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Do Diesel Heaters Need to Be Vented?

The thought of living in a caravan has always been an adventure for me. What can be better than moving from one place to the other, site seeing and enjoying the company of those around you?

Even though I typically visit places that are sunny and tropical, I’m are always bound to experience some cold nights which makes a diesel heater necessary as I travel.

There are many questions that people who plan to stay in a caravan ask, and one of them is; do diesel heaters need to be vented? In short:

Diesel heaters need to be vented. When the combustion of diesel occurs, some gases are formed. These gases are detrimental to your health and that of those inside the caravan or automobile. For this reason, there needs to be a means through which the gases are removed from the diesel heater.

Especially in small spaces, I ALWAYS recommend using a carbon monoxide detector. I know that I wouldn’t want to put myself OR my family in danger. It’s also important to do your research and invest in a safe diesel heater like these. 

Keep reading to find out how diesel heaters function and why venting them is important.

What is a diesel heater?

Diesel heaters have been designed, and are used, to provide instant heat to the interior of automobiles such as vans, cars, motorhomes, powerboats, sailboats, and even yachts.

How does a diesel heater work?

A diesel heater draws in air from an external intake pipe. The air is then passed into the combustion chamber. In the combustion chamber, the diesel is mixed with the air taken in through the external intake pipe and is ignited to heat a larger surface area known as the heat exchanger.

The air in the cabin that is heated is then drawn into the heat exchanger by the internal blower.

The air is passed through the heat exchanger, where it is heater up to the set temperature. Since the combustion of diesel results in the formation of waste gases such as carbon monoxide, there needs to be a way or a system to remove these gases without harming those in the automobile.

This is the reason why diesel heaters have a combustion exhaust pipe. The pipe vents out the harmful gases outside of the caravan.

Do diesel heaters need to be vented?

If you are driving or parked in a cold place, you will need to have all the windows and doors closed to not let in any cold air. However, this results in a bit of a quandary because inside the caravan; there will be an air circulation problem. If you breathe in the same air volume over a prolonged period of time, the air’s oxygen level will decrease.

Furthermore, for the diesel to undergo proper and complete combustion to heat the air effectively and without forming lots of harmful gases, it must be supplied with plenty of oxygen. The air from outside the caravan obviously has a lot of oxygen compared to the air inside the caravan.

This is also another reason why you will have to vent the diesel heater. You can attach the external intake pipe into a vent so that the air coming into the diesel heater is from the outside, ergo making sure that the combustion process inside the heater is complete.

Do diesel heaters produce carbon monoxide?

During the combustion of diesel, there will be a production of low amounts of carbon monoxide. Over a prolonged period of time, the gas concentration in the caravan or automobile will increase if there is no suitable outlet for the gas.

Additionally, if the combustion of the diesel is not complete, like when the diesel is not supplied with sufficient amounts of oxygen, the rate at which the carbon monoxide is formed and released will increase.

Ergo, not only is it important to make sure that there is an effective way to release the carbon monoxide, but the diesel heater should also have an adequate air supply.

Are the fumes from diesel heaters dangerous?

This depends on the period of exposure to the fumes. That being said, both short-term and long-term exposure to the said fumes can have implications on the health of those in the caravan. Irritation of the throat, nose, eyes, and lungs are short-term effects of the said exposure.

Long-term exposure does have more severe health implications. These include an increased risk of developing asthma, heart disease, and a plethora of lung diseases. Additionally, the brain and immune system can also be affected.

Is it okay to leave the diesel heater on at night?

As long as you are sure that the waste gases produced by the heater are piped out of the heater safety, it is more than safe to leave the heater in at night. In fact, a diesel heater is very safe when it comes to using it at night.

How much diesel does a diesel heater use?

Of course, this depends not only on the type of diesel heater you have but also on the duration of time it is left in and how properly you have maintained it. That being said, diesel heaters are very economical. On average, they take in about 0.11 o 0.50 liters of diesel per hour.

Does a diesel heater use electricity?

Yes, diesel heaters use some amount of electricity. The downside of diesel heaters is that they will take a toll on a single leisure battery without providing a means to recharge it. Depending on the type of diesel heater, they typically draw between ten and 12 amps of electricity to start the glow plug.

The glow plug is the heating device that is used to start diesel-powered devices. Though this may not seem like a lot of electricity, it can drop the battery voltage to a level way below what is required to start up the vehicle or boat.

Can you run a diesel heater on anything else other than diesel?

Caravans are about adventure, and in every adventure, you will find yourself in a situation where you will need to improvise. It is not uncommon for caravans or vehicles, in general, to run out of diesel in the middle of nowhere.

Thus, if you find yourself where you don’t have enough diesel for the diesel heater, you can use some other fuels. Kerosene paraffin and heating oils will suffice as substitutes. In fact, if you want to make sure that the diesel burns cleaner; does not produce lots of harmful gases, you can mix the diesel with some kerosene.

However, you should never use vegetable oil. Not only will the diesel heater not run, but you will also spend a lot of time cleaning the machine.

How long should you run a diesel heater?

In the cold season, so long as you have installed the heater properly and made sure that the way you have operated it is according to its guidelines, you can run a diesel heater without maintaining it.

That being said, to make sure that it stays in tip-top condition, you should not let a long time pass without running it. It is recommended that you run the heater for at least one hour monthly, regardless of the season.

What things should I consider when buying a diesel heater?

There are many kinds of diesel heaters available in the market today. When looking to buy one, it is important to consider where you will mount it, the distance between the fuel tank and the heater unit, where you will place the thermostat and the control switch, and the caravan brand that you plan to use the heater with.