I chose to go for propex gas heating for my van. There was a gas heater that I ripped out of the old caravan but you couldn’t box that type away in a cupboard so I decided against it. They are very cheap though (mine only sold for about £25) and they run silently with no electrical power consumption which are big benefits as they are my two annoyances with the propex heater.
The propex works well, you flick a switch and straight away a fan starts blowing air, it takes about 60 seconds before it heats up and then it’s blowing nice warm air. The propex uses a heat exchange so all the exhaust gases from burning gas are dumped outside and your interior air is recirculated through the heater and warmed up.
More recently I upgraded the thermostat to a Heatmiser Slimline-N which I grabbed off ebay for around £15. These are popular thermostats to use with Propex as they run off 12v and are highly customisable. The original Propex thermostat is an ugly black thing which has no temperatures on the dial and to be honest is quite a struggle to adjust to the temperature you want. Whereas the Heatmiser allows you to select the temperature you want, lets you easily see the current temperature of the van and has various timer and schedule functions. I wired the Heatmiser in series with the original Propex thermostat so that the Propex one can be used as an over ride to easily turn the heating off and so that any diagnostic lights can still be correctly displayed.
Other thoughts: I realised that you could make a very cheap and silent heater by using a water heater (I have an old cascade carver 2) to heat up water and then pump it round a radiator. I’m half tempted to try it as an additional heater in the van as the propex heater is quite noisy when it’s running and it draws a couple of amps of power. Feel free to comment if anyone has tried something similar…
Below: Look under the oven and the blue box is the Propex Heater before it was boxed in
Below: All boxed in the black vent below the oven is the hot air outlet for the Propex. You can also see the original thermostat to the right of the bed.
Below: The upgraded Heatmiser Slimline-N Thermostat