Best Chinese Diesel heaters – Beating the Cold in Style, for Less

November is upon us and as every year, it gets increasingly chilly in RVs, motorhomes, caravans and campervans alike.

If you’re a seasoned camper, you know this already… and if you are a newbie to the nomadic lifestyle, or just doing occasional trips during the cold months, you will soon – keeping your rolling haven cozy is paramount, and can make or break your trip. Trust me, the lower the temperatures get, the more willing you will be to get yourself some sort of heater, after all, blankets, your dog, cuddly times with your other half, or endless supply of tea only gets you so far.

You have a few basic choices to keep your RV/campervan warm – there are propane heaters, electric heaters, (the Instagram-notorious) wood stoves. The more fancy ones are things like hydronic heating systems, heat pumps, or solar panels.  And then there are Chinese diesel heaters.

As the term “Chinese diesel heater” suggests, it is commonly used to refer to a category of diesel-fueled air heaters that are predominantly manufactured in China (duh!), and have gained well-deserved popularity among the RV/campervan/nomad community, van dwellers, and boating people for their undisputable advantages over many of the other ways to heat your campervan or RV.

Table of Contents

Fuel Efficiency: The Cheap Warmth

They sip diesel like a connoisseur tasting fine wine (no spitting), providing ample heat without guzzling your fuel reserves. During our travels through the Rockies, the heater kept our campervan comfortably warm without causing a significant dip in the fuel gauge – we simply had a separate bottle.

Autonomous Heating: Engine Off, Comfort On:

One of the standout features of these heaters is their ability to operate independently of the RV’s engine. This means you can enjoy a warm, inviting interior without idling your engine all night, a boon for both the environment, and (mainly) your wallet. They just quietly hum away, maintaining a snug ambiance.

Compact Powerhouses:

Space in an RV is as precious as a serene lakeside spot. Thankfully, these heaters are designed to be compact and unobtrusive. Installing them is usually pretty straightforward. Installation kits are typically comprehensive, though I recommend a thorough read-through of the manual or seeking professional help if you’re not DIY-inclined. Regular maintenance is key – a lesson I learned once as well – the hard way. Keep it clean and serviced, and it’ll repay you in consistent, reliable warmth.

Before you decide which one is best for you, however, just keep in mind that they can be quite powerful so if you only have a small camper, I’d recommend taking one of the smaller, 2kw, otherwise you will be either very hot, or will need to turn the temperature down for it not to kick it all that often. For larger RVs or campers, the 5KW-8KW are plenty.

User-Friendly Temperature Control:

As hinted above, the modern Chinese diesel heaters come equipped with thermostats or control units, making temperature adjustments a walk in the park. For me that is one of the best things – you can just simply dial up the heat when needed for an instant cozy escape from the crisp air outside.

Affordability: Warmth Without the Wallet Worry:

Let’s talk cost – a critical factor for many of us. You can go with brands such as Webasto, Eberspächer (aka Espar), Planar (Autoterm), or Truma. These are typically higher-end devices that set you back a few hundred quid, offering, in principle, the same. On the other hand, the Chinese heaters are remarkably budget-friendly, and that also applies when compared to other heating options mentioned above. Their affordability doesn’t typically horribly compromise on quality – they simply offer a reliable warmth source without breaking the bank. This aspect is particularly appealing for those of us who’d rather spend our money on experiences than expenses. They probably won’t last you a lifetime, but you should get out of them a good few winters quite reliably.

Safety First

The Carbon Monoxide Factor:

Safety is paramount, and it’s crucial to be aware of the carbon monoxide risk associated with any fuel-burning device, and the Chinese diesel heaters are no exception – ventilation is essential. Always make sure your RV or campervan is well-ventilated and have a carbon monoxide detector on board – it is a small investment for peace of mind.

Stating the obvious but I have to stress this for my own peace of mind – it really is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation. They are easy to install but no matter how tempting it is to approach the installation with “user manuals are for dummies” attitude, please please use a qualified technician if you’re unsure – in the context of the overall price, it is a worthy investment, and you can sleep soundly knowing that you will actually wake up.  

Another risk is obviously fire. With the all-in-one modules (explanation is below) it might be even a bit higher as you would be pouring diesel into the tank that is within the unit in your campervan/RV, whereas some people opt for the basic models and tweak the tank opening so that it is outside of the car. 

Pro-tip

PRO-TIP – no matter which one you end up choosing, I wholeheartedly recommend installing it in the morning, so that you have enough time to let it run with your windows open. As it is a new piece of kit that gets really hot, during the first “session” it might smell for a while and you don’t want that to be during the night when you sleep there. The good thing is that it really is a one-off thing that just disappears.

The next step in deciding which Chinese diesel heaters is the best for you is whether you want a “basic setup” or  “All in One”.  

“All in One” heaters offer convenience and ease of use as they contain everything within the unit, while basic heaters provide more flexibility and potential for customization based on your RV/campervan layout and fitout.

AspectBasic Diesel Air Heaters (e.g., HCALORY 5KW-8KW)"All in One" Diesel Heaters (e.g., maXpeedingrods 8KW)
DesignSeparate components for installation.Integrated design with most components in one unit.
InstallationMore complex, time-consuming.Easier and quicker due to integrated design.
Space RequiredRequires more space for separate components.Compact design takes up less space.
Ease of UseVaries; may not include advanced features.Often includes user-friendly features like LCD panels and remote control.
FlexibilityMore flexible in installation and customization.Less flexible in terms of customization due to fixed component arrangement.
MaintenanceCan be challenging due to dispersed components.Easier due to centralized design; however, major failures may require replacing the entire unit.

But enough stalling, let’s take a look at the best Chinese diesel heaters you can buy at the moment.

Best Chinese diesel heaters

maXpeedingrods 12V 2KW Diesel Heater with Automatic Altitude Adjustment and Remote Control and Silencer for Camping Motorhomes Campervans or Caravans

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maXpeedingrods 12V 2KW Diesel Heater with Automatic Altitude Adjustment and Remote Control...

Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

Let’s start on the lower end in terms of performance and size. The maXpeedingrods diesel heater is compact and unobtrusive, a crucial feature for space-conscious travelers. It sports 2KW power output so is essentially designed for medium to small-sized campervans/motorhomes/caravans (or just any vehicle), making it an ideal choice for those that don’t have much space, yet want to be warm. The automatic altitude adjustment is a standout feature, particularly for those who travel through mountainous terrain, as it ensures optimal operation regardless of elevation but similar to is larger 5KW brother, most people probably won’t either use it, or they won’t notice its function (which is, arguably, the point).

Installation Experience:

Setting up the heater is straightforward. While some technical acumen is beneficial, especially in ensuring safe installation, the process was less daunting than anticipated, especially as there are youtube videos, and partly thanks to decent instructions.

Performance in Varied Conditions:

In the lowlands, the heater quickly brought my campervan to a comfortable temperature, its 2KW output proving more than sufficient for the space. The real test, however, came in the highlands. As the altitude increased, the automatic adjustment feature maintained the heater’s efficiency and output, a critical aspect in ensuring consistent warmth.

Noise Level and Control:

One of the impressive aspects of this heater is its quiet operation, courtesy of the included silencer. This feature was particularly appreciated during night-time when you can hear every twig breaking. Mind you, it’s not totally silent, you know about it but it is silent enough humming that is not annoying or disturbing. The remote control added an extra layer of lazy convenience, allowing you to adjust settings from whereever in the campervan/you are – which, most of the time, you are not very far anyway. But it works as it should so why not.

The heater is notably fuel-efficient, running on about 0.3 litres of diesel per hour.

Given its compact size, the heater was easy to manage and transport, making it a versatile option for various vehicle types – campervans, caravans, RVs, you name it.

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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

maXpeedingrods 5KW 12V Diesel Heater with LCD Switch and Remote Control with Automatic Altitude Adjustment for Trucks Motorhomes Campervans or Caravans

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maXpeedingrods 5KW 12V Diesel Heater with LCD Switch and Remote Control with...

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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm
£94.99 £129.99

The maXpeedingrods diesel heater boasts 5KW power output, ensuring your vehicle stays warm and comfortable, even in the chilliest of environments. As mentioned previously, this one is on the “stronger” side of things but the good thing is that if you ever do upgrade to a larger campervan or RV, you just take it with you.  Whether you’re parked in a snowy landscape or traveling through a cold snap, this heater delivers consistent, reliable warmth.

Build

It’s recently got an upgrade with copper wire harness, thicker and tougher quiet tubing, nylon wire harness, washable fuel pump, thickened air pipes, and 304 stainless steel exhaust pipe.

Advanced Control Mechanisms:

The inclusion of an LCD switch offers users an intuitive interface for easy control of the heating settings. You can adjust temperature levels, set timers, and monitor heater performance with a simple touch.

The remote control functionality is a wicked feature, yes – you don’t need to get up from your bed! And making your RV/campervan warm BEFORE getting up beats pretty much anything. Imagine needing to light a fire up in a wood stove, wait for it to spread the heat in the whole campervan…no, thank you!

Automatic Altitude Adjustment:

A unique feature of this diesel heater that 95% of people will never use is its ability to automatically adjust to different altitudes. In plateau mode, the heater can work at altitudes up to 16,000 feet. This is crucial for travelers who venture into high-altitude areas, where air density (less oxygen) can affect the performance of any combustion-based heating systems. Again, not soemthing that everyone will take advantage of but you never know and it’s good to have the option.

Efficient Fuel Consumption:

Diesel heaters are known for their fuel efficiency, and the maXpeedingrods model is no exception. It provides substantial heat output while consuming diesel fuel economically, making it a cost-effective solution for long-term travelers.

The heater comes with an installation kit that makes it relatively straightforward to install in various types of vehicles. Whether you have a truck, motorhome, campervan, or caravan, this heater can be a viable addition.

£94.99 £129.99
2 new from £89.99
Free shipping
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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

Triclicks 12V 5KW Air Diesel Heater

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Triclicks 12V 5KW Air Diesel Heater Parking Heater Diesel Night Heater with...

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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm
£79.99 £89.99

The most crucial aspect of any heater is its performance, and the Triclicks heater excels in this area (and no, contrary to the picture, there are no flames coming out of it). It generates ample heat with minimal fuel usage, an essential feature for anyone conscious about efficiency and cost. The quick warm-up time and the protective cool-down cycle contribute to both comfort and the longevity of the unit.

Installation Insights:

The installation process is quite straightforward but required some planning and basic technical know-how – you need to carefully choose the installation spot so again, if not sure, best to ask a technician to do it for you.

For those looking to use the van’s main fuel tank, purchasing a fuel tank pickup straw kit is advisable. However, the kit’s included tank is sufficient for those who prefer a simpler setup.

Wiring and Control Setup:

The wiring process was surprisingly straightforward. The controller and fuel pump connections are distinct, reducing the risk of improper setup. For example, the positioning of the thermostat crucial for accurate temperature control inside the van so make you put it somewhere towards the lower-centre of your RV/campervan as the heat tends to rise towards the ceiling.

Remote Control Functionality:

The remote control is basic but very functional, allowing for easy on/off and temperature adjustments. This feature adds a level of convenience, particularly when you’re settled in and don’t want to move to adjust the heater.

Priming and Starting the Heater:

Priming the pump is a one-time process but crucial for the heater’s operation. The controller settings might be a bit unclear in the manual, but once set, the heater starts easily and begins producing heat promptly.

The Triclicks 12V 5KW Air Diesel Heater is a solid choice for anyone in need of a reliable and efficient heating solution for their vehicle. Its installation, while requiring some effort, pays off in the heater’s excellent performance and fuel efficiency. The heat output is substantial, and the minimal fuel consumption is barely noticeable.

£79.99 £89.99
4 new from £79.99
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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

HCALORY 5KW-8KW 12V Diesel Air Heater

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HCALORY 5KW-8KW 12V Diesel Air Heater Muffler Diesel Heater, 10L Fuel Tank...

Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm
£68.99 £132.99

The heater’s adjustable power range, from 5KW to 8KW, allows for customizable heating depending on the size of your space and the outside temperature, making it versatile for different vehicles and environments. The fact that you can’t really go lower means that this one is more suitable for larger vans such as Crafters, or motorhomes/RVs. For anything smaller this might be a bit of an overkill.

It comes equipped with a 10L fuel tank, that lasts a good bit, super-handy for long trips or while in remote locations.

An LCD switch and a remote control make operating the heater convenient. Similarly to the maXpeedingrods, the ability to adjust settings remotely is super-useful in larger vehicles, or when you just don’t want to leave the comfort of your bed or seat to change the heating settings. The ultimate lazy!

Quiet Operation with Muffler:

The inclusion of a muffler reduces the noise massively, making the heater a lot more pleasant to use – especially during night-time hours or while out in the nature with just owls hooting, and bats clicking, chirping and squeaking when hunting for their insect prey. You don’t want something that kills the atmosphere altogether.

Versatile Installation:

This HCALORY heater comes with all necessary components for installation and can be fitted in various locations within your RV/motorhome, depending on individual preferences and space availability.

Installation and Safety:

Installation of the HCALORY heater is straightforward, but it does require a bit of technical know-how, or thourough read through the manual and watching a few youtube videos (below).

The HCALORY 5KW-8KW 12V Diesel Air Heater is a robust and efficient heating solution for a wide range of campervans and motorhomes. Its versatile power settings, low fuel usage, and user-friendly controls make it a strong contender in the portable heating market. The additional convenience of a muffler for quieter operation and a sizable fuel tank adds to its appeal, making it a suitable choice for those seeking a reliable source of warmth on the road.

£68.99 £132.99
1 new from £68.99
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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

Best All in one Chinese diesel heathers

maXpeedingrods 12V/24V 8KW Diesel Heater with LCD Control Panel and Remote Controller

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maXpeedingrods 12V/24V 8KW Diesel Heater with LCD Control Panel and Remote Controller...

Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm
£99.99 £199.99

With an 8KW heating output, the maXpeedingrods diesel heater is capable of warming up even larger RVs/Motorhomes quickly and efficiently. It’s an ideal choice for those who need a powerful heating solution in a relatively compact package.

All-In-One Design:

Speaking of package, this heater is a typical all-in-one – it integrates the fuel tank, heating unit, and exhaust system into a single, compact module. This design simplifies installation and saves your valuable space, making it a perfect fit for various types of motorhomes and RVs.

Similar to some heaters above, it sports an LCD control panel and a remote controller, so again, that frosty morning might be a lot more pleasant very easily – just adjust the settings to what you need and enjoy the heat.

Dual Voltage Compatibility:

Now for some extras that you would typically not see on the models above. The maXpeedingrods heater can operate on both 12V and 24V power supplies, making it versatile for different vehicle electrical systems. This flexibility is a significant advantage for users with varying power requirements.

Adaptable for Various Vehicles:

Whether you have a camping truck, a campervan, a pickup, or a motorhome, this heater’s adaptable design ensures it can be fitted into a wide range of vehicles, accommodating different lifestyles and needs.

In real-world usage, the maXpeedingrods 8KW heater performs admirably. It heats up spaces quickly, which is particularly appreciated after a long day in the cold. The heater operates efficiently, using about 0.5 – 0.7 litre of diesel per hour, so with a full tank you’ll make it through the night quite easily.

The LCD control panel is intuitive and easy to navigate, allowing for simple adjustments to temperature and power settings. The remote controller is a standout feature, providing the convenience of adjusting settings from anywhere within the vehicle.

Installation and Maintenance:

Given its all-in-one design, installation is less complex than traditional systems with separate components. However, basic technical knowledge is recommended for a proper setup. The unit’s compactness also makes it easier to access for routine maintenance.

Safety Features:

The maXpeedingrods heater includes essential safety features, such as overheat protection and a secure exhaust system, to ensure safe operation within your vehicle.

The maXpeedingrods 12V/24V 8KW Diesel Heater is an excellent investment for those seeking an efficient, and convenient heating solution for their motorhome or RV. Its powerful enough to heat up even larger space, and combined with user-friendly controls and an all-in-one design, makes it one of the best all-in-one Chinese diesel heathers outthere.

£99.99 £199.99
1 new from £99.99
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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

Triclicks 5KW / 8KW 12V Air Diesel Heater

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Triclicks 5KW / 8KW 12V Air Diesel Heater Vehicle Heater Set LCD...

Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm
£85.99 £109.99

This all-in-one Triclicks heater offers an adjustable power range of 5KW to 8KW, catering to a wide variety of heating needs. This flexibility is particularly useful for different vehicle sizes and environmental conditions. As in the previous cases, the size of your campervan/RV matters – this all-in-one unit is on the higher end so will manade to heat up larger RVs, motorhomes, or even a shed or garage.

First Impressions:

Unboxing the Triclicks heater, its compact size and robust build immediately stood out. The promise of a 5KW to 8KW adjustable power output suggested versatility, crucial for adapting to different spaces – whether it’s the confined area of a touring car or the more expansive interior of a caravan.

Installation Journey:

The installation is a hands-on affair. While the heater isn’t overly complex to install, it does require some basic technical understanding, especially in ensuring safe ventilation. After some trial and error, the heater was snugly fitted, the 4-hole design promising an even distribution of heat.

Performance in the Cold:

Performance-wise, the Triclicks heater packs a punch. Within minutes of firing it up in my motorhome, the difference was palpable. The space transformed from icy to toasty, an impressive feat considering the sub-zero temperatures outside. The adjustable output was particularly handy – at 5KW, it maintained a comfortable warmth, while the 8KW setting quickly heated the larger space.

The LCD thermostat was a breeze to operate. Its straightforward interface allowed for easy adjustments, keeping the internal climate just right. The added convenience of not having to continually fiddle with controls cannot be overstated.

£85.99 £109.99
3 new from £85.99
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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

maXpeedingrods 5KW 12V Diesel Heater with App Remote Control Super Quiet Running

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maXpeedingrods 5KW 12V Diesel Heater with App Remote Control Super Quiet Running...

Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

The maXpeedingrods 5KW 12V Diesel Heater, with its all-in-one design and app remote control, presents itself as a strong contender for the title as the best Chinese diesel heater. Touted by many for its super quiet operation and ease of carrying, it’s aimed at a wide range of mobile dwellers and travelers – from campervan/RV enthusiasts to long-haul truckers.

Unboxing and First Impressions:

Right out of the box, the maXpeedingrods heater’s compact, all-in-one design was striking. It promised a straightforward installation process and easy portability – two factors that can be a significant pain point with other heating systems. Its sleek build also suggested it wouldn’t be an eyesore in any camper or RV.

Setting Up:

The installation was surprisingly simple. The all-in-one design means fewer separate parts to fuff with, and a more streamlined setup process. It’s always good to watch some youtube videos to learn from mistakes of others, so within a relatively short time, the heater was ready to go.

Heating Performance:

Turning on the heater, I was immediately impressed by how quiet it actually was. In the small, often echo-prone spaces of campervans or RVs, the noise level of a heater can be a deal-breaker, but the maXpeedingrods model ran with quite a whisper.

The real test, however, was its heating capability. The 5KW power output quickly made itself known, rapidly warming up the Crafter space. Even in the larger area of the motorhome, the heater efficiently distributed warmth, creating a cozy and comfortable environment.

Similar to others, you have the option to connect the heater to an app and adjust settings your smartphone. It allows you to fine-tune the temperature from anywhere in the vehicle, and the app is quite decent (sometimes this can be a pain as apps can literally be just a glorified 3-button remote).

 

Its blend of quiet efficiency, user-friendly features, and portability makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of travelers and mobile dwellers.

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Last update was on: February 25, 2024 8:51 pm

So which of these heaters is best for you?

Here is an expanded explanation of the differences between the basic, yet more modular units compared to the all-in-one solutions, hope you find it helpful.

Design and Components:

Basic Heaters: Basic diesel heaters like the HCALORY model usually come with separate components that need to be installed and connected. This can include the heater unit, fuel tank, wiring, exhaust and intake pipes, control unit, and mounting hardware.

All in One Heaters: “All in One” heaters, as the name suggests, integrate most components into a single compact unit. The maXpeedingrods heater, for example, may have the fuel tank, heater, and exhaust system combined into one easy-to-install module.

Installation Complexity:

Basic Heaters: The installation of basic heaters can be more complex and time-consuming as it involves setting up multiple components in different locations of the vehicle. This can offer more flexibility in how you arrange the system but requires more planning and space.

All in One Heaters: These heaters are generally easier and quicker to install due to their integrated design. They are ideal for users looking for a straightforward, space-saving installation.

Space Considerations:

Basic Heaters: They might require more space overall, as separate components need to be accommodated within the vehicle.

All in One Heaters: These units are more compact and take up less space, making them ideal for smaller vehicles or when space is at a premium.

Ease of Use and Features:

Basic Heaters: The functionality can be similar, but the control units and features might vary depending on the model. They may or may not include advanced features like remote control or LCD displays.

All in One Heaters: Often come with user-friendly features like LCD control panels and remote controllers, making them easier to operate. The integrated design also tends to be more streamlined and can be more aesthetically pleasing.

Flexibility and Customization:

Basic Heaters: Offer more flexibility in terms of installation and customization. You can choose where to place each component to best suit your vehicle’s layout.

All in One Heaters: While easier to install, they offer less flexibility in terms of customization, as the components are fixed in their arrangement.

Maintenance and Repairs:

Basic Heaters: Maintenance can be more challenging as you might need to access different parts of the system located in different areas of your vehicle.

All in One Heaters: They are generally easier to maintain and repair due to the centralized design, but replacing the entire unit may be necessary if a major component fails.

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