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Old 09-16-2018, 08:34 PM   #141
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Summer is almost over and mornings are getting colder here on the coast of Oregon. We recently fired-up our heaters as a pre-winter check and that made us wonder: Both Webasto and Propex are solid options, but which one is the best?

As you know we have installed both in our van, and here is what we think about them:

https://faroutride.com/webasto-vs-propex

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Old 09-16-2018, 08:38 PM   #142
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Will you share this comparison on this site or you expect folks to click for this info on your site?
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:48 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by GeorgeRa View Post
Will you share this comparison on this site or you expect folks to click for this info on your site?
There is dozens of hours put into each article for formatting (images, spec tables, links to manufacturer manuals, install instructions, etc.). Formatting options on this Forum (and Forums in general) are just to plain to make something comprehensive.

I know where you are going with this. Here's the full text then:


1- Overview
We think that Webasto (and Espar) gasoline/diesel heaters and Propex propane heaters are the best heaters out there, because:

1- They produce dry heat. That means:

No molds in the long run. Relative humidity inside the van is around 35%-45% during winter, even in the evenings after drying our gear.
Comfortable heat. (see “what’s wet heat” just below)
Clothes and gear dry fast, surprisingly fast. Ski gear is normally dry after 1.5 to 2.5 hours, boots are totally dry late in the evening.
So what’s “wet” heat, then? Catalytic heaters such as the Mr. Heater Buddy produce a lot of moisture; indeed, water is a by-product of propane combustion (see Wikipedia)! Try it for yourself: get in your van after a day of skiing and ignite the Mr. Heater. Condensation appears on the windows almost immediately and the heat feels damp, heavy and uncomfortable.



2- The heat is blown out of the heater via a powerful fan. That means:

Hot air is pushed far away and mixes with cold air, so heat in the van is more uniform.
The Mr. Heater Buddy (sorry Buddy, no love for you) might produce enough heat, but the van is freezing cold just a few feet from it. Not fun.



3- They are both vented heaters. That means:

No need to crack the windows open to stay safe. That’s a good thing because, you know, you’re trying to warm up the van after all!! (but vented heaters or not, remember that minimal ventilation is always recommended at all time)
Indeed, the combustion is external to the van: combustion air is taken from outside and rejected outside (along with carbone monoxide and moisture by-products). Hot air is transferred inside the van via a heat exchanger.



2- Specifications
Here’s some factual information:

Webasto Air Top 2000 ST/STC Propex HS2000
Fuel Diesel or Gasoline Propane (or butane)
Dry or Wet heat? Dry Dry
Heating Capacity 7000 BTU/h 6500 BTU/h
Air Flow 55 cfm 60 cfm
Electrical Consumption
Startup: 6.5 A (for one or two minutes)
Low: 1.3 A
Medium:1.7 A
High: 2.3 A
ON: 1.6 A
OFF: 0 A (duh)
Fuel Consumption 0.03 to 0.07 gal / h
(0.12 to 0.27 L / h)

0.33 lb / h
Dimensions 12.25″ long x 4.76″ high x 4.72″ wide 15.5″ long x 4.0″ high x 6.8″ wide
Weight 5.73lb ?






3- Real World Observations
Enough facts. Really, how does it feels to use the Webasto VS the Propex heater? Here are the differences that are noticeable:

1- Cycling

Both heaters are controlled by a thermostat; the user select the right temperature and the heater will maintain it. The Webasto Air Top 2000 has three speeds (low/medium/high), while the Propex HS2000 only has one (ON/OFF). It means the Webasto generally produces a constant noise versus cycling noise for the Propex. It’s easy to get used to a constant noise, but cycling is what wake us up at night…

Winner: Webasto



2- Noise level

– Inside = medium/high for the Webasto, medium for the Propex.

– Outside = High for the Webasto, medium for the Propex.

Winner: Propex



3- Heat Capacity

We feel the Webasto has more heating capacity (heat faster and hotter on very cold days).

Winner: Webasto



4- Heat Uniformity

– The Webasto Air Top 2000 pushes the hot air further than the Propex HS2000, so heat is more uniform in the van.

– Bonus: The Webasto can be installed under the passenger seat, so the hot air is “produced” by heating the cold air at the floor in the cabin; since this is the coldest area in the van, it makes the front of the van much warmer. That’s very important for us, because with out interior layout we hangout a lot in the swivel seats (see our swivel seats review and installation). Installing the Propex towards the front of the van won’t produce the same result, because the cold air won’t be “sucked” from the floor (feet rest) area, unless you install some kind of ducting…

Winner: Webasto



5- Fuel Monitoring

The Webasto uses the gasoline/diesel from the van tank. It means that, as long as you keep your tank above third full (below that, the straw on the Transit will suck air…) you will never run out of heat; that’s a huge benefit! With the Propex, the propane tank level has to be monitored and the tank filled periodically.

Winner: Webasto



6- Controller

The Webasto can be purchased with the neat (and sexy) MultiControl* (see interactive tutorial). It’s great because there is a 7 days timer to program the heater to automatically start / stop. For example, we program the heater to start automatically at, let’s say, 6 AM in the morning before we wake up. Or we program it to start, let’s say, an hour before we finish our skiing. The MultiControl also allows you to use the fan only (no heat); that’s useful to dry the shoes in summer 🙂 By comparison, the Propex controller has that 70’s look…

*The MultiControl is available for the STC model only



Winner: Webasto








4- Installation



Oh, and if you are wondering, the winner is: Propex! It’s easier to install.



5- Maintenance and Reliability
The Propex HS2000 burns clean and is not prone to get clogged with combustion by-products (soot, etc.). It will work hassle-free for years and years with virtually no maintenance!

The Webasto (and Espar) are a bit more finicky and tend to get clogged with soot (carbon buildup). We read reports of people running them for 5 to 7 years with no maintenance at all; on the other hand we also read reports of people have to clean them almost each year… What’s our personal experience with it? We actually had ours failed (carbon buildup) during our first winter. We then replaced the combustion chamber to start from fresh; we went through our second winter with no issues at all!



With the following changes, we think our Webasto will work as it should:

We removed the exhaust silencer because it add restriction (if you read the “full version story”, you know by now that the gasoline models seems to be more prone to carbon buildup than the diesel models).
We adjusted it for high-altitude (faroutride.com/webasto-espar-high-altitudes).
They are prone to produce and accumulate carbon and soot when running at low speed, so:
We try not to let the heater run at “low” speed for extended periods; if it does, we run the heater at max speed for 30-45 minutes or so before shutting it down.
Before turning the heater OFF, we always run it at high speed for 15 minutes. We can actually see small particle being pushed out of the exhaust during that process!


Winner: Propex








6- And the winner is…
The Webasto Air Top 2000 wins if, like us:

You have a love affair with snow.
You use your van during winter (constant sub-freezing temperatures). That’s especially true if you practice winter sports and there is clothes drying involved… A heated van is an AMAZING ski cabin; ski-in, ski-out!


The Propex HS2000 wins if:

You use your van for short/medium periods during winter, or for long periods in cool weather.
You’re looking for something to warm up the van in the morning and to chase the humidity out.
Don’t get us wrong; the Propex is fine for full-time winter living, but in our opinion the Webasto is better…
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:09 PM   #144
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Default Energy source

Good analysis, the key decision for energy hungry appliances is the choice of energy source(s) for fridge, stove, water heating and space heating.
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Old 12-11-2018, 02:27 PM   #145
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Default 12V Solenoid Shut Off Valve for Propane

Sooooo, we finally installed a SOLENOID VALVE to our propane system.

We initially did not to install one; we thought we would close the tank manually every time we hit the road... nope, we honestly NEVER close the tank (except on ferries and tunnels)! We've said if before: every repetitive task should be made as simple as possible or it gets irritating (or gets ignored...).

We also had an "incident" where we accidentally opened a stove burner and walked away from the van. Fortunately, the funky propane smell raised suspicion and we came back to double-check... that totally saved the day (and our van)!

So we finally went ahead and installed a solenoid valve. It's a "normally closed" solenoid valve and it has to be energized (12V) to open (and to remain open). It's controlled with a push-button switch that illuminate when ON, so it's an effective reminder that the propane is open. The switch is located near the stove/oven, so it's not irritating to use.

We detailed all the installation here:

https://faroutride.com/propane-syste...e_Installation






Cheers!
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:15 PM   #146
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What is the power draw of the solenoid valve for the propane? That apparently has been of some concern, and problem, for some of the factory units that used solenoid controlled shutoffs. We have seen numerous accounts of folks getting sick of the power losses, especially in cold weather when you can least spare it, and going to manual valves. Of course, if you have propane heat it is a much bigger issue than if you are running on diesel or gasoline for heat.


Too bad they don't make (AFAIK) a bistable valve for propane like they have for large current switching.
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:39 PM   #147
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What is the power draw of the solenoid valve for the propane? That apparently has been of some concern, and problem, for some of the factory units that used solenoid controlled shutoffs. We have seen numerous accounts of folks getting sick of the power losses, especially in cold weather when you can least spare it, and going to manual valves. Of course, if you have propane heat it is a much bigger issue than if you are running on diesel or gasoline for heat.


Too bad they don't make (AFAIK) a bistable valve for propane like they have for large current switching.
A bistable valve is possible (I once looked into it). However, they are not popular due (I think) to safety concerns. The argument is that after a bad crash you tend to lose power, and you would like the valve to close. I thought through a failsafe bi-stable solution. It got complex quickly.

There is a better solution, though. It turns out that many solenoid valves work fine at 5VDC. So, you can put a 12V-5V buck converter between the switch and the solenoid, which cuts the current consumption drastically. You can get them on eBay for like $3.
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:43 PM   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atoine View Post
We also had an "incident" where we accidentally opened a stove burner and walked away from the van. Fortunately, the funky propane smell raised suspicion and we came back to double-check... that totally saved the day (and our van)!
This shouldn't be possible with a modern stovetop. Gas stoves are required to have a safety feature such that the gas won't flow unless either (a) flame is present or (b) you are pushing down on the valve. This is a serious safety concern.
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:46 PM   #149
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avanti View Post
A bistable valve is possible (I once looked into it). However, they are not popular due (I think) to safety concerns. The argument is that after a bad crash you tend to lose power, and you would like the valve to close. I thought through a failsafe bi-stable solution. It got complex quickly.

There is a better solution, though. It turns out that many solenoid valves work fine at 5VDC. So, you can put a 12V-5V buck converter between the switch and the solenoid, which cuts the current consumption drastically. You can get them on eBay for like $3.

They may actually make a coil that will auto reduce, as that is getting to be pretty popular for energy reduction in places that have lots of solenoids, like factories.


I wonder how Blue Sea is doing their relatively new super low current draw battery relay, which I think has only 40ma hold. It may just be bistable with electronics, which wouldn't help the loss of power shutoff issue.
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:41 PM   #150
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Here's our budget for 2018:

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