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Old 02-04-2020, 10:46 AM   #11
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From what I have read, the gas Espar units are very finicky. As I recall, Sportsmobile told me once that they wouldn't even install one because they weren't very reliable. I don't think they even have them as an option on their web site. They certainly aren't widely used in the RV industry. It is hard to even find good reviews on them. I suspect gasoline is just not as clean of a fuel supply as diesel or kerosene. On the other hand, our Freighliner dealer installs the diesel Espar units on every semi truck that they sell now.

I would love to hear any personal experience with a gas Espar unit.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:48 AM   #12
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One option available at SMB West that we have selected for our Transit is the Truma Combi Furnace/Water heater. It runs on propane and has a small footprint for installation. You wouldn't have to add an auxiliary diesel tank. This system has been used in European builds for years and many North American Class B's now come with this unit as standard. After we have taken delivery of our van, I will report back to the Forum on its utility and efficiency.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:59 AM   #13
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I don't know how efficient the Truma Combi units are with propane, but again, our standard Sportsmobile propane tank would only run the furnace for about 50 hours before it needs to be filled. I can run my diesel Espar unit with about 1 gallon of diesel per day off the main diesel tank which has been awesome. I would be even be more open to going back to propane dependency if we had a standard 20 lb propane tank where we could just do a simple tank exchange at any gas station. I would hate though to go back to the hassle of filling an undervan propane tank every week in colder weather.
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Old 02-04-2020, 02:26 PM   #14
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I don't know how efficient the Truma Combi units are with propane, but again, our standard Sportsmobile propane tank would only run the furnace for about 50 hours before it needs to be filled. I can run my diesel Espar unit with about 1 gallon of diesel per day off the main diesel tank which has been awesome. I would be even be more open to going back to propane dependency if we had a standard 20 lb propane tank where we could just do a simple tank exchange at any gas station. I would hate though to go back to the hassle of filling an undervan propane tank every week in colder weather.
it is my understanding that the usual propane furnace runs about 50% efficiency. and they are damn loud BTW

Truma Combi runs at about 97% efficiency, and are whisper quiet. We have one being built into our custom RV currently. I am stoked for the Truma Combi!
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:44 PM   #15
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Thanks. Sportsmobile tells me that Espar makes a gas burning furnace that they install on Transits, so no need for a diesel tank. I'd plan to go Electric/Gas with the 2nd alternator
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:57 PM   #16
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You can put a lot of solar on the roof of a Sprinter or Transit. I wouldn't think you'd need the second alternator or to run the van at all if you utilized the roof. Most of these vans are tall enough now where roof racks are mostly aesthetic. They are a good place for several hundred watts of solar, though!

Gas or diesel (engine), I'll probably never have another furnace other than an Espar/Planar/Webasto/etc. They are amazing. Like most things people have trouble with, they need to be used! I have never had any trouble at all with my current Espar or my former Planar and I use them a lot. I do not go to really high altitude though. That is a definite consideration with one of these. They are more problem prone at high altitude.
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Old 02-05-2020, 08:16 AM   #17
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I looked up the fuel consumption on the Truma Combi unit (very nice units) and when I do the math with the standard 7.9 gal Sportsmobile propane tank, the Truma unit will run about 75 hours on a full tank (probably less with an 80% LP tank fill rate). When we use our van especially in the spring and fall, we frequently run our heater all night (no winter use for us). Assuming it is on 8 hours per day, a propane tank would last us a max of 9 days assuming we aren't using propane for anything else.

Our diesel Espar unit works great but I do have to spend 20-30 min each fall cleaning the carbon from the burning chamber area. I would have to see considerable evidence that a gas (not as clean of a fuel) burning Espar furnace would be reliable before i bought one. Thousands of semi-truckers have proven the reliability of the diesel units but I can't find a single review from a gas unit owner.

Again, I would embrace the idea of a Transit for our next van but gong back to being dependent on propane would probably be a deal breaker for us.
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:49 PM   #18
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I ran myself ragged the last few months researching the best heater option for my gas van and have likely settled on the Webasto Air Top STC 2000. By virtually all reports, including some local users, the gas Webasto is easy(ish) to install and, when run at least once a month, is not prone to the cleaning problems the Espar presents to some. And itís insanely quiet.

I had an early concern about higher altitude performance that was addressed both online and by my local installer in showing me how the adjustment is made during install.

I still want some propane for cooking and perhaps an outdoor shower but those can be handled with smaller portable cylinders. After much back and forth, I think Iíve settled on this setup. With the Webasto, itíll be nice to just run off a gigantic tank of fuel that you always have with you and is available virtually everywhere in North America.

Reading back through the post, it looks like your original concern/question was gas vs diesel/Transit vs Sprinter. I think gas is simpler and suits me well. What I really want is to see the day when our vans can run great distances totally off batteries and we can be done with the vagaries of fossil fuel.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:34 PM   #19
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With how Ford handled the engines in the Econoline series (i.e. sticking with the 2V motors), does anyone know if the transits get the current or previous gen 3.5TT? They added port injection on the 2nd/current gen 3.5TT, which if you've ever owned a DI engine - is a big deal. I would not be shocked if it was still a 1st gen version in the van though.
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:13 PM   #20
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Gas engine: Sprinter or Transit?

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Originally Posted by joelm View Post
I put down a deposit about 6 months ago for a Gas Sprinter (RB, High Roof) conversion. Gas is pretty important to us given all the issues with Diesel.

I've been set on a Sprinter for many years before ordering, but now, with Mercedes being vague about when gas engines will ever ship, I'm starting to have second thoughts.

This may be the wrong form, but I'd love to hear people's thoughts on current Sprinter vs Transit? What would I give up or miss if I switch my build to a Ford?
(Transit EB - High Roof -- Probably all wheel drive) would be the option.
We had the same quandary; Sprinter or Transit. We initially ordered the 2019 diesel Sprinter 4x4 EB High Roof but subsequently flipped to the equivalent 2019 Transit due in part to the ambiguous delivery date for the Sprinter. The other reasons were the greater availability of parts and service for a Ford vs. a Mercedes, the 3.5 twin turbo engine in the Transit and the availability of the Quigley 4x4 conversion. As others have mentioned, we liked the exterior styling of the Sprinter more than the Transit but style ain't everything. We took delivery of the Transit from SMB West in January 2020.

You will not regret getting the 3.5 twin turbo. With 400 lb/ft of torque it accelerates the 7,500 lb van incredibly well. Paired with the 10 speed automatic transmission in the 2020 vans it will be quite smooth.

We worked extensively with SMB to equip the Transit properly. We had the van shipped directly to Quigley from the factory for the 4x4 and then to SMB in Fresno. We did not get the 2nd alternator opting instead for two solar roof panels which have been working great so far.

Wanting to avoid an onboard propane system we have the Espar B5 gas water heater/furnace. It really works well in spite of the return air vent being right next to the hot air output vent and fuel use is pretty much negligible. We have not used it in sub-freezing temps yet but expect it to work well as evidenced by others. The only odd thing about this unit is the sound the burner makes when it is firing up; it's like a jet turbine slowing ramping up. It's not really an issue because the burner part is mounted outside under the van and it's not really that loud. We use one of those single burner butane stoves for cooking.

To date we have only 3,100 miles on the van after one month with it and are quite happy with our decision to flip from the Sprinter to the Transit. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask.
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