Traveling in Colorado last winter, Tom and I discussed many different heater options. Fortunately, the 2007 Sprinter van that we have has a feature that will heat the cabin after you turn off the engine, as long as the engine is still warm. This lasts about 30-40 minutes, and then we would rely on our body heat to keep the space reasonably comfortable (Luckily we have a couple of large dogs to snuggle with).
Between the dogs, a very warm comforter, a loft-style bed, and an insulated van, we were able to sleep well through the night. It was during the cold mornings that I craved a heater the most.
Although we have a pretty large solar power system and even in the winter-time, Colorado produces a good amount of sun, electric heaters draw too much energy to be a reliable source of heat.
Our next option was a portable propane space heater. We tried this, however we quickly noticed the faint smell of propane. I proceeded to read the packaging, which warned against using the heater in confined spaces. The propane burns the oxygen in the space, which could lead to suffocation if there is not sufficient ventilation. We decided that it would be best for our health to return the heater.
We ended up managing through the winter, but have decided that if we spend another winter near the snow, it will be worth it to invest in a cabin air heater. We have installed a few of these in client’s vans- both the Espar and Snugger.
Both of these cabin air heaters, from our experience, work extremely well. The Snugger Air Heater has a programmable timer that can be set to run for up to a week. The cabin air heater has a fuel line that feeds into the diesel tank, which is used to heat the space. There are intake and exhaust hoses that use the outside air for the combustion process, which keeps the air in the cabin fresh.
Both of these cabin air heaters have a straight forward controller. Turn it on, adjust the heat, and the heater immediately starts to pump in hot air. For all you snow lovers, this system offers comfort and ease throughout your trip.