases, this can be as much as 15-20 amps.

Once the heater is running it usually only uses about 1amp. You do need to factor that initial surge into your battery load calculations to make sure there’s enough juice to get going.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are diesel air heaters safe?

Yes, they are! In fact, diesel heaters are generally considered to be safer than LPG heaters. This is because you don’t run the risk of gas leaks and explosions.

Diesel heaters also produce less carbon monoxide than gasoline heaters. This can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in case of a fault. However, it is important to note that diesel heaters do need to have an exhaust fitted to remove the carbon monoxide.

Many diesel air heaters are fitted with automatic shut off systems to prevent overheating. These systems monitor the unit’s temperature and kill the engine if temperatures exceed safe levels.

In all, diesel air heaters are very safe to use in your Sprinter van. They are safe enough to run when you are asleep and when you’re driving.

How does a diesel air heater work?

The process is actually quite simple. Diesel air heaters are combustion heaters which means that they generate heat by burning diesel.

The ‘air’ part of the name comes from the fact that these heaters draw air through the heater and into a heat exchange. At the heat exchange, the air takes the heat from the combustion chamber and becomes hot air. It is then sent out into your van.

When fitting your heater, you’ll notice that you have two pipes that need to exit the van. One is the air intake pipe and the other is the exhaust pipe.

The intake pipe draws fresh air in from outside the van. This is sent to the combustion chamber to mix with the fuel. This is not the air that gets sent into your van. Instead, this air is simply a necessary part of combustion. After all you need fuel, oxygen, and heat to get a fire going.

The exhaust pipe carries away the ‘burnt’ air. This air contains carbon monoxide and other by products of the diesel combustion. These byproducts are harmful and need to be vented out of the van.

The other thing you’ll notice about your heater is that it has a vent on either end of the body. These vents are for the ‘hot’ air. One draws air into the heater while the other vents the warmed air into the van. These do not need to be fixed to the outside of the van.

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