Intelligent Control For That Cheap Diesel Heater

If you own a caravan or a boat, you’ll know that keeping it warm can present something of a struggle. Open-flame gas heaters carry a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, while solid fuel stoves are heavy and require safe flues. The prospect of a diesel heater then is enticing, bringing as they use a safer fuel and allow for easy external exhaust. Unfortunately they’ve been something of an expensive option, but the arrival of cheap imported heaters in recent years has made them an attractive choice. [Ray Jones] has improved upon their sometimes basic control electronics with the Afterburner, an intelligent controller that packs both ESP32 and HC-05 modules to both enhance the feature set and the connectivity of the devices.

The full list of capabilities is somewhat exhaustive but has a few stand-outs such as the ability to connect 1-wire temperature sensors to the system. It’s not compatible with all the heaters on the market, but there is a comprehensive guide to those models with which it can work. Meanwhile, all the code and other resources are available on GitLab should you wish to try it for yourself.

Diesel is something of a dirty word in 2019, but maybe biodiesel will save devices like this one.

Thanks [Bob] for the tip!

19 thoughts on “Intelligent Control For That Cheap Diesel Heater

  1. Really awesome project, professionally done with great documentation. The likes of Espar, and Toyo could also benefit from this. I’ve designed diesel heaters into off-grid telecom sites and can tell you that your controls are miles ahead of what these companies do natively.

  2. Diesel far cheaper than kerosene around here. This should work well with either. Have a few bullet heaters been aching for mod like this. Primitive stock controllers.
    ThaNks.
    American- not a city dwelling oblivious derogatory nominative.

  3. I am not sure why one would really want or need one of these controllers but this is the first time I have looked at the heaters and they seem pretty cool.

    They do use flames though, they are on he other side of a heat exchanger. I use vent free propane heaters in most of my shop buildings and my friends are always droning on and on about CO2. The thing they do not understand is when you use a vent free heater, the situation is as bad as it is going to get as far as depleting room oxygen and the vent free heaters have very near foolproof systems to turn them off if the room oxygen falls below a safe level. The same can not be said about heaters with heat exchangers, and heat exchangers do crack. In fact in hot air furnaces it is a pretty common failure, especially when morons try and save on the heating bills by restricting heating vents in some rooms.

    Anyway these heaters seem pretty neat. Thank for tipping me off about them.

    1. I’ll bite.
      Vent free? As in no outside air and no chimney?
      And you think that’s safer ?

      Your friends are droning on about CO not CO2

      And why you’d want one of these controllers are for some of the reasons you’re discounting heat exchangers which BTW are far superior to the rather backward HVAC forced air systems and instant water heaters ‘merica tend to use.
      Finally you guys are catching the rest of the world, but your super low priced utilities (natural gas for example) is why you dont feel a need to change. Generally you just waste energy because it’s cheap and screw the concequences.

  4. Article: “It’s not compatible with all the heaters on the market, but there is a comprehensive guide to those models with which it can work.”

    Nice… NOT
    Deleted my comment about how the alleged comprehensive compatibility list at
    https://gitlab.com/mrjones.id.au/bluetoothheater/wikis/home#compatibility
    doesn’t list any heater models or manufacturers, but “If your heater uses one of the following style controllers, this design will be compatible”.

    So you delete my comment instead of pointing out where there’s a list of heater models or manufacturers?
    That’s not helpful but is underhanded.

    Is such a list hidden away somewhere?

    1. I’m the designer of the Afterburner, but I certainly did not delete any comment?

      I do not have alist of manufacturers, because WHO ARE THEY? is the immediate question that does spring to my mind. They are “no name” heaters, but do you the photographed controllers.

      The wiki is correct and true showing what is and is not compatible, but no doubt there are many more that are not compatible.

  5. This is awesome.
    You’d blow-up if you offered compatibility for Espar / Webasto… I’m dreading buying a 7-day timer right now; perpetuating and rewarding Espar for living in the 80’s.

  6. TO those who denigrate the OBVIOUS genius of MR. Jones, get a life. He has designed a product to fill a need that is a must have for anyone who has a compatible heater. I have an 8kw unit in a 28 foot trailer and it burns us out. The primitive “slow the pump (and hence the fuel flow) to reduce the temperature plan” is BOLIX! The 8KW heater is a marvelous 27,300 BTU/hr heater which would heat a small house or turn our trailer into a Sauna (precombustion that is) even at the lowest setting. This is the most exactly targeted and desperately needed addition to the heater since diesel tank was filled
    Mr. Jones did not open a forum claiming to know everything about Chinese Diesel Heaters or who makes them. Just give it a shot if you think that tree is worth barking up! He created what to my eye is a masterpiece and I HOPE he will sell me one or get me the Gerbers so I can hack one out.
    A few issues raised in above comments:
    1) Of course they require venting, there is an EXTERNAL exhaust (HAS TO BE OUTSIDE THE AIRSPACE) and a combustion air intake (should be outside the airspace).
    2) You have a choice to entrain either room air for heating or outside air. The former recirculates and drastically improves efficiency while the latter will provide fresh, heated air, albeit a bit cooler, If you go the external air route it is IMPERATIVE that you draw heating air from well away from your intake or you will die.
    3)Get a CO detector, nuff said.
    4) At its core this is an extremely well engineered and multiply connected thermostat that starts and stops the heater as well as adjusts the pump speed. The latter is the only way for the OEM device to be regulated besides finger-to-off-button.
    5)When the likes of we normal humans address someone who lives where the air is as thin as it is where Mr.Jones lives it should be in a posture of humility and DEEP respect. He has shared a level of genius that is seldom opened outside the confines of a corporate EE lab and then locked away in a sealed box with no access. Give him the respect his genius deserves.
    Mr. Jones, YOU ROCK!!!

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