The Webasto AirTop 2000 heater, thermal insulation & Maxxair Fan are the key elements to make our DIY camper van conversion comfortable during winter. The van will be used as a winter splitboarding basecamp, therefore heat & humidity control is critical.
The Webasto AirTop 2000 ST/STC is fueled from the main vehicle tank. Fuel consumption is low (0.03 to 0.06 gal/h), electricity consumption is low as well (1.25A to 2.45A on average, more during startup) and there is no humidity added in the van resulting from the combustion as opposed to propane heaters such as the popular Mr. Heater Big Buddy (http://amzn.to/2ggdPq0).
Webasto AND Propex, are both really needed?!
We didn’t add the Propex heater (faroutride.com/propex-install/) because we needed more heat (more BTU); we added the Propex because we had some issues with our Webasto and we wanted a SOLID backup plan in case the Webasto fails again. Since then, we took some corrective actions on the Webasto (faroutride.com/webasto-install-new-burner) and our issues are gone; we’re in love with our Webasto again and highly recommend it 🙂
We chose to install the unit under the passenger seat.
TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 20-24 hours* (!!)
* Note on the time: The Webasto installation is not rocket science; this is probably doable in 8 hours (some have claim to have done it in about 4 hours). Despite a good planning, the installation process was painful… We do not have a lot of tool and hardware in hand, so we had to make several trips to Home Depot and the Auto Parts store. In addition, we spent at least 4 hours just planning the routing: since we installed our unit under the passenger seat, we had to go across the van exhaust which is a very hot area and it made the routing more challenging. Another contributor to the long hours was the fact that there is not much space under the passenger seat (under the van), so we had to make sure the hole pattern would not fall into a frame. And since the access under the seat is so bad, the installation of the 4 screws, air intake, air exhaust and fuel line was VERY time consuming. That being said, the installation is solid and clean; we’re very satisfied with the final result!
TOTAL COST : 1500$ USD
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- One of the following heater:
- GASOLINE Webasto Air Top 2000 STC with installation kit and Rheostat Control (Buy from Amazon)
- DIESEL Webasto Air Top 2000 STC RV with installation kit (Buy from Amazon)
- Optional (but recommended!) MultiControl HD (Buy from Amazon)
- This is the “RV” model: It can be switched to high-altitude mode on the MultiControl HD (neat!), comes with silencers and no “special” harness is required to connect the MultiControl HD to it.
- DIESEL Espar D2 with installation kit (Buy from Amazon)
- 1x Aluminum sheet 0.062″ thick (to make a flat surface) (free if you get it from a friend)
- 3x Cross Nut 1/4-20 (optional to avoid drilling new holes in the van structure) (Buy from Amazon)
- 2x Bolt M8x1.25 30mm length (to use existing tapped hole in the van structure (Buy from Amazon)
- 1x Ford Gasoline Auxiliary Fuel Port Kit (10$)
- 3/8″ I.D. Fuel Line 8′-10′ length (check your installation for adequate length) (15$)
- 5/16″ I.D. Fuel Line 1′ length (connect from Auxiliary Fuel Port to 1/4″ fuel line) (3$)
- 1x Heat Shield Sleeve 1″ diameter (¾” diameter would probably work) 36″ length (Buy from Amazon)
- Kleen-Flo RustProof
- Thinsulate (Buy from Amazon)
- We learned the Webasto creates a lot of noise! We strongly suggest to also get the material to reduce that noise. Look at THIS POST (Air Heater Noise Reduction) to learn more!
- 2-3/8″ hole saw to cut the hole for the hot air vent
- 7/8″ hole saw to cut the holes for combustion air intake/exhaust
- Jigsaw (if you need to fabricate a flat doubler)
- Webasto Air Top 2000 ST Data Sheet
- Webasto Air Top 2000 ST manual
- Webasto Air Top 2000 ST Workshop Manual
- Webasto Air Top 2000 STC manual
- Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Workshop Manual
- 7 Days Timer MultiControl (for STC only) Programming Instructions
HOW WE DID IT*
*Disclaimer: we’re good, but not that much. Use these instructions at your own risks!
First things first, there are a lot’s of do’s and don’ts so make sure to read the manual that comes with the unit (see “Resources” links above).
1- Fit the Webasto Air Heater unit to the van
The seat was removed.
The jack will be relocated somewhere else. The bolt holding the jack was trimmed flush.
We located the Air Heater unit: it must be positioned so it does not interfere with seat base and with the structure under the floor. There is not much room under the van… we used existing fasteners and holes to help us make the correspondence between above/below floor location.
The surface on which the unit is installed must be perfectly flat for the gasket to work; we had to fabricate an aluminum plate to fulfill this requirement.
There are drilling templates provided in the manual, use them! Do not use the rubber gasket as a template, it is not accurate…
(see template in previous picture)
We tripled-checked the location of the unit and proceeded with drilling. Before drilling, we punched the holes center so the drill bit would not slide off center. As usual, we coated the bare surfaces with primer/paint/clearcoat for corrosion protection.
We then sealed the holes/aluminum doubler with Silicone. This is important to prevent gas fumes from entering inside the van.
The unit is fastened with 4 lock-washers and nuts under the floor. The access is VERY limited, so we had to use a gear wrench:
After securing the 4 nuts, we applied Silicone under the floor.
2- Route the combustion air-exhaust
We routed it toward the rear of the van near the passenger side tire.
1- We couldn’t avoid a “low-point” in the exhaust routing, so we drilled 3/16″ hole to drain the water formed by condensation (this is per manual. Condensation water trapped in the exhaust will restrict the air flow and the heater will most likely experience carbon buildup in a short period of time). So make sure to add a drain hole wherever there is a low point!
2- About silencers: they increase flow restriction in the exhaust and having some issues with carbon buildup in our unit, we decided to remove the silencer.
3- Route the combustion air-intake
See picture just above!
4- Route the fuel line and the fuel pump electrical wire
We used 3/8” rubber fuel line to protect the Webasto fuel line and an additional Heat Shield Sleeve (Buy from Amazon) near the van muffler.
The fuel pump electrical wire is routed along with the fuel line.
We located the fuel pump near the fuel tank (as stated in the manual). The fuel pump was attached using a Cross Nut fitted in an existing hole
Cross Nut: get some, they will be handy throughout the whole conversion (this is what we used to secure the interior cabinets and stuff). The 1\4-20 .280 grip prebulbed type will fit in the existing Transit factory holes found everywhere inside the cargo area. We made a specific post about Cross Nut here (selection chart, how to install & tips).
To gain access to the auxiliary fuel port, the tank must be lowered.
We drove the van until about 10 miles to empty (the tank is surprisingly lightweight at this point). Then we put a toolbox under the tank and removed the 6 screws holding the tank. No need to detach the fuel lines (they are flexible). We lowered the tank until we were able to detach the protective fuel cap on the auxiliary fuel port.
The Ford Fuel Port Kit can be purchased from a Ford Dealer, it’s about 10$.
The fitting was pre-fitted with 5/16” fuel line, then 1/4”, then the Webasto fuel line
The arrangement above (5/16″ to 1/4″) could create fuel delivery issues (air bubbles) and the gasoline model is quite sensitive to that (resulting in carbon buildup maybe?). Therefore, we recommend getting a proper fuel line reducer from Webasto:
Thanks to Andrew for the tip!
Then we installed the fitting on the tank and connected it to the fuel pump
Then, we connected the fuel pump electrical wires to the Webasto unit (the wires that are hanging out from the Webasto unit combustion air intake). The fuel pump has no polarity! In other words, there is no positive or negative to follow when connecting the electrical wires.
5- Secure the combustion air-exhaust, combustion air-intake and the fuel line to the unit using the provided clamps
6- Route the cabin hot-air duct and install the fitting
7- Install the provided protective screen to the cabin cold-air intake (as stated in the manual)
8- Connect the electrical harness to the air heater unit
EDIT: Before re-installing the seat, we recommend to add Thinsulate (http://amzn.to/2xvx0cY) all around the seat base. We found that it helps reducing the fan noise (don’t expect it to completely go away) and it helps with thermal insulation. If you do, MAKE SURE NOT COVER THE INTAKE OF THE WEBASTO!
9- Connect the Rotary Rheostat (or any Webasto controller) to the harness*
*Different controllers requires different harness! Ensure you have the appropriate one or it will not work…
10- Connect the harness to the power supply (red wire is positive, brown is negative)
11- Before testing the setup, the van fuel tank must be filled or the air heater fuel pump will only pump air…
12- Turn it on!
The unit requires 3-4 starts for the fuel to get pumped all the way to the unit, so we got 3 faulty starts before it actually worked. Also, when ambient air temperature is above 77F, the unit starts then shutoff immediately for self-protection…
If using the MultiControl 7 Days Timer, the device must be programmed first following these instructions.
That’s it! In your face, winter.
STC vs ST model
The following is the result of our own research (with some help). It is not official information, but good luck finding official information…
Availability and technical support:
- ST: Worldwide
- STC: Not in North-America… (for now, but it’s coming)
What’s different? Found here:
“This product is the further development of the Webasto Air Top 2000 ST and has the same dimensions and technical characteristics. It also runs under the same legal operating licence as the Webasto Air Top 2000 ST. It uses the standard fuel pump DP42 as used in the Webasto Air Top Evo 40/55 heaters. A change of the applications when using the new heater is not required except for using ta different metering pump ad harness. The Webasto Air Top 2000 STC will ensure full W-Bus compatibility and full operation with the NEW SmartControl and MultiControl without using the Unibox. Can be used in conjunctions with the Webasto ThermoCall TC4, this Can also be purchased on our online shop.”
The STC can be controlled with the new MultiControl.
ON SECOND THOUGHT…
- On second thought, we would still install the heater ourselves BUT we would buy the ST over the STC to get technical support (until the STC is supported in North-America)…
- February 1st 2017 update: Our heater had carbon buildup, which caused the malfunction. Carbon buildup after only 200 hours of use is not normal. We had our heater checked by Mellor Online and, after cleaning the carbon, it is supposed to be 100% functional. So there must be something wrong with our installation. Now let’s see what are the possible causes for carbon buildup:
- Incomplete combustion caused by Fuel/Oxygen mix ratio too rich (not enough oxygen).
- Combustion intake dust ingestion.
- Voltage issue.
- Dirty fuel.
- Fuel pump installed at incorrect angle.
- Short run cycles (It is recommended to run the heater for at least 15 minutes before shutting down).
What’s our plan for each points above?
- Re-route exhaust so it dumps the gas outside the van limits, further away. We think that the intake was sucking the exhaust gas back in (therefore there was a lack of oxygen).
- Add an intake silencer (acting as dust filter).
- Voltage was checked by Mellor Online and is suppose to be fine. Nothing to do here.
- Add the Webasto fuel filter just before the pump.
- Our pump is installed per manual. Nothing to do here.
- We did that already.
Hopefully this solves the issue.
We will report back with long term results.
- October 2017 Update: Carbon buildup issues came back. This time we installed a new burner insert and adjusted the heater for high-altitude. Full write-up here:
- 2017/2018 Update: No issues! Yay, heater worked just fine all winter! 🙂
Noise. Here are the noise sources we identified:
- Fuel pump “ticking” (or “clicking”)
- Heard mostly outside, but also inside the van
- irregular frequency, so this is quite disturbing
- Exhaust pipe
- Heard mostly outside the van
- Intake pipe
- Heard mostly outside the van
- Heard inside the van
- Regular noise, does not bother us
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the noise to a more acceptable level. We cover the modifications in this post here:
If using the Webasto / Espar at high altitudes (approx. 5000 feet and more), there are some modifications to perform in order to prevent malfunction or lost of performance. See our post here:
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!
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