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Author Topic: Are Webasto/Espar/AquaHots Really Worth It?  (Read 4300 times)
TomC
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« on: November 27, 2011, 08:28:21 AM »

On my bus I have a 35k btu/hr propane furnace, 2-10gal water heaters (one plumbed into the next with the last one wired through the inverter for hot water while driving), no engine block heater (use a 500watt halogen light under the oil pan the night before starting), that cost less then $1,000.00 to install.  Over the 15 years that I've been using them, only the propane furnace has been replaced at a cost of $500.00.  Still a lot cheaper then the $5-7,000.00 for a new AquaHot system (I realize you can cobble something together for much cheaper-just going on what an AquaHot costs).  On my truck I already have an electric block heater.
I'm still going back and forth on what I want to do with my truck.  I'm leaning on staying with the system I have in the bus, mainly because of all the continuing questions about Webasto/Espar/AquaHots problems-with waterpumps, valves, electronic boards, ignitors, cleaning and keeping them running, all the water lines that have to be run, etc.  For those of you that have one of these Diesel fired systems-would you do it again, or go to a simpler, less costly system?  Just wondering.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 09:24:23 AM »

Hi Tom  To answer your question would I buy a Webasto / aqua hot again. Yes

However I live in the frozen north where we see -40

I have a tank type ( circulation heater ) block heater. that is what I would recommend you consider. 1500 watts.

Have you considered using your truck engine to heat the water in you electric water heaters as you drive.

I have my engine  plumbed into a heat exchanger ( sidewinder) on the side of the water heater. ( zero chance of contamination)  as you drive down the highway you heat the water in the electric water heaters ( usually to  engine temp 180 ' ) but the water temp in the water heaters stay hot for many hours after shut down.

I have a tempering valve on the top of the water heater that brings the water temperature  down to a usable temp.  Expensive valve but completely adjustable to any temp.

All this is plumbed thru my 2010 webasto I have zone valves that allow bypassing.

In your part of the country the tank type block heater is all you'd need Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 09:42:49 AM »

TomC, I have had both the Webasto and Aqua Hot when you start buying 5 gals of fuel a day to stay warm it gets a little expensive some will tell you they don't use that amount of fuel but Aquahot tells you 5 to 6 gals a day and they do use it  mine did then you had generator run time on top of that to charge the batteries.

AquaHot and Webasto both will consume fuel we removed Cole's diesel fired AquaHot and replaced it with a AquaHot propane unit he likes it a lot better no smoking,smell and very little maintenance Aquahots are pricey also so are the Webasto new just my take on it YMMV


good luck
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 09:46:20 AM »

Tom,

No question we would do it again.  In fact, we're planning to retrofit a Webasto into whatever boat we buy if it does not already have one.  About the only thing I would do differently would be to make my own control system from standard relays and switches rather than purchase the pre-packaged "black box" that we did from Sure Marine.

My Webasto cost around $1k -- NOS on eBay.  The pumps, exchangers, and plumbing came to considerably more than that, but we think that's worth it anyway to get free heat and hot water while driving, no matter what fuel you use to heat things once you stop.

We ended up putting a couple of small (~2 gallon) LP cylinders on the bus to run the stove and the BBQ, but if I were doing it over again, I'd eliminate the LP altogether in favor of a pair of built-in induction hobs (we have one free-standing hob now, in addition to the two-burner LP cooktop) and either a charcoal grill or one that uses cartridges.

HTH,

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 10:01:26 AM »

Our boat has the air Webastos they do all right but on a cold day you have to run all 5 to heat it up and you still get the stink,noise and smoke lol


good luck
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 10:07:48 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 11:23:58 AM »

One of the very first major components I ordered when I decided I was building my own Motor home, was the Aqua Hot 600D system.  And after experiencing it and using it, I am 100% satisfied with this set up and wouldn’t go back to anything else out there.

I love the fact that I don't need propane (I run an all electric fridge as well). 
So the only fuel I need is diesel to run the coach, generator and heating system/hot water, and if I have hook ups, I just run it on AC power Grin
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« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 11:41:33 AM »

I would do the Webasto again and in fact I am on the Silverside.  Zero problems in 5 years.  Don't like propane, just another fuel to have to round up somewhere.
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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 12:02:11 PM »

We have the AquaHot AHE-100 which we bought in 2003.  I mention the model number, as our unit is not computer controlled.  Pretty straight forward with relay control. 

I consider this system to be among the very best purchases I made when building the bus.  We simply love the wonderful heat, lots of hot water and engine pre-heat.  I also have it rigged up to heat the bays and one circuit goes to the dash heat and AC.  What a wonderful option that is.  I can defrost the windshield before I ever start the engine!!!

Clifford, my experience on fuel usage is not the same as yours.  The nozzle is rated at 0,5 gallons per hour.  If the burner ran 10 hours per day, you would get the usage you mentioned, but we do not get anywhere close to that.  Our generator and AquaHot come off a 40 gallon auxiliary tank.  If I was using that much fuel in cold weather, I would really notice it.  Part of the usage is how you set the thermostat.  We turn it down to about 55 when we go to bed and that helps.  When we are in the bus, we keep it comfortable (perhaps 68*).   Heating the bus from 55* to 68* does not take long and I can handle the cold for a few minutes when I first get up.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 12:07:39 PM »

Depends on where you live and how much time you spend in cold weather.  Here in MT, its a no brainer.

I wouldnt be interested in ANYTHING propane either!
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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 12:39:50 PM »

Ok guys I always had some type problem my friends do also with mine every time it was really cold the things never worked we went to a resort that was 12,000 ft elevation the AquaHot never fired till we got back down to 9 or 10,000 ft.
 

They give problems or the guys at the FMCA rallies would not be booked up for weeks to work on one I know of 5 people that make a living working on the diesel fired heat a pretty damn good living too it's just me but I would not walk across the street for one lol  

I have a question Jim why pay big bucks for heating system and be cold that one I don't get, fuel is not real bad with only 2 people but take 4 grand kids 2 adults and everyone doing a shower they will suck the fuel.

I was never a fan of the forced air furnaces in RV but I loved my Primus heat nice and quite,no stink,no smoke and used very little propane, what ticks me off at rallies is when you are in the no generator section people fire the old Webasto or AquaHot up that makes more racket and smell than a generator figure that one out 
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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2011, 01:35:39 PM »

Clifford, we have a great comforter on the bed and when it gets really cool, we add an open sleeping bag.  We are toasty warm in the night.  Except for the 3 or 4 minutes in the morning, we are very comfortable. 

While it is forced air, the air is heated with water and that seems to make a big difference.

You are correct that the exhaust and pump noise is a bit noisy.  The exhaust can have a noticeable odor.  If I have close neighbors, I put the exhaust stack on and that helps.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2011, 01:43:19 PM »

I had no end of grief from my Proheat for the first couple of years we owned it.  My local truck guru was no help whatsoever - he claimed he routinely had their Webastos on the bench but never had to work on their Proheats.  Finally Chris the GM Busguy phoned me and walked me through some real troubleshooting - up until then I had really just been throwing parts at the thing.  Since then it has worked flawlessly - so well in fact that I tend to forget it and don't do the annual service that I should.  As far as fuel consumption goes its thirsty enough that I can definitely notice it in cold weather but it pulls out of the main tank so I couldn't say whether it uses 2 gallons or 20 per day.  My guess is that it is more than 2 and a lot less than 20.
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2011, 02:00:41 PM »

Jim, ever notice I never park close to guys with the diesel units lol made that mistake once when I forgot and parked next to Sean at the Caverns  but they are good units it gives you the freedom for one type fuel
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« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2011, 02:02:56 PM »

Jim, ever notice I never park close to guys with the diesel units lol made that mistake once when I forgot and parked next to Sean at the Caverns  but they are good units it gives you the freedom for one type fuel

Do you park next to people with diesel generators?  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2011, 02:15:16 PM »

Hey Clifford, put a coat on when it gets way down there to 70, LOL.  Then you wouldn't use so much fuel.
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« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2011, 02:17:51 PM »

Opus, not if they plan on running the things I park away from those also, Mark never ran mine much in AZ but did in Idaho and I had a electric hot water on the AquaHot system I hated firing the AquaHot to take a shower and when I bought the bus it was plumbed for hot water only with the AquaHot 1 of the dumbest things Vogue did to save a few bucks lol
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« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2011, 02:30:01 PM »

... made that mistake once when I forgot and parked next to Sean at the Caverns  ...

Sheesh, apparently some things you can never live down ...

FWIW, our Webasto is right under our bedroom, so it is louder and smellier for us than for any of our neighbors and we hardly notice it.  Of course, it's all what you're used to -- let it make a different noise for five minutes, like the bearings starting to go out, and we'll both be bolt upright in bed.  And also FWIW, when a rig with a propane furnace parks next to us, we hear that, too.

BTW, we don't have nearly the fuel consumption that has been postulated elsewhere in this thread.  Unless we are heating the hot tub, we use about a gallon in six hours (0.35 gph, with around 50% duty cycle) when we have the system on, and typically we only have it on for a couple hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening, so maybe a gallon a day, two tops.  I don't think we could burn 5 gallons a day in it if we tried.  The hot tub increases the duty cycle to 100% for three hours when it first starts up, so it takes a gallon of diesel to take 300 gallons of 65° water to 101°.  A price we are willing to pay for hot tubbing Smiley

-Sean
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« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2011, 02:50:57 PM »

I didn't make the fuel usage up Sean that is from AquaHot not me and when we installed the flowscans on Coles bus it was a little over fwiw
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« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2011, 03:37:43 PM »

For my few trips to cold weather; not plannned for now. It seems to have it's draw backs.  What is initial investment?   Bob
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« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2011, 04:19:17 PM »

  I know things change, and some stuff works much better today than it did 40 years ago, but I see the aquahot like a diesel version of an old Stewart Warner gas heater. They were an awesome heater when they worked. In a VW in -10*F weather, they were about the only heat available. The three heaters I had more often blew cold air and frustrated me to no end. As these aquahots are such a common discussion, its something I will likely avoid for the foreseeable future. Like the SW heaters of old, there are a lot of parts that can fail, pumps, ignitors, circuit boards, nozzles. If I have to burn half a gallon of diesel an hour it seems more sense to run the generator?

  I plan to tie the Generator into the Bus cooling system, and as I'm keeping the OTR heat I should be okay unless I mistakenly get into extreme weather, which I intend to avoid at all costs. I'm also planning to run a loop around an electric hot water heater. Then the water heater can be used for heat when shore power is available??

  A side benefit I realized when thinking this out, is the remote radiator for the generator could be used to shed main engine heat if required.
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« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2011, 04:35:12 PM »

I am not sure about fuel usage. We have just been weekend warriors for now and a couple of long trips. I like the ability to heat my water and my engine as needed. I fine a little preheat on the engine in the summer will reduce the start up smoke. I would recommend backup heat but like the webasto on my conversion.

John
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« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2011, 04:52:30 PM »

I dry camped for 5 days with a family of 4, and between the AquaHot and the Onan 7500 Gen, my fuel guage hardly even moved.  I can't say for sure how many gallons was used, but it wasn't anything worth talking about.  Everything is tapped into the main coach fuel tank.
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David G
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« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2011, 05:37:42 PM »

How much from scratch??
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« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2011, 05:49:37 PM »

How much from scratch??

Depends on which model.  If you are talking about the large 600D with everything needed from the main unit, heat exchangers, plumbing, antifreeze etc... for a 40-45' full sized coach, you are looking at $12,000.
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David G
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« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2011, 06:02:26 PM »

Thanks: will consider even used/rebuilt at 7or 8 grand in decision making.  Bob
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« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2011, 06:19:13 PM »

Lenny, installed the 675-d 240 volts for 5 zones with engine pre heat in his H-45 everything he was at 15,483.00,they draw 13 amp + on DC depending on what size exchangers.

Bob AquaHot has always been straight forward about the fuel usage how these guys burn less I have no idea but I can tell you if I spend big bucks for a unit I am going to stay warm
 
Ours would use 5 gals + a day at freezing temps in a well insulated coach then we had generator time check out the Aquahot site they love to use these little things when it come to fuel usage * for cold weather ** for extreme cold weather lol  
 
Owning one I don't buy into the low fuel usage because we have used FlowScans on the things before to check the fuel usage and know exactly how much fuel one will use in freezing weather to keep a bus @ 72 degrees.

You don't have to be married to AquaHot there are other brands  on the market just as good if not better than AquaHot fwiw or build your own 

good luck  
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« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2011, 06:27:37 PM »

Was just curious: Is quiet a large investment. Would depend on ones life style. Rite now I'm more in the swow bird class.  Just was trying to do the math.   Bob
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« Reply #27 on: November 27, 2011, 06:37:17 PM »

Lenny, installed the 675-d 240 volts for 5 zones with engine pre heat in his H-45 everything he was at 15,483.00,they draw 13 amp + on DC depending on what size exchangers.

Bob AquaHot has always been straight forward about the fuel usage how these guys burn less I have no idea but I can tell you if I spend big bucks for a unit I am going to stay warm
 
Ours would use 5 gals + a day at freezing temps in a well insulated coach then we had generator time check out the Aquahot site they love to use these little things when it come to fuel usage * for cold weather ** for extreme cold weather lol  
 
Owning one I don't buy into the low fuel usage because we have used FlowScans on the things before to check the fuel usage and know exactly how much fuel one will use in freezing weather to keep a bus @ 72 degrees.

You don't have to be married to AquaHot there are other brands  on the market just as good if not better than AquaHot fwiw or build your own 

good luck  

That price must have included installation?  the 600 and 675 is really the same system, except for the 120volt vs 240volt electric element.
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David G
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« Reply #28 on: November 27, 2011, 07:08:34 PM »

Yep out the door in Lupton in a stripped shell the exchangers were not installed but came with the unit,you can buy a Rixen the same unit for almost 1/2 of the 12 grand you paid,

The Oasis is cheaper also and is as good it is based on a ProHeat burner you see more Oasis in boats than the AquaHot very few AquaHots in boats in fact I never saw one
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« Reply #29 on: November 27, 2011, 07:14:19 PM »

I live in the mild winters mid-south so my heating needs at home are not severe.

I have an engine coolant loop in my water heater for when I travel. Parked with power I have an electric water heating coil. If no power I can heat the water with the genset in about an hour.

I have a block heater for the engine.

When the water heater is hot it heats all the water tanks in one insulated compartment plus the bathroom floor (No heating loop in the floor).

I have two small LP furnaces, either of which heats the bus in moderately cold weather.

Except for the spiders next of hoses for the water heater loop this is a very simple, effective system. One reason for the spider's nest is the old hoses for the removed Webasto which I will eventually remove.

When underway the original bus heating system is far more than enough to heat the whole bus.

I bought a Proheat from Bruce Knee but finally realized I didn't need it!!
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« Reply #30 on: November 27, 2011, 07:28:24 PM »

Had the Webasto 2020 on the hockey team's D3 with S60. Factory installed because the S60 doesn't warm up untill it is worked hard, and will cool off fast if iddled for any lengh of time. There is a " Heater on " light on the dash that shows when it comes on by itself. Run it for 1/2 hour to an hour in the morning while having  breakfast, then the engine starts like on the 1st of July, with no smoke because it is  warm. Don't have to park near an electrical outlet behind the hotel while on the road.   I would come out and turn it on after the 2nd period so at the end of the game the bus was again nice and warm. If maintained properly, it isn't any more trouble than anything else.  

Best invention since buses were discovered, lol.

JC
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« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2011, 08:46:25 PM »

The problems we hear on bus boards about failing equipment have far more to do with busnuts inheriting, or self inflicting, used up, worn out, preventive maintenance deprived boilers, than there being a problem with the boilers themselves.

It will be difficult for a busnut to wear out a new Webasto, or a Webasto that has been carefully refurbished, provided it is installed into a properly sized system, and a little maintenance is performed, mostly an annual cleaning, filter and nozzle.

My coach came from the previous owner with an oversized Webasto DBW 300, and being from the Great White North, I love that I can get the temp needle for the engine to climb towards the 160 degree limit in under 20 minutes when it is sub zero. Using bypass switches, the coach interior may be heated by the Webasto via the stock HVAC,the same as going down the road.
With this quick preheat, pretty much three 9 volt batteries in series will start the 8V71.
Now, to be fair, the DBW 300 will drink 4 litres/1.05 US gallon of diesel per hour, making that 104 000 BTU, so my example is not one to enter into the fuel economy discussions.

Would I consider including a fuel fired boiler in the design of another bus conversion?

Yes. (but a smaller one than this one!)

happy coaching!
buswarrior

 
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« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2011, 09:05:54 PM »

  Has anyone ever calculated heat loss on a Bus with any real accuracy? At the least, many have 3 1/2 inch worth of fiberglass R value in the walls. Many have much better than that, 3 inches of foam could easily exceed R-20. The 40 footers are only 320 square feet, it shouldn't take 100K btu's per hour to stay warm. The fact many of you claim two 1500 watt heaters are usually more than enough would suggest less than 10K BTU heat loss at whatever temperature those can maintain comfort at. IOW, two 5000 BTU heaters running continuously to maintain 70*F would suggest 10K BTU heat loss at that outside temperature.

  Our Bounder is 32 feet long. The cab area firewall, cab walls and entire floor all the way back is uninsulated plywood. It has a 20K output Suburban and has never had any trouble keeping it warm almost down to 10*F on the highway (the cab heater is a joke), and much colder when parked. Except those time when it didn't work at all. In any case, I have never seen it run continuously, which would suggest 20K BTU would be more than sufficient if it were better insulated.
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« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2011, 09:32:15 PM »

Search the archives, some winter not so long ago, I did an overnight experiment, to remove the solar variable, with a stock coach using a few electric heaters with the ambient temps down near 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

No, you don't need 100 000 BTU, unless you want to keep sucking outside ambient air in with the stock HVAC...

I don't remember if anyone contributed any rough calculations to my less than scientific observations.

I sure miss the smart folks who haunted the boards a decade ago, they did that stuff in their heads, or had work experience in the field.

The archives on BNO go back further.

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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