Whether spending an evening outdoors in the crisp, cold air or keeping warm during your next camping trip, a diesel heater is the perfect way to keep you and your family comfortable all night long. But how do you safely and reliably keep a diesel heater running for the entire night?
Here we'll discuss how portable power stations are an excellent way of powering your diesel heater so that it can be used all night without worries – and how they are a much better option than using your car's starter battery. We will explore the ins and outs of diesel heaters, from discussing whether they are safe to use overnight, to determining how much power they use when in operation, to reviewing some important safety and usage tips.
Read on and discover everything you need to know about keeping your heater running safely and efficiently throughout the night!
Understanding Diesel Heaters
If you’re new to the idea of diesel heaters you may be confused about their power source. Are they diesel or electric? Well, the short answer is they are both, using an electrical charge to spark the initial diesel combustion and power a fan to spread the heated air. Let’s look at this process in more detail.
How Diesel Heaters Keep You Warm
A diesel heater provides warmth to the interior of an enclosed space, such as an RV or tiny home by burning diesel, which produces hot air for circulation. Fuel is ignited by a spark or glow plug in order to ignite the combustion chamber. The heat is then circulated throughout the space with the use of a fan that draws air from outside and blows it into the enclosed area.
Why is a Diesel Heater a Good Source of Heat?
A diesel heater is a perfect solution for those seeking a reliable and efficient source of heat, with several advantages over alternatives like propane heaters. Diesel heaters are safer than propane due to features like auto-off, which prevent fire and explosion. Diesel heaters also produce significantly less carbon monoxide fumes than their counterparts, ensuring airflow in your space remains safe.
They also create dry heat with no condensation due to their fan-forced system for circulating warm air. This is great for RVs, as it means that mold and mildew do not build as they might if water vapor was being released. Most diesel heaters also operate on 12V DC power, meaning they can be used even in areas with limited access to a power outlet.
How Much Power Does a Diesel Heater Use?
Let’s dig into the numbers in more detail here and look at how much power diesel heaters actually use. The heater’s power use will depend on its size, but generally, diesel heaters will use 8 to 12 amps during start-up, with some models then requiring as little as 0.5 amps to run continuously, and an average of 1-2 amps. Using a 12V power source, this equates to roughly 96–120W of start-up power, and then about 24Wh after that.
Factors affecting the heater's power usage include the age of the heater, its condition, and the temperature outside. For example, if you're using an older or poorly maintained heater in very cold temperatures, it may require more power than usual to get up and running.
One of the key advantages of diesel heaters is that they don't use a lot of power when running, although they draw a lot of current when starting up. This means that if you're using a car battery (or better yet, a portable power station) to power your heater, you should make sure it has enough juice to handle the initial surge of electricity - more on this below.
Will Running a Diesel Heater Kill Your Car Battery?
Running a diesel heater from your car's starter battery all night will drastically reduce its life expectancy. It will have to work harder than it was designed to, supplying the heater with energy. It will also lose charge quicker and may not even be able to start your car the next day. There is evidence to suggest that a car battery will last just 2.5 hours when charging a phone, and with a phone requiring a similar amount of amps (1-2) as a diesel heater, this suggests that a diesel heater could drain the battery in a similar amount of time.
The alternative, using a portable power station, can give you peace of mind and ensure that your car's battery will remain undamaged and able to reliably start the next morning.
Can You Leave a Diesel Heater Running All Night?
If you’re an RV enthusiast or camper embarking on an outdoor adventure in winter, then you are no doubt wondering if you can leave your diesel heater running all night. After all, toasty toes and cozy beds make for happy campers! But just how long can you keep a diesel heater running, and is it safe to run one continuously? Let's dig into this in more detail.
How Long Can a Diesel Heater Run Without Stopping?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. The first is the type of fuel you’re using. If you’re using diesel fuel, it has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your heater will be able to burn hotter and longer.
The second factor is the size of your tank. The bigger the tank, the longer your heater will be able to run without stopping. Generally, a diesel heater will consume about 0.15–0.5 liters of fuel per hour, so this should give you an idea of how long your heating resources will last.
Finally, the efficiency of the heater is important; if it isn’t efficient at burning fuel then it won’t be able to run for very long before needing a refill. Generally speaking, most standard-sized diesel heaters can operate for 5-10 hours at full capacity before needing to cool down or refuel.
Can a Diesel Heater Run 24/7?
In theory, yes – a diesel heater can technically run 24/7 since diesel engines don't overheat easily due to their high compression ratio and lower operating temperature compared with gasoline engines. However, there are some risks associated with leaving a diesel heater running all night that should be taken into consideration.
For example, if there is no ventilation in the area where the heater is located then carbon monoxide poisoning could occur. This can also cause other risks such as fire hazards and inadequate oxygen levels in enclosed spaces where people are sleeping or living nearby. We'll discuss proper safety tips a bit later on in the article.
It’s always a good idea to check your manufacturer’s guidelines for operating recommendations for your specific model of diesel heater.
Portable Power Stations: The Best Way to Power Your Diesel Heater
If you’re looking for a reliable way to power your diesel heater all night, portable power stations are the ideal solution. They are a great alternative to using your car’s battery or other forms of off-grid power. Let’s look at what portable power stations are and why they make such a good power source for diesel heaters.
Can Portable Power Stations Run a Diesel Heater?
Portable power stations are large, robust batteries designed for rugged outdoor use. They provide you with enough charge for the devices that you rely on when you’re outdoors or away from electrical outlets.
Because the largest power requirement of a diesel heater is the initial start-up wattage, which is roughly around 120W of power, they can easily be powered by a portable power station, with even the smallest models capable of much higher output.
There is also the running wattage of a diesel heater to consider, which stays relatively low at about 24Wh–50Wh for a small to mid-sized heater. Again, this is well within the capability of most Anker portable power stations for example, as their battery capacity is capable of handling that load and then some, leaving additional capacity for charging your devices with their flexible range of inputs.
What Battery Capacity Do You Need?
With these power requirements in mind, a typical diesel heater will consume about 400Wh of power through a full night's sleep. If you want to ensure a warm night without any fear of losing power, you should select a portable power station with at least 500Wh of battery capacity to be on the safe side. Anker PowerHouse 555, for example, is capable of generating 1024Wh – and there are even more capable models than that further up in the range.
Benefits of Using a Portable Power Station
Beyond the power needed for a diesel heater, there are many other advantages you can gain from using a portable power station on your outdoor adventures.
Portable power stations are versatile, durable devices that are designed specifically to provide off-grid energy. This means they can be used in almost any situation without worrying about access to an electrical outlet or a generator. They also come in various sizes and capacities, meaning they can be used for applications ranging from small single-night camping trips to extended RV adventures.
As well as providing high power output, Anker power stations are equipped with solar panel compatibility, USB ports, 12V car outlets, and built-in LEDs, making them extremely versatile for powering different types of appliances you might use. Unlike gas generators, they don’t require the use of any more fuel on your camping trip, which makes them more convenient and cost-effective in the long run.
Anker portable power stations feature LiFePO4 batteries, which are proven to be extremely safe, have a reliable lifespan of over 10 years, and have the ability to operate in extreme temperature conditions without fear of damage.
It’s worth remembering that because portable power stations are highly efficient and produce very little noise, you can use them anywhere without disturbing your neighbors or the wildlife around you, helping you to keep the outdoors tranquil.
Tips on How to Keep Your Diesel Heater Running All Night
For the bravest amongst you seeking out cold-temperature trips, you will probably need to run your heater through the entire night. Here we look at how to optimize night-time use and avoid shutdowns that might shut down your sleep!
Use High-Quality Diesel Fuel
It is critical to use the highest quality diesel oil for your heater to keep it running efficiently and extend its life. Low-grade diesel fuels contain more sulfur and other contaminants which create carbon build-up. This decreases the fuel’s flammability, reduces the available heat from combustion, and can eventually cause damage to the heater, resulting in expensive repairs – or worse, total replacement.
Diesel such as marine-grade or ultra-low sulfur diesel will be free of contaminants and meet industry standards for performance. Spending a few extra dollars on quality fuel now will save you money and headaches down the road.
Perform Regular Maintenance
Mechanical equipment requires maintenance, and diesel heaters are no exception. Maintenance is essential for keeping them running well and helps prevent parts from wearing out, fuel build-up from accumulating, and other issues arising. Cleaning the combustion chamber, changing the fuel filter, and inspecting the exhaust system are simple steps you can take to ensure your diesel heater stays in peak condition and will help you save money on costly repairs down the line.
Prevent Your Heater from Turning Off
No one wants to wake up to a shivering-cold environment. Here are some tips to ensure that your diesel heater works reliably through the night without shutting off.
Check Fuel Levels
One of the most common reasons for a diesel heater to unexpectedly stop working is due to low fuel levels in the tank. If you want to make sure that your heater stays on through the night, you must fill up the fuel tank each time you start the unit. This will ensure that it has enough fuel to run and will help avoid unexpected shutdowns.
Adjust Elevation Settings
Another issue that may cause your diesel heater to turn off during the night is an elevation adjustment issue. This can occur if the elevation setting of your heater does not match the altitude at which you are using it. To prevent this, make sure that you adjust the setting so that it accurately reflects where you're using it, which is easy to forget if you’re roaming through different types of terrain.
Check Faulty Wiring
Other potential causes for a diesel heater shutting off at night include faulty wiring or a control unit malfunctioning. These types of electronic issues are perhaps beyond the average RV hobbyist, and in these cases, it's best to contact a professional who can provide assistance with diagnosing and fixing the problem.
Inspect for Wear and Tear
Finally, always remember to regularly inspect your diesel heater for signs of wear and tear as well as any other issues which might be causing unexpected shut-downs. This is especially true in a post-eBay world where everyone likes to save a few dollars buying second-hand. Generally, by keeping on top of maintenance checks, you can help ensure that your heater runs smoothly and efficiently throughout the night.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
We’ve made reference to safety considerations a couple of times already, so let’s get into it. When using a diesel heater, proper ventilation is essential. The combustion of diesel fuel produces gases that can be hazardous to your health and the health of those around you. To prevent the build-up of these fumes it’s important to install the heater in a well-ventilated area.
Here are some tips for proper ventilation when using a diesel heater:
Make sure there is adequate airflow in the room where the heater is installed. If possible, open windows or use fans to increase air circulation.
Install an exhaust vent on the outside wall of your building or vehicle to allow fumes to escape safely.
Ensure that all vents and ducts are clear of any obstructions that could impede airflow.
Check regularly for any signs of corrosion or damage on vents and ducts, as this can reduce their effectiveness.
We recognize that when you’re heating a room, opening windows to vent isn’t ideal. With proper installation using a vent, the heater should exhaust fumes into the atmosphere rather than into your van.
Safety Considerations for Your Diesel Heater
We’ve touched upon venting, but let's get into safety in more depth. When run properly according to the manufacturer's guidance, diesel heaters are a safe way to heat small homes.
Can Diesel Heaters Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a risk when using diesel heaters, as the gas produced during the combustion of diesel fuel is odorless and colorless, and can be deadly if inhaled. Improper installation or maintenance of diesel heaters can lead to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the air, which can be difficult to detect without specialized equipment.
In order to ensure safety from carbon monoxide poisoning from a diesel heater, it is important to make sure that the heater is installed correctly by an expert and serviced regularly. Incorrect installation may prevent enough fresh air from entering the heater for proper combustion, leading to higher concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air. Regular servicing should also help detect any cracks or other damage in the unit which could allow carbon monoxide to escape into living areas.
It is also advisable to use a carbon monoxide detector near the heater so that this gas can be detected quickly and appropriate action is taken. Carbon monoxide detectors are simple devices that measure changes in the concentration of this gas over time and provide audible alerts whenever higher-than-normal concentrations are detected. They’re often found in homes where a gas boiler is used to heat water. In the UK they are also now mandatory in caravans for example, so they are well worth the investment.
Is It Safe to Use a Diesel Heater Indoors?
Diesel heaters are generally considered to be safe for indoor use, as they produce less carbon monoxide than gasoline engines and usually have better fuel efficiency. However, when you’re using a diesel heater indoors it’s important to ensure it is installed properly.
Good installation practices include installing a carbon monoxide detector close to the heater and providing adequate ventilation in the same room. Furthermore, verify that every connection is secure with no flammable materials near the heater.
Since diesel is highly combustible, avoid placing your tank and/or heaters next to or around any open flames or other sources of heat to prevent an explosion or fire from occurring.
Anker and Diesel Heaters - Powering Your Journey
The conveniences of the modern world make travel more accessible than ever. Whether you’re motoring off in a new RV or settling into a tiny house, we hope you’ve learned enough about diesel heaters to help you stay warm all year round. With the weather in the US having some of the biggest extremes on earth, it’s more important than ever to prepare for every eventuality.
With Anker portable power stations you can run your diesel heater easily and without putting additional strain on your vehicle's battery, giving you total peace of mind and cozy warmth on your winter excursions.