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Thread: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Peace Region
    Posts
    157

    Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    My family likes to get out camping as often as possibleÖwhich isnít often enough. Fly in, jet boat, hike in and car camping in all seasons to get us out of our comfort zone and experiencing adventures. We started off using a travel trailer when the kids were young but moved to tenting or sleeping in the back of the truck as soon as the kids were able to take care of themselves a little. We also owned a wall tent at one point which was awesome but was a bit large for packing into the backcountry. Iím sure we will change shelters again at some point but our pop tents and tipi seem to do the trick for now.

    This fall we took our jet boat down the river to camp and look for deer and elk. The weather was mild but did dip below zero at night and it was a little cool in the 8 person, 3 season pop tent. I brought a Mr. Heater Buddy Heater to take the edge off and used it to warm up a little when crawling into bed at night and waking up in the morning. I use a carbon monoxide detector and have not seen an issue with the buddy heater but donít run it while sleeping. I donít want to chance starting a fire, carbon monoxide or deal with the condensation created. We use quality sleeping bags and donít really need a heater but it sure is nice to get out of the sleeping bag when its warm. The tipi stove is great however itís small and needs wood added often so it will be cool at night while sleeping. Itís actually a lot warmer sleeping in a small 4 season pop tent than a tipi since you are warming less air space. I decided to try and find a better heater for warming the tents, tipi and truck canopy through the night while sleeping to make it more enjoyable for all when possible. I wasnít looking for a backpacking solution but something that could be used when camping near the boat, truck, UTV etc.



    The diesel air heater looked to me to be the best option for what I was looking for and I really like the look of the Planar Portable unit. https://planarheaters.com/product/po...-planar-2d-12/. Iím sure this is a quality unit and great for heating whatever you need but the cost ($1700) is a bit steep for me so I decided to look for more of a DIY solution. Thatís when I came across all sorts of YouTube videos showing cheap Chinese diesel air heater builds. You basically buy a kit online from ebay, amazon etc and it comes with the heater, fuel tank and most of the other parts you will need to build a heater. Costs are $200-$300 and you need to find some sort of mount location in whatever you want. I wanted the unit to be portable so build it into a case. There are many good online videos and I think John McK 47 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLx...ecuipKsLK1uAvQ has the best in depth info on these heaters and how to mount them. He also goes over trouble shooting and what to expect when buying these units. I strongly suggest watching his videos before purchasing.

    I donít have any original ideas on this and my knowledge is limited to what Iíve learned from watching YouTube but I think the build worked out great and Iím very impressed with how functional this unit is especially for the price. There are lots of builds online so I'm not going to go into details of the build but I thought I would share some info for anyone on here that may be interested in building their own tent heater. I built our 5KW unit with my son who used it as a school project. It was fun learning for both of us. Everything arrived in good condition and no issues with any parts.

    My wife and I took our 4 kids out winter camping and ice fishing out on a lake last weekend and ran the heater for the first time. It was a complete success. I intended to setup the tipi and woodstove for hanging out and the pop tent for sleeping in but underestimated how many ice anchors would be needed to secure the tipi and ran out. We ended up sleeping in the tipi on a tarp to stay above the melting water. We donít have any cots but the sleeping pads and tarp seemed to insulate good enough. Once the woodstove burned out, we used the diesel air heater alone to warm the tipi through the night. It was around -10 degrees outside; I donít know what the temp was inside but we were all warm enough to get a good night sleep and easy to get up and dressed in the morning.

    Here are some of the Pros/Cons for the unit that we learned on this first trip.

    Pros

    • We ran the heater for 22 hours in total and only burned 10L of diesel. The temp was set between medium and high so you could burn a little more if needed or much less on low.
    • Easy to fire up and ran without any issues
    • Portable
    • Easy to control fuel flow speed
    • Low noise, like sound from an RV furnace.
    • No concern with fire
    • All exhaust is outside the tent
    • No carbon monoxide. I still use a monitor.
    • Warm dry heat which helps reduce condensation and can easily dry gear.
    • Remote Control allows you to turn the unit on/off and control the temp from your sleeping bag.
    • Low power draw 2-3 amps.

    Cons

    • Deep Cycle battery is heavy and should have a case to prevent gear from contacting it and potentially shorting out the terminals and getting any battery acid on gear. You could run off a smaller battery depending on how long you need for run time. I think a battery case should be used for portable units for safety.
    • Not a con for the heater but heat and ice = water which can make things interesting.


    I hope that helps if anyone is looking at these units. I think they are well worth the money and pack a ton of features into a more budget friendly option. Iím sure the more expensive authentic units are better quality but this will do for what I need.

    No fish this time but everyone had fun and had somewhere to go and warm up.










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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Squamish
    Posts
    5,647

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    Brilliant! Nice work.

    I keep a C02 monitor running too whenever I'm heating with wood or diesel or propane, cheap insurance.

    Thanks for posting.
    Is Justin Competent, or just incompetent?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    913

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    Sounds all nice, I assume your jet boat has an enclosed cooling system with anti-freeze. It would suck to have a block cracked. Happened to a buddies car once as he ran straight water in the radiator.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Peace Region
    Posts
    157

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    Quote Originally Posted by Edzzed View Post
    Sounds all nice, I assume your jet boat has an enclosed cooling system with anti-freeze. It would suck to have a block cracked. Happened to a buddies car once as he ran straight water in the radiator.
    The boat has a self draining cooling system but yes that would suck for sure.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    133

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    That's a super cool setup. Thanks for sharing!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    125

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    I plan on replacing my propane furnace in the Camper this year with a cheap diesel heater from Amazon, my brother has a couple of those and they work great. Propane furnace uses so much power and propane I rarely use it even in the Winter when boondocking. I just found out about those about 4 months ago, I never even knew they existed!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    North East BC
    Posts
    54

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    Great post, the pics are very nice. We use the buddy heater in our hunting blind but it’s hard on propane and humid, this seems like a better option. We love little projects like this as well, I think I’ll order one up.

    And good on ya for spending time with family doing these sort of things, it’s things like that the kids won’t forget!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Peace Region
    Posts
    157

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    Yes I hadn’t heard of them either and was concerned that they would be junk. They should be great for campers, enclosed trailers, hunting blinds etc. I think the exhaust may have more odour than the buddy heater but they do burn very clean and I don’t notice any offensive smell. I am adding a 12v round plug to mine so I can plug into the UTV or truck....will need to watch power doing that and have a backup jumper kit. Glad the info was helpful.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Otter Point (Southern Vancouver Island) MU1-2&3
    Posts
    554

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    My buddy has one, the 5k (btu?) model. It works really well. We used it in mild weather 0-3C for about 12 hours in total in two days, and might have burnt 7/8’s of a cup of fuel.

    What size did you get?

    when I was looking at them, they had a few models that were like you built, all self contained, looked like an old tower computer.
    some models even circulated warm water, good for a trucker up north I bet.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Peace Region
    Posts
    157

    Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Air Heater for Tents

    I bought the 5kw unit which seems good for the space I’m heating. John McK 47 (link above) has some testing that shows the 8kw units are the same as the 5kw but changed for marketing. I also looked at the computer tower setups and saw that they require additional work to plumb the air intake and exhaust out the bottom. I think that is also covered by John. I went with the case so I could strap it down and keep it as self contained as possible but I think the options are endless.

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