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Campervan Diesel Heater Install - Dodge Sprinter

Updated: Feb 21

Finally got around to installing a diesel heater in my 2004 Dodge Sprinter campervan. Really wish I would have done this sooner, much better than using a small propane heater. It's much cheaper to operate, much safer, and less condensation in the van.

I went with a 5kw heater, but looking back now I would have liked to go with a 2kw heater. The heater does have a thermostat, but it does not turn off when it hits the lower set temperature, just idles to keep the burner lit. This "idling" is almost too hot in the van, and I have to leave vents open and fans running. Other models may shut off at the low temp but being that the start-up time is 3-5 minutes that may not be that effective.

I also chose a really cheap Amazon heater. After doing a lot of research the $1000+ Espar and similar heaters did not seem to fair better in reviews than the $200 Amazon ones. This is contradictory to how I normally make purchase decisions, but based on the numerous reviews on Amazon heaters I think it was a wise choice.

There are numerous places to put a heater like this as it pretty small, but the big concern is the fuel line, air inlet line, and the exhaust. Based on this I chose to put it under my front passenger seat. This is easy to do once the seat is removed. I have a swivel on my seat, but it has a large opening, so air flow was not an issue, but something to consider. The heater does need good airflow into the front of it to operate efficiently.

Parts needed for the install:

Tools needed for the install:

My heater came with a baseplate, which after measuring the area in the seat pedestal I decided I wanted to mount the heater sideways. This was due to needing the air inlet and exhaust to be farther apart from each other then it would allow if I mounted it upright. Most people can do this without fabricating, but since I have a welder, I fabricated a vertical mount for the heater. This is not needed if you mount it normally.

This is where I decided to mount the heater. The plastic is off around the seatbelt as I ran the controller and power wires up that way as one of my fuse boxes is above the passenger sliding door. I also wanted the controller for the heater to be located up there.

Next, I lined up where the heater would be mounted and drilled the holes for the air intake and exhaust.

I do have some critical wires running through there so those needed to be covered with HVAC foil tape.

I also ran the wires for power, ground, and the controller up to my location in the headliner above the front seats. I also connected the wiring that would go out through the same holes to the fuel pump (included in heater kit).

Next, I fabricated the mount and painted it. I used the existing mount and just welded supports to hold the heater vertically.

Next, I installed the heater and ran the exhaust, air inlet, and fuel pump wiring out through the holes. My heater kit came with exhaust wrap, which I used to wrap all the exhaust that remained inside the van. I also added a lot of foil tape to prevent the heat from the exhaust pipe from damaging anything or reaching the fuel line. When running the only really hot part is the exhaust and due to the designs of most of these the diesel line is very close to the exhaust.

I also used firewall heat shield, basically foam insulation with a foil cover, to assist with directing the exhaust heat.

I then used the included T duct work to split the heater output into two vents. A large hole saw is needed to cut the holes in the seat pedestal.

I zip-tied all the wires to make sure they did not come in contact with anything hot and tested the heater. I ran into some issues with the heater itself, not the install, which I will get into in the linked post below, but everything worked great. I used an Infared thermostat to check temps and make sure nothing was getting too hot.

I did not take any pictures of the exhaust, air inlet, or fuel pump hookup, but I will try to get some pictures to upload shortly. I had an auxiliary fuel output on my diesel tank that originally went to my factory Espar D5 heater, which is currently not functional, so I just tapped into that for now.

The fuel pump they included takes a while to get the diesel up to the heater. Luckily my heater came with a priming mode, some do not. If that is the case, then you just have to keep turning it on and on until the fuel gets to the heater.

UPDATES: The heater has been working great for a year now. Only issue to note are as follows:

-If the diesel is below 1/4 tank the pickup does not get any diesel, assuming this is intentional by Sprinter to avoid people draining the tank down to the point where it will not start

-It's too hot... as I mentioned before at idle it is still too hot. Setting the thermostat at 50 degrees just causes it to idle, but in a small enclosed and insulated space like my van it gets too hot. To deal with this I open and sometimes run my MaxxFan.

-Although it appears like the front of mine is getting minimal airflow there have been no issues and airflow seems to be adequate.

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