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12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus
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cpatrice
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:54 am    Post subject: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

We got our 1st VW bus ever last November, and naturally the heater was not connected and needs lots of work/restoration. I've talked at length with my very competent local VW mechanic who does nothing but work on vintage and late model vw's and he filled me in on the situation...

The bus runs great, and I was wondering if anyone has tried incorporating a 12v 600w forced air heater into the existing duct system. Here's what I'm considering...

https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/eppages/heaters242500.php

I've searched out a bunch of threads and am starting to get a feel for what I might be able to do, and I understand that adequate heat is simply an issue for these busses, and I'm ok with all that. Basically just looking for something that will keep the interior windshield from fogging up and will take the chill off on cool/cold days where windshield/cabin heat might be a problem.

How difficult would it be to wire something like this into the existing system...I'm guessing I might need a bigger/more powerful alternator to get the extra amps. I'm not concerned about losing a little HP to do that. Any thoughts or links to helpful threads or posts greatly appreciated. Thanks for the awesome forum!
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Jeff Geisen
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:48 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

My wife’s hair dryer has 1650 watts and I really don’t think if it was running wide open it’d do much to warm a bus interior. It would defrost though. I use a propane heater but it’ll fog the glass up if the air is cold and damp.

This winter I fabricated a divider behind the front seats and even in below freezing weather I drove down the road toasty and draft-free. The cab is much quieter at speed as well.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 1:12 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

Check out the cheap Chinese heater thread. I think it’s a great way to go for us northerners. You can fire up the heater before you even start your engine.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:13 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

Check out this recent thread...
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=749544&highlight=heat

And I agree about the Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater.
I installed one, and it is great while driving and overnight camping.
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=727273&highlight=diesel+heater

It requires little fuel and puts out a great amount of heat, while costing under $200.
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Last edited by KentABQ on Mon Mar 29, 2021 4:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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aeromech
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:47 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

I live in a warm climate but I’ve heard great things about heaterbuddy propane heaters
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:49 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

I would guess that many of us have been dumb enough to buy something like that. It may heat the tips of your fingers or a small 6-in section of your windshield.

Electric heat is incredibly inefficient, the byproduct of high resistance, and the entire output of your alternator will not defrost your windshield. Forget electric heat.

The stock heat is pretty decent when hooked up properly. The problem is most people have never been in an aircooled VW with an actual functioning stock heater. The other problem is it is a long way from the back to the front and there and many opportunities for leaks or loss. Add this to piss poor door seals etc and you get a frigid bus..

However, hooked up correctly the heat will be uncomfortably hot on your fingers, defrost the windshield and knock the chill off the inside. There are numerous opportunities for upgrades, namely insulating the tubes, adding bilge fans, or making a partition and keeping the stock heat up front.

Propane, diesel or gas heaters are really the only option for truly heating the inside.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:27 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

aeromech wrote:
I live in a warm climate but I’ve heard great things about heaterbuddy propane heaters
I like mine, but you get water vapor as a combustion byproduct. With the diesel heater you are getting the heat from the exchanger and the exhaust is going outside. Consequently you have much less condensation and you also don’t have to have a window open to vent for Carbon Monoxide.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 6:44 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

I use a Mr.Buddy propane heater heats the bus up quick. We do not run a constantly. We will run it for about 30 minutes before sleeping then pile the blankets on and turn it off while we sleep. We keep it in reach from the bed so in the morning we can turn it on without getting out of the blankets. We just came back from a trip the one night came real close to freezing.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:20 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

uhh yeah, that's nice and special like, used a buddy heater in my younger years. but now I'm too old for that crud.
the Diesel heater has a remote.. I preheat the camper from the campfire.

has a thermostat. like my house does.. so it maintains a comfortable temp while I'm lulled by the soft drone of the circulating fan... *I always run white noise to overcome my tinnitus.

Ryan P wrote:
I use a Mr.Buddy propane heater heats the bus up quick. We do not run a constantly. We will run it for about 30 minutes before sleeping then pile the blankets on and turn it off while we sleep. We keep it in reach from the bed so in the morning we can turn it on without getting out of the blankets. We just came back from a trip the one night came real close to freezing.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2021 6:46 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

Thanks for all the replies everyone! Much appreciated. I have a feeling we’ll be trying the Chinese heater as well...will update as we get closer to install Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:00 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

I've been pondering all of the above options but for camping. For diesel heaters, It seems a 2kw would be the way to go with the 5kw and 8kw being too powerful. However, I don't want to drill holes for the exhaust vents and don't want 10L of diesel in the cab - especially when trying to fill without spilling on the carpet.
We currently use a Mr Buddy and use refillable 1LB cannisters - cannisters that are both legal to refill (from a 20lb with an adapter) and transport. This seems by far the most economical and works out much cheaper than diesel if using refillable 1LB bottles.
As far as electric heaters, we tried a 250w MyHeat(?) personal electric fan heater but it blew through our 300w Jackery in an hour.
All in all, we are sticking with the Mr Buddy for now and cracking the two front windows for vents. Mr Buddy REALLY cranks out the heat. Condensation does gather so Im trying to convince myself of drilling a hole for the diesel heater and the economics of it all.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:39 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

the factory had zero qualms on making holes for accessory heating.

and if you study the CDH installs, some good, some iffy
you should come to a palatable solution.


one can also spend the extra $$ and buy a gasoline heater from the Russian republic and skip the dual fuel issues. in the long run it's not that much more $
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:23 am    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

Those 12v heaters...Don’t even bother. You might as well sit around a cigarette and pretend it was a camp fire.

Do the Chinese heater thing or refurbish an Eberspacher heater if you like to tinker.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

Ryan P wrote:
I use a Mr.Buddy propane heater heats the bus up quick. We do not run a constantly. We will run it for about 30 minutes before sleeping then pile the blankets on and turn it off while we sleep. We keep it in reach from the bed so in the morning we can turn it on without getting out of the blankets. We just came back from a trip the one night came real close to freezing.


I do nearly the same.

I preheat the interior of the bus for about half an hour with the Mr. Buddy before I am ready to sleep. I have a small vent screen on the passenger window for ventilation and I crack open the pop top screens. I have never had condensation in the bus from the heater. I also have a battery operated CO detector in case I ever decide to try to run the heater overnight, but thus far I have never tried that for fear of waking up dead. Having the heater fired up before getting out of bed is nice too.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2021 3:37 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

wagohn wrote:

As far as electric heaters, we tried a 250w MyHeat(?) personal electric fan heater but it blew through our 300w Jackery in an hour.
All in all, we are sticking with the Mr Buddy for now and cracking the two front windows for vents. Mr Buddy REALLY cranks out the heat. Condensation does gather so Im trying to convince myself of drilling a hole for the diesel heater and the economics of it all.


Update on this: We were at an all-morning event today and I decided to do some more testing. Our tintop bus came with two 90ah sealed batteries under the bench. I have since fitted a 300w inverter and a 100w solar panel.
Today, when I hooked up the 250w heater to the 300w inverter, the temp in the bus was 52 degrees. I left the heater on high (which is pretty weak) and left it alone. 45 mins later the temp in the bus was noticeably warmer - the thermometer stated 65 degrees.
I think that's pretty good. Assuming for the battery available 180ah I will have 100ah usable (they were fitted by the PO so not sure of the age) that gives me 1200w to burn. On high heat, that would be almost 5.5 hours of use because the heater uses 225w when always on. In reality, I may have more ah to use, I'm being conservative.
Just something to think about. Also, I left the bus on the driveway at home and the solar panel has almost recharged the batteries. Pretty slick.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2021 7:28 pm    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

One of my suppliers has the self contained Chinese heater for about $155, I’m thinking of picking one up soon. I think it’s a better deal than the smaller mounted ones for only $5 more.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 4:18 am    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

wagohn wrote:
wagohn wrote:

As far as electric heaters, we tried a 250w MyHeat(?) personal electric fan heater but it blew through our 300w Jackery in an hour.
All in all, we are sticking with the Mr Buddy for now and cracking the two front windows for vents. Mr Buddy REALLY cranks out the heat. Condensation does gather so Im trying to convince myself of drilling a hole for the diesel heater and the economics of it all.


Update on this: We were at an all-morning event today and I decided to do some more testing. Our tintop bus came with two 90ah sealed batteries under the bench. I have since fitted a 300w inverter and a 100w solar panel.
Today, when I hooked up the 250w heater to the 300w inverter, the temp in the bus was 52 degrees. I left the heater on high (which is pretty weak) and left it alone. 45 mins later the temp in the bus was noticeably warmer - the thermometer stated 65 degrees.
I think that's pretty good. Assuming for the battery available 180ah I will have 100ah usable (they were fitted by the PO so not sure of the age) that gives me 1200w to burn. On high heat, that would be almost 5.5 hours of use because the heater uses 225w when always on. In reality, I may have more ah to use, I'm being conservative.
Just something to think about. Also, I left the bus on the driveway at home and the solar panel has almost recharged the batteries. Pretty slick.


At 52 degrees F, we wouldn’t even turn our heat on in the NE

Once the Bus is moving, the intrusion of outside air will cancel that heating in 3 minutes. Once the temp goes down to freezing , the temperature delta, which drives the rate of heat loss, will likewise render that impotent.

250 watts heat is like 4 household incandescent light bulbs worth
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:54 am    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

Abscate wrote:


At 52 degrees F, we wouldn’t even turn our heat on in the NE

Once the Bus is moving, the intrusion of outside air will cancel that heating in 3 minutes. Once the temp goes down to freezing , the temperature delta, which drives the rate of heat loss, will likewise render that impotent.

250 watts heat is like 4 household incandescent light bulbs worth


Just my experiences with low watt heaters. I think the more actual, real-life data we get the better. Do with that what you wish.
We all know that electricity is inefficient but few post actual numbers and rely on "like a fart in the wind" type replies - which helps nobody.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 6:28 am    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

small woostove ?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:47 am    Post subject: Re: 12v 600watt Cabin Heater for '76 bus Reply with quote

calvinater wrote:
small woostove ?

been done a few times. My fave also has a trap door on the floor for ice fishing.
edit-it MAY have been a split..
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