Heating System Experiences
The recent rebuilding of Starr's Rixens/Espar D5 system has caused me to reflect on what I've generally learned in this area in the past 18+ months.
First, the D5 is quite loud so I try to not have it run when I'm sleeping. I find it better to layer on the covers rather than heat the cabin during the night. I do this by simply turning the system off when I go to bed and switching it on before getting up. I try to turn it on an appropriate amount of time before getting up so that the cabin has time to warm up. I normally keep the cabin heated to 58°F in the winter and the cabin temp will fall to around 40°F by morning if outside temp is around 20°F (with windows insulated, front cabin curtain installed/closed, & PH top down/lowered). It will take about 30 minutes to warm back up to the mid 50's.
The Rixens thermostat's touch buttons are very finicky -- either they don't register a touch or one touch results in multiple effective touches. It's so bad that I try not to adjust the thermostat -- I just turn the heat on/off via the Rixens switch panel's "System" master switch.
I always turn off the D5 system when driving so that the system doesn't breath in road dust. Even doing so, I found some dust deposits caked onto the D5 fan's impeller. I can only imagine how heavy those deposits could be if the D5 was active on dusty roads!
Right after Starr's delivery, I had Rixens tie the D5 heater coolant loop to the engine's coolant loop through a flat plate heat exchangerfor on-the-road rear heating. This required the MB H88 Rear Heater Prep option, which surprisingly required the MB H12 Prefired Heater Booster option under the hood. However, I have found that the Sprinter's front cabin heating system is sufficient to heat the rear area while driving and I haven't used Starr's heat-the-rear-via-engine capability. But I have used it to heat hot water -- I'll turn the Rixens hot water loop on before arriving at camp to have hot water for showering or whatever upon arrival. But IMO this capability is not worth the H88+RixensWork cost.
I've used the MB H12 Prefired Heater Booster to melt snow/ice on the windshield. I decided to go this route instead of ordering the heated windshield option because I can also use this option to prewarm the van's engine so that it has sufficient power from the get-go. And I also use it to preheat the van's front cabin. Therefore I’ve been OK with this choice.
BTW, Starr's windshield developed a large crack this fall -- it just appeared while parked on a cool, sunny day. No evidence of a chip so I don't know what caused it. I anticipated having to periodically replace the windshield and so that also contributed to my decision to not order the heated windshield option.
2018 Sprinter 4x4 RB150S w/PH Lithium Build ("Starr Van")
Pictures of some Starr adventures (starting in 2019): https://rick.samcos.com/galleries/