Van Life Tech Hydronic Heating Systems
Luxury through technology.
Our proprietary design provides ‘whole house heating’ through a fully integrated Two Stage Hydronic System (Stage I – Radiant floor, Stage II – Fan coil unit(s)). The System is managed by our in-house designed and programmed “Van Life Tech Integration Controller”.
The user interface is a WiFi enabled touchscreen which extends control of the System to your Android or iOS device if desired. You may set the indoor air temperature either when occupied, via 7-day schedule or remotely via WiFi. The System also provides tankless, on-demand generation of Domestic (potable) Hot Water (DHW) which is limited only by the size of your freshwater tank. The System utilizes time tested, industry proven commercial vehicle coolant heaters (boiler) which in turn use the vehicle’s primary fuel source (diesel or gasoline). Fuel consumption is 0.07 to 0.16 gallons per hour in heating conditions or ~1/2 gal in a 24 hour period (primarily dictated by how well you have insulated). Balance of System mechanicals have been carefully engineered or selected to minimize the electrical demand of the system – which as of this writing has been reduced to ~30-70 Watts of DC power (including the boiler itself).
Indoor, outdoor and embedded floor sensors allow full control of floor minimum and maximum temperatures as well as indoor air temperature set-points with outdoor air temperature feedback.
Basic System Operation
The System can provide between ~23,000-60,000BTUs for space and domestic water heating, more than double the typical “D2 Air Heater” (~7200 BTU) installed in Vans. The Installer will set the floor minimum and maximum temperatures to be compatible with the flooring, let’s say 65F and 90F degrees, respectively. The end-user will set a heating target indoor air temperature – let’s say 70F degrees. The Controller will fire the boiler and use the Hydronic Radiant Floor (Stage I) to maintain both the 65 degree floor Minimum temperature and 70 degree Air temperature set-points without exceeding the floor Maximum temperature set-point of 90 degrees. If the actual air temperature is more than 2 degrees away from the air set-point temperature for more than 10 minutes, the Controller will automatically enable the Hydronic Fan Coil(s) (Stage II) to rapidly bring the air temperature to the set-point.
Domestic Hot Water (DHW) generation is via a heat exchanger that allows for heat transfer from the System working fluid (a non-toxic, food grade propylene glycol solution) and potable water.
Hydronic means the system uses a liquid based heat transfer solution to provide space and potable water heating. Much like your automobile provides heating by circulating the ‘coolant/antifreeze’ in your engines cooling system through your heater core (fan coil) to heat your cars interior. Note that your Automotive antifreeze is toxic, ethylene glycol. The VLT Hydronic heat system uses a non-toxic propylene glycol mix and maintains complete separation of the automotive coolant and our system working fluid.
No and no. The system provides two stage (floor & air) space heating with full control of floor temperature and air temperature as well as unlimited domestic hot water generation from the vehicles fuel source (gasoline or diesel).
The electrical demand of the system (controls, pumps, fan-coil, etc.) is a minimal and intermittent load of approximately 30-70 Watts DC; No Inverter is needed.
Fuel consumption is typically between 0.07 and 0.16 gallons/hour in heating demand conditions. With our System & Controller that equates to a 40-50% duty cycle or 10-12 hours in a 24 hour period or ~1/2 gallon of fuel / 24 hours in freezing conditions.
Yes. Yes. Depending upon your needs. The boiler is diesel fired on Sprinter’s and gasoline fired on ProMasters/Transits.
The 1st Stage Hydronic Radiant Floor Heat averages ~8000BTU’s. The 2nd Stage Hydronic Fan Coil provides ~17kBTUs of air heat (In total: ~2.5x more than a typical ‘air heater’ system).
Electric “tile warming” mats don’t give you true space heating – only floor warming. Our system is a diesel or petrol fired whole house hydronic heating system – not an electric tile warming system. Electric mats typically require ~7-13 Watts/Square-Foot to operate and have relatively huge 115Volt AC electrical demands (10-15 Amps). These demands almost always require running a DC-AC Inverter and need very large battery systems. Our system leverages the heat value of diesel or petrol for the heating BTU’s and our electrical demand (controls, pumps, fan-coil, etc.) have been designed to need minimal and intermittent 30 Watts DC Power. No Inverter is needed.
Yes. Integrated On-Demand Domestic (potable) Hot Water (DHW) generation is standard.
No. The kit is designed to be the entire sub-floor (see below).
The radiant floor heating system is an entire floor system (not just the walkable/living area). As such it needs to go in “first” in the build. If your build is already complete, we may have to work together in the future or you could consider installing our Single Stage Hydronic System (The “Siesta System” is essentially the same system without the radiant floor portion).
The floor kit itself is designed to screw to a plywood subfloor. The included floor insulation and subfloor templating kit double as a template to cut a subfloor from 1/2” plywood (the only item not included in the kit). Upon kit installation completion, the tubing in the floor will be ‘mapped’. We recommend completing the rest of your build while you can see the tubing location before final flooring installation – so as to be able to avoid the tubing in the floor.
Yes. The system is fully automated and WiFi enabled. If you have a mobile Internet connection you may connect to and remotely control / monitor the system.
In short, No. We have ~20 years of residential/commercial heating/cooling experience and more than 5 years of R&D into our current system. We have worked our way through 5 pump manufacturers, 3 heater manufacturers, 3 fan-coil manufacturers, etc., etc.. We are pleased to bring to market a fully functional, fully tested, fully integrated System that we know works!
As we cannot control DIY installs, System components in these installs carry their respective manufacturers warranties – typically 1 year. If your System is installed by us or a trained affiliate installer we offer a standard 2 year warranty. Extended warranties are available for purchase.
Professional Installation: We have been working to establish a network of Affiliated Upfitters who are certified installers. Reach out to us with your location, van type and preferred installation time frame and we can help connect you with an installer.
We’re DIYers ourselves and we appreciate wanting to do-it-yourself. To help us serve our customers who are qualified for DIY we are now offering an Official DIY Package – this package includes the complete System & Kit, all specialty tools and online installation support.