Initial Set Up Of A Diesel Heater

Diesel Heater Set Up

When you open the box containing your new diesel heater, you’ll find quite a few parts. In this guide, I explain what the parts are and where they go. 

In this setup guide, I use a Hcalory All In One diesel heater. This may not be the same diesel heater you have. However, all the cheap Chinese all-in-one diesel heaters have the same design, and apart from a few subtle differences, the setup will be the same.

Step 1 – Identify Components

The image below shows common components that come with a diesel heater and what they’re called

Diesel Heater Components
Common components that come with a diesel heater

Step 2 – Identify Air Intake and Exhaust Holes

Flip your Diesel heater upside down, where you’ll find two holes and some plastic tubing.

The plastic tubing is the diesel fuel pipe, and the hole next to it is the air intake. 

The other hole, furthest away from the fuel pipe, is the exhaust.

Diesel heater air intake and exhaust

Step 3 – Connect Air Intake

Before attaching the air intake, it is worth finding some bricks or something of a similar size that you can stand the diesel heater on once the air intake and exhaust are attached. The diesel heater legs do not give enough height.

First, connect the air intake pipe to the air filter. Use the supplied jubilee clip (the adjustable metal ring) to secure the two parts together. Next, connect the other end of the air intake tube to the diesel heater air intake hole using a jubilee clip.

Step 4 – Connect Exhaust Pipe

Connect the exhaust pipe to the silencer and connect the other end of the exhaust pipe to the exhaust outlet hole of the diesel heater. Secure in place using the jubilee clips.

The exhaust pipe gets extremely hot, so it should not be near the fuel pipe or the air intake pipe.

Exhaust air intake attached to diesel heater

Step 5 – Electrics

Most cheap Chinese diesel heaters are powered using the cigarette lighter in a car or van, requiring 12V and about 10 amps of power.

My Hcalory diesel heater didn’t have the car cigarette lighter plug, it only had wires, so I ended up having to buy a plug.

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As I use my diesel to heat a garden log cabin, I also had to buy a mains power adapter with a car cigarette socket.

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The amount of electricity that a diesel heater requires will vary between the different heater models and usage. As a rough guide my Hcalory uses most electricity when it first starts up, requiring around 10 amps. The power consumption then drops right down to about 1 amp. 

Step 6 – Fuel

Buying Diesel For A Diesel Heater

The diesel heater takes normal diesel found at any filling station.

I recommend getting at least a 10-litre fuel can. I initially used a 5-litre fuel can, but, due to the high pressure that diesel comes out of the pump it was very hard to fill it up without spilling diesel.

Most filling stations require a minimum order of 5 litres of fuel.

Filling Up The Fuel Tank

When I first poured diesel into the fuel tank I only put in a small amount and the diesel heater wouldn’t work. I discovered that the fuel pipe out of the tank isn’t located at the bottom, it is raised. The amount of fuel I had poured in was below the fuel pipe, so no fuel was getting to the heater

Step 7 – First Time Turning The Diesel Heater On

The instructions that came with My Hcalory diesel heater were very poor. I had to spend quite some time trying to figure out how the controls for the heater worked.

If the instructions supplied with your diesel heater are poor, then here are some general pointers to get you going.

  1. Error Codes – The first few times I turned on my diesel heater it wouldn’t work, I kept getting two errors E01 and E03. I could see that the diesel wasn’t getting to the heater. The problem sorted itself out on the fourth time it started. I think the fuel pump has very little power and it just required a few times to pull the fuel from the tank to the heater.

    It is possible that the error codes were related to the fact I hadn’t initially filled the fuel tank with enough diesel

  2. Delay – When I turn on or off or change a setting on the diesel control panel there is usually a delay before the change happens. 

  3. Ticking – The ticking sound that diesel heaters make is the fuel pump. The tick is a good indicator that the heater has turned. The pump will tick faster or slower according to the amount of heat being generated.

    The ticking will happen all the time the diesel heater is running. It is one of the negatives of diesel heaters. 

  4. Hot Exhaust – Shortly after the heater has been turned on the exhaust pipe will get very hot. Make sure it’s not near anything that can be damaged or cause a fire.

  5. Smell – When I first ran my diesel heater there were some burning smells. They faded after about 10 minutes and have never returned

Diesel Heater Error Codes

Below are error codes that are common to most diesel heaters.


E01 Insufficient Voltage
The power source lacks adequate power.
E02 Excessive Voltage
Voltage exceeds the permitted level. Reduce it to 12 volts.
E03 Glow Plug Issue
Examine the leads and replace them if needed. This may be due to low voltage.
E04 Fuel Pump Disconnection
Inspect the fuel pump lead and ensure the connector is securely in place. Low voltage could be a cause.
E05 Overheating
Ensure there are no obstructions at the rear air intake of the heater and that the fan is unimpeded. Confirm that the heat vent is unblocked and the heating duct isn’t compressed, obstructing airflow.
E06 Fan Motor Malfunction
Typically caused by low voltage.
E07 Controller-Heater Communication Failure
Check the lead and connection plug for any issues. Low voltage might be a factor.

Low Fuel or Air in Fuel Lines
Refuel and verify the fuel filter is full if applicable. Low voltage could be a contributing factor.

E10 Recurring Error Codes
One or more of the above errors persist despite multiple restart attempts.

Note: The error codes, in my experience, are not always accurate

Conclusion: Setting Up A Diesel Heater

Setting up a diesel heater is a fairly straightforward process. The All In One diesel heaters, where the fuel tank and heater are as one unit are slightly easier to get going compared to the diesel heaters that have the heater and fuel tank separate.

I found the hardest part of setting up a diesel heater was understanding the controls. Which were difficult to figure out, especially as the instructions were next to useless.


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