Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-26-2017, 03:18 PM   #21
Senior Member
MountainBikeRoamer's Avatar
Join Date: May 2014
Location: OrangeCounty, CA
Posts: 1,275
Originally Posted by Glider View Post
I think there are a few different ways to handle this:
1. Filling the RotoPax is easy; just put in as much as you anticipate using for the next three months, and never worry about it.
2. Fill'er to the top, and add fuel stabilizer.
3. Use your van more often; never worry about old fuel; and smile more.
Hey Glider,
You've had this setup for a couple months or more now (I think?).....can you enlighten us as to how your experience has been, particularly with respect to in-the-van odors of any kind from the diesel fuel? Is it largely an invisible thing to have onboard?

EDIT: I see that cthayn has just asked the same question.....

(I have very little experience with diesel fuel (having never owned a diesel vehicle), but I've read that diesel doesn't create fumes at normal room temperatures like gasoline. It certainly sounds like a pretty "well-behaved" fuel to live with. Think you mentioned in a previous post (perhaps during your posts of the installation) that it was pretty odor-free.)

Love the simplicity of your fill-it-yourself, diesel-fuel-for-heat/stove approach.
Very cool setup!!!

But hey....another question:
Has the safety of "storing diesel fuel inside the van" been thoroughly explored/sorted out?
Everyone may have heard that diesel doesn't create fumes or ignite easily at room temperature, thus its relative safety.

If it's atomized however....or if it comes in contact with a hot surface and thus heats to its flash point (somewhere between 126 and 205 F), it reportedly ignites pretty readily. Placing a fuel tank inside a vehicle, where it could be be potentially punctured (and release an atomized spray of fuel) in a collision, curious what the thoughts are around that.

Thread: Can you light diesel fuel with a match?

(Not trying to be a buzzkill to what looks like a super-rad solution, it just seems that this is an elephant in the room (or an elephant inside the van) that probably ought to be considered/talked about at least once.)


Mike T
'95 Ford E250 RB30 PH
MountainBikeRoamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2017, 03:55 PM   #22
Senior Member
ShuttlePilot's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 600
Originally Posted by MountainBikeRoamer View Post
(Not trying to be a buzzkill to what looks like a super-rad solution, it just seems that this is an elephant in the room (or an elephant inside the van) that probably ought to be considered/talked about at least once.)
A few gallons of diesel fuel in a rotopax in the cabin is probably much less of a hazard than the half dozen butane cans I get at the Asian market to run the portable stove with.

That is an elegant solution btw.


2005 SMB RB 4x4 6.0 PSD
A rocket on the pad is safe,
but it's not what rockets are built for.
ShuttlePilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2017, 04:00 PM   #23
Senior Member
Glider's Avatar
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 601
I love all of the good questions. I contemplated many of these before choosing this path.

1. Odor. I have had zero odor issues with this setup. That makes sense to me. The only way to get an odor is if the diesel vapors can get out of the fuel system and into the air of the van. But this is a fully closed system. There is no path between the fuel system and the van's interior air. Consequently, I'm not surprised to have no odor issues.

2. Safety. This is an interesting one. I've had long conversations with a long list of folks--rv manufacturers, fuel tank manufacturers, and others--about fuel tank safety. When it comes to exterior fuel tanks, I am not aware of any laws that prohibit a person from installing one on their rig, but be aware that only a very few of the tanks out there have been crash tested and certified to meet DOT standards.

So--if a rig with a non-certified tank is involved in a crash, and that crash results in ignition of fuel from that tank, what impact might that have on liability and insurance coverage? I don't know. But that line of thinking gave me pause for thought.

Something like a RotoPax is a manufactured, accepted product. They are used everywhere. It would be darn near impossible to deny coverage or pin additional liability on a vehicle owner as a result of fuel spillage from a RotoPax in the event of a collision. That weighed in my decision.

Regarding the possibility of diesel fuel heating to its flash point, and igniting: well, it is fuel. No question about that. Diesel burns, propane explodes. By definition, we all travel with hazards to our health. Heck, being on the road is a hazard to our health. For me, the question is: what is the likelihood of that risk turning into a reality?

In my case, that RotoPax is in a well-protected location. Could it be penetrated in the event of a crash? Yes, but it would take one heck of a crash to do it, and even then, nothing would come of it unless the fuel also managed to vaporize and and the vapor came into contact with something hot enough to get it to burn. Are all of those things going to happen? Theoretically possible, but highly unlikely.

If enough happens to set my RotoPax on fire, it is probably enough to get an external RotoPax to burn, or a rear-mounted, under-floor fuel tank to light off.

Conclusion: I feel safer with my RotoPax full of diesel on my rear bulkhead than I did carrying a can of Coleman fuel, or portable, pressurized propane or butane cylinders in my rig. When I add up all of the risk factors, I'm pretty comfortable with this setup. But to each their own. One of the beauties of the van life is that we each have our own set of priorities and considerations, which all lead to different ideas and different conclusions...which leads, in turn, to the magnificent conversations we have on this forum!

OMG, the Silver Streak is Sold!
2006 SMB EB45ish.
5.4L, QuadVan 4x4
Ready to Rumble!
Glider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2017, 04:01 PM   #24
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Western Colorado
Posts: 1,223
I would not recommend having a liquid fuel container with unprotected lines inside the vehicle. Perhaps the latter being more of an issue.
Maybe it's just because I deal with the aftermath of accidents but it would concern me to have a setup like that.
Desert Solitaire
2003 7.3L EB 4x4
Timberline 4x4 conversion
saline is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2017, 04:33 PM   #25
Senior Member
Glider's Avatar
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 601
Saline, I respect your thoughts. At the same time, that fuel line is miniscule, and it exits the top of the tank, not the bottom. All this to say that if I cut it clean open, I'd see less than a couple of milliliters of fuel come out of it. More likely a few drops. A butane fuel can venting on a hot day inside the van is going to create more of a risk than that fuel line, even if it were completely compromised.

That said, if I had kids or pets--or even a VW full of wild friends--I'd probably whip up some kind of barrier between uncontrolled activities and that little fuel line, just so I wouldn't have to think about it. But since the wildest thing that happens in that van is boiling water for tea on my diesel stove, I haven't put fuel line protection at the top of my list. That might be more of a consideration for other folks.
OMG, the Silver Streak is Sold!
2006 SMB EB45ish.
5.4L, QuadVan 4x4
Ready to Rumble!
Glider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2018, 09:57 AM   #26
Senior Member
gnty's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Southern Alberta
Posts: 428
We have the Planar heaters here and am faced with the same dilemma, diesel heater in a gas van. I certainly agree with what has been discussed, both the pros and cons. There is really no clear answer but personal choice based on comfort level of having fuel inside or outside of a van.
The Planars come with a fuel tank and Planar said that people have been mounting this inside vans and running the heater off of kerosene, what are the thoughts on this? Safer? More peace of mind?
2005 E350 EB 4x4 6.0 Super Camper HT
2005 E350 RB Passenger 4x4 6.0
1995 Bigfoot 20' Class C 4x4 7.3
gnty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2018, 04:47 AM   #27
Junior Member
911's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 6

I have an Dyna-Glo RMC-FA125DGD that I fitted to the T4. Its almost too powerful for such a small cabin but it’s ace. It does take some battery juice though so Im considering giving it it’s own dedicated cranking battery – it’s not Ah that matters but it’s getting the amperage to the glow pin for 30 seconds – and fairly long, not very thick cables to my leisure battery doesnt always manage it and I have to run the engine for a minute and switch over to van battery just to start up the heater – once fired it takes very little elec.

An oil filled heater might will be fine but a bit bulky. I have a 400W “halogen” heater which could run for a while through the inverter and worked well. But it’s cheap, not thermostatically controlled, dangerous (prone to falling over – weighs nothing) and still quite bulky.

Otherwise, you can do like this guy

911 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2019, 01:00 AM   #28
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 1
I got a Dyna-Glo some months ago but for some reasons unknown to me, it won't work anymore. I don't know if I could get any form of assistance from here.

Rodanta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2019, 05:41 PM   #29
Senior Member
LenS's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,215
Just bought a 3kw $160 Chinese unit to install in my van. Cheap and worth the risk. Will see how it works. My big concern was 2kw versus 3kw. Wanted enough heat for cold weather but also wanted to minimize fuel consumption.
Attached Thumbnails
010.jpg   030.jpg   035.jpg   040.jpg   405.jpg  

Len & Joanne

The Green TARDIS
LenS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2019, 06:00 PM   #30
Senior Member
shadetreevanman's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 385
Hey LenS, I too bought a Chinese Heater, the 2K in my case. As we live in SoCal and rarely ever need a heater it was the best solution for me. Haven't quite decided where to mount mine yet in my Ford E350. Under the front drivers seat? Or under the rear couch/bed? Post some pics when you get yours in.

Tim Potts

2012 Chevrolet Express 3500 6.0
shadetreevanman is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.