We all love campfires! They are one of the few touchstones to our primative past and so popular with young and old. The social environment is relaxed, and you can just sit back and enjoy the stars, watching the embers curl upwards into the night sky. You would be reluctant to leave this and step back to your camper trailer bed… unless… you have bought a Kimberley.
(Have you spotted the guitar in the background of the campfire shot… how many of you carry one with your camper trailer?)
Lets look at all the heating options you have available:
Underbed membrane Heater: The most eco-friendly and lowest cost to operate:
The under-bed membrane heater is a thermo-plastic that operates on 12V and is placed under the mattress. It is very low heat (48W max) but operates off the battery system. This means that during the day, if you operate with solar, the solar power will run this heater. You can continue to use it during the night as well. It is most effective if let running all the time during winter, even when you are driving. The photo below shows the membrane heater before the mattress is placed on top. Here is how it works:
The heater is a 2mm thin plastic membrane developed in Norway (for car seat heating). It slowly heats the mattress or to be more preceise the air captured in the mattress as well as the mattress internal materials (like the coil springs). This “drys” the mattress out as well as pre-heats it. The membrane temperature is close to 40 degrees (remember the body is 38 degrees). So the membrane just gets the mattress to body temperature and can hold it there while it is running.
This makes a very comfortable sleeping environment for those people who hate “electric blankets” that just get too hot or have spot heating.
It is great for people who are affected by an mould in the mattress as the drying out every night eliminates the build up of body moisture in the mattress.
The disadvatage is if you forgot to turn on! However, there are timers you can program!
Diesel Space heater: very eco-friendly and quiet as it “recovers’ heat from the hot water system
This gem is a heat recovery device about the size of a large box of tissues. It has a 1.2kW capacity which is high and it uses a very quiet ball bearing fan to move the air through the heat exchanger. It gets its heat from the Diesel hot water heater in the Kimberley. It doesnt use the actual “hot water” circuit, but the heated glycol fluid that is used to heat the hot water. A stanless steel heat exchanger is used in the hot water system in a kimberley so that you can pump from any water source no matter what the quality directly into the hot water system for those endless hot showers! To do this you HAVE to have a heat exchanger.
The Space heater is programmed for 30mins or 60 mins operation which is ideal before going to bed or turn it on at 4am when it is coldest. You can run it all night with a slight modification but most people find this is not necessary.
The diesel comes from a small 3.5l tank in the Kimberley Kamper. Typically, most people find this lasts for 4-6 weeks before topping up. Because it is diesel, it is easy to use the same fuel as the vehicle. It is the lowest cost source of heating because it burns so efficiently.
The best place for these space heaters near the rear of the bed circulating warm air throughout the camper trailer tent (and second bedroom if it is attached).
Diesel Air Heater: Hi power and long lasting
If you want the toastiest experience, then go for the 2kW Diesel Air heater. This is also the size of a box of tissues and takes the diesel fuel directly then exhausts it outside the camper trailer through a metal exhaust system. It has a hi speed fan and really moves the air around. In the Kimberley Kruiser, we duct this in with thermstat controls, but in the Kamper we fit a hand held remote control where you “dial up” the required output power and fan speed.
The author has camped with one of these in a Kimberley kamper in the Rockies (USA) with a dusting of snow on the tropical roof and the awning. The heater heated up the inside the Kamper and the complete annex. It was T-Shirt conditions!
These heaters use a little more fuel and if you run them for hours to heat the annex as well. The diesel tank may require filling once a week. It still only costs less than $6 to fill. That is very economical for complete heating compared to gas.
The utimate heater: a folding wood heater fireplace with chimmney inside the annex
We have shipped several of these to the USA.The wood burning fireplace is a compact metal folding unit with a long chimney. We sew a special gasket material into the annex awning roof. This appears to be “rubber” but it is a special heat proof material that forms a seal around the chimmney. These are typically 200mm to 250mm diameter. The portable fireplace is assembled and the chimney placed through the roof.
The canvas used in these units is a special flame proof canvas that is not available normally in Australia. We have to get 5,000m of it made at a time and certified. It is slightly heavier and a little stiffer as it is impregnated with flame retardant material.
If you light a corner of the canvas, the flame just goes out!
Now this is just as well, as sparks and embers from the portable fire would be flying up that chimney and most likely come down on the tropical roof or the Awning roof. This flame proof canvas is nearly double the cost but in the USA they camp in the snow and go fishing at the beginning of the spring when it is still very cold. They camp in the one location for a week at a time so the setup time is worth it!
The Photo below is a 2007 Model Kimberley Kamper – for the eagle eye, notice the kitchen is reversed in this model!