Vlog 18: The heat is on

I decided to buy a Propex HS2000 heater unit for the van so that in the colder Spring or Autumn days and nights I could still go exploring. I doubt I’ll use the van in the depths of winter, despite the extensive insulation I put in it (for details of which, read the blog or watch the videos five, six and seven) so this heater should be sufficient.

I chose it over a diesel unit partly because the diesel ones are massively more expensive (approx £1,200 vs £450 for the Propex) and partly because installing the diesel means dropping the van’s fuel tank out so as to add a new fuel pipe and this was something I have neither the expertise, the confidence or the tools to do.

The HS2000 is a tiny furnace which draws air in from the van interior, heats it up and blows it back out again. The fuel is propane or butane so the LPG I’ll have in my tank is fine. You need to supply 12V to run it and there’s a separate thermostat and control unit on a long wire which can then be mounted at a convenient location in the van; I chose the foot of the bed, as this is far enough away from the heater vent so that the thermostat shouldn’t get confused by the fresh warm air, and also because I can then operate it with my foot while lying in bed.

Conventionally, the HS2000 is mounted on the floor of the van. It has two spigots protruding from the bottom – one air inlet (for combustion, not to be warmed up) and one for exhaust. Unfortunately, all the locations around the van floor where the heater might go had inconvenient items on the underside of the van, such as chassis struts or the spare tyre – none of which you want to go cutting holes in!

Given that the heater has metal pipes connected to the spigots which are used to send the exhaust to the side of the van (or draw in air likewise), I reasoned that it should be feasible, with long enough pipes, for me to mount the HS2000 entirely within the van body (rather than the spigots poking through the floor). I could then route the flexible pipes to a more convenient location to exit the van.

My only concern was that this would mean the exhaust spigot was within the van’s confines and whether this would be acceptable so I emailed Propex – who by the way have excellent email tech support – and they said “This is acceptable, however I would recommend you purchase two silicone boots as they offer a better seal. These are available in right angled form allowing an easier routing of the combustion pipes.”

Excellent news! The exhaust pipe already had a silicone seal on it and I reasoned that the air inlet, being cold, probably didn’t need one though for reasons that are explained in a later blog/vlog, I did in fact purchase the right-angled versions later.

Thus the HS2000 in my van is now mounted on a shelf above the nearside wheelarch. The two spigots protrude down through this and have 1m versions of the exhaust and air inlet hoses attached with jubilee clips. These hoses were then routed through two holes I drilled in the the van floor, at the rear corner on the side, a location that I could clearly see had bare flat metal underneath and nothing I shouldn’t be drilling into.

I ran the pipes through two gas drop out vents that I used to line the holes, having also sealed them underneath with sealant and clipped a hole in the plastic grid at the top of the vent.

I discovered that the marine version of the Propex heater also has the option of a fire-proof heat shield wrap for the exhaust pipe so I ordered some of that, to ensure that the hot pipe wouldn’t burn any of the van interior on the way out.

Underneath the van, the air inlet has been secured with cable ties to the spare wheel holder – of course this is far from ideal because you have to cut the ries to drop the spare wheel else the pipe will be wrenched downwards, but it was the single most convenient spot to tie the pipe as I didn’t want it facing forwards (catching any water splashes if I drive through puddles) or backwards near the exhaust outlet.

The exhaust pipe has been secured with a “P” clip and a bolt for which I drilled a hole through the bottom of the bumper – you’ll see this in a later vlog / blog.

Now I just need to attach the gas pipework but that’s for another day.

Products and tools used in my van build (affiliate links)
Heater unit: https://geni.us/Van_PropexHS2000
Fridge: https://geni.us/Van_CoolFreezeCDF26
Portable toilet: https://geni.us/Van_Toilet
Sink / hob: https://geni.us/Van_SinkHob
Inverter: https://geni.us/Van_Inverter
Mains charger: https://geni.us/Van_MainsCharger
Solar charger: https://geni.us/Van_SolarMPPT
DeWalt jigsaw: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltJigsaw
DeWalt drill: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltDrill
DeWalt mitre saw: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltMitreSaw
DeWalt circular saw: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltCircSaw

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  1. Imagine the fun of getting all that in a short wheelbase version!
    I know you’ve had issues with siting the heater box BUT it’s too close to the upright for the sink unit. If that casing gets hot – presumably why there’s a 25mm buffer required – you’re going to have some toasted wood. Is there space to put that support under the back shelf and have a smalk stub under the sink unit for support (cut above the heater) ?

    • The SWB is only about a foot shorter so I think it would have worked, just about! I’m hoping that upright will be OK and will be keeping a careful eye on it during testing. It can’t move now and there’s nowhere else for it to go; it can’t move backwards. I don’t believe the entire unit gets that steaming hot.

  2. I am installing a propex HS2000 as you did. I need to purchase an exhaust pipe insulating wrap as you did. Can you tell me where I can purchase that? It would be much appreciated, thanks Rich and Charlotte

    • The initial plasticky / glassfibre tube I got from Propex themselves. The wrap I adder later was just bought on Amazon as “exhaust wrap”, there’s loads and loads of sellers but I don’t have a specific link, sorry.

      I should reiterate not to take anything I did as gospel, you install with hot exhausts at your own risk etc etc!!!

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