What is a Portable Diesel Heater?
Diesel heaters are most commonly used for heating camper vans, vehicles, and RVs. But they’re also great for heating garages, sheds, cabins, and emergency home heating.
There are two versions of these types of diesel heaters.
First, you have the permanent option that comes in parts.
The diesel heater, LCD screen, exhaust pipe, fuel pump, 12 volt power source, and fuel tank are all separate pieces that need to be installed in the right positions and places.
Then there’s the portable option that has all of the main parts put together in a metal box. The only things. you have to set up are the exhaust pipe and a 12 volt power source.
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For emergency home heating I recommend using a portable diesel heater.
The main reason is there isn’t a good place to put a permanent one in a house and you can move the portable one to the parts of your home that need it most.
Also, you can use a portable diesel heater to heat lots of other things making it multipurpose.
In this article, I’m going to give a quick outline of how I have my portable diesel heater set up for emergency home heating.
During the cold winter months, I have it fueled up and ready to go just in case the furnace decides to give out or we have a power outage.
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My Portable Diesel Heater
There are many different portable heater options, and most of them are made by Chinese companies. The two big name brand diesel heater companies don’t make portable versions.
For emergency home heating the Chinese options are excellent because they are budget friendly and with a few additions they work really well.
8KW Vevor Diesel Heater
I got an 8KW Vevor portable diesel heater because it has a high heat output and I like the style that has the fuel tank on the side instead of on top.
The tall and thin versions like this one by Vevor (click to view on Amazon) are very popular though and could be the better choice for you depending on your needs.
For emergency home heating it doesn’t really matter what style you get because the heater will be outside with plenty of space.
I’m not going to go too into detail about all the features of this diesel heater. I’m just going to talk about how I set it up for emergency home heating.
If you want to read more about the Vevor diesel heater check out this review
Portable Diesel Heater For Emergency Home Heating
You don’t ever want to use a diesel heater inside your home.
It needs to have plenty of space to breathe and there’s also dangerous exhaust that needs to be expelled far away from the inside of your house.
Putting things that run on gas or diesel like generators and diesel heaters in places where the exhaust gets trapped is very dangerous and a mistake that can be fatal.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure they are placed outside. Don’t even put them in the garage.
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For safety, I recommend getting a carbon monoxide detector (click to view on Amazon) and putting it near the window you use for the diesel heater vent.
That way you know the air blowing into your home isn’t contaminated with exhaust fumes.
Now that you know some of the safety basics, here’s how I can quickly and easily use my portable diesel heater to heat my home in an emergency.
Setting Up the Portable Diesel Heater
Any portable diesel heater comes with a little setup required.
You need to install the air intake tube and the exhaust pipe. A 12 volt power source is also necessary.
I wanted my diesel heater to be as portable as possible while still being safe with the exhaust pipe.
Since there’s not a lot of clearance underneath the diesel heater I chose to put it up on an old wire crate I had in the garage.
I just wired the diesel heater feet directly to the top of the crate so it’s secure and won’t fall off.
The crate is metal so there’s no risk of it being burned or melted by the exhaust pipe.
I still chose to wrap it in fiberglass exhaust wrap (click to view on Amazon) and aluminum tape.
The aluminum tape isn’t necessary, I just didn’t like risking getting fiberglass on my hands every time I touched it.
The included heat duct was very short and pretty useless, so I went to the local hardware store and picked up a 8 foot dryer vent that clamped onto the diesel heater.
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I may get this 3 inch insulated heat duct (click to view on Amazon) later since the uninsulated dryer vent I got loses a lot of heat before it even enters my home.
Powering the Portable Diesel Heater
Portable power stations are really popular for emergency preparedness, and I have a couple of different kinds myself.
I was hoping to be able to install a 12 volt plug onto the electrical wires that were included with the Vevor diesel heater so I could plug it into one of my power stations.
But unfortunately, I learned that the large 8KW diesel heater uses around 12 amps to start and the 12 volt outlet on most power stations is only rated for 10 amps.
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If you get a smaller diesel heater you may be able to power it with a portable power station if it uses less than 10 amps to start.
Since I couldn’t use a power station I decided to use a LiTime 12 volt lithium battery (click to view on Amazon) instead.
I like lithium batteries because they are much lighter than regular lead acid batteries and can be discharged more without getting damaged.
They also don’t lead so they’re easier to use indoors.
I have a Renogy solar panel with a built in charge controller (click to view on Amazon) that can charge the lithium battery.
I used 12 gauge wire to extend the power cables so I could have the battery inside and the diesel heater outside.
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There’s a small window in my living room/kitchen area that’s perfect for bringing in the heat duct.
You can use pretty much any window that can open. All you need is some cardboard and duct tape to seal off the window to keep out the cold and any stray exhaust fumes.
Most diesel heaters come with a remote control that can change the heat settings and turn it on or off.
My remote works really well and it makes it so I can control the heater without having to go outside.
Diesel Heater Performance
Once I had everything set up I was really surprised by how much heat was coming out of the diesel heater.
I started with it on the highest setting so I could see how hot it could really get and how much power it would use.
Once it got going it tried to test the temperature with a wind speed meter with a built in thermometer.
The thermometer can accurately measure up to 140°F and it started going well above that in seconds.
Interestingly enough the diesel heater was blowing air out of the 4 inch dryer duct at a rate of 10 mph.
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I used an infrared thermometer to see how hot the inside of the dryer was getting. Towards the front, it was around 140°F but in the back where the bend was it was well over 200°F.
Basically, the air coming out of my 8KW Vevor diesel heater can get very hot.
And it was having no issues keeping my small house’s living room/kitchen area warm even when it was below freezing outside.
To start the diesel heater the glow plug pulled around 120 watts for about 30 seconds.
So there was a power surge but since it wasn’t for very long it didn’t use a lot of power.
When I had the heater on the highest setting it was using around 32 watts. After starting and an hour of running at full speed it used about 35 watt hours.
For a heater that blows out air that’s really good. Furnaces and heaters that use electric fans can use anywhere from 150 – 300 watts an hour.
Compared to that 35 watts an hour is incredibly efficient.
When I turned it to the lowest setting it was only drawing 11 watts from my battery. So you could easily power this diesel heater for days on the lowest setting with a 100ah lithium battery like mine.
When on full power the Vevor 8KW diesel heater uses about 1/2 a liter every hour. That’s only 0.13 gallons.
The tank holds 5 liters/1.3 gallons. So if you have it on full power you can run the diesel heater for around 10 hours.
You shouldn’t need to have it on full power all of the time. If you turn it down it to the medium setting you could easily get 20 hours of run time.
If you keep a 5 gallon diesel tank in your garage for emergency use you could heat your home with the diesel heater set to the middle heat setting for around 77 hours.
Are Diesel Heaters Good for Emergency Home Heating?
In my option yes, portable diesel heaters are fantastic for emergency home heating.
I like that I can use mine for more than just emergencies. It’s also great for camping or to use as a garage heater.
It doesn’t take up a lot of space, it’s easy to set up, and the low electrical and fuel usage is really nice.
Diesel is available 24/7 at the gas station and propane is a little more difficult to store and buy. So that’s another reason I think it makes a good emergency home heater.
If my furnace goes out in the middle of the night, I can drive to the gas station to get some diesel to start heating my home instead of having to wait for the propane supplier to open.
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I like it more than portable propane heaters as well because my diesel heater actually blows out heat which spreads it around faster and the dangerous fumes are kept outside.
I also like not having to worry about the diesel heater being knocked over since it’s not inside the house like a portable propane heater would be.
Overall I think a portable diesel heater is one of the best choices for emergency home heating.
Especially if you use a carbon monoxide detector and the proper safety precautions.
Leave a comment if you have any more questions about my portable diesel heater or how I use it for emergency home heating.