How To Install an Auxiliary Heater to Your Campervan

How To Install an Auxiliary Heater to Your Campervan

JK Marketing Exec.
Published 26 September 2023

If you're looking at fitting an auxiliary heater to your campervan, but want to see how easy it is to install before you invest, then you're in the right place!

We've put together this quick guide on how to fit two of the most popular aftermarket heaters to your camper, to give you an idea of the steps involved and the tools required, so you can get straight to installing your new heater when it arrives. 

There’s a huge variety of heaters available that you could install in your converted van, and most of these are fitting in a similar way. They'll need a fuel inlet, air inlet, hot air outlet, and an exhaust outlet. They'll also most likely need wiring up to your electrical system, too.

Two of the most popular auxiliary heaters for campervans are the Propex HS2000 and the Eberspächer Airtronic, so we've written up a quick overview on how these are fitted below. 

A quick but important note on gas safety

While auxiliary heaters are relatively straightforward to install if you've got the tools, knowledge, and experience to tackle the fitting, we always recommend that these heaters are fitted and checked by a certified professional. This is especially true of gas-powered heaters, as gas safety is definitely not something to take risks with. 

If you're at all unsure of what you're doing, it's always best to call in some help from a trained and certified specialist, who'll be able to get the job done quickly and safely, so you can enjoy the cozy warmth of your new heater with total peace of mind. 

Click here to read our summary of gas safety information for campervans and motorhomes

Video: Fitting A Diesel Heater

A Quick Guide to Fitting a Propex HS2000 LPG Heater

The Propex HS2000 is fuelled by LPG gas, and can be fitted into a huge number of different places within your camper. We've personally fitted them inside cupboards, and beneath the rock'n'roll bed in a Westfalia interior in one of our VW T2 Bays. Unlike some other heaters, it can't be fitted underneath your vehicle, and you'll need to find somewhere inside to store it away.

Again, we always recommend that these heaters are installed and tested by a trained and certified professional, to ensure that the job is done quickly and safely. 

Mounting The Heater And Making Connections

Once you have decided on a place to install your heater, where there is a gap of at least 25mm on all sides, mark the air inlet and exhaust pipe locations on your van’s floor. Once you’ve marked where these pipes will run, drill pilot holes for both pipes and use a 40mm hole saw to increase the size of these holes. File these holes so they're smooth, and coat them with anti-rust paint. This will prevent any of the hoses being damaged by sharp edges, and help stop the metalwork becoming corroded.

Once this is done, feed the 22mm stainless steel hoses through these holes and connect them to the corresponding spigots on the underside of the heater.

To keep space underneath the heater free and give space for the pipes to fit, screw battens into the floor in line with the heater’s brackets and mount the heater onto these battens. This will help your heater run properly, and prevent issues with the unit overheating or similar. 

Fixing Pipes Under The Van

The exhaust pipe will need to be directed towards the edge of your van and attached to the underside of your van using P clips. The air inlet and exhaust pipes should be positioned at least 50cm away from each other and pointing in opposite directions. These should be at a slight downwards slope to prevent water pooling in them. After they’re fitted, you should seal the holes in your van with high-temperature red silicone.

Connecting Hot Air Outlets

To install a hot air outlet, mark where you want to install your vent and drill a pilot hole. Once you have this pilot hole, you can use a hole saw to drill out the hole and install your hot air vent, attaching the ducting between the vent and the heater. You can install up to three hot air vents, which you can connect up using a splitter on the ducting.

Connecting The Gas Supply

To connect your heater to a gas supply, use an 8mm copper pipe and connect one end to the manifold and the other to the heater. The ends of the pipe should be connected using copper olives and compression ring fittings and the pipe should be secured in place using P clips.

Connecting The Electrics

Your thermostat should be installed from waist to shoulder height, in a place that’s not affected by unnatural heat and attached to the heater by a six core cable. Finally, you should connect the thermostat up to the 12V fuse box and add a 5A fuse.

Testing The Heater

Your heater and gas connections will need to be thoroughly checked and tested before it's used, to make sure it’s completely safe. You should visually inspect any areas for damage or loose connections, especially checking the flue. You’ll need to have a full gas test carried out and a functional check to test if everything works correctly when it’s in action. It’s important to check the exhaust outlet and the air inlet pipes in case either of the two have become blocked or damaged.

A Quick Guide to Fitting an Eberspächer

Another really popular heater for campervans is the range from Eberspächer, who've designed auxiliary heaters which can be mounted underneath your vehicle, as well as inside it. Their Airtronic units are specially popular, and can be fitted to a wide range of different campers using specialised brackets. 

While Eberspächer's heaters generally run on diesel, we still recommend that they're installed and tested by a certified professional, to ensure that it's running correctly and safely. 

Diesel heaters are installed in a very similar way to LPG heaters, apart from diesel heaters require a diesel inlet instead of an LPG inlet. Refer to the Propex HS2000 LPG heater information for instructions on how to make the connections you need for the Eberspacher Airtronic diesel heater.

Mounting the Heater

The Eberspacher Airtronic diesel heater is mounted directly on to your van floor because it has a rubber gasket base that creates a seal with the floor to keep it in place.

Installing An Additional Diesel Tank

You have two options as a fuel source for your Eberspacher Airtronic diesel heater, either diesel from your main fuel tank or from a separate, smaller tank you can install. If you’re accessing and using your vans main fuel tank, it’s recommended that you hire a professional to do this job as, if a mistake is made during this process, it can lead to severe mechanical problems.

If you decide to install an extra diesel tank, you should make sure the tank is made of a strong enough material to store diesel and has a one way air vent so air can replace the diesel as it is emptied. The tank will also need a lid large enough that you can reach into the tank to install a standpipe. This standpipe sits in the tank, connected to a fuel line and is used to draw up the fuel.

To install a standpipe in your tank, first you will need to mark and cut the pipe to length using a pipe cutter so it fits around 1cm from the bottom of the tank. Then you’ll need to drill a hole in the top of your tank, which is tight to the size of the standpipe. Before you put the standpipe in the tank, you should clear the hole of any debris that’s left over from the drilling and check the rubber O-ring is on the pipe.

The standpipe should be inserted through the hole you drilled and you should reach your hand through the lid and screw the nut on theinternal part of the standpipe using a spanner.

You should store this additional diesel tank somewhere easily accessible, like near a door, so it can easily be refilled when you’re running low.

Connecting The Diesel Inlet

Your fuel pump should be installed at an angle of 15-30°, the exact angle will be outlined in your heaters manual. Once this is fitted, you should connect your blue fuel line between the pump and the heater using the connectors and clamps supplied with the heater.

Testing The Heater

Before your heater can make your van warm and cosy, it needs to be visually inspected to make sure there’s no damage and all connections have been made correctly. We also recommend that it's tested by a certified professional, to ensure that it's running safely. 

See more Eberspächer Heaters for your Camper

Auxiliary Heaters and Campervan Insurance

It's worth noting that taking the time to install a valuable auxiliary heating system is likely to change the value of your camper, which means you'll probably want to speak to your vehicle insurance provider to make sure that your new heater is taken into account.

If the worst should happen and you find yourself with a severely damaged campervan, modifications and upgrades like auxiliary heaters, fridges, etc. can all be included in your vehicle's agreed valuation - if your insurer offers agreed value policies. This means that, should you need to repair or replace your camper, the price of your heater (and any other upgrades you've spoken to your insurer about) will be reflected in the price paid out by your insurer. 

You won't have to spend massive amounts of time getting this arranged with whoever provides vehicle insurance for your camper, but it's definitely worth doing. 

Did you know about Just Kampers Insurance? 

If you've not already heard, the team at Just Kampers Insurance have been working hard since 1998 to bring campervan owners tailored vehicle insurance policies at really competative rates, and could help you save on your camper's insurance. 

You'll even get a £50 Just Kampers gift voucher if they can't beat your like-for-like quote!

9 months ago