5 Best Diesel Heaters for Van Life

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If you are considering a portable diesel heater for van life, chances are you’re confused and overwhelmed with the choices.

Like, why are there $100 options and $1,600 options that claim to do the same exact things? What’s up with that?

I put together this article after days of research to help you choose the best diesel heater for your campervan. This article showcases my top picks and explains the differences with brand name and Chinese diesel heaters.

If you’re considering a diesel air heater for van life, read on.

To make it easy for you, I start the article with a comparison table of my top picks followed by a breakdown of each heater. The rest of the article is educational and can help you make a more educated purchasing decision.

If you don’t have time to read it all, save the article or click through the table of contents to skip to the parts you want to read!

Best Diesel Heaters for Van Life Overview

This comparison table features 2 high-end brand name diesel heaters for van life with two of the best rated budget choices.

Best Overall
Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2 D2 L 12V 2.2kW 7500BTU with EasyStart PRO 7 Day Timer Fault Diagnostic and Automatic Altitude Adjustment with includes FREE floor mounting plate | LATEST MODEL
Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Petrol Gasoline Kit 12v including Digital Multi Control HD 7 Day Timer Controller 9030910A and Flat Mounting Plate
Webasto Air Top EVO 40 4kW 13650 BTU Gasoline Gas Furnace Petrol RV Air Heater 12V Semi Truck Bunk Heater
5KW Budget Choice
Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater 12V Diesel Parking Heater with LCD Thermostat Monitor & Remote Control for Trucks Boats Bus Car Motor-Homes Vehicle
2KW Budget Choice
Superfastracing 2KW 12V Diesel Air Heater Tank LCD Thermostat Quiet For Truck Boat Car Trailer
Heater
Espar Airtronic D2
Webasto Air Top 2000 STC
Webasto Evo 40
HappyBuy 5KW Chinese Diesel Heater
2KW Private Label Diesel Air Heater for Van
Heat Output
2.2KW
2KW
4KW
5kw
2KW
Warranty
2 years / 2,000 hours
2 years / 2,000 hours
2 years / 2,000 hours
None
None
Best Overall
Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2 D2 L 12V 2.2kW 7500BTU with EasyStart PRO 7 Day Timer Fault Diagnostic and Automatic Altitude Adjustment with includes FREE floor mounting plate | LATEST MODEL
Heater
Espar Airtronic D2
Heat Output
2.2KW
Warranty
2 years / 2,000 hours
Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Petrol Gasoline Kit 12v including Digital Multi Control HD 7 Day Timer Controller 9030910A and Flat Mounting Plate
Heater
Webasto Air Top 2000 STC
Heat Output
2KW
Warranty
2 years / 2,000 hours
Webasto Air Top EVO 40 4kW 13650 BTU Gasoline Gas Furnace Petrol RV Air Heater 12V Semi Truck Bunk Heater
Heater
Webasto Evo 40
Heat Output
4KW
Warranty
2 years / 2,000 hours
5KW Budget Choice
Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater 12V Diesel Parking Heater with LCD Thermostat Monitor & Remote Control for Trucks Boats Bus Car Motor-Homes Vehicle
Heater
HappyBuy 5KW Chinese Diesel Heater
Heat Output
5kw
Warranty
None
2KW Budget Choice
Superfastracing 2KW 12V Diesel Air Heater Tank LCD Thermostat Quiet For Truck Boat Car Trailer
Heater
2KW Private Label Diesel Air Heater for Van
Heat Output
2KW
Warranty
None

Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Best Portable Diesel Heater For Van Life – A Closer Look

Let’s take a deeper look at the best diesel heater for van life options referenced in the chart above.

I made many considerations to select these specific heaters. These heaters were selected after I pored over hours of research, videos, customer reviews, and product documentation.

I provide some of the high-end, brand name diesel heaters for RVs and vans. Also, I made sure to include some of the best Chinese diesel heaters I could find for those on a budget.

Let’s take a closer look:

BEST OVERALL: Espar D2 Diesel Heater for Van Life

BEST OVERALL: Espar D2 Diesel Heater
48 Reviews
BEST OVERALL: Espar D2 Diesel Heater
  • 2.2kw / 7500 BTU Heating Power
  • 2 Year / 2,000 Hour Warranty
  • Automatic Altitude Adjustment
  • Digital Display and Controls
  • 7-Day Programmable Timer
  • Sound Muffler
  • Ideal for small to medium vans

  • Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    If money is no object, I’d recommend the Espar diesel heaters for van life, RVs, and campers any day.

    Espar is a reputable brand, manufacturing both 2KW and 5KW versions of their diesel air heaters.

    With the Espar heaters and brand, you can rest assured with a 2 year / 2000 hour warranty, automatic altitude adjustments, a digital display and controls for easy temperature setting, and a 7-day programmable timer.

    The Espar D2 will run for over 20 hours on a single gallon of diesel fuel. This heater can auto-start in temps down to -50*F, and the automatic altitude setting works up to 9,800 feet.

    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC

    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Diesel Heater
    9 Reviews
    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Diesel Heater
    • UK distributor for Webasto. Genuine UK dealer guaranteed replacement heater
    • Whisper quiet heating - now improved further with quieter fuel dosing pump
    • Webasto Multi Control HD 7-Day Timer with Digital Display. 21 active timers over 1 week - 7 days forward planning
    • Latest Webasto generation Air Top 2000 STC - even better fuel economy
    • Comprehensive installation and operating instruction manuals available to download

    Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Webasto Air Top Evo 40

    Webasto Air Top Evo 40 Diesel Heater
    • UK distributor for Webasto. Genuine UK dealer guaranteed replacement heater
    • Whisper quiet heating - now improved further with quieter fuel dosing pump
    • Automatic altitude compensation up to 7,218 ft (2,200 m)
    • Latest generation Air Top EVO 40 even better fuel economy
    • 12V Only - Fuel consumption range according heat setting 0.07 – 0.14 / 0.15 gal/h

    Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    If you’ve spent much time researching heaters, you’ve heard of Webasto. Webasto is a trusted brand and one of the most well-known diesel heaters on the market.

    These are high-end diesel heaters with a price tag to match. Espar and Webasto are the two top “high-end” diesel heaters for van life on the market.

    Webasto diesel air heaters come with silencers, automatic altitude adjustment, and a 2 year or 2,000 hour warranty.

    The Webasto Air Top STC 2000 is a 2KW heater and it’s great for most campervans. The Webasto Air Top Evo 40 is a 4KW diesel air heater that’s great for large campervans and RVs.

    Both models have automatic altitude adjustment, so these heaters should work well even as you’re traveling through mountainous areas.

    The Webasto diesel heaters come with a hefty pricetag, but you get what you pay for. These heaters come from a well-known brand, have excellent customer support, and a warranty to support you after you make your purchase.

    BEST 5KW BUDGET BUY: HappyBuy Chinese Diesel Heater

    BEST 5KW BUDGET BUY: HappyBuy Diesel Heater
    269 Reviews
    BEST 5KW BUDGET BUY: HappyBuy Diesel Heater
    • 5KW Heating Power
    • Digital Display with Remote Control
    • Low Price / Great Budget Choice
    • Ideal for Larger Vans


    Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    The HappyBuy 5KW heater is a Chinese diesel heater that will work well for those on a budget. This is the larger heating option, so it’s great for large campervans or small RVs.

    The HappyBuy heater has an LCD control panel and a remote control for easy operation.

    This model does not come with a warranty (or automatic altitude adjustment), but it hovers between $100 and $150 on Amazon. Compared to $1,600 for more expensive options, the lack of warranty might be worth it!

    There are many excellent reviews on this product, and this Facebook Group has over 50k members that use these heaters and can offer support and advice if you get stuck.

    BEST 2KW BUDGET BUY: Private Label Diesel Air Heater for Van

    BEST 2KW BUDGET BUY: Private Label Diesel Heater for Van
    328 Reviews
    BEST 2KW BUDGET BUY: Private Label Diesel Heater for Van
    • 2KW Heating Power
    • LCD Control Panel
    • Low Price / Great Budget Choice
    • Excellent Fuel and Energy Efficiency
    • Ideal for small to medium vans


    Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Like the HappyBuy Chinese diesel air heater, this private label heater is very low cost. This means you sacrifice a warranty, but it’s not cost-prohibitive like other options!

    “Private label” simply means it’s not a well-known brand. HappyBuy is also a private label.

    If you just need a diesel heater for van life to get you started while you save up money, I would definitely recommend going with a Chinese diesel heater.

    This is the 2KW version, which is great for most campervans. You can also choose a 5KW and 8KW version from this brand, too.

    What Is a Diesel Air Heater? 

    A diesel air heater, or portable diesel heater, is a popular heating choice for RVs, campers, and vans. 

    Diesel air heaters use diesel fuel as their primary heating source. These heaters are small and efficient. 

    Diesel air heaters don’t produce a wet heat, like propane, so this makes them ideal for small spaces like campervans and RVs that need to be careful about condensation. 

    These heaters are small and easy to install. Portable diesel heaters have their own fuel tank, so they can be installed in any vehicle, regardless of what type of fuel it uses.

    Related: Best 12v Fridge for Van Life

    Brand Name vs Chinese Diesel Heaters

    Chinese diesel heaters have flooded the market over the past couple of years, and for good reason! 

    In the past, diesel heaters were primarily manufactured by European companies. These heaters, like Webasto, are incredibly expensive. Webasto heaters can cost upwards of $1,500!

    Luckily, for the budget-conscious consumer, Chinese diesel heaters have come in to save the day. 

    These unbranded and private-labeled Chinese diesel heaters are reported to work just as well as their brand name counterparts for less than 10% of the price.

    You might be wondering if there are risks for going with Chinese diesel heaters vs name brand heaters.

    The biggest risk associated with Chinese diesel heaters is the lack of a warranty… But when you’re only spending $100-$200 (compared to over $1k), that risk seems worth it. 

    Chinese diesel heaters have a large online community forum available to help with any need or question you might have. 

    Heater from the video: 5KW Diesel Air Heater

    Are Diesel Heaters Safe? 

    Overall, diesel heaters are considered to be very safe. Especially when compared to their propane counterparts!

    These heaters produce less carbon monoxide, burn fuel safely and efficiently, and produce a dry heat without condensation.

    Are Diesel Heaters Expensive To Run?

    Diesel heaters are very fuel efficient, making them an inexpensive heating option for a campervan or RV. 

    Using a diesel heater also saves your propane supply for other things like heating up water or cooking. 

    Diesel heaters only use around 0.1 to 0.6 liters of fuel per hour of continuous runtime. Prices will vary depending on current fuel costs, but the efficiency of the heater makes for an inexpensive heat source.

    How Do Diesel Heaters Work? 

    Diesel air heaters have a heat exchanger coil that’s heated inside a combustion chamber. 

    A diesel heater’s source of combustion is – you guessed it – diesel fuel. 

    Cool air is sucked in and passed over the heated coil by a blower motor. The coil warms the cool air up and blows it out of a vent into your van, camper, or RV. 

    A 12v diesel heater uses a small amount of electricity to run the blower motor and to pump the fuel into the combustion chamber. These heaters are no problem for a camper with a decent battery or solar setup!

    Do Diesel Heaters Need to Be Vented?

    Yes, diesel heaters do need to be vented. The combustion of diesel fuel to make heat creates exhaust that needs to be vented outside of the vehicle. But the installation process is a lot easier than you might think!

    There are several videos on YouTube that walk you through the process of installing a diesel heater. If cutting a hole in your RV or van to vent it seems intimidating, you can find plenty of instruction online.

    Why Choose a Diesel Air Heater for Your Van

    There are many advantages to choosing a diesel heater for van life. 

    First, two words: dry heat! 

    When propane furnaces or heaters burn, they release water vapor into the air. This is known as wet heat.

    The water vapor forms condensation on *everything*. Your mattress gets wet, your windows are wet, your clothes feel damp.

    The condensation then turns into mold and mildew that can cause health issues for humans and pets. 

    Diesel heaters produce dry heat, so there’s no worrying about condensation or mold!

    Also, diesel fuel is cheap, and diesel heaters are efficient. Plus, if your vehicle runs on diesel, you’re never going to run out of fuel because you can tap into your main tank. 

    Diesel heaters don’t use a lot of power. Unlike a propane heater, you can leave a diesel heater running all day when you’re gone and not worry!

    Lastly: Chinese diesel heaters are very low-cost. 

    What To Look For When Buying a Diesel Heater for Your Camper, Van, or RV

    This article is designed to be a one-stop-shop for you when you’re looking for a diesel heater for van life. But I also encourage you to do your own research!

    Here are the top considerations to make when you’re buying a diesel heater for RV or van life.

    Heat Output

    When looking at a diesel heater for your van or RV, consider the square footage of your space with the heat output of the heater. 

    Different diesel air heater models have different heat output levels. 

    If your heater is too small, you’ll waste fuel and not heat your living area efficiently. If it’s too big, you will have wasted money!

    Diesel air heaters need to reach working temp to work properly. This helps keep the heater clean and soot free. If it’s too big, it won’t reach proper working temp and it will soot and can malfunction. 

    Altitude Capabilities

    The next thing to consider is how often you will be traveling in high altitudes. Diesel air heaters can be problematic at high altitudes, so if you’re a mountain dweller, be sure to pick a heater with altitude settings. 

    But if you’re just living in a van and need a heater to keep you warm, automatic altitude adjustments might not matter as much.

    Power Consumption

    12v diesel heaters draw power to run the blower and the fuel pump. The power is minimal, but it can still drain your battery bank if you don’t have a way to replenish it. 

    Consider the power needs of any diesel air heater so that you don’t run into power problems.

    Most heaters will use a surge of power on start-up and use a trickle of power during operation. Be sure to read the specs on any heater you purchase. 

    Noise

    Some diesel air heaters can be noisy when they kick on and are working to get up to temp. For some people, the noise can be a nuisance. Read reviews if noise is a worry for you – reviews are the best way to get real, first-hand info!

    Warranty

    If you’re going to drop a grand or more on a diesel heater, it better come with a great warranty! 

    Most of the pricier, brand-name diesel heaters will come with a warranty to protect your purchase. 

    Budget heaters typically don’t come with a warranty, but they’re also less than 10% of the price. 

    Fuel Efficiency

    All diesel heaters – even Chinese diesel heaters – have excellent fuel efficiency. Diesel heaters for van and RV life use around 0.1 and 0.6 liters per hour. 

    Cost

    Of course, cost is going to be one of the top deciding factors for any diesel heater for van life. If price is no object, you’re free to purchase the top name brand diesel heater! 

    But if you’re on a budget like me – Chinese diesel heaters are a great and efficient choice. 

    Diesel Air Heaters Compared

    Best Overall
    Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2 D2 L 12V 2.2kW 7500BTU with EasyStart PRO 7 Day Timer Fault Diagnostic and Automatic Altitude Adjustment with includes FREE floor mounting plate | LATEST MODEL
    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Petrol Gasoline Kit 12v including Digital Multi Control HD 7 Day Timer Controller 9030910A and Flat Mounting Plate
    Webasto Air Top EVO 40 4kW 13650 BTU Gasoline Gas Furnace Petrol RV Air Heater 12V Semi Truck Bunk Heater
    5KW Budget Choice
    Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater 12V Diesel Parking Heater with LCD Thermostat Monitor & Remote Control for Trucks Boats Bus Car Motor-Homes Vehicle
    2KW Budget Choice
    Superfastracing 2KW 12V Diesel Air Heater Tank LCD Thermostat Quiet For Truck Boat Car Trailer
    Heater
    Espar Airtronic D2
    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC
    Webasto Evo 40
    HappyBuy 5KW Chinese Diesel Heater
    2KW Private Label Diesel Air Heater for Van
    Heat Output
    2.2KW
    2KW
    4KW
    5kw
    2KW
    Warranty
    2 years / 2,000 hours
    2 years / 2,000 hours
    2 years / 2,000 hours
    None
    None
    Best Overall
    Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2 D2 L 12V 2.2kW 7500BTU with EasyStart PRO 7 Day Timer Fault Diagnostic and Automatic Altitude Adjustment with includes FREE floor mounting plate | LATEST MODEL
    Heater
    Espar Airtronic D2
    Heat Output
    2.2KW
    Warranty
    2 years / 2,000 hours
    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Petrol Gasoline Kit 12v including Digital Multi Control HD 7 Day Timer Controller 9030910A and Flat Mounting Plate
    Heater
    Webasto Air Top 2000 STC
    Heat Output
    2KW
    Warranty
    2 years / 2,000 hours
    Webasto Air Top EVO 40 4kW 13650 BTU Gasoline Gas Furnace Petrol RV Air Heater 12V Semi Truck Bunk Heater
    Heater
    Webasto Evo 40
    Heat Output
    4KW
    Warranty
    2 years / 2,000 hours
    5KW Budget Choice
    Happybuy 5KW Diesel Air Heater 10L Tank Diesel Heater 12V Diesel Parking Heater with LCD Thermostat Monitor & Remote Control for Trucks Boats Bus Car Motor-Homes Vehicle
    Heater
    HappyBuy 5KW Chinese Diesel Heater
    Heat Output
    5kw
    Warranty
    None
    2KW Budget Choice
    Superfastracing 2KW 12V Diesel Air Heater Tank LCD Thermostat Quiet For Truck Boat Car Trailer
    Heater
    2KW Private Label Diesel Air Heater for Van
    Heat Output
    2KW
    Warranty
    None

    Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Conclusion – Which Diesel Air Heater for Van Life Is Right For You?

    If you’re looking for a trusted, high-end, name brand diesel air heater for van life – you can’t go wrong with both Espar or Webasto.

    Both brands have great customer service, 2 year or 2,000 hour warranties, and automatic altitude adjustment (plus silencers).

    But if you’re a more budget-conscious shopper or simply can’t afford to spend over $1,000 just to stay warm in the winter, you can’t go wrong with a Chinese diesel heater. These heaters have been used by thousands of people and there is a large support community on Facebook, as well as tons of YouTube videos on the subject.

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