Propex HS2000 Heater Installation

Propex HS2000 Heater Installation Heading (1600px)

Propex HS2000 Heater Installation

The Propex HS2000 and the Propex HS2211 are blown air space heaters fueled by propane or butane. Air for combustion is taken from outside and heat is transferred inside the van via a heat exchanger: it is therefore safe to use without having to vent the inside of the van and the blown heat is dry, nice! Let’s look at some specifications:

  • 6500 BTU @ 14 W.C. propane pressure (most regulators in North America delivers 11 W.C.; it still works but output will be reduced).
  • Propane Consumption: 1 lb every 3 hours (That’s close to 60 hours run time for a 20 lbs propane tank. The heater doesn’t run all the time, so we should get a few weeks out of a tank).
  • Electrical Consumption: 1.6 amp
  • The heater is controlled by a thermostat and cycle ON/OFF to maintain the desired temperature. There is only one speed, so the Propex cycle more than a Webasto/Espar (they have 3 speeds, so they run on “low” speed without cycling too much). However the start cycle of the Propex is more quiet and doesn’t draw as much electrical current as the Webasto/Espar.

 

HS2000 VS HS2211

Both units are almost identical (BTU, consumption, etc), the main difference being that the HS2000 must be installed inside the vehicle while the HS2211 is designed to be mounted outside (or inside). Here are the main differences:

HS2000

Propex HS2000 (300x252)Propex-HS2000-Dimensions (inches)

  • Must be installed inside
  • Must be installed horizontally
  • Requires to pass the combustion intake/exhaust pipes through the floor (in addition to the propane line, if your tank is mounted outside): that’s two ~1in diameter holes.

HS2211

Propex HS2211 (300x252)Propex-HS2211-Dimensions (inches)

  • Can be installed inside or outside
  • Can be installed on any of it’s wide or narrow faces, but not nose up or down
  • If installed outside, the hot air / cold air ducts have to pass through the floor (in addition to the electrical wires): that’s two ~ 2.75in diameter holes.
  • The HS2211 is supposed to be slightly quieter than the HS2000 (but we read somewhere it’s marginal)





Webasto AND Propex, are both really needed?!

We didn’t add the Propex heater because we needed more heat (more BTU); we added the Propex because we had some issues with our Webasto (see here) and we wanted a SOLID backup plan in case the Webasto fails again. The decision to add the Propex was taken 2 weeks before we decided to drive from Arizona to WinterWonderLand (Salt Lake City, Jackson, British-Columbia, etc) to start our snowboarding season; the heater situation was the only thing preventing us from being excited about snow. So we fixed that. And now, we can’t wait to chase the snow!

You might want to read this:


 

Propex Quick Installation Overview (keep reading for more!)
  1. Choose a Location to Install the Heater Unit
  2. Route/Install the combustion intake and exhaust
  3. Route/Install propane line
  4. Route/Install the hot and cold air ducts
  5. Install the thermostat controller
  6. Connect the heater to 12V power
  7. Fire!

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: Approximately 8 hours

 

TOTAL COST : Approximately 850$ USD (750$ for the heater plus material)

 


DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc), we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not.

Portrait


 

 

 

MATERIAL:

  • Propex HS2000 Heater with installation kit (Dealer Locator)
  • If your system currently uses a single stage propane regulator, it should be replaced by a two stage propane regulator (Buy on Amazon)
  • 1/4″ Propane Copper Tubing
  • Hardware fittings to connect the 1/4″ tubing to your propane system
  • Electrical wires (Buy on Amazon) note: the diameter varies with the length of the wires required for your installation: it is your responsibility to determine which gauge to use. Please check our Electrical System Design article for more)
  • Butt Connectors (Buy on Amazon)
  • Ring Terminals (Buy on Amazon)

 

PREREQUISITE:

You should have propane and electricity installed! Here are our installations:

 

HANG ON, WE’RE NOT READY YET… THERE ARE SOME REQUIREMENTS TO FOLLOW…

We’re not your mom; it is YOUR responsibility to follow the installation requirements 😛 Make sure to read the installation manual BEFORE starting your installation:

Installation Manual:

 

Here is where you could possibly mess up:

  • ***BEFORE connecting the unit to the 12V, the controller (thermostat) MUST be connected to the unit. In other words: connect the controller THEN the 12V power. If this sequence is not followed, this will blow an internal fuse and the fuse has to be replaced***
  • The combustion intake and exhaust pipes should not be trimmed to ensure that the combustion is balanced and that the unit function properly in the long run
  • The combustion exhaust pipe should have a constant downward slope: this is because condensation forms in the pipe and will block the air flow if it’s not evacuated
  • The combustion exhaust pipe should be dumped outside the vehicle edge: carbon monoxide is heavier than air and will pool under the vehicle; if so, carbon monoxide could enter inside the vehicle through the floor (it’s not perfectly hermetic) and through floor vent (if you have some). Safety first!
  • The combustion intake and exhaust pipes should be 0.5 meter apart: this is to prevent exhaust air to recirculated into the intake pipe (the unit will malfunction in the long run)
  • The maximum number of hot air outlet is 3, providing the total combined length of ducting is no longer than 5 metres and the maximum length to the first outlet should not exceed 1.5m.
  • If your propane system currently uses a single stage propane regulator, you should replace it with a two stage propane regulator; if you read the Propex Manual, you probably noticed it’s asking for that. The two stage propane regulator delivers a more constant and accurate pressure to the heater despite change in elevation.
  • “The compression fitting supplied with the heater is BSPT thread; it is NOT the same as ¼” NPT fittings in the US, so please do not substitute US NPT fittings. If you need alternate BSPT fitting, these can be found at www.mcmaster.com.” Source: Propexusa.com




 

LET’S HEAT THINGS UP!

1- Choose a Location to Install the Heater Unit

Since we added the heater after our conversion was completed (we didn’t plan on adding a propex!), we didn’t have much choice but we found a perfect spot under our water tank near our propane tank locker. It looks like we planned for it!

Propex-HS2000-Installation-Location
YES! It fits under the water tank, near the propane tank 🙂
Propex-HS2000-Installation-Location-2
Perfect! (the picture makes it look like it extend past the water tank edge, it doesn’t)

 

2- Route / Install the Combustion Intake and Exhaust

In a perfect world, the heater unit would sit directly on the van floor, so the exhaust pipe connection is made outside the van (similar to our Webasto Installation). If the connection ever leaks, carbon monoxide will be evacuated outside. Nothing’s perfect, so our unit is installed on top of our 2in thick floor (we went crazy on our floor insulation). The heater is installed on 2in height spacers, to leave room for the intake/exhaust pipe connections:

Propex HS2000 Installation

Propex-HS2000-Intake-Exhaust-Connections

 

Hints:

  • Before opening the holes full-size, drill very small pilot holes to confirm that it’s clear under the van floor. If you mess up, it’s easier to plug small holes…
  • Drill the hole through the floor slightly larger than the pipe diameter and seal with High Temperature RTV (Red) Silicone along the pipe throughout the hole depth. That exhaust pipe gets REALLY HOT, it could melt the insulation around (if you have some)…
High Temperature Silicone RTV Red
High Temperature Silicone RTV Red. Buy on Amazon.

 

The combustion intake and exhaust pipe are secured to the unit using worm gear hose clamps (included with the installation kit). Make sure it’s nice and tight:

Propex-HS2000-Installation-Intake-Exhaust-Connections-2

 

Here are our combustion intake and exhaust pipe under the van floor:

Propex-HS2000-Heater-Installation-2
Unfortunately we had to route the exhaust through a frame, because we didn’t plan to add a Propex and that was our only choice. You can probably avoid that.

 

Propex-HS2000-Heater-Installation

 

3- Route/Install the propane line

The HS2000 includes a compression fitting to connect the 1/4″ propane copper line to the heater, so you will have to provide all the remaining fittings (and the copper line) to hook it up to your existing propane system.

Some fittings require thread paste (or gas specific Teflon tape), some have to be installed dry, some require an olive and compression nut… propane is no joke, we highly recommend a visit to your local hardware store to get help from someone qualified.

DIY or not, any installation (each individual fittings and connections) must be tested for leaks with a solution of soap and water. Do it.

Propex-HS2000-Propane-Hook-Up
We had to split our existing line. In a perfect world, all these fittings would be located inside our propane tank locker.

 

Propex HS2000 Propane Compression Fitting
Compression fitting in the back of the Propex

 




 

4- Route/Install the hot and cold air ducts

Hot air Outlet location

Keep in mind that, as opposed to a house, heat is not as uniform in a van: there are cold spots, drafts, etc. So hot air outlet location is important and the “best” location is different from a layout to another. Let’s take our layout as an example:

3D-Model-Layout-Ford-Transit

 

The cabin, sliding door and the rear doors are the coldest spots in our van. Because of our raised bed configuration, it gets pleasantly warm up there (heat rise); no outlet needed here.

Campervan Conversion Raised Bed
Heat and lazy people end up in bed. No hot air outlet needed up there.

 

The garage gets really cold because it’s low, the rear doors are cold and there is no air circulation to bring heat from our living space to the garage. But we don’t really care: we don’t live there. We could add a small hot air outlet in there to prevent our water tank/pipes from freezing, time will tell if it’s required or not.

 

We eat, read, work (sometimes), relax in our swivel seats and we just mentioned it’s a cold spot: an hot air outlet is needed here! We installed our Webasto heater under the passenger seat. It’s a classic location for a good reason: it takes cold air from the cabin floor and blows hot air near and parallel to our living room floor so this way, our floor gets pleasantly warm (no sleepers needed when the Webasto runs!). The hot air coming out of the Webasto outlet is not really diffused: it’s more like a jet that travel quite a distance. That helps a lot to circulate air in our living space and make the heat more uniform. We like it.

 

OK, we now have to install our Propex hot air outlet and under-the-passenger-seat is not an option as it’s already taken by the Webasto. We chose to install it at the opposite location of the Webasto hot air outlet, near the garage.

Propex HS2000 Hot Air Duct
We wrapped the hot air duct in Reflectix, so it’s colder to the touch

 

Propex-HS2000-Hot-Air-Duct-Double-Floor
We fabricated a “double-floor” to route the duct. This creates some additional storage room too!

 

We think it’s the (second) best location for our layout because it blows hot air near the floor along the kitchen alley. We found that the hot air coming our of the Propex outlet is more diffused than the Webasto; it looks like it’s because of the outlet design, not because the Propex is less powerful. We prefer the Webasto outlet because it blows air further and helps to make our floor warmer and make heat more uniform in the van (more air circulation). When we use only the Propex heater, it’s warm above the bed and in the kitchen, but the living room (cabin) is not really comfortable (this is due to the hot air outlet location, it’s not because the Propex is inferior).

Propex HS2000 Heater Installation-7

 

 

Cold air Intake Location

Obviously, the cold air intake should be at a cold spot… cabin’s floor, sliding door, etc. In our case, the garage floor is a cold spot so that will do it:

Propex HS2000 Heater Installation-4

If the Propex and the cold air intake is installed inside a cabinet or closed space, make sure to add a vent to the cabinet so the heater has air to ingest! Also, make sure the hot air is no re-circulated in the cold air intake.

 

5- Install the thermostat controller

It should be installed between waist and shoulder level, at a location where there is no cold draft and not too close from the hot air outlet; this is to ensure a proper room temperature reading. The thermostat controller is connected to the heater with a 6 pins connector and the controller is attached to the wall with two screws:

Hey Webasto: say hello to your new friend!

 

6- Connect the heater to 12V power

BEFORE CONNECTING THE 12V POWER, THE THERMOSTAT CONTROLLER MUST BE INSTALLED FIRST. If not, the heater blows an internal fuse and the fuse has to be replaced.

Not sure how to wire it? Make sure to read our Electrical System Design article!

Note: A 5 amp fuse is required at the fuse block

Propex HS2000 Heater Installation-3

 

7- Fire!

Propex HS2000 Sequence of Operation

 

Always turn on propane BEFORE starting the unit! If not, you could get a “Gas Lockout” fault and the gas lockout procedure has to be performed (refer to the manual).

Gas Lockout Procedure:

  • First rotate the temperature knob to MAX.
  • Then rotate the control knob from FLAME position to OFF position, then back to the FLAME position.
  • The complete sequence of switch movements must be completed within 2.5 seconds for a lockout to be successfully cleared.
  • If there is air in the gas line (e.g. after a gas bottle change), the space heater may require several attempts before it lights.

 

 

And we’re DONE! Let’s go SKIIIING!!

Ford Transit in snow

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT…

We started the thing and it fired up immediatly, so far so good! We just installed the heater (December 22th 2017), so it’s too soon for a review. This is what we noted so far:

  • It seems to push the same amount of air as our Webasto
  • Blow air is more diffused; air doesn’t travel as far as the Webasto. We liked the Webasto outlet a little more.
  • Noise level inside the van: the fan noise is similar to our Webasto except the Propex don’t produce a “clicking” sound (which comes from the pulsations of the Webasto fuel pump). That’s a good improvement.
  • Noise level outside the van: the Propex is much quieter than the Webasto (less exhaust noise, no clicking sound). If we sleep near tents, we would use the Propex as it’s more silent.

 

Since we will go through our propane tank much faster, we’re happy we stumbled upon this neat little device:

 

 

 

 

WANT MORE?

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ABOUT US

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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52 thoughts on “Propex HS2000 Heater Installation”

  1. You guys are amazing! Thank you so much for your blog. We are beginning a van conversion and your advices are so precious! Pymayaya

    Reply
  2. Hello,
    This guide helped enormously, thank your both very much. I am all the way finished with my install and have found the the 90 deg proper supplied fitting that is meant for hooking up the gas is not a compression fitting. Just male pipe threads at both ends. In your diagram you have 1/4″ tube going straight into the heater. What fitting did you use? I spent 20 minutes searching for 5/16 pipe to 1/4 comp and found nothing. So close, but I need this last part.

    Thanks for any help/

    Reply
  3. Amazing build. Id be inclined to think you bought the UK version of the propex jetted for 14″ w.c. If so, are you using a 11″ w.c regulator? I imported a UK propex not realizing that the US versions are jetted for 11″ w.c. Some say that I shouldn’t have a problem with the difference. Whats you experience with a 11″ w.c regulator on a 14″ w.c propex?

    Reply
    • We bought our Propex in the USA, so we should have the US version.
      From what I was told, if you get a 14WC and use it with 11WC regulator, the result is a reduced output.

      Reply
    • I think we’d still have a backup just in case. It’s nice to know that if we forget to refill the gas tank (it happened a few times), we can count on an alternate way to heat the van.

      Reply
  4. Hi A&I,

    Guess what I am doing. Putting the Propex under the passenger seat, re the video of your friends, Yuka at el.

    I am pretty sure I understand how connected up your gas, but I just wanna make sure.
    1) You have a 1/4″ compression fitting at the Propex, thanks to Propex.
    2) You run 1/4″ copper (maybe a foot or two) to your 3/8″ tee.
    3) You terminate the 1/4″ copper line with a 45° flare (remembering to have the cap already on!)
    4) You attach it to your 1/4″ male flare end of your reducer.
    5) The 3/8″ female flare thread of the reducer is screwed into an available 3/8″male flare thread

    That’s the connections but not in order; obviously, screwing things need to be done at the appropriate times.

    Off topic:
    In the pictures, looks like a black flexible line going to your stove, but I thought you didn’t like flexible lines.

    Reply
  5. Is there such thing as a vented heater that doesn’t use propane and just electric? I am researching ideas for my Sienna minivan. Having a bbq propane tank would take up too much room.

    Reply
    • Any electric heater is considered vented (as there is no combustion), but you would need a LARGE battery bank to support it; unless you can plug it to the shore.
      Have you considered a gas vented heater search as Webasto? faroutride.com/air-heater-installation/

      Reply
      • Hi. Not sure not how to create a new post. I see you mention the 11wc dual stage regulators work on the uk version of the propex heaters at 14wc. Have you confirmed that this works and is safe but just lower heat? I bought a UK variant and I’ve come to learn that the us distributors sell 11wc models.

        Reply
  6. Hi A&I-

    Seeing negative comments in the Ford forum and elsewhere on the Wabasco, and starting to think propane…

    Did you ever consider an under-floor installation of the Propex SH2211?

    Also, do you think the 2000 could be put on its side and vented out the wheel well? It doesnt care about gravity, yes?

    Cheers,

    -d

    Reply

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