When You Need It, You NEED It!
Vandoit offers the Espar heater as an option on all their campervans. The Espar heater sips fuel
directly from the gas tank, combusts it outside, and transfers heat energy to the inside air.
“I Don’t Need A Campervan Heater”
When I completed the build sheet for my Vandoit Do, I didn’t specify an Espar Airtronic B4
campervan heater. I live in Texas, and as an outdoor gear tester, winter apparel and sleeping
bags are not in short supply. But my Van Guru relentlessly suggested I needed the heater, so I
added it at the last moment.
After a summer and fall of family, climbing, and mountain biking trips in mild weather, I forgot
the Espar campervan heater was there. But a late fall cold front descended into the Texas Hill
Country while I was on an adventure biking trip, and the temperatures dropped to below
freezing in the middle of the night. I awoke shivering under a camping quilt and remembered
the campervan heater my Van Guru suggested.
I went to the digital control panel and fired up the Espar for the first time. Within five minutes, I
could feel hot air starting to blow into the van, and at ten minutes, I was comfortable and
drifted back to sleep.
One of my regular climbing partners scoffed when he discovered I had a gas-powered
campervan heater on a climbing trip to Hueco Tanks. “I’ll never need a heater,” he claimed as
he defiantly took his bag outside to sleep under the clear sky. Lows hit the teens at night, and
once his sleeping bag lost some loft due to condensation, he knocked on my door and
sheepishly asked to sleep in the warm comfort of my Espar-heated van.
How an Espar Campervan Heater Works
The Espar Airtronic B4 generates heat by combusting gasoline from the van’s main fuel tank,
which means never worrying about sourcing other fuel or filling a different tank. The
campervan heater does draw electrical current to ignite the fuel, run the fan, and power the
The Espar digital controller acts as a thermostat. The user selects the desired temperature, and
the controller automatically switches the heater on and off and adjusts the relative airflow to
reach and maintain that setting.
The Espar heater is a “vented heater,” while a standalone propane heater, such as a Mr. Buddy,
is a “non-vented heater.” This is a critical distinction. Vented heaters isolate the air used for
combustion (from outside) from the air used to heat the van interior (from inside), producing
dry heat. A non-vented heater uses the same air for combustion and heating the interior.
Why is Dry Heat Better for A Campervan?
One word: humidity. Humidity can create condensation, which can lead to mold. Mold is
harmful to the van and the creatures inside and is the bane of all vehicle dwellers.
The Espar Airtronic B4 reduces the relative humidity in the van as it generates heat, lowering
humidity and the chances of condensation forming inside. Propane heaters raise the relative
humidity during use.
Another bonus of dry heat is that there is no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning since the
combusted air isn’t pumped inside. A heat exchanger transfers the heat energy from the
combusted air to the cabin air. Campers must vent the van interior when using a non-vented
Will I Run Out of Fuel?
No! The Espar campervan heater automatically shuts down when the fuel level in the van’s tank
dips below a quarter tank. A maximum run time can also be set to protect against inadvertently
running the vehicle’s fuel too low.
The Espar Airtronic B4 is super fuel efficient, sipping gasoline at a claimed average rate of .14
gallons per hour, on maximum power. In my use in temperatures barely above zero, with a
cabin temperature set to 65 degrees, I have not noticed my gas gauge moving overnight.
Fuel consumption hinges on many factors, including the van’s insulation.
Conclusions on the Espar Airtronic B4 Campervan Heater
The last thing I thought I needed in the van turned out to be the most critical and appreciated
component. My adventure mates and I would have been miserable on countless nights without
the Espar campervan heater and at worst, cold injuries were possible when our remaining
clothes or sleeping bags were wet.
Even if you don’t think you will be in freezing conditions, I honestly believe the Espar heater is
worth serious consideration. You may not need it much of the time, but when you need it, you