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Diesel do nicely - launch of new caravan heating systems

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CARAVANNING could be on the brink of an energy revolution: two accessory manufacturers have launched new diesel-fired caravan heating systems.

Webasto and Eberspacher have both announced the introduction of compact caravan-oriented heaters following successful launches in the motorhome market.

Eberspacher has already supplied more than 1000 Airtronic heating systems to the Australian caravan market, where the somewhat patchy availability of gas for heating and cooking makes diesel power an important option.

But Hampshire-based Eberspacher was taken by surprise by the level of interest generated at the NEC show when it fitted a sample system to a Bailey caravan.

The unit consists of a compact 2.2-kilowatt heater and a separate tank installed within the A-frame close to the gas bottles (to comply with fuel storage safety regulations). The cost of the heaters starts at around £800 plus fitting.

The Airtronic can be operated while the caravan is being towed – meaning the caravan is already warm when you arrive on site. That’s useful in the depths of winter or after a long journey when you arrive after nightfall.

A four-kilowatt version of the Airtronic is available for larger caravans and there’s also a dual-fuel version – the Airlectric – which can be switched over to electric operation where a mains electric hook-up is available.

Rival manufacturer Webasto is offering a similar unit to caravanners following the increasing popularity of its Dual Top diesel heating system with motorhomers.

Webasto says its Air Top 2000S blown air interior heater is inexpensive to run, cheap to maintain and service, light in weight and compact in size.

Like Eberspacher’s Airtronic system, the Airtop can heat the caravan on the move, but for those who want interior heating and hot water, the Dual Top version can provide both. This system features an 11-litre tank capacity, very fast heat-up of both the interior and the water, with temperatures adjustable from 40°C to 70°C.

In winter, heating accounts for as much as 90 per cent of gas consumption. (That’s assuming you’re not using mains-power for heating, of course.) So having the option of diesel power could almost halve the frequency of gas bottle changes.

While the diesel-power heater options are unlikely to herald the demise of the gas cylinder quite yet, other innovations such as the Explorer Group’s all-electric Xplore Electric caravan offer an alternative vision of how caravans might be powered in the future.

Both systems are currently only available as retro-fit accessories for caravans but both Eberspacher and Webasto are talking to some caravan manufacturers and their dealer networks about the possibility of offering the heaters as factory or dealer-fit options.

The Airtop is pictured left and the Dual Top pictured right.

Airtop caravan heater imageDua Top caravan heater image


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