Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Leisure Battery, Propex Heater and Power Inverter installation.

Here in the U.K., spending a few winter nights in my bus are freezing and even during the summer months the nights in the bus can get very cold, so having owned my bus now for 3 years I decided to purchase a propex heater. This of course meant fitting a leisure battery to save running the heater off the main battery. I searched the web and having compared prices I decided to buy most of the things I needed from Just Kampers, (check out their website here: http://www.justkampers.com/ ) based here in the U.K. I knew this wasn't going to be a cheap project, but I was getting so fed up with lying on my rock and roll bed trying to sleep, only to lie there shivering and not sleeping. The propex heater including all the fittings, pipe work, thermostat and the leisure battery fitting kit, including a heavy duty relay came in at £554.  The 110ah leisure battery was a further £89. Added to this I purchased a 1000w pure sine wave inverter which cost £140, so it would enable me charge and use 240v devices that use a 3 pin plug, including my portable DVD payer. Yes, approximately £800 is a lot of money but it will hopefully transform my bus into somewhere more comfortable that I can use throughout year, for years to come. I decided to get the help of my old mate Stuart who owns 'Oil Droppers' VW workshop based in Aylesbury to help me fit all the pieces of kit together as he has a lot more experience than I do. Check out the Oil Droppers facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/oildroppers 

I called the very helpful staff at Just Kampers
and ordered all the bits I needed, which was
all in stock and they all arrived the next day.

Although I cannot fault the Just Kampers
service, I could question the overkill on the

My 115ah leisure battery which I purchased
from Halfords. I made sure it would fit onto 
my left hand battery tray by measuring the
space available and then measuring the battery.
As it turned out it there was more than
enough room in the engine bay.

My microbus in the Oil Droppers workshop.
Stuart is jacking up the front as we need
access under the bus for routing the exhaust
flue and fresh air intake pipes. Stuart is
currently carrying out a lot of work on the
twin slider bay (pictured).

First thing to do was lay out all the pieces of
kit I had bought so we knew what we had and
could plan as to what went where, how we were
going to do things and in what order.

Regular readers will know that I have just made
a new buddy seat, which will house the heater.
Although this would not only give me more
room in the bus but it would also direct the heat
into the bus better, however the smaller buddy
seat did mean that the location of the heater
was compromised. Stuart measured where the
chassis was in relation to the inside of the
buddy seat and after measuring the exhaust
and fresh air pipes on the heater he said if
we do it right we could have the exhaust
flue on one side of the chassis rail and the fresh
air intake on the other side. Stuart measured and
re-measured the distances before drilling the
pilot hole in my bus floor. Once he was confident
the holes would clear the chassis rail, he used a
mandrel drill to create two 40mm holes.

Lovely nice neat hole cut in my floor. You can
see how close it was to the chassis rail. This
hole, on the outside of the chassis rail will be
for the exhaust flue and will we have the fresh
air intake pipe on the inside of the chassis rail.

You can see in this photo both holes cut either
side of the chassis rail. If your going to attempt
this, measure, and re-measure several times
to make sure everything will be OK and that
you have clearance under the bus.

The fresh air intake hole on the opposite side
of the chassis rail.

Stuart working hard ensuring there will be
enough clearance for the pipework.

Pipework in position with 'jubliee clips' fitted.
We did cut away the flooring before the final
installation of the heater as advised in the
instructions that came with the kit.

The exhaust flue (silver pipe) and the fresh
air intake pipe (black pipe) both exiting the
bus either side of the chassis rail, this should
eliminate the chance of the exhaust gasses
being sucked up into the fresh air intake pipe.
This photo also shows the gas pipe in place.
We decided to route the gas pipe under the
bus as I will be building a new cooker /
storage unit inside and didn't want the hassle
of working around the gas pipe as this could
compromise the design of the new unit.

With the heater location and exhaust pipes
all sorted the next thing to do was to wire in the
thermostat, this meant taking it apart to connect
the wires to the correct terminals inside the unit.

Stuart drilling a hole in my new buddy seat to
enable us to route the wires from the heater
to the thermostat.

The 2 wires from the propex heater (for power
and to the thermostat) came with 2 pin 5 pin
connectors respectively and clear to read
instructions so connection to the heater unit
was straight forward. Both cables exit the

heater on the front of the unit, and both exit
the buddy seat in the back corner and then
the thermostat cable runs straight up the
 'B' post to the thermostat. We were going
to route both wires under the hot air pipe, and
straight out of the buddy seat but as it
comes with so much cable, and, as we didn't
really know how hot the heat pipe gets
we decided to route both cables around the
back of the heater. I will tidy the wiring up
at a later date. As the heater only needs
25mm clearance from the sides of the buddy
seat to the sides of the heater unit to aid
 ventilation, I will make a false floor to go above
the heater unit to give me back some storage
space at a later date.

I made a small box up to mount the thermostat.
This box will enable the power wires from the
 heater to run up the side of the bus, and into the
box and exit out the front on the box and into
the back of the thermostat which will be
mounted to this box.

The location of the thermostat required some
thought as this is how the heater unit is turned
on and off. As I use my bus all year round I
will be using the heater quite a lot in the colder
months which means the thermostat needs
to be accessible. I did think of putting the unit
on the wardrobe but that meant if I was driving
and wanted to switch the heat on or off, I would

have to get in the back to access the thermostat,
and as I don't have a walk-through model bus this
would mean stopping the bus and getting out
and walking round to the sliding door. So I
decided to put it on the 'B' post just behind
my head when I'm sat in the driving seat so I
could reach it whilst driving. I don't know if this is
the optimum location for the thermostat, only
time will tell that, but if if isn't, I can always
move it at a later date due to the excess cable
supplied that we didn't cut down.

This photo show the fresh air intake pipe in
its final location. Stuart secured this pipe with
cable ties through existing holes in the chassis
which meant we didn't have to drill any new

On the opposite side of the chassis is the exhaust
flue pipe which was secured in place using the
'P' clips provided in the kit. You can also see
the flexi gas pipe wrapped round the main heat

The flexi gas pipe that goes into the cooker
unit is attached to the copper pipe from the
heater. We were going to route the flexi pipe
 above the main hot air pipe on the bus but it
looked a bit tight so we opted to route it
underneath. While it doesn't look as tidy this
way it is still tucked up out of the way.

With the heater in position and wired up, it was
time to get power into the bus via a auxiliary
fuse box mounted under the buddy seat.
This location would also house my 1000w
(2000w max) pure sine wave power inverter.

The wires from the heater are routed from the
buddy seat, along the edge of the floor down the
side of the bus and enter the space under the
rock and roll bed and up to the fuse box.
Power to the inverter will be directly from the
battery and this will also power the fuse box.
I have also fitted a cigarette lighter in the buddy
seat so I can charge my phone / camera etc
and when I wire this up the wires will follow
 Stuarts wiring from the heater to the fuse box.

A close up look of how the wires enter the base
of the rock and roll bed. This is where I will also
feed the wires from the cigarette lead up to the
new fuse box.

Once all the interior work had been completed,
now it's time to fit the split charge relay and
leisure battery. Stuart is seen here taking the
wire from the split charge relay to the alternator.

Leisure battery in position. You can see the
red power wire from the fuse box entering the
engine bay. All Stuart has to do is to connect
both battery terminals.

The relay in position. I must say that the wiring
in the photo is not Stuarts. This spaghetti mess
is the original wiring providing power to my rear
lights and reversing lights. I know it doesn't look
very pretty, but everything works so I'm reluctant
to start messing with it.

The leisure battery all wired up nice and neat
with new battery terminals. Now this is the
standard of Stuarts wiring. Volkswagen should
take note.

Stuarts wiring from the relay to the alternator
all nice and neat which is in stark contrast to
the rest of the wiring throughout the bus!

My interior all back to together. The only tell
tale signs of the work which has been carried
out is the vents in the buddy seat and the
thermostat on the 'B' post. We of course did
fire up the propex heater in the Oil Droppers
workshop just to test it, and after about 3/4
minutes the interior of my bus was like a sauna.
I just have wait and see if the thermostat is in
the right place or whether it will need moving
and I'll have to see how long the gas bottle lasts,
but apart from that I'm very happy. I have been
thinking about this installation for a while now
and it's so nice to finally have it completed.
Maybe now I can start thinking about painting
my bus... or maybe not.

So that was the Installation of my propex
heater, Leisure Battery, auxiliary fuse box,
split charge relay and leisure battery.
which I'm sure I'll use throughout the year.
Many thanks to Stuart Munro at Oil Droppers
 for spending the Bank Holiday Monday working
on my bus and for doing such a good job.




  1. Hi I've hot one of these in my van , it's not connected up to the gas though, does your flexibility just jubilee clip onto the copper pipe? Does the other end connect to a standard 4.5kg bottle via a regulator? Cheers scott

  2. Hi Scott, Yes the rubber flexi hose connects to the copper pipe with a jubilee clip, although you could just connect the rubber hose to the heater. The other end of the rubber flex pipe fits onto a regulator, on the gas bottle and again secured by a jubilee clip. Hope this helps. Dave

  3. Lovely thanks dave, will get it connected up now the colder nights are coming , I also read there is a timer you can get for these, looks a good idea!

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  6. Lovely thanks dave, will get it connected up now the colder nights are coming , I also read there is a timer you can get for these, looks a good idea!
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