Why the Espar D2 Is a Great Heat Source for Camper Vans

By: Scott Adamson
/ April 6, 2020
While many Van Lifers are looking for a less-traditional way of life, there’s one thing we can all agree on…

We like to be warm.

Heat is one of the hot topics of all van builds (pun intended). Whether you’re chasing snow or not, you will likely find yourself in some pretty chilly overnight temperatures. That’s exactly where the Espar Airtronic D2 Heater comes in – taking you from shivery nights of sleep to comfortable home-like warmth.

While Espar makes several diesel heaters, the Espar Airtronic D2 Heater is most popular for van conversions. I have experience installing and living with the Espar D2 as my main heat source (in conjunction with excellent insulation), which I talk about in detail inside my van build guide.

While there are many different heat source options for your van, let’s dive into what we love about this one.

Single Fuel Source

One of the main deciding factors for using a Diesel Heater in your van is often due to the desire for having a single fuel source. If you don’t want to carry around additional propane to run a heater, the Espar D2 Heater is a great solution for you.

You won’t run out of fuel

One of the fears when using your vans only fuel source to also heat the van is the possibility of running out of fuel.

Thankfully, the Espar Heater is designed not to let that happen. As soon as the fuel tank gets a little below a quarter tank, the pickup for the Espar Heater will no longer draw diesel out.

Dry fuel source

Unlike other heat options, this diesel heater is a dry fuel source, meaning it won’t cause moisture to build up inside the van.

Propane is known to be a moist heat source, so you run the risk of condensation within the van.

Convenience

This heater features automatic temperature control and includes a hand-held controller that you can stick right inside your control panel. Turning the heat on/off and adjusting the temperature is as simple as pressing a button.

Service Availability

Because the Espar Heater is so common, any truck mechanic or service station can usually help service the heater. That’s a bonus when you’re on the road and want some added peace of mind.

It’s a DIY Project

While the components and instructions inside the box are intimidating, installing the Espar Heater is a project you can handle yourself. With a little time, patience and research, you can easily save yourself $1000-$2000 and use that money for other aspects of the project.

If you’re looking for some extra help on the install process, be sure to check out our Van Build Guide.

It doesn’t take up any usable space

The heater is generally installed under the driver or passenger seat of the van. Unlike some propane and portable heaters, it doesn’t take up any usable internal space, which is always a top priority for van dwellers.

Takes less fuel to heat your van

Diesel is more energy-dense than propane, meaning it will take less fuel to heat your van. This heater can run for 24 hours on one gallon of diesel, which is excellent, in terms of consumption.

Some things to consider

When it comes to deciding for or against the Espar Heater, there are some other areas to consider:

Expense

The Espar Heater is known to be one of the more expensive heater options for your van.

Installation

The instructions for the Espar are certainly designed for professionals. In our experience, we think the Espar installation can be a great DIY project. In saying that, it is certainly more intensive to install than some other heat source options.

Annual Cleaning and Maintenance

Diesel Heaters require an annual cleaning, due to carbon buildup. Also, if you don’t use the heater for long periods (e.g. a full summer), it will run dirty on startup, so you’ll want to clean it out before starting it again for the first time.

Espar D2 vs D4

You may be wondering why we recommend the Espar D2 over the Espar D4. In short, the Espar D4 is overpowered for the van, and as a result, it won’t run at high boosts very often. This means that the excess fuel that’s going into the heater doesn’t get burnt up. That excess fuel will sit inside the heater and the heater will get plugged up with soot and unburnt fuel, leading to a lot of problems and maintenance required.

The D2 is regularly running at high output, keeping the heater nice and hot and ready to burn the fuel cleanly.

Looking to camp at high altitudes? 

If you plan on doing any camping at altitudes of 5,000ft or higher, be sure to upgrade to the high altitude kit. When you increase your altitude, the concentration of oxygen is reduced, making the mix of fuel and oxygen too rich in fuel, inevitably causing issues with your Espar D2.

Final word of advice

Because the Espar is a combustion heater, we highly recommend installing a Carbon Monoxide detector so you’re alerted of any fumes that get into the vehicle.

 

This is not a sponsored post, however, we may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

Scott Adamson
Wanderful Idea Guy
Coffee drinker, adventure seeker, below average photographer.
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