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Old 16-05-2020, 23:45   #1
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Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

I'm not going to be beaten and would appreciate any help I can get from the experts. Winter is coming! I already tried fixing mine back here: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ue-224122.html but in the end I bought a new one and have now installed it and it won't work either I really want to get this working as winter is coming and we're not allowed to move...

Problem: It won't light! just blows white smoke (unburned fuel).

So far I have tried new diesel, straight from a jerry can. So it's not that.

Checked voltage drop by running wires direct from the battery and made sure the engine is running (14+ volts). Then I monitored the voltage at the glow plug. Regardless of the source voltage, it starts around 8.3V then rises up to 9.5V. It is exactly the same whether the engine is running or not, which makes me think it is on purpose.

I've removed and tested the glow plug with 12 volts and it glows bright red hot.

I've put an ammeter in line and it runs at 8 amps when trying to start.

I've looked into the screen where the glow plug goes and it is shiny clean.

I've blown through the fuel line into the body (clear) and the exhaust (clear).

Can anyone suggest any other tests, tricks to find out why the fuel is not igniting?
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Old 17-05-2020, 12:18   #2
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Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

My guess would be low voltage. 8-9v seems low. What does the manual states it should be? Since you have a new unit it shouldn’t be clogged or broken the only thing I would suspect is the wires and connections to the unit since you most probably used the old ones?

I can also be Air in the fuel hose.
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Old 17-05-2020, 12:44   #3
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Mine did that when the wind blew into the exhaust the put out the flame. I have it installed I a pelican type case and portable.

We were at a marina when this happened, and the staff came over and said I can’t grill on the docks. The white smoke was BAD.

To clear it out, disconnect the fuel pump (or clamp off the line) and start it. Keep doing this until no smoke comes out. Might take a few times. Then start as normal. It’s flooded and the flame will not start because of that.

Edit: your voltage seems low. Check wiring and connectors and / or wire diameter. Minimize the crap wire that they come with. It’s way undersized. Also, some are programmable for the start up glow plug voltage - maybe increase it?
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Old 17-05-2020, 13:22   #4
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

All I can add is that a friend installed a Chinese knockoff diesel heater last year, and it worked quite well, and took the chill out of some cruising we did together last May.
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Old 17-05-2020, 13:57   #5
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Our knockoff came with a warning that it defaults to 24V and that it wouldn’t run on 12V unless you changed the setting. Maybe this accounts for low voltage at the glow plug - it is being stepped down? Ours had an electronic control panel and you could enter a setting, not sure on the manual ones.
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Old 17-05-2020, 16:40   #6
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Hi guys, thanks for your help

I agree, it seems to be that the glow plug is not hot enough, but it is not voltage drop on the supply side. I've replaced and shortened the wires and tested with the engine running with 14.4volts measured at the machine during startup. It is in 12volt mode not 24v.

I just wish I knew what the voltage at glow plug should be (it ranges from 8.3 to 9.4V, also what normal amp usage should be (runs about 8 amps at startup.) Anyone know?
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Old 18-05-2020, 09:22   #7
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

I suugest you request to join the Facebook group called Chinese Diesel Vehicle Air Heaters - Troubleshooting. Huge knowledge base there. Ive installed 3 of them sofar and buggest issue was low voltage when glow plug energized.
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Old 18-05-2020, 09:24   #8
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

i wonder, is the glow plug hot enough?
can you measure it with an IR thermometer ?
What's the ignition temperature of diesel?
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Old 18-05-2020, 09:35   #9
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Sounds like a lack of fuel problem, an air lock in the fuel line. Ensure the fuel line runs up at an angle with no high loops btwn the pump and the heater itself. The lack of fuel prevents it from staying ignited. Other possible cause is a faulty fuel pump or clogged inlet filter in the fuel pump. Had identical problem with "no start" & "white smoke" and traced it back to fuel pump.
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Old 18-05-2020, 12:13   #10
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Sounds like a wireing problem. 8-9 volts seems to be low.

Have you tried to run some nice fat jumpercables/ tested you device in such a way you have proper voltage at start up?

Can be you have some damage or high resistance connectors in your wiring, reducing your voltage under high load. Besides you heater not working its a fire risk. But explains why you measure 12v under no load.
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Old 18-05-2020, 12:41   #11
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

When the glow plug lights, if it draws a lot of amps, voltage will go down over the connectors to the plug. This is normal. Next time buy a German unit. Costs more, but gee is it nice to be warm when it's cold outside. We were just now out in 8°C and 30 knots of wind for a couple of days and it was fantastic.
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Old 18-05-2020, 13:59   #12
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Just throwing this out there just in case... My Chinese heater takes I guess, close to 10 minutes, before really firing up. Did you wait long enough?
1st time firing mine up I thought it didn't work after waiting what I thought was long enough. Just saw white smoke.
I've been very happy with my unit.
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Old 18-05-2020, 15:16   #13
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Thanks all! I won't beaten (I hope). I have joined that very Facebook group overnight, finally found a use for Facebook haha.

I have learnt from the group that 8-9 volts is the correct voltage for the glow plug. 12 volts burns them out but you can test quickly at that voltage, which I have done. I have also learnt from this guy who's done 12 videos on the heaters, that I had the wrong soft fuel hose which makes the fuel dribble out too slowly.

I'm going to remove the little screen around the glow plug and clean in there now which can cause my problem.

I'll fix this if we have to buy a new boat!
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Old 19-05-2020, 03:45   #14
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Wire size and voltage drop!

These heaters (ours is an Espar - 100% reliable) draw heavy current to the igniter when starting. The switch at our fuse panel is rated at only 10 amps DC - this is common for true DC rated switches; many switches one sees in boats are AC rated and will fail early from burned contacts. The heater needs 25 Amps when starting.

Solution: You need a 40 Amp 12 Volt relay to handle the switching and #10 wire in the heater circuit. If you don't understand this recommendation, you need to hire a qualified marine electrician who does before you burn your boat up.
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Old 19-05-2020, 17:10   #15
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Re: Chinese Diesel Heater Challenge!

Hi Boatright, I've believe I've ruled out voltage drop by measuring the voltage at the unit and at the actual glow plug, right through the startup stages. With the engine on, voltage at the unit is 14.4V and the glow plug 8.3V ramping to 9.4V, which is apparently the correct voltage for these units. Still no start. Tomorrow I'll pull the atomising screen and check it's air inlet for blockage.
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