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Old 06-14-2016, 06:12 PM   #1
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Can you use the factory Espar block heater for hot water?

We plan on having this factory option for block heating and aux heat when the engine is running. Seems like there are a few different levels this are offered at from MB. Aux heat when the engine is running and pre heating when the engine is off. I'm not sure what the difference is from a mechanical standpoint, but I would guess the later option has an electric water pump.

Since our Sprinter will be new and under warranty, is it possible to tap into the engine cooling system to use that heater for hot water without running the engine or voiding the warranty? It seems functionally the same as the D5, which is always an option, but would prefer to use existing equipment as much as possible. Plus, I like the idea of the Espar airtronics for heat rather than the D5.

We won't have propane.
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:06 PM   #2
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Most are tied to the coolant system. My Hydronic D-4 is. The D-5 is a combo water and cab heater. Sorry I have never really researched the D-5 and don't know how it heats the air. I'm guessing some kind of heater core/fan combo but I really don't know.
The Airtronic has nothing to do with vehicles coolant system and is a cab heater only. SMB has offered a flat plate only water heating system where you can have hot water w/o the use of a diesel heater unit. It just has a pump that circulates the radiator coolant from the engine to the flat plate and then back to the engine. A hot motor will supply hot water for several minutes as the coolant slowly cools. I have both so I can run the Espar or just use the engine as a heating source. Obviously the engine has to be running and/or brought up to reasonable operating temperature. The only issue I have about heating water w/o activating the Espar is the pump pulls several amps more than the Hydronic itself.
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:15 PM   #3
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When I was talking with SMB briefly, they mentioned that the Hydronic heater was standalone with its own cooling system. It'll do hot water and heat for the camper by way of radiators and fans. However, it's a $7K option and pulls more amps than just the Espar airtronic unit (no coolant - just forced air). Seems silly to spend $1k on the block heater option from Mercedes, then $7k for a hot water and camper heater that isn't much different. One benefit I see with the Hydronic unit is that it'll heat off 110v if you're plugged in. But, that will be rarely for us.

Ideally, I'd pay for the block heater from mercedes, pay extra for the ability to run it without the engine on (separate option from Mercedes), plumb in the flat plate for hot water, and use the airtronic for camper heat. I have an email out to SMB, but I fear the warranty might be compromised this way.
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Old 06-15-2016, 01:25 AM   #4
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Sounds like the D-5 system but could be wrong. I just know what works for me (Ford 6.0 PSD) and I'm satisfied with what I'm running, not that there aren't improvements out there. Stuff keeps getting better... it's just how much you want to pay
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:13 AM   #5
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The $7k option is the D5. But, the SMB rep said, or at least it sounded like, they were saying you can install the D5 for camper heat and hot water, but you can't tap into the block cooling system for engine pre-heat because of issues with the mercedes factory warranty. They could easily do it, though.

So, I wasn't sure if just going with the flat plate option for hot water (by way of block coolant) would also void the warranty. You can order a Sprinter with 200 Ah (dual AGMs) engine batteries, and they have 3 ranges of diesel-fired block heaters. 1 runs only when the car is running to give you instant heat and help get coolant up to temp. The 2nd and 3rd options allow you to preheat the motor and have heat flowing out the dash vents for up to an hour (or I'd guess until a certain voltage drop is reached). I'm sure the diesel-fired heater from MB is either Espar or Webasto.

So, was wondering if anyone had insight into whether the flat plat option is available for new Sprinters under warranty, and if so, if the factory block heater has enough juice to also create hot water. You can also get a remote to active the 2nd two options from up to 2 miles away. My Cayenne has this same option available in Europe, but not in the US due to some regulation about the fuel system.

This is what MB states about the 3 different options (I see the main difference now is the BTU output and that the 3rd option requires rear heat plumbing):

Heater Booster (with engine running)

Details & Technology

5-kW [17,000BTU] heater booster can be switched on whenever the engine is running. Theon/off switch is located to the right of the light switch. When the heater booster is switchedon, a red indicator light comes on in the switch and a symbol lights up in the instrumentcluster.
After the heater booster has been switched off, the coolant pump and the burner blowercontinue running for approximately 3 minutes, then turn off automatically.

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Fuel-fired pre-heater/booster (17,000 BTU)

Details & Technology

A fuel-powered 5-kW [17,000 BTU] auxiliary heater is mounted underneath the floor in thearea of the left-hand B-pillar. The auxiliary heater warms the coolant, which then heats thedriver's section via the water circuit of the front-end heater. The air is supplied to the interiorvia the air outlets in the instrument panel.
The auxiliary heater is turned on and programmed via a rocker switch in the instrumentcluster (on vehicles with standard instrument cluster) or with the steering-wheel buttons (onvehicles with multifunction steering wheel (Code CL4) and pixel matrix instrument cluster(Code JK3)).
Maximum operating time is 60 minutes, at which point the heater switches off automatically.
When the engine is running, the auxiliary heater can be used as a heater booster,supplementing the front-end heater.
When the aux heating mode turns off, the heater automatically switches to booster mode.
Sprinter 906continued H12


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Heater Auxiliary, Warm Water with Timer, 10 kW [34,000 BTU]

Details & Technology

The dual-function water auxiliary heater operates both as a heater booster and as anauxiliary (stationary) heater and can be used as an engine block heater.
The booster (10 kW [34,000 BTU]) mode is activated automatically depending of coolanttemperature, whenever the engine is running. An indicator light comes on whenever thebooster function is active. When the engine has been turned off, the heater booster continuesrunning for approximately 2 minutes.
The auxiliary heater (5 kW [17,000 BTU]) can be switched on using a switch with indicatorlight. The indicator light comes on whenever this function is active. Maximum heating time isup to 2 hours depending on, amongst other things, coolant temperature. The auxiliary heatercontinues to run for 15 minutes after the engine has been switched off.
If both the auxiliary heater and heater booster functions are activated, the auxiliary heaterhas priority. After the auxiliary heater function has been switched off, either manually orautomatically, the heater booster is activated automatically
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:59 AM   #6
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I have just about all factory options offered (in 2010)
I do have the factory hydronic heaters(2) and the remote.
The remote cannot work up to 2 miles ...
They are Espars
It will not operate unless 39 or below
Sportsmobile cannot tap into it
As far as it being able to run without engine on.... Yes
will it heat the Sprinter with engine off.... NO... its function is to WARM the cockpit, and provide full heat when just starting, and boost the heat of the coolant when needed in extreame cold
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Old 06-16-2016, 11:10 AM   #7
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Thanks, K9. I actually just got an email back from SMB, and you're right. While one could theoretically tap into the cooling system to use the Espar on the block for heating hot water in the cab, it voids the warranty. So, we'll be going with the Hydronic system for heat/water.

What's been your experience with the Espar's on the block? Do you have dual batteries up front to run it when pre-heating on cold days? I've used some diesel engines in -30 F and they didn't have too much issues starting. Others, and we'd use forced air pre-heaters anytime it was in the single digits or colder. Since there will be times when we need to use the high-idle on a cold morning, having the ability to pre-heat it and then boost the coolant temp while running would be great. Air out the vents is great for a normal car, but we won't be using it for the cab heat, per se.
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Old 10-24-2016, 11:41 AM   #8
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I am pulling this thread back from vacation....

I have done a ton of searching, and havent found anyone doing this:

WHy not use a Coolant heater (webasto thermotop C, or espar D5) to circulate hot coolant thru a Heat exchanger (like a Helton heat exchanger)?

According to webasto, the coolant temp exiting the thermotop is 168 deg F at full load. Seems simple to add a heat exchanger down stream and have essentially on demand hot water, while also preheating the vehicles engine.


That is my plan anyway.

I also plan to route the heated coolant lines around my externally mounted Freshwater tank, eliminating the possibility of my freshwater tank freezing up.
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Old 10-24-2016, 12:05 PM   #9
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Not sure if you're talking a Sprinter or something else. My question was in direct regard to the Sprinter since it comes with a factory Espar block heater, and can have the coolant lines plumbed to the rear for an uplifter to use as a factory option. My theory was to use those extended water lines to plumb in a flat plate heater for showering.

If you're doing it from the factory like this, the ECU won't allow the Espar unit to run above 40 degrees for emissions reasons. It also doesn't run for more than 1 hour, and will shut off at certain voltages. Because of how the wiring is on the Sprinter, the Espar uses the starter battery. The 2nd battery option is only for the rear of the van.

Could you do this aftermarket? Sure, but you'll void the engine warranty because they don't want you tapping into the cooling system.

I also read that the Sprinter's Espar is slightly different than what you get with the hydronic D5 system.

If you have some other van type and you're out of warranty, then you could absolutely run the D5 for heat, hot water, and block heat. I was hoping to use the factory Espar block heater for hot water. I believe I could still do that, but we'd have to run the van for hot water if it's above 40 degrees because the block heater won't work.

A lot of people use the hydronic D5 to heat their coach and the engine block - especially on older Fords. It's pretty common, so I'm not sure if I missed a detail in your post that makes your idea somewhat different than this.
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Old 10-24-2016, 12:41 PM   #10
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Ah, It was I who misunderstood your post. thanks for clarifying. Yes my application is out of warranty to say the least.
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