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Old 07-15-2009, 11:05 PM   #1
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Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

It seems like every Espar Hydronic equipped Diesel SMB that I've encountered, uses the coolant heater as an engine pre-heater, and a means to heat their potable water (w/flat-plate). But they don't use it to heat the cabin. Instead, they have an Espar Airtronic or a propane heater providing the cabin heat.

I would've thought that running a few feet of heater hose to a simple heater-core/blower-motor mounted in the living space, and plumbed into the Hydronic unit, would be a heck of a lot cheaper than an Airtronic/Hydronic set-up. And less hassle than a propane/Hydronic set-up, since you'd only be dealing with one fuel, and avoid having to have a big service/vent hole cut into the side of your van. Plus, I think a heater/blower unit would take up less space than a propane heater/tank.

Has anyone here tried this setup? Doesn't it seem like it should work as well or better than the other options, and cost less?

I'm particulary excited by the idea of this set-up (I'm self-building my own rig) since my E-350 cargo van came with the factory installed rear a/c-heater/blower. So for me it's a no-brainer. The unit is compact enough that it could easily be incorporated into the cabinetry. I would have just one appliance handling my engine pre-heat, hot water and cabin heat...Fantastic!

But before I get too wrapped up in self-congratulations, I have to ask; am I missing something here? Is there a very good reason why SMB doesn't offer this option?
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:38 AM   #2
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

You could absolutely let the Espar Hydronic heat the cabin through a heat exchanger. A problem with this type of arrangement is that the Hydronic's water pump uses about ten times more power than the Espar Airtronic. Also, the Hydronic is considerably louder than the Airtronic.

If you have ample battery power, or just need the heat for short periods, you should be fine.

John K.
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Old 07-16-2009, 10:01 AM   #3
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

How will you stay warm for all the hours you are in it during the winter when the engine is not running?
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:54 PM   #4
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

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How will you stay warm for all the hours you are in it during the winter when the engine is not running?
You don't need the engine running. That's the whole point of using the Hydronic coolant heater. It heats and circulates the coolant, by itself, using much less diesel fuel than the van engine would. Then all you need is a flat-plate heat exchanger to heat your potable water and a heat exchanger with a blower fan to heat the cabin (similar to the one that already heats the drivers cabin, under the dashboard)

Quote:
A problem with this type of arrangement is that the Hydronic's water pump uses about ten times more power than the Espar Airtronic. Also, the Hydronic is considerably louder than the Airtronic.
Ahh, Ok. I need to compare the electrical load ratings on the the Airtronic and Hydronic. Also, I'd have to factor in the electrical draw from the blower fan, which is probably around 1-3 amps depending on fan speed setting (lo/med/hi)

Are you sure the Hydronic is louder than Airtronic? I havn't heard either, but from what I can tell they are basicaly the same diesel fueled mini-furnace, with the Hydronic having a water pump and a water jacket surrounding the combustion chamber...you would think that should make it quieter than the Airtronic?

I am planning to install two 4D AGM coach batteries with a total of 420amp hrs (210ah usable upto 50% max discharge), so I think I would have enough juice to power the Hydronic's electrical needs along with the blower fan too.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:56 PM   #5
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

Very interesting idea.

John K is correct, the Espar water heater is quite a bit louder. Other than the clicking sound the cab heater makes, it's super quiet. The Hydronic would be cycling on and off all the time depending on the temp of the water I think. Both units make more noise when they fire up, but the Hydronic is louder when starting or running compared to Airtronic. Going out on a limb I would say the water heater is about twice as loud when up and running compared to the cab heater and two times louder when it cycles up. At times I can hear the Hydronic fire up when I'm a couple hundred feet away or more.
I would also want to look into long continous run times. If I remember correctly the Hydronic control only will allow the unit to run for a max time of 2 hours but that might just be a default setting.
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Old 07-18-2009, 02:57 PM   #6
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

Wow! Found these on youtube:





I'm really surprised at how loud the Hydronic is...too loud for my needs. I don't think I could get a peaceful night's sleep with that racket! - This is sad news, because I was really hoping to avoid the hassles associated with installing and operating a propane system...at least it's relatively quiet when operating.
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Old 07-18-2009, 03:28 PM   #7
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

In short, it was talked here http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...=1276&start=15 on page 2

Webasto developped a hot water boiler associated with hot air heating in one device.


We have it over here but it seems it is not yet released for installation in the states.

That's the way I will go.
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:21 PM   #8
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulliver
Wow! Found these on youtube:





I'm really surprised at how loud the Hydronic is...too loud for my needs. I don't think I could get a peaceful night's sleep with that racket! - This is sad news, because I was really hoping to avoid the hassles associated with installing and operating a propane system...at least it's relatively quiet when operating.
Not too sure if he had the muffler in that video. I thought I saw it mounted midway of the exhaust system; mine is located at the end of the exhaust pipe. But it does give you an idea of how loud it is when it cycles on. Those mics are fairly sensitive and the sound might be slightly exaggerated. But you definately can hear it inside the cab even with the muffler.
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Old 07-19-2009, 03:04 PM   #9
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewST
In short, it was talked here http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...=1276&start=15 on page 2

Webasto developped a hot water boiler associated with hot air heating in one device.


We have it over here but it seems it is not yet released for installation in the states.

That's the way I will go.
Andrew, when are you planning the install? I'd love to read a review when you're done?

Thanks for the link!...lots of interesting info.

I'm going to call 'Webasto USA' and find out when they expect to market the Dualtop over here. I'd like to hear one running first though, but no one's posted a youtube of it yet...too new I guess. But I did find this , that appears to run much quieter than the Espar (Eberspacher)
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:30 PM   #10
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Re: Espar Hydronic Coolant Heater -Can't it Heat Your Cabin Too?

Gulliver,

My install should take place by end 2009 or beginning 2010.
If by then it is still not available in the states, I will bring it in my luggage

A friend installed it in his truck, will check if I can get a sound track of it.

Andrew
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