Webasto VS Propex | Real World Van Heater Comparison

Webasto VS Propex | Real World Van Heater Comparison

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Summer is almost over and those cold mornings are a reminder it’s time to install a heater in your van, right? Both Webasto or Propex are solid options, but which one is the best? We installed both the Webasto Air Top 2000 and the Propex HS2000 in our van; after an entire winter spent in USA and Canada chasing the snow full time, at temperatures as low as -15F (-26C), we have a few things to say about these heaters and we think we can help you choose between the two!



1- Overview

We think that Webasto (and Espar) gasoline/diesel heaters and Propex propane heaters are the best heaters out there, because:

1- They produce dry heat. That means:

  • No molds in the long run. Relative humidity inside the van is around 35%-45% during winter, even in the evenings after drying our gear.
  • Comfortable heat. (see “what’s wet heat” just below)
  • Clothes and gear dry fast, surprisingly fast. Ski gear is normally dry after 1.5 to 2.5 hours, boots are totally dry late in the evening.

So what’s “wet” heat, then? Catalytic heaters such as the Mr. Heater Buddy produce a lot of moisture; indeed, water is a by-product of propane combustion (see Wikipedia)! Try it for yourself: get in your van after a day of skiing and ignite the Mr. Heater. Condensation appears on the windows almost immediately and the heat feels damp, heavy and uncomfortable.


2- The heat is blown out of the heater via a powerful fan. That means:

  • Hot air is pushed far away and mixes with cold air, so heat in the van is more uniform.

The Mr. Heater Buddy (sorry Buddy, no love for you) might produce enough heat, but the van is freezing cold just a few feet from it. Not fun.


3- They are both vented heaters. That means:

  • No need to crack the windows open to stay safe. That’s a good thing because, you know, you’re trying to warm up the van after all!! (but vented heaters or not, remember that minimal ventilation is always recommended at all time)

Indeed, the combustion is external to the van: combustion air is taken from outside and rejected outside (along with carbone monoxide and moisture by-products). Hot air is transferred inside the van via a heat exchanger.


Drying the backcountry ski gear FAST!


2- Specifications

Here’s some factual information:

Webasto Air Top 2000 ST/STC Propex HS2000
Fuel Diesel or Gasoline Propane (or butane)
Dry or Wet heat? Dry Dry
Heating Capacity 7000 BTU/h 6500 BTU/h*
Air Flow 55 cfm 60 cfm
Electrical Consumption
  • Startup: 6.5 A (for one or two minutes)
  • Low: 1.3 A
  • Medium:1.7 A
  • High: 2.3 A
  • ON: 1.6 A
  • OFF: 0 A (duh)
Fuel Consumption 0.03 to 0.07 gal / h

(0.12 to 0.27 L / h)

0.33 lb / h
Dimensions 12.25″ long x 4.76″ high x 4.72″ wide 15.5″ long x 4.0″ high x 6.8″ wide

Propex-HS2000-Dimensions (inches)

Weight 5.73lb ?

* The Propex HS2000 is rated 6,500 BTU if used at 14 W.C. propane pressure. Regulator normally delivers 11 W.C. in North America so output will be reduced.


Grand Teton National Park Backcountry Skiing
Grand Teton National Park, January 2018 (faroutride.com/fifth-month).


3- Real World Observations

Enough facts. Really, how does it feels to use the Webasto VS the Propex heater? Here are the differences that are noticeable:

1- Cycling

Both heaters are controlled by a thermostat; the user select the right temperature and the heater will maintain it. The Webasto Air Top 2000 has three speeds (low/medium/high), while the Propex HS2000 only has one (ON/OFF). It means the Webasto generally produces a constant noise versus cycling noise for the Propex. It’s easy to get used to a constant noise, but cycling is what wake us up at night…

Winner: Webasto


2- Noise level

– Inside = medium/high for the Webasto, medium for the Propex.

– Outside = High for the Webasto, medium for the Propex.

Winner: Propex


3- Heat Capacity

We feel the Webasto has more heating capacity (heat faster and hotter on very cold days).

Winner: Webasto


4- Heat Uniformity

– The Webasto Air Top 2000 pushes the hot air further than the Propex HS2000, so heat is more uniform in the van.

– Bonus: The Webasto can be installed under the passenger seat, so the hot air is “produced” by heating the cold air at the floor in the cabin; since this is the coldest area in the van, it makes the front of the van much warmer. That’s very important for us, because with out interior layout we hangout a lot in the swivel seats (see our swivel seats review and installation). Installing the Propex towards the front of the van won’t produce the same result, because the cold air won’t be “sucked” from the floor (feet rest) area, unless you install some kind of ducting…

Winner: Webasto


5- Fuel Monitoring

The Webasto uses the gasoline/diesel from the van tank. It means that, as long as you keep your tank above third full (below that, the straw on the Transit will suck air…) you will never run out of heat; that’s a huge benefit! With the Propex, the propane tank level has to be monitored and the tank filled periodically.

Winner: Webasto


6- Controller

The Webasto can be purchased with the neat (and sexy) MultiControl* (see interactive tutorial). It’s great because there is a 7 days timer to program the heater to automatically start / stop. For example, we program the heater to start automatically at, let’s say, 6 AM in the morning before we wake up. Or we program it to start, let’s say, an hour before we finish our skiing. The MultiControl also allows you to use the fan only (no heat); that’s useful to dry the shoes in summer 🙂 By comparison, the Propex controller has that 70’s look…

*The MultiControl is available for the STC model only

Webasto MultiControl
Webasto MultiControl HD

Winner: Webasto


British-Columbia, February 2018 (faroutride.com/sixth-month)


4- Installation

We have comprehensive installation articles for both heaters:


Oh, and if you are wondering, the winner is: Propex! It’s easier to install.


5- Maintenance and Reliability

The Propex HS2000 burns clean and is not prone to get clogged with combustion by-products (soot, etc.). It will work hassle-free for years and years with virtually no maintenance!

The Webasto (and Espar) are a bit more finicky and tend to get clogged with soot (carbon buildup). We read reports of people running them for 5 to 7 years with no maintenance at all; on the other hand we also read reports of people have to clean them almost each year… What’s our personal experience with it? We actually had ours failed (carbon buildup) during our first winter. We then replaced the combustion chamber to start from fresh; we went through our second winter with no issues at all!


Here is the full version of the story. We did a lot of research, a lot of thinking, and the result is all here:


And here’s the short version. With the following changes, we think our Webasto will work as it should:

  • We removed the exhaust silencer because it add restriction (if you read the “full version story”, you know by now that the gasoline models seems to be more prone to carbon buildup than the diesel models).
  • We adjusted it for high-altitude (faroutride.com/webasto-espar-high-altitudes).
  • They are prone to produce and accumulate carbon and soot when running at low speed, so:
    • We try not to let the heater run at “low” speed for extended periods; if it does, we run the heater at max speed for 30-45 minutes or so before shutting it down.
    • Before turning the heater OFF, we always run it at high speed for 15 minutes. We can actually see small particle being pushed out of the exhaust during that process!


Winner: Propex


Grizzly Peak (Rogers Pass), British-Columbia, February 2018 (faroutride.com/sixth-month)


6- And the winner is…

The Webasto Air Top 2000 wins if, like us:

  • You have a love affair with snow.
  • You use your van during winter (constant sub-freezing temperatures). That’s especially true if you practice winter sports and there is clothes drying involved… A heated van is an AMAZING ski cabin; ski-in, ski-out!


The Propex HS2000 wins if:

  • You use your van for short/medium periods during winter, or for long periods in cool weather.
  • You’re looking for something to warm up the van in the morning and to chase the humidity out.
  • Don’t get us wrong; the Propex is fine for full-time winter living, but in our opinion the Webasto is better…


Seventh Month on the Road (7)
Basecamp, Kootenay Pass B-C, March 2018 (faroutride.com/seventh-month)


7- Where to Buy



8- Bonus: Should you install both heaters?

Nah, it’s not necessary. We normally use only one of the two (the Webasto), even for extreme cold. But having two has some advantage:

– Backup.

If one fails, we won’t turn into snowmen.

– Boost Mode.

We sometime use both to warm up the van real fast. Once a comfortable temperature is reached, we turn the Propex OFF.

– Prevent the van from freezing.

If we’re not in the van for a long time, we set the Propex to minimum and that will keep the interior of the van just above freezing temperature (so our beer reserve don’t explode!!). This way the Webasto don’t run on low speed for an extended period (see “Maintenance and Reliability” above).


-22C Outside, let’s just stay in the van today… Fernie B-C, March 2018 (faroutride.com/seventh-month)




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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. Every day is an opportunity for a new adventure... We’re chasing our dreams, and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

Heads Up: Exclusive Deals!

Thanks to all of you, we managed to negociate group discount on these. Strength in numbers!

32 thoughts on “Webasto VS Propex | Real World Van Heater Comparison”

  1. Effectivement, les entreprises montréalaises proposent le Bison 2000A. Vous avez eu un commentaire négatif. En avez-vous en d’autres? C’est quand 700$ moins cher qu’un Webasto.

    Merci de votre site et intérêt à répondre aux questions,


  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the great information. I’m looking at the Propex heater for my Transit 250 extended and high roof. Since you mentioned that the Propex doesn’t give as much heat, would you recommend the 2800 model instead of the 2000? Also, do I need to worry about high altitude differences? I live in New Brunswick, and Will be chasing snow in Alberta and BC.


  3. Can you clarify that the Webasto with the MultiControl controller has three fan settings that can be selected? I’m looking to switch out my Propex, which has never worked overnight without multiple faults, with a Webasto and I’m just trying to understand the potential advantages of the MultiControl over the rheostat dial controller. Thanks!

    • There are 3 fan settings for “fan only” mode.
      In “heat mode”, you can’t manually control the fan; it’s done automatically depending if the heater needs to heat up a lot or if the heater is near the desired temperature.


  4. Forget to mention money aspect. Webasto 3 times more money than propex. And propane cost twice as cheap as diesel. But yeah webasto wonderful product no doubt. Thank you for such wonderful review.

  5. I have had a Propex 2000 in my Sprinter for three years and it works flawlessly except when the exhaust pipe gets plugged with mud. Took me two weeks to figure out why it would fire up and shut down right away. Once cleaned out the heater worked fine again. It is also very thrifty on propane. And it does not clog up with soot like the diesel/gas heaters.

  6. Great review.
    I would just like to point out that the Propex can be installed under the passenger seat, even with a low base. (very tight but it fits) and the controller is digital.

  7. Have you heard any reviews on Autoterm? Specifically the Autoterm Air 2D? it seems to be very similar to the ESPAR that you mentioned above but at half the price. I know the old saying if it sounds to good to be true…..just curious if you had come across them?

  8. Question about the Propex heater: any issues at high altitudes? For instance, parking the van in Vail or Breckenridge CO and sleeping in it over night? And are there any issues or concerns about taking a standard 20lb propane tank from sea level up into the Rockies? I’ll be in a Ford Transit Connect van, the smaller version of the Transit. Not living out of it, more like “My friends all get an airbnb, I park in the driveway and sleep in the van.” With insulation I won’t have any issues keeping such a small space warm as long as the heater works as described.

    • We had issues with the Propex at around 10,500 ft in Mexico; the Propex couldn’t keep ignited. As for any combustion device, altitude is a challenge! Generally speaking, you should be fine with the Propex below 8,000ft. But to really make sure, you should contact the manufacturer.

  9. Thank you for your awesome article! I’m leaning towards the propex because it sounds more reliable and I don’t have a diesel fuel tank. One question though. I’m not sure why refilling the propane tank is a “hassle”. Just a few extra minutes at the gas station right? Thanks again.

  10. Hi- My up fitter is performing my full van conversion right now. He stated he will not install my Webasto AT2000 gas heater because he says they are dangerous as fumes from exhaust work their way back into the van too easily, too often. Have you found exhaust or any fumes to be a problem in your experience? Do you run your heater all night while sleeping in cold temps and have ever had exhaust cause you concern? I have kids and pets… I am a bit concerned now and would love feedback.

    • I’m surprise to hear that; gas/diesel heaters are VERY common these days… With a proper installation, they are very safe.

      Maybe someone else can do the installation in your area?

  11. PS: My Ford Transit is gas powered, and I will be using the wabasto at both higher and lower altitudes…

    Here is the original post from a few moments ago….Hello, I’m going to be installing a wabasto heater in my 2016 Ford Transit 350/ 148 wb in the Spring. I’ve gotten 2 quotes: one company quoted for the Wabasto AT40EVO, the other company quoted for the AT2000ST. Thoughts on which is better for van life? I know you have the 2000, just wondering if you have thoughts on one vs the other please? Thanks, Kate

  12. Salut les ingénieurs,

    Tout d’abord, merci pour votre site, vous avez été la ressource numéro 1 durant la conversion de notre van !

    Quelques entreprises montréalaises propose le Bison 2000A de General Components (BC) comme substitution au Webasto (700 CAD moins cher), avez vous eu des retours par rapport à ce produit ?

    Merci !

    • I have the bison from General Components and have had nothing but troubles with it so far. After spending $1700 on the heater and its install, 24 hours on two separate days to install profesisonally at Polar in Calgary, take it out, reinstall it, plus $500 on a hotel to hold me over when it stops working and I can’t get it repaired quickly, I am very unimpressed with the heater. 0/10 would NOT recommend it.

  13. what was the highest elevation you used the webasto(gas)? I live at 7000′ and often camp higher (10,800′) and am wondering if the webasto (gas)would work in that elevation. Thanks

  14. Hi! I don’t know if it was mentioned before, but would a electric heater run on a generator produce enough heat in winter?


    • Probably yeah, but I wouldn’t want to park near someone that has a generator running almost continuously 😉 So if you already have a generator and you just need to buy the electric heater, try it. But if you’re still in the design phase, I would really consider gas/propane heater…

      Good luck!

  15. I just finished my propex install. So far I have only insulated the floors, all walls/ceiling/windows are uninsulated. It seems that when running the propex on high in 30F outside temps, the van only gets up to about 50ish degrees. Since you say you are able to keep your van above 60F down to about 0F outdoor temps, I assume my issue is due to not having insulation yet. Anyways, this was all a long way of asking if you feed 11 in.w.c. propane to the heater. I know the propex manual specifies 37mbar, which is closer to 15 in.w.c., but I’ve been supplying 11 in.w.c due to being in the US and having other appliances that require 11.

    • Yes, we feed 11 W.C. However, keep in mind the Propex is our backup heat source. The T° data we provide is using the Webasto heater (which produces a little bit more heat).

    • I bought the propex heater and froze for 2 weeks moose hunting. We were making more heat with a Coleman lantern. They never respponded to any emails and all your calls go to a messaging system and no one calls back. After a month PayPal gives me a refund. Propex replied with registered mail within two days of my refund demanding thier junk back. If you decide to try one know there’s no customer service nor instructions.


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