Heaters in the camper

Trying to figure out a solid heater situation for the GFC. Currently we have a Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater, but am wondering what everyone else is doing. Anyone go with a diesel heater? If so, how did you run the exhaust?

I’ve been using the buddy heater too, but not overnight. Have you seen this diesel set up? Looks awesome but is super spendy.

I started with a buddy furnace. They are decent but in winter you really notice the dampness within your sleeping bag…i dont get that with the Planar 2D portable furnace. It works very well and uses little diesel. Always fires. It’s just a really simple, very well made product. I currently run mine from outside the truck and opted for the longer heater control cord so I can keep the controller inside. Which you need…this thing really pumps out the heat! When I do eventually plumb it in I will put an exhaust port through the small compartment on the drivers side by the tail gate.

For Americans once you factor in the exchange when buying from a Canadian distributor it’s a little less painful. I bought mine here…great service:


I’m waiting for my GFC to be completed in 2022 :wink: till then I’m sleeping diagonally in the Softtopper.


I needed this last week as I froze in the Tetons. Don’t know I would want to cut a hole in one of the camper doors though. Maybe just run it up to one of the tent doors?

I tried the Mr. Buddy Heater but I could smell the fumes and turned it off.

Installs I have seen folks are running the exhaust tube out the box drain holes or drilling a hole in the box floor. The Tacoma’s have side compartments that make it easier to run an exhaust out let.

I ordered one of the cheap Chinese diesel heaters.
I’ve been using the Buddy Heater. It worked well but seems to use a lot of fuel. Also it doesn’t emit a comfortable dry heat when compared to the diesel heater I remember from my old sailboat.
I opted for the smaller 3KW version. I figured that the 5KW one would be overkill and diesel heaters don’t like running at idle because of the excessive carbon buildup. Plan to feed it clean burning kerosene. I like the remote start feature. I’d be great to start it while still in your sleeping bag!
It should be delivered inside of a week.



I have been thinking about this option on Amazon as well. If you install it inside the bed of your truck then you have to vent it out the bed somewhere correct? This seems like an affordable solution. Is it true that this Chinese model will not work as good in higher elevations? I’m trying to understand what benefits I would gain by this option below which is a lot more expensive. I am looking for a good heater to camp in the parking lot at Kirkwood this winter for snowboarding. Any thoughts?

I’m not sure why the Total Composite unit would be any better at high altitude. They don’t explain why their heater would be any better than the others and what particular tech makes their heater especially good @ high altitude.
This may be essentially the same as the cheap(even using the same components) Chinese unit but with a fancy case and a high price tag.

I figured I’d go cheap and take a chance and if it doesn’t work out, I’m only out $200.

1 Like

The Chinese versions are interesting and many comparisons online and youtube. Basically the only strong negative appears to be the lack of quality control therefore you may get one that works or waste a lot of time.

The Planar diesel heaters are made in Russia. They are tried and true and used in Military applications and Arctic Expeditions. They have an excellent record, good quality control and parts are easy to find due to a decent dealer network. I believe they are not affected by altitude due to direct injection rather then needle and jet. The Composite Tech. unit is the Planar factory 2D model in there portable case configuration with a 7 L fuel tank. The case is ewxcellent and is worry free design for hard use dusty areas such as a truck bed. They are good units and will easily cook you out of a GFC camper in - 10 C. Battery life off a my GEL cell blue top deep cycle 55 Ah battery is around 36 hours at - 10 C roughly 14 hours of furnace time on a full tank of fuel with varying heat setting.

You can also order directly from Planar Canada and save yourself a bit of $

Dimitri is very helpful.

good luck

1 Like

maybe a dumb question, but kerosene in a diesel heater? how does that work?

have you had a chance to use it?

any reason that it can’t be kept outside the truck at night with the heat duct run directly into the tent?

Kerosene is a very similar fuel to diesel. It is more refined and has a lower gel point, and is less viscous. In cold climates diesel is often cut with Kerosene, and in some markets it’s even sold as Diesel #1 (vs. the #2 you find at most pumps in the states).

You could duct the heater in from the outside just like Runt shows pictures of. Not sure at what point heat loss from the duct would become an issue.

Just finished my propex in a box build. It’s been running about an hour now. I used a Plano storage box which fits nice between the tailgate and fender well. Riveted an aluminum plate in the bottom of the storage compartment and the side of the Plano box for the exhaust to exit outside. In the summer I can pull it out without too much trouble and put the compartment door back on. I installed this unit in my VW bus a few years ago and it worked great…now it’s portable and can be used in both vehicles without too much effort.


How is the cheap heater doing?

I haven’t had time to install it yet. There’s a seven page thread over on Expedition Portal discussing these Chinese clone heaters. I don’t know that I should give the link?:thinking: I don’t want to get banned here too.:rofl:


For a single night or weekend I use an electric blanket and a Jackery. This does not help with longer trips or making the whole rear headed for casual use.

Another electric blanket user here. I need an external source of electricity. KOA or some situation where an extension cord can be utilized. For off grid cold weather camping, a Nalgene full of boiling water stuffed into a sock helps some to warm a good sleeping bag and maintain heat throughout the night.


1 Like

I have a 12v bunk warmer on a goal zero, and a cheap Chinese diesel heater.

Both have strengths and weaknesses. Bunk heater is great but hard to move (like if you have two sleeping upstairs and one needs to get out). Also uses a lot of power, typically ~40% of my yeti 1000 if run at a medium temp.

Diesel furnace gets things warm! Have had 70+ upstairs in ~20 outdoor temps. It takes up room, can smell a little, requires significant power (8+ amps) at startup and shutdown. Also a little sketch for CO2 reasons. I won’t run it while I’m sleeping.

8kw diesel heater in a tool box. We use it in the wife’s “garden studio”, when not in use on the road. Thing works great, sub $200 for the whole kit. Sips diesel and no condensation like propane.


Here’s a different camper build using a marine propane heater - description starts around 2:40:

Looks like the design keeps the heat but vents the humidity. Don’t have a GFC or a heater yet so no idea how feasible this setup would be. Maybe mounted on the truck instead of the canopy wall and vented through the box?


Great info for when I get my GFC in December. Following