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Stealth: What is the quietest gas heater (Espar, Webasto, Planar, Dometic, Wallas, etc.)?

Goal: Stealth
Need: Quiet operation at night
Want: Small square footage in the cabin
Preference: Gas heaters (using/tapping the existing fuel tank) so that there is no need for a separate diesel or propane tank underneath the van
Installation: Floor installation (to keep the exhaust and air-intake stealth)
Vehicle: Passenger version with rear windows

New to van conversion. Researching stealth-approved gas heaters. As far as I can tell, major rv/boat/truck heater companies are Espar, Webasto, Planar, Dometic, Wallas, etc. and after you pick a reliable manufacturer, the selection becomes 'just air' vs. 'dual (i.e. air + water heating) or hydronic or hybrid' heaters. As long as the price difference (between air vs. hydronic) is not outrageous, having hot water for shower/dishwashing would be nice of course. But my main focus is stealth, as loud heater or visible exhaust fumes (for the times van is not running at night) would ruin the total investment done to keep the van stealth (re: urban camping in cities).

Would love to know:

- What you went with it (or would go with it, if you had the funds): Manufacturer, Model #, price (or place of purchase), type (air vs. hybrid)
- How your experience was (i.e. actual noise level, warranty/support + finding parts if necessary, etc.)
- If I am missing anything, like are there stealthable low-profile roof A/C options (i.e. Dometic Penguin II) that are dual-purpose and provide heat in the winter

Thank you.
 

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The quietest heater is a catalytic heater like Mr Heater Buddy. It does not vent to the outside and might cause humidity problems.
If you want a vent d one, a propane heater, like Propex is quiet, just the fan noise..
The gasoline heaters are noisier especially
outside th van.
I just ordered a Propex that will be run from an inside vented and sealed 2.5 gal. propane tank.
The tank and locker kit is made by Sure Marine for marine purposes and is Coast Guard approved.

Decided against the gasolne one because of noise and possible problems with Mercedes warranty (drilling holes in the gas tank). Anyway, I needed the propane for my stove.
 

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If you want a vented one, a propane heater, like Propex is quiet, just the fan noise.The gasoline heaters are noisier especially outside the van. I just ordered a Propex that will be run from an inside vented and sealed 2.5 gal. propane tank. The tank and locker kit is made by Sure Marine for marine purposes and is Coast Guard approved. Decided against the gasolne one because of noise and possible problems with Mercedes warranty (drilling holes in the gas tank). Anyway, I needed the propane for my stove.
Do you have a Sure Marine link you can share? I'd love to investigate and read on it. For me, I thought a propane tank would take valuable space in the cabin and I'd rather use the gas tank (for dual purpose) where I can monitor the fuel level from the dashboard. But as I said, if Webasto is too loud, I might have to change my plan.
 

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Yes that is what I paid. My installer would not put in a propane locker inside the van unless it was Coast Guard approved, for liability reasons...
 

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Is the petrol (gasoline) heater too noise even with the optional muffler installed?

I don't think you need to drill the tank to add the new fuel pick up for gasoline heater. Webasto allows you to add a T piece in this case. (Y piece should work too)

I would go with gasoline heater for the following reasons:
- it gives the longer stay before refilling the tank (van's gas tank is 3+ times bigger than a 20lbs bottle)
- there's no difference about stealth for people knowing this staff (gasoline heater is better because people will assume the van's idling when seeing this)
- a 20lbs propane bottle will take too much useable space in a small van

forget about the roof-top a/c for this small van, especially for the heating feature
- for heat strips model: it takes too much power (IMO, it's no better than a cheap 110v space air heater)
- for heat pump model: it's better (more efficient), but it will stop working when env. temp. drops to ~35f

hydraulic vs air heater
- hydraulic is better in a bigger van where it can be used as the power source for heating, hot water, and engine pre-heater
- however, there's no required space in a small van to contain the heater itself, water heater / exchanger, radiator and fan

I would go with Webasto airtop 2000 st (gasoline) (or stc). Webasto NA will fulfill warranty works (w/ a small charge or not ?) for st model but not the newer stc model in last year If you bought it from other markets. I don't know if etc model has been introduced to here recently, or else it's still not supported. Espar should be equally good or a little bit better, however, I haven't heard of their gasoline air heater until recently. So I would go with Webasto.

Gasoline heater is not maintenance-free product and it might stop working at given high altitude. High altitude kit might help a little bit in this case.

I don't know the exact price. It's ~$1,000 if you buy from ebay or other EU/UK online shops. You have to buy the installation kit besides the heater itself to make things easier.
 

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You might be able to just tap a line on your old air cooled VW bus but I'm not sure it's that easy on the Metris.

WARNING: MOST MODERN VANS HAVE A PRESSURISED FUEL SYSTEM. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JUST PLUMB STRAIGHT INTO A FUEL LINE USING A 'T' PIECE. FUEL MUST COME DIRECTLY FROM THE FUEL TANK USING THE STAND PIPE SUPPLIED.
7.2. Vehicles with injection engines
When installing the heater in a vehicle with fuel injection system, it is important
to establish whether the vehicles fuel pump is located inside or
outside the tank.
If the fuel pump is located inside the tank, fuel can only be extracted from
the return line using the Webasto fuel extractor (see Figure 9), in which
case it must be checked to ensure that the fuel return pipe in the tank terminates
near the bottom of the fuel tank (see Figure 10 for details of the
minimum distance from the bottom of the tank). If this is not the case Webasto
fuel extractor (see Figure 10, 11 and 12) may be used.
If the fuel pump is installed outside the tank, the fuel connection may also
be made between the tank and the fuel pump, again using only the Webasto
fuel extractor (see Figure 9).
 

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The Metris uses a M274 engine, which injects fuel at a pressure of up to 2900 psi. I'd honestly suggest a seperate tank.

A stealth camper needs to appear normal to casual glances. You ain't the CIA, dude. Also remember the best way to hide is in plain sight- when you start to skulk, you get far more suspicious.
 

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@braddo, thanks for chiming in. T piece is allowed. The confusing part is the "Webasto fuel extractor" which is the T piece rather than a new fuel pickup. What I referred is the same as you pasted though mine's newer (but still not the latest). The key part is to put it in "return line" and it almost reaches the bottom.

"8.2 Vehicles with Fuel Injection Engines
When installing the heater in a vehicle with fuel injection system, it is important to establish whether the fuel pump is located inside or outside the tank.
If the fuel pump is located inside the tank, fuel can only be extracted from the return line using the Webasto fuel extractor (see Figure 12), in which case it must be ensured that the return line continues almost to the bottom of the tank (see Figure 13 for details of the minimum distance from the bottom of the tank). If this is not the case Webasto fuel extractors or standpipes (see Figures 13, 14 and 15) may be used.
If the fuel pump is installed outside the tank, the fuel connection may also be made between the tank and the fuel pump, again using only the Webasto fuel extractor (see Figure 12)."

Attached is Fig. 12

Frankly, I would add a new pickup though It might void warranty. The extra benefit is the new one can be shorter (van should be leveled in this case), so the van always has reserve fuel to burn. I don't want my heater to use it up and get stuck in nowhere, especially in NP etc where has no cellphone signals.

@Greenmanedlion, a separate tank is good to me. 2900psi is the pressure in injectors, correct? or else the tank will cost us an arm and a leg :smile:

One thing I am not sure in the manual is: do FI engines cover the new direct fuel injection model? I assume M274 has that since most latest-gen gas engines have that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I would add a new pickup though It might void warranty. The extra benefit is the new one can be shorter (van should be leveled in this case), so the van always has reserve fuel to burn.
Clever.

Are you planning to install it yourself or use a professional installer instead? I'd be curious to see how the already installed units are placed under the van. There are plenty of non-MB camper conversions that use Webasto or Espar petrol models and I'm researching to see if I can find out some owners to chime in on their conversion method. Thank you for posting the chart. Great value.
 

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No plan for now though I've done the research. I've not ordered my van yet. I will wait for one more MY (MY19) to see if we can get the partial camper here.

The heater is normally mounted on the floor inside the van. MP camper put it in the rear part of driver's seat base. I remember some people pasted their installations at thesamba.com (for vw bus). I am talking about the gasoline version. There are more for diesel versions.

I've seen one post in this forum recently about installing parking heater in Metris.

IMO, the location of the heater is up to the floorplan. However, there are not many options to put it in a small van and assure the air vent(s) and intake can make a good circulation. I might be over concerned about this. For MP camper layout, I would put the intake in the rear and vent in the front of the cupboard (cabinet or galley, whatever it's called in US English) and heater in-between.

I'm not sure if I need it if I only go camping between 6-9 in Northwest. A 12v heating blanket might be enough to deal with the low temp (>50f)

Enjoy researching!
 

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The quietest heater is a catalytic heater like Mr Heater Buddy. It does not vent to the outside and might cause humidity problems.
If you want a vent d one, a propane heater, like Propex is quiet, just the fan noise..
The gasoline heaters are noisier especially
outside th van.
I just ordered a Propex that will be run from an inside vented and sealed 2.5 gal. propane tank.
The tank and locker kit is made by Sure Marine for marine purposes and is Coast Guard approved.

Decided against the gasolne one because of noise and possible problems with Mercedes warranty (drilling holes in the gas tank). Anyway, I needed the propane for my stove.
Sorry to dig up this older thread. I'm investigating heating options and locations for a propane tank. I see that you went with a cabin mounted locker. Did you investigate the possibility of an external propane tank on the Metris? Curious if you found any reasonable options. I've seen smaller tanks for Westy's, but when I looked at a few Metris vans I wasn't sure there would be any external space for this kind of tank under the van. The van is so low. I did find an interesting option of deleting the spare for a tank mounted in its place. Obvious downsides when needing a spare or needing to relocate the spare to a hitch mount,liftgate,mount etc.

https://worthingtonindustries.com/Products/Alternative-Fuels/LPG-Autogas-Toroidal

I've seen the tanks listed on ebay, but I wasn't able to locate a typical store.
 

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Sorry to dig up this older thread. I'm investigating heating options and locations for a propane tank. I see that you went with a cabin mounted locker. Did you investigate the possibility of an external propane tank on the Metris? Curious if you found any reasonable options. I've seen smaller tanks for Westy's, but when I looked at a few Metris vans I wasn't sure there would be any external space for this kind of tank under the van. The van is so low. I did find an interesting option of deleting the spare for a tank mounted in its place. Obvious downsides when needing a spare or needing to relocate the spare to a hitch mount,liftgate,mount etc.

https://worthingtonindustries.com/Products/Alternative-Fuels/LPG-Autogas-Toroidal

I've seen the tanks listed on ebay, but I wasn't able to locate a typical store.
Interesting idea.

- Why would you not want to go with Webasto and use your van's existing gasoline system?
- Wouldn't the spare tire be too heavy for a liftgate mount?
- How would you refuel propane if it is deep underneath the car?
- If the need is beyond heating (i.e. stove), why not go with an electric induction stove?
- Did you check under the van? Any other place a custom propane tank can be used?
 

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When I was down in California at GTRV to install my poptop, they had a Metris there and had installed an exterior propane tank. Contact them to see what effect it had on ground clearance. By the way, I have my Propex propane heater with an internal tank installed now. The internal tank is sealed and vented, and the propane is turned on or off by a solenoid switch so you do not have to open the tank lid. I am very pleased with the Propex, but it does make some noise that you can hear from the outside. I think it is the exhaust pipe expelling combustion air. Ot maybe the air intake pipe. It is not very loud, but in a quet place you could hear it from 10 or 15 feet away. If you want quiet, I think you have to live with a catalytic heater...
 

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Interesting idea.

- Why would you not want to go with Webasto and use your van's existing gasoline system?
I haven't seen many references to people installing the gasoline version. There is some question on whether this can be done easily with the Metris fuel system. I have heard them run and the fuel pup they use would really annoy me. Click Click Click... Perhaps that is something that could be solved easily. I am open to a gasoline version even if it means I add a small second tank to solve the fuel system integration.

Also, having onboard propane can be useful for a stove etc. If a tank isn't mounted I understand that they can run from camping gaz cylinders.


- Wouldn't the spare tire be too heavy for a liftgate mount?
It would be, but there is a company that builds a spare mount for the liftgate and also have the struts to support it. You could mount a spare and other stuff out there if you wanted.

http://www.terranger.de/epages/6291...ath=/Shops/62914780/Products/TA-V2-301-10-002

http://www.terranger.de/epages/6291...ath=/Shops/62914780/Products/TA-V2-301-50-004

- How would you refuel propane if it is deep underneath the car?
Lower it from the spare mount system? If you look around at some of the propane fuel conversions for cars there are several that use the spare mount. Those tanks have the hole through the toroid so you treat it like a wheel. Sure, there would be a need to mount a system to drop it, but since they are fairly large you might get pretty good range out of them if they are just running heat and a stove now and again.

- If the need is beyond heating (i.e. stove), why not go with an electric induction stove?
I have induction in my home and portables for more than 10 years and like them, but when off grid they are sort of hard to use without a REALLY long extension cord. Fuel based heat is probably the most versatile.

- Did you check under the van? Any other place a custom propane tank can be used?
To me it it did not look like there are viable spaces which is why I posted to see if anyone smarter than I had solved it or had some ideas.

I am not completely sold on any solution yet. I don't have a spare in my current vehicle and I've been fine for almost 10 years. I carry a plug kit and the vehicle has built in air so I've been able to fix the flats that I have had, but I was lucky they have been screws and nails. I'm not sure I would run without a spare on a camper, but it is an option.
 

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When I was down in California at GTRV to install my poptop, they had a Metris there and had installed an exterior propane tank. Contact them to see what effect it had on ground clearance. By the way, I have my Propex propane heater with an internal tank installed now. The internal tank is sealed and vented, and the propane is turned on or off by a solenoid switch so you do not have to open the tank lid. I am very pleased with the Propex, but it does make some noise that you can hear from the outside. I think it is the exhaust pipe expelling combustion air. Ot maybe the air intake pipe. It is not very loud, but in a quet place you could hear it from 10 or 15 feet away. If you want quiet, I think you have to live with a catalytic heater...
I am liking the Propex choice you made the more I research them. Does your run on a thermostat? I am curious about how well a thermostat works and what the cycling experience is like from a sound and heat perspective. Since you have a pop top I am really interested in your experience in cold weather and if you think its reasonable to have the popup heated with the Propex.

Is your storage locker vented through the floor? Where did you end up mounting it?

Did you see where they put the tank on the Metris at GTRV?
 
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