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Mounting a Propex heater in the back cabinet - Photos
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noganav
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:14 pm    Post subject: Mounting a Propex heater in the back cabinet - Photos Reply with quote

Hi Volks,

I thought I might post some photos of my recent Propex install. I decided to put the heater in the back cabinet since it takes up less useable space mounted this way. I'm pretty happy with the heater overall. It takes the chill off of a Canadian winter morning in about 10 minutes and gets to be intolerably hot within half an hour.

The tour starts with a fridge door transplant to allow easy access to the wardrobe cabinet. The door fits like it was meant to be there, and opens with the seat up or down. I'm not sure why Westfalia didn't put one here to begin with, I really hated farting with the back table, so this is my favourite addition yet.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


A few shots of the Propex in position inside the back cabinet. The heater fits nicely, with proper clearances, between the outside wall and the metal trim piece that allows the engine hatch to be lifted out. The top of the heater winds up flush with the base of the rear-most cabinet, I'll be adding a shelves to both cabinets to allow use of this space while maintaining proper air-flow.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I mounted the propex so that the exhaust exits at the back corner of the rear wheel well and ends at the outside rear corner below the bumper. The exhaust mounting bracket attaches to an existing hole in the frame. The combustion air is drawn from the fresh air intake in the engine compartment. The combusion inlet and exhaust straddle the back edge of the wheel well.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The power wires supplied with the heater don't quite make it to the battery compartment, looks like an excuse to add a fuse panel and a switchable 50A circuit breaker. Eventually these will be moved to the hidden compartment.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The heat outlet is located below the back table, and the thermostat in the usual location. Air recirculates through the existing space between the back hatch and the back cabinet. I worried a bit about having the thermostat and heat outlet so close together, but it seems to work fine like this.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


While I was at it I threw in a power inverter under the driver's seat, wired into a socket where the 110v shore power breaker used to sit. The original 110v breaker now sits just behind the outlets. A panel mount 150A switchable 12v breaker protects the inverter and keeps it from draining the battery when not in use. I put in a Xantrex 1000w inverter which was a tight squeeze with the optima battery.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
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lovedavdubs
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked Your my hero Laughing That's a clean job man. Nice!!!
What did the heater set you back? Here's an idea: splice a "T" that hose with another hose, and run it behind the cabinetry up front to the closet wall behind the drivers seat and mount another outlet grill up there. Just a thought Wink Oh yea, don't know what the rust situation is like by you (pretty bad in NY) but I would slap some under coating around the exhaust outlet up in the wheel well. Nice job though. Way to improvise. I may try that fridge door idea.
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BulliBullets
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that does look sweet!
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noganav
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you like it. I got the Propex from Van-Cafe for a little over 600 bucks. I also got some great customer service from Van-Cafe and the Propex distributor. The unit wouldn't light at first (my fault) and they bent over backwards to help me get it working.

I would love to get some of this heat up front, I've got an aircooled with a stuck-on-cold heat lever. I thought about trying to route it into the stock heat system and installing a fan up front to pull the air forward, but for now I'll have to stick with the candle on the dashboard.
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Wellington
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the fridge door idea!!!
Possibly I'll see you at Embrun or TO.
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post!
Lot's of good pictures.
Get that stock heater working, may not be the best thing for you up there in Canada, but it will keep you from freezing your toes off.
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noganav
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a few more pics of my back-mounted Propex install from when I recently re-furbished my cabinets. After a year or so of testing, I really like this install location, here's why:

1) The heat comes out right where I need it. I stealth camp a lot, almost fulltime. To try and keep things low-key, I leave the front of the westy open and throw up a curtain across the back half tucked in the upper mattress. The Propex can get that tiny space cooking in a matter of minutes. With the table in place, the space under it is a little oven for drying out wet clothes.

2) It uses up no space at all, I got some new back cabinets and re-did the install of the fridge door. Don't use a dremel for that job, do it right with a hole saw and a jig saw, now it looks like it could be stock. I also cut out the bottom shelf and raised it up (see pic below), rather than cutting into it as before. Now, with the table in place you can't even tell it's there.

3) This is a big unexpected plus. Installed this way, the air recirculation path is around the back of the cabinet near the rear hatch. In the heat of the summer I can put in my 3/8' turnbuckle hatch extender, and leave the propex on fan mode. This draws in cool air from outside through the rear hatch and keeps the inside of the van much cooler.

Here's one of the propex in place:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


and one of a better way to modify the back shelf, just cut it out with a utility knife and raise it a little more than an inch.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I've got measurements for the fridge door install that place the final trim flush with the top of the existing back door so it looks really slick. I'll post them when I find the piece of paper they are written on. The fridge door mod is easy and makes that back cabinet much easier to use.
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kevinbassplayer
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very impressive work! This is worthy of a sticky!
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westylife
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 3:57 am    Post subject: Re: Mounting a Propex heater in the back cabinet - Photos Reply with quote

noganav wrote:
Hi Volks,

While I was at it I threw in a power inverter under the driver's seat, wired into a socket where the 110v shore power breaker used to sit. The original 110v breaker now sits just behind the outlets. A panel mount 150A switchable 12v breaker protects the inverter and keeps it from draining the battery when not in use. I put in a Xantrex 1000w inverter which was a tight squeeze with the optima battery.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Noganav,

Can you tell me what model# for your optima battery? Looks like it fits under the drivers seat pretty well.

Westylife.
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noganav
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Westylife, I didn't see your post until now. This is the optima that everyone puts there, D34/78 I think.

Unfortunately it was a terrible battery (or cutting off the posts makes it a terrible battery). I've been through two and neither worked well.

One day soon I'm going to switch to the WestyVentures UB12220 setup.


I've been getting great use out of the propex these last few days in Seattle. Brrr!
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chimivee
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice install. A few questions for you:

How do you feel about the noise level with the Propex in the cabinet?

I'm trying to decide where to mount mine: rear cabinet, or rear bench. I had it under the bench in my last van and was happy with the set up. Noise level was acceptable to me, especially if I was sleeping with my head in back, but i'm wondering if the rear cabinet would be noiser because of its proximity / resonance? (I guess the answer's gonna be subjective) I suppose adding sound insulation would be easy. But getting that bit of under bench storage back would be nice.

Also it looks like you routed the propane lines inside the van. Where does it connect? Did you pull the fridge?

And no issues w/ the outlet blowing right into/under where the table resides?

Thanks!
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noganav
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks!

The noise is not a problem for me, but I'm a really sound sleeper.

I really need my under-bench storage for tools, so that was a big incentive putting it there.

Also, when I go to sleep I stuff a blanket into the gap between the upper matresses and only heat the back half of the van. The propex barely needs to run to heat that small space, and it stays nice and toasty.

I leave the windows cracked up front and that seems to keep the humidity down. I've also started using the big ice-cream style bucket of Damp-Rid, and I'm nice and dry with that.

I connected the heater with a T to the stove line since I figured that I'd rarely use them both at the same time.

Blowing under the table works out great. It gets pretty warm there with the table in place, so it's good for drying out clothes, but it doesn't get so hot that it's a problem. I swivel the table out for sleeping at night.

If I was going to go with an under seat installation and heat the whole van all night, I'd get the big propex. With this setup, the small propex is more than enough.
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chimivee
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, you basically hang the blanket as a curtain to isolate the bed area? That's a great idea! - One that wouldn't work w/ the heater below. I have the "EX1800" and don't know if/how it differs from your "1800," but I found it to heat the entire van just fine. But more efficiency is always a good thing.

I actually find that the Propex dries out the air - or maybe it's just the mountain air at elevation - but humidity has not been an issue.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Definitely going to consider your location as an option. I've deleted the factory rear heater and am liking that huge uninterrupted chunk of storage.
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GrindGarage
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone know if it is ok to mount the propex outside the van? Mb under it? I was even thinking about mounting one in that area around the tranny.
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noganav
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure about mounting it outside. It's a pretty robust unit, but it would take a hell of a beating under the van.

One good reason to mount it inside is that you get to take advantage of the radiant heat produced by the body of the heater itself. If it were outside, all that would be lost to the air.

Edit: Just thinking about it, it would be great to put one in a libby box with a couple of batteries above the tranny.
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GrindGarage wrote:
Does anyone know if it is ok to mount the propex outside the van? Mb under it? I was even thinking about mounting one in that area around the tranny.


Nope, don't even think about it - unless you wish to spend hours making an air/water-tight box to keep mother nature out. Besides, you'll now have to cut two 2.5" holes in the floor for the heat duct and the cool air return. The Propex is designed for indoor installation, there are several places to mount it where the space used is not a big deal - as above.

I wouldn't recommend adding any tee connections inside the van - all connections should be teed outside the cabin.
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chimivee
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While we're on the subject...

Has anyone mounted a Propex in the lower compartment between the fridge and water tank? It looks like the propane tank mounting bracket is directly below that cabinet which would make routing the inlet/exhaust difficult.... But if you removed/modified the divider to the "secret compartment" and mounted the propex a few inches aft, there is clearance below for inlet/exhaust. Looks like a tight fit, but with the Propex mounted transversely (outlet toward the sliding door), so the outlet barrel on the unit basically sticks out of the hole where the shore power outlet is (was), it looks possible. Probably couldn't use the supplied plastic outlet vent, though. Curious...
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank Condelli installed his that way:

http://www.frankcondelli.com/propex.htm
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SirIvor70
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mounted mine under the rear closet as per instructions of the earlier poster. Have to say it worked out lovely and am very pleased. No real loss of storage space, and heat delivered where you want it. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone made a portable version using the Propex Heater? I was thinking of taking a Propex heater and put it in a box that will hang off of one of the front side windows and I can have it vent directly outside and hook up to a 20 lbs cylinder outside. I was thinking of something similar to the concept of adding an electric AC unit to the front window. Any ideas?
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