Best Small Diesel Heater for Vans
In search of a small van diesel heater that’s quiet, reliable, and fuel efficient?
On this page, you’ll find a list of the best small diesel heaters for van life with outputs in the 2kw range.
What we look for
Recommended Diesel Heaters
#1 - Espar Airtronic S2
Why is it Best Overall?
The S2 from Espar strikes the best balance of cost, quality, and features of any small van diesel heater we considered. The Espar & Webasto are very similar, but the S2 is available online with the high altitude kit for $300 less than the Webasto. The Espar Airtronic S2 runs on 12 volt power and is capable of putting out 7,500 BTU (which is more than enough to heat most small vans). This particular model also comes with an automatic altitude adjustment which will keep the heater running smoothly up to almost 10,000 feet in elevation. Overall, the Espar S2 is a fantastic diesel heater which produces more than enough heat and is easy to use thanks to it’s super user-friendly control unit.
#2 - Webasto Air Top 2000 STC
Why is it Runner Up?
The Air Top 2000 STC from Webasto is a high-altitude ready 2 kilowatt hour diesel heater capable of 3,000-7,000 BTUs of heat output. While the STC 2000 can be found for a similar price as the Espar, models that include the high-altitude kit are noticeably more expensive. The Webasto takes our number two spot because this additional cost, but it’s still a great option for those who don’t need to spend the $300 extra dollars for the high-altitude version.
#3 - Vevor 2 kw Diesel Heater
Why is it Best Budget?
With a 7,000 btu capacity, the ultra-low cost Vevor 2kw chinese diesel heater furnace stands in a completely different category. The Vevor offers the BTU output as the Webasto and Espar, for less than 10% of the cost. So what’s the catch? Chinese diesel heaters like the Vevor are known to be a lot less reliable due to the cheap components they use to cut costs. Still, many users report years of trouble free use which makes you think, why not save $1,000 and take the risk?
To find the best available products for vanlife and overlanding, we follow a three-part review process. Stage one of our review process is called an Open Review. During an Open Review, we provide basic information on products, such as descriptions, price, and alternatives. The second stage of our review process is called an Editorial Review. During an Editorial Review we spend a minimum of three hours to research and write a more in-depth analysis of each product based on the most important known buying factors. In the third and final stage, called a User Review, we collect and utilize feedback from readers to create a comprehensive review that combines the data from each previous review stage.
How We Picked
For this review, we followed our Open Review process. During an Open Review we conduct research (via Google search, independent sources, YouTube) to collect information on the best available products. With our research complete, we then compare each product across several different variables. For this review (best small van diesel heaters), we compared the efficiency, noise, price, control features, part quality, and a host of other variables to find what we think are the best overall heaters available.
How We Tested
This review is still in our Open Review stage we means the information gathered to decide which products are tested was gathered based on research and product specifications. During our upcoming Editorial Review of the best small campervan and overland diesel heaters we will conduct hands on research to further improve our recommendations.
What Matters Most When Choosing a Small Camper Van Diesel Heater?
Besides price and reliability, the noise output and control features are the most important consideration when it comes to choosing a great small campervan diesel heater. Although there are a lot of diesel heaters available online now (especially when considering all of the Chinese diesel heaters on Amazon), most of them are very similar in terms of day to day functionality. Espar and Webasto stand out because of their reputation and proven reliability. Although they are expensive, we do believe the high cost is worth it for travelers who plan to be in cold climates for an extended period of time and don’t want to deal with failures. If price is a limiting factor, purchasing a Chinese diesel heater like the Vevor is a good second option.
#1 Recommended Small Van Diesel Heater
Our number one recommendation for a small diesel heater for use in van life and overlanding is the Espar Airtronic S2. The S2 is less expensive than the Webasto and has the same level of manufacturing and reliability you’d expect from a quality German brand.