I've lived in my van for elongated periods in temperatures as low as -20C. To have any chance of survival in those temperatures you need a seriously good campervan heater! That's where the Propex HS2000 campervan gas heater comes in... it's one of the very best 12v LPG heaters on the market! In this guide we will look at how the Propex heater compares to other models, the gas regulations, an illustrated installation process, and look at propex heater troubleshooting.
In the Roaming Home 2023 study, we found that 91% of people have a heater installed in their van. Of those 22% are LPG.
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
Now let's jump in a look at the Propex HS2000!
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The information provided in this guide is provided solely as a high-level resource for information - and not as a single source of truth. I am not a certified gas fitter, nor do I hold myself out to be. The information provided below is a collection of publicly available information that I have consolidated - while I have done my utmost to provide the correct information, there may be mistakes in this information. For this reason I encourage you to get a certified technician (with minimum CITO ACOPS/STGW qualification in the UK) to do your campervan gas installation, or at the very least to review and test it. This guide simply shows you how I did my campervan gas heater installation.
Overview of the Propex HS2000 Campervan Heater
The Propex HS2000 is a thermostatically controlled, LPG campervan heater. It is a heater specifically designed for campervans. I have used a Propex heater in my own campervan for the past three years without issue - I am a huge fan! It has kept me warm in conditions of -20C.
Propane (Primary ingredient in LPG) is a very efficient fuel source, that burns cleanly and is readily available at filling stations around the world. The Propex HS2000 is the most well-known LPG campervan heater.
Propex HS2000 Specifications:
Voltage: 12v (to power the fan & thermostat)
Heat output: 1.9kW
Fuel: LPG (Propane or Butane)
Energy consumption: 1.4a when running
Fuel consumption: 142grams per hour
Propex HS2000 Fuel Consumption chart:
The values below show the number of hours you will get of continuous run time depending on the size of gas bottle you have.
2.7kg Gas Bottle
4.5kg Gas Bottle
6kg Gas Bottle
11kg Gas Bottle
To put it simply, the Propex heater has really good fuel consumption and you won't need to refill with LPG very often!
For me, the best part about the Propex HS2000 campervan heater is that it has a wall-mounted thermostat that will periodically turn the heater on when the temperature in the campervan drops; you set the desired temperature.
Before we dive into the installation guide, let's have a look at how the HS2000 compares to some other Propex heaters...
Campervan heater comparisons
Propex HS2000 vs. HS2211
Propex make another heater called the HS2211; it is nearly identical to the Propex HS2000. However there are a couple of differentiating factors.
Must be installed inside
Can be installed inside or outside
Must be installed horizontally
Can be installed any which way (except with air ducts vertically up or down)
1.4a (current consumption)
1.7a (current consumption)
By all accounts, the Propex HS2211 is an excellent heater, however it is less popular than the Propex HS2000.
Propex HS2000 vs. HS2800
The Propex HS2800 is the big brother of the HS2000. The Propex HS2800 is a larger, more powerful campervan gas heater that may be better suited if you are living in a very cold climate with a very big campervan.
Heat output: 2.8Kw
Heat output: 1.9Kw
Energy consumption: 1.9a
Energy consumption: 1.4a
Air throughput: 60 CFM
Air throughout: 85 CFM
Propex HS2000 vs. HS2000e
The Propex HS2000E heater is very similar to the HS2000. The key difference is that it can also run from 230v AC mains (ie. you can run it through your campervan's inverter).
When running on electricity, you can choose between three fan modes: low medium, and high throughput.
On its highest setting, the Propex HS2000e draws 2Kw of electricity, so you will need a pretty big inverter (3000W) to run it!
Propex HS2000 vs Truma Varioheat eco
The two most popular brands of LPG heaters on the market are Propex and Truma. Truma is a bigger company than Propex and is the more expensive of the two brands.
The Truma Varioheat eco is a similar heater to the Propex HS2000 in many ways. They are both thermostatically controlled 12v LPG campervan heaters. However the Truma varioheat is a more powerful heater (and accordingly more expensive).
The Truma varioheat has two blow settings, high and low), whereas the Propex HS2000 has just one setting. The Truma varioheat (high) has an air throughput of 90CFM, whereas the Propex has an air throughput of 60CFM.
The Truma varioheat outputs up to 2800w of heat, whereas the Propex outputs 1900w.
However, the extra heat and air throughput comes with more electricity usage. The Propex draws 1.4a, whereas the Truma draws 2.75a - that is a sizeable difference.
In a nutshell, the Truma heater is probably a better heater, but it is a lot more expensive. The Truma also takes twice as much electricity to run.
LPG heater vs. Diesel heater
Whether you choose to go for an LPG heater or a campervan diesel heater is up to you! Here are some stats to help you make a better decision. Note that you will be using LPG anyway for other appliances in your van such as the gas stove.
Price of fuel:
LPG is cheaper than diesel
Price of installation:
Propex heater is cheaper than a Webasto diesel heater
Efficiency of fuel:
LPG is more efficient than diesel (takes longer to burn same quantity of fuel)
Safety: Diesel is safer than LPG (the gas plumbing for LPG must be done perfectly + the storage of diesel is safer)
Time to warm up: Diesel heater takes longer to warm up than LPG
Noise: LPG heaters are quieter than diesel
BTUs: Diesel contains 34% more BTU than LPG (meaning it will heat a campervan more efficiently)
Cleaning: A propex heater doesn't need to be cleaned as regularly as a diesel heater
Altitude: LPG functions better at altitude (>1500m) than diesel
Power consumption: Propex heater takes less electricity to run than a diesel heater
Propex HS2000 Installation
In this guide we will only look at the Propex HS2000 (ebay) installation. To find out more about campervan gas installations, including gas bottles, regulators, gas lockers, piping, regulations, and more, I suggest you read this guide on campervan gas installations first.
So without further ado...
These are the steps you should follow to install a Propex heater:
Choose an appropriate location
Install the combustion intake and exhaust
Install LPG gas supply
Install the hot and cold air ducts
Install the 12v thermostat controller
Connect the heater to 12V power
Leak test the system
Test the system!
You can find the campervan gas heater installation instruction manual here.
Safety warnings and general information
Per Propex's guidance, and the BS EN 1949:2021 standards, here are some things you should be aware of:
Heater must be installed inside the campervan.
You may only use a two stage, adjustable regulator with the Propex heater.
The heater must not be used when the vehicle is in motion
The exhaust and inlet must be routed outside the van
The exhaust should be somewhere where it will not be sucked back in by the air inlet or through a window!
Do not connect power until the thermostat cable is connected to the heater (could blow the fuse in the heater)
The exhaust needs to vent out from the edge of the van. If not vented away from the edge, carbon monoxide could collect under the van and be sucked back in the air intake.
The exhaust pipe should slope down (to prevent condensation build-up on the inside of the pipe)
The air intake pipe should also slope down (If it rains, the pipe can fill with water and the heater will fault)
Never trim the air intake / exhaust pipes.
The exhaust and air intake should be at least 50cm away from each other to prevent recirculation of bad air.
For USA buyers: “The compression fitting supplied with the heater is BSPT thread; it is NOT the same as ¼” NPT fittings in the US, so please do not substitute US NPT fittings. If you need alternate BSPT fitting, these can be found at www.mcmaster.com”
Step #1: Choose an appropriate location for the Propex heater
First, choose a location for the Propex heater. You will be drilling holes for the exhaust and air inlet; so ensure the location is not above anything important! Choose a location which gives suitable access for service and inspection. The heater should be fitted a minimum of 25 mm from any wall.
Step #2: Install the air intake and exhaust
Using the paper template provided (or by tracing around the inlet and exhaust with a pencil), drill a small pilot hole (3mm) through the two centres.
Double check under the vehicle that you haven't drilled into anything!
NB: Use a low RPM, lots of oil, and a pulsating action when using the holesaw.
Next, run the exhaust and intake pipes through the floor (exhaust is front, air intake is back).
Place the jubilee clips (hose clips) around the pipes.
Then insert the Propex heater into the pipes. Using a flathead screwdriver, tighten the jubilee clips right down to seal the deal!
Next, screw the heater in place using the mounting brackets supplied. You will need to raise the heater off the ground to give the exhaust and air intake some room under the heater. I used pieces of wood to elevate the heater ~10cm.
Attach the ends of the air intake and exhaust to the underside of your campervan using the p-clips supplied. To do this, drill a hole in the metal and pop a bolt through to hold the p-clip in place.
Note: The exhaust pipe must slope downwards and exit out the side of the van.
After the Propex heater and pipes are permanently fitted, add some heat resistant silicone around where the pipe comes out the bottom of the van.
Step #3: Install the LPG gas supply
By this stage, you should have already installed most of your Campervan gas system, including your gas bottle, regulator, gas locker, and piping. If you haven't, I suggest you read this guide on campervan gas installations first.
Run a length of 8mm copper pipe from your gas manifold to the back of your propex heater. You will very likely need to bend the copper pipe, which you can do with a pipe bending tool. You can cut copper pipe with a pipe cutting tool.
The Propex heater will have come with an 8mm elbow compression joint; one side has the compression nut, the other has bare threads. On the side with bare threads, lather some jointing compound on the threads and screw it tightly into the propex heater.
Then attach the elbow joint to the copper pipe. You can learn how to fit a compression joint here.
Step #4: Install the hot and cold air ducts
You need to run a hot air and cold air duct from the front of the Propex heater.
The standard Propex HS2000 contains just one hot air duct, but you can also buy versions with Y-branches that allow you to have up to three hot air ducts. This allows you to heat your van more evenly.
Attach the air ducts to the heater with jubilee clips and run the pipe to wherever you want it to exit. Ensure the cold air duct is in a well-vented area low in the van as it needs to take in cold air!
The Propex heater should come with two plastic vents that you can place over the ends of the air ducts to make them more sightly.
Step# 5: Install the 12V thermostat controller
The Propex HS2000 comes with a nifty wall-mounted thermostat. Before we connect our heater to the 12v power supply, we must connect the thermostat first!
It is very simple to connect the thermostat - simply, unscrew the metal casing (T20 torx screw) that protects the circuit board and plug in the thermostat to the appropriate fitting.
Step #6: Connect the heater to 12V power
From your 12v fuse box, run a length of 2-core cable (positive and negative) which Propex provides to the propex heater. You can simply plug it into the circuit board. A 5a fuse is required for the fuse box.
Step #7: Gas leak test the system
This is imperative. You can learn all about how to test for gas leaks here.
Not so fun fact: I had a minor gas leak when I installed my Propex heater - I had forgotten to add jointing compound to the connection with the elbow compression joint! Thankfully I tested my system for leaks!
On the topic of safety, ensure you also:
Install a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm
Install a gas leak detector (mount near the floor - gas is heavier than air)
Keep a fire extinguisher in your van
Step #8: Test the system
The last step is to fire up the Propex heater and check that everything is running okay.
You can turn on the heater by turning the top thermostat dial fully to the right (to the little water droplet icon). The dial at the bottom is the thermostatic dial - choose the ambient heat you want.
Here is the sequence of operation:
Sometimes there are issues with the campervan gas heater, this is actually pretty normal. So, let's look at some propex heater troubleshooting...
Propex heater troubleshooting
After you turn your propex heater on, it will continue to attempt to ignite (every 20 seconds) until it is successful. If it is repeatedly failing at igniting, check that the valves on the gas bottle and manifold are all open.
If it is still failing at igniting, you should try light your gas stove for a little to purge some of the air that accumulates at the top of a refillable gas bottle on first fill.
If you have a fault with the heater you will see a number of flashes on the thermostat. The fault code for those flashes are described below. Many are remediable.
There are a few common issues you could run into. You can reset/clear any of these faults (which cause a lockout) by turning the ‘Fan Only’ setting on the control panel, ‘on’, ‘off’ and ‘on’ again within 2.5 seconds.
1- Flame failure: Do you have any gas in your gas bottle / are your valves open?
3 - Low/high voltage fault: I get this when the sun is beating down onto my solar panels and the voltage of the system goes higher than the Propex HS2000 threshold. The newer Propex models have fixed this issue, but the older models still have it. It's not an issue at all. You can clear the lockout
4 - Combustion air fault: After a heavy downpour (in Ireland the rain blows sideways...), my air inlet can become filled with water which causes this error. Unscrew the p-clip holding the inlet pipe, empty the water, and reset the thermostat!
And that's all there is to know about the awesome Propex heater! One of the best campervan gas heaters on the market. It has warmed me nicely in extreme conditions and I can't vouch for it enough. I also found their support to be incredibly friendly and quick to respond.
Let's flog the dead horse again: Make sure you get a licenced professional to check your campervan gas system! :D
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If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,