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Espar Heater - 20,000 Hours and Counting

Turtle

Administrator
Staff member
Owner/Operator
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This past Friday I had my Espar Airtronic D4 heater in for a blower motor replacement at Espar of Michigan. This heater was installed in the fall of 2006 (by none other than Ray Lawrence himself).

Over the years I've had a few repairs here and there. I had to replace the fuel pump because I was routinely running it while driving and would let it run when the fuel tank got too low for the Espar's fuel line intake, thus burning out the pump. That wasn't very smart, sooo don't do that. I also replaced the thermostat thingy (it's an industry term) when it failed after 3 or 4 years. I've replaced the blower motor twice, the burner tube once, and after 3 or 4 years I preemptively replaced the glow plug. Also replaced the tail pipe a couple of times.

All in all, considering the number of hours this thing has been run, that's pretty awesome. And the number of hours is significant. They've never seen an Airtronic with this many service hours. But I think that's due mainly to people replacing older units instead of repairing them, and with people getting new vehicles. It's certainly not because these units don't have those hours in them to begin with. I'm still amazed at the quality of these things. Even more so now.

Times are Hours:Minutes

Start phase - 791:27
High - 1,195:31
Medium - 4,653:55
Low - 9,051:02
Adjustment - 2,536:28
After-run - 546:01
Power ON - 1,023:40
Ventilate - 652:49

Operating hours counter total - 20,450:53


A little explanation of these things. First, that's just a snotload of hours. 20450 divided 6 years is 3408 hours a year, divided by 6 months is 568 hours a month, divided by 30 days is 19 hours a day. So, yeah, I run it a lot, and while driving, a lot. :D

The Start phase is the Boost period where it's putting out lots of heat to quickly heat up the truck, then it quickly drops down to the other heat levels.

The Adjustment phase is where it's not quite at one level or another, and it in between levels working to adjust itself to another level.

When you shut the heater off it goes into the After-run phase where it vents the heater, burns the remaining fuel in the chamber, and cools everything down.

The Power ON phase is where the heater is on, but it's not actually producing heat. The thermostat controls this. It happens when it gets warm enough for the heater to effectively shut itself off.

The Ventilate phase is where the fan-only is running. I'm apparently one of the very few people who run the fan without the heater being on. They normally see a number that's a fraction of that, just a few hours.


If you look at the numbers closely you will see that mine spends half of it's heated running time at Low. That's a testament to having the van well insulated. They don't often see a heater with that high of a percentage on the lowest level. It's also a factor if the increased airlow of the D2 as opposed to the D2. In identical situations, and in most installations, the D2 will spend the bulk of its operating hours one level above that of the D4. If the D2 is on Medium, the D4 will be on Low, for example. This is due to both the increased BTU output and the increased airflow of the D4 as opposed to the D2.

Some people like the inside of the vehicle warm when they sleep (me) and some like it cooler. Those who like it warm and aren't very well insulated will see theirs running on High or Medium most of the time. I tell people all the time, "Insulate your van like you're going to live in it, because you are."

If your van (especially) or truck is well insulated, the 24 hour amp draw of the Espar D4 heater is only about 24 amps, as it'll average about an amp per hour. The D2 will be 1.5 to 2 times that at 36-48 amps. You don't necessarily need a high end, high capacity AGM battery for that, but you absolutely, positively do need an aux battery for that, not a cranking battery, not hooked to your starting battery or batteries. Just a simple Group 31 truck or "marine" battery (they're the same thing, just different terminals) will suffice. Two or more if you are running small (a.k.a. not a fridge) inverter loads off the house battery. Starting batteries are for starting, house batteries are for everything else - don't confuse the two by thinking you can do both with one type of battery, even if your truck has 3 or 5 truck batteries.

Espar Specifications

AMP Draw
START
D2 - 8.3 amps
D4 - 8.3 amps

BOOST
D2 - 2.8 amps
D4 - 3.3 amps

HIGH
D2 - 1.9 amps
D4 - 2.0 amps

MEDIUM
D2 - 1.0 amps
D4 - 1.1 amps

LOW
D2 - 0.7 amps
D4 - 0.6 amps


FUEL CONSUMPTION, Gallons per hour
BOOST
D2 - .07
D4 - .13

HIGH
D2 - .06
D4 - .10

MEDIUM
D2 - .04
D4 - .07

LOW
D2 - .03
D4 - .03


BTU HEAT OUTPUT
BOOST
D2 - 7,500 BTU (2.2 kW)
D4 - 13,650 (4.0 kW)

HIGH
D2 - 6,150 (1.8 kW)
D4 - 10,200 (3.0 kW)

MEDIUM
D2 - 4,100 (1.2 kw)
D4 - 6,800 (2.0 kw)

LOW
D2 - 2,900 (0.85 kW)
D4 - 3,400 (1.0 kW)


AIR FLOW, Cubic Feet per Minute
BOOST
D2 - 48
D4 - 85

HIGH
D2 - 40
D4 - 69

MEDIUM
D2 - 27
D4 - 50

LOW
D2 - 19
D4 - 30

If you want to stay warm and comfortable all winter long, particularly if you are in a van, there isn't a better or more cost effective solution than that of an Espar heater. I've never met anyone who has had one and then went back to not having one. There are certainly other options, but none of them are as good, or as cost effective (that means cheaper) as the Espar. They work, and they work extremely well. And, as it turns out, for a whole lotta hours. 20,000 and counting. :)
 

skyraider

Veteran Expediter
US Navy
Offline
This past Friday I had my Espar Airtronic D4 heater in for a blower motor replacement at Espar of Michigan. This heater was installed in the fall of 2006 (by none other than Ray Lawrence himself).

Over the years I've had a few repairs here and there. I had to replace the fuel pump because I was routinely running it while driving and would let it run when the fuel tank got too low for the Espar's fuel line intake, thus burning out the pump. That wasn't very smart, sooo don't do that. I also replaced the thermostat thingy (it's an industry term) when it failed after 3 or 4 years. I've replaced the blower motor twice, the burner tube once, and after 3 or 4 years I preemptively replaced the glow plug. Also replaced the tail pipe a couple of times.

All in all, considering the number of hours this thing has been run, that's pretty awesome. And the number of hours is significant. They've never seen an Airtronic with this many service hours. But I think that's due mainly to people replacing older units instead of repairing them, and with people getting new vehicles. It's certainly not because these units don't have those hours in them to begin with. I'm still amazed at the quality of these things. Even more so now.

Times are Hours:Minutes

Start phase - 791:27
High - 1,195:31
Medium - 4,653:55
Low - 9,051:02
Adjustment - 2,536:28
After-run - 546:01
Power ON - 1,023:40
Ventilate - 652:49

Operating hours counter total - 20,450:53


A little explanation of these things. First, that's just a snotload of hours. 20450 divided 6 years is 3408 hours a year, divided by 6 months is 568 hours a month, divided by 30 days is 19 hours a day. So, yeah, I run it a lot, and while driving, a lot. :D

The Start phase is the Boost period where it's putting out lots of heat to quickly heat up the truck, then it quickly drops down to the other heat levels.

The Adjustment phase is where it's not quite at one level or another, and it in between levels working to adjust itself to another level.

When you shut the heater off it goes into the After-run phase where it vents the heater, burns the remaining fuel in the chamber, and cools everything down.

The Power ON phase is where the heater is on, but it's not actually producing heat. The thermostat controls this. It happens when it gets warm enough for the heater to effectively shut itself off.

The Ventilate phase is where the fan-only is running. I'm apparently one of the very few people who run the fan without the heater being on. They normally see a number that's a fraction of that, just a few hours.


If you look at the numbers closely you will see that mine spends half of it's heated running time at Low. That's a testament to having the van well insulated. They don't often see a heater with that high of a percentage on the lowest level. It's also a factor if the increased airlow of the D2 as opposed to the D2. In identical situations, and in most installations, the D2 will spend the bulk of its operating hours one level above that of the D4. If the D2 is on Medium, the D4 will be on Low, for example. This is due to both the increased BTU output and the increased airflow of the D4 as opposed to the D2.

Some people like the inside of the vehicle warm when they sleep (me) and some like it cooler. Those who like it warm and aren't very well insulated will see theirs running on High or Medium most of the time. I tell people all the time, "Insulate your van like you're going to live in it, because you are."

If your van (especially) or truck is well insulated, the 24 hour amp draw of the Espar D4 heater is only about 24 amps, as it'll average about an amp per hour. The D2 will be 1.5 to 2 times that at 36-48 amps. You don't necessarily need a high end, high capacity AGM battery for that, but you absolutely, positively do need an aux battery for that, not a cranking battery, not hooked to your starting battery or batteries. Just a simple Group 31 truck or "marine" battery (they're the same thing, just different terminals) will suffice. Two or more if you are running small (a.k.a. not a fridge) inverter loads off the house battery. Starting batteries are for starting, house batteries are for everything else - don't confuse the two by thinking you can do both with one type of battery, even if your truck has 3 or 5 truck batteries.

Espar Specifications

AMP Draw
START
D2 - 8.3 amps
D4 - 8.3 amps

BOOST
D2 - 2.8 amps
D4 - 3.3 amps

HIGH
D2 - 1.9 amps
D4 - 2.0 amps

MEDIUM
D2 - 1.0 amps
D4 - 1.1 amps

LOW
D2 - 0.7 amps
D4 - 0.6 amps


FUEL CONSUMPTION, Gallons per hour
BOOST
D2 - .07
D4 - .13

HIGH
D2 - .06
D4 - .10

MEDIUM
D2 - .04
D4 - .07

LOW
D2 - .03
D4 - .03


BTU HEAT OUTPUT
BOOST
D2 - 7,500 BTU (2.2 kW)
D4 - 13,650 (4.0 kW)

HIGH
D2 - 6,150 (1.8 kW)
D4 - 10,200 (3.0 kW)

MEDIUM
D2 - 4,100 (1.2 kw)
D4 - 6,800 (2.0 kw)

LOW
D2 - 2,900 (0.85 kW)
D4 - 3,400 (1.0 kW)


AIR FLOW, Cubic Feet per Minute
BOOST
D2 - 48
D4 - 85

HIGH
D2 - 40
D4 - 69

MEDIUM
D2 - 27
D4 - 50

LOW
D2 - 19
D4 - 30

If you want to stay warm and comfortable all winter long, particularly if you are in a van, there isn't a better or more cost effective solution than that of an Espar heater. I've never met anyone who has had one and then went back to not having one. There are certainly other options, but none of them are as good, or as cost effective (that means cheaper) as the Espar. They work, and they work extremely well. And, as it turns out, for a whole lotta hours. 20,000 and counting. :)
**** You are in a good mood today, love the detailed amps and hours and so on, and its under 5000 words, you are slipping, but good read....
 

scottm4211

Veteran Expediter
Owner/Operator
Offline
I don't see how many hours it's been on while waiting to turn left at a red light:thumbdown:
 

LDB

Veteran Expediter
Retired Expediter
Offline
Have you done the math of total costs absent of fuel to figure cph before fuel?
 

moose

Veteran Expediter
Offline
please explain why you run the heater when driving?{having the START mode option & all}. when on fan mode- dose it circulate the air or gets air from the outside?. don't you have an fantastic fan for that?
 

noneya

Active Expediter
Offline
please explain why you run the heater when driving?{having the START mode option & all}. when on fan mode- dose it circulate the air or gets air from the outside?. don't you have an fantastic fan for that?
Hmmmm... I was wondering the same thing.

SENT FROM YA MAMA'S HOUSE
 

Turtle

Administrator
Staff member
Owner/Operator
Offline
Have you done the math of total costs absent of fuel to figure cph before fuel?
I really haven't, since the Cost Per Hour continues to go down with every hour. But taking current total costs and total hours, not including the repairs from Friday (because those have no hours on them, yet), it comes out as follows:

Figures include parts, labor and taxes.
11/7/2006 - Espar Heater including installation - $1,989.82
4/27/2007 - Extra Duct Work and Fittings - $124.39
10/15/2009 - Fuel Pump/Filter,Glow Plug,Extra Duct Grille - $459.44
1/26/2010 - Thermostat Mini Controller - $211.65
12/17/2010 - Blower Motor, Tail Pipe, Gaskets, Glow Pin Screen - $528.83

That totals $3314.13

Divided by 20,450.88 is 16.2 cents an hour.

The most recent repair was:
9/27/2013 - Blower Motor, Burner, Tail Pipe, Fuel Filter - $784.07

Expecting no more repairs over the next two winters, using the average hours it's been run thus far, assuming a total of 27268 hours in after those 2 years, the CPH at that time will be 15.029 cents per hour.

So, in my case, running it for 12 hours x 16 cents costs about $1.92, plus .05 gallons fuel per hour (.6) times $4.00 per gallon($2.40) in fuel is $4.32.
 

Turtle

Administrator
Staff member
Owner/Operator
Offline
please explain why you run the heater when driving?{having the START mode option & all}.
When it's really cold, 25 degrees or colder, the van's heater can't really keep the entire van warm. The van's heater will certainly keep my feet warm, and mostly me, but nothing behind me. I also will rarely drive wearing a coat, or even a light jacket.

when on fan mode- dose it circulate the air or gets air from the outside?. don't you have an fantastic fan for that?
On fan-only mode it doesn't bring in any air from the outside, it just recirculates the air inside.
 

ebsprintin

Veteran Expediter
Offline
My D4 installed in 2009 had about 7600 hours on it at the end of last winter when I had to replace the blower motor.

eb
 

RoadTime

Veteran Expediter
Owner/Operator
Offline
As much as I love my big buddy heater, I think I'm long over due for the Espar. Time to make the jump :)
 
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