© Tom Sandner

Deluxe camping in any weather

Driving off with the camper on the spur of the moment to watch the sunset in no-man’s-land and enjoy the sound of silence — no problem with a clev­erly designed air condi­tioner and a small, light­weight heater.


Tom Sandner has been fasci­nated for a long time by the idea of also using his car as a house on wheels. At 18, just out of school, he converted his first VW bus into a camper and drove to Italy with three friends. “There’s simply nothing better than tossing some clothes and a bike or skis into the car and driving off,” says Sandner, who is now 35. “I like being outdoors a lot and being able to decide where to go next on a whim.”

Now Sandner drives a Bresler van on a Fiat Ducato chassis and allows himself more comfort, such as a perma­nently installed high roof and a heating system with hot-water boiler. They make the vehicle capable of jour­neys in any weather and during all seasons. Last winter, Sandner drove to Spain and Portugal for four weeks. “In the Sierra Nevada at 2,300 meters, it can easily cool off to minus five degrees at night. Then it’s impor­tant for the heater to work reli­ably.”

At 2,300 meters in the Sierra Nevada it is crucial that the heating works. (Photo: Tom Sandner)

Sandner can count on that since the heater is from his employer, Truma Gerätetechnik GmbH & Co. KG in Putzbrunn near Munich. A family busi­ness founded in 1949, Truma is the market leader in liquid gas heaters for recre­ational vehi­cles. Its customers include Hymer, Deth­leffs and Fendt — nearly all Euro­pean motor home and camper manu­fac­turers. The Truma Group is also active inter­na­tion­ally, in Europe, China, the United ­States, Australia and else­where.

Small, light­weight and quiet

Truma’s compact Combi heater heats both air and water. (Photo: Truma)

Truma Combi heaters warm up living areas and heat ten liters of water in a tank. One compo­nent, the inte­grated blower for combus­tion air, was specially devel­oped by ebm-papst to meet the heater’s require­ments. “Small, light­weight and quiet were the require­ments,” says Bern­hard Schloderer, who works in inter­na­tional strategic purchasing. Small because there is not much space in a house on wheels. Light­weight because the permis­sible maximum weight of vehi­cles is regu­lated, and a high base weight auto­mat­i­cally means less luggage is allowed. Quiet because the unit is often installed under a bed and should not disturb the occu­pants. The result is a compact heater that is barely audible and smoothly adjustable as well.

Another require­ment is reli­a­bility at extreme temper­a­tures. “The unit has to work safely from minus 30 to plus 70 degrees Celsius,” says ­Schlo­derer. “The blower from ebm-papst is like the Mercedes of its market, excep­tion­ally long-lasting and reli­able. That’s impor­tant to us. No customer would forgive us if he was in the moun­tains in subfreezing temper­a­tures and the heater failed.”

Hot and cold solu­tions

The storage compart­ment air condi­tioner weighs only 23.5 kilo­grams and can heat and cool thanks to a reversible refrig­er­a­tion circuit. (Photo | Truma)

What is true of cold is also a must for heat: a pleasant climate inside the vehicle even in the summer sun. In addi­tion to the heater, which Truma is devel­oping in coop­er­a­tion with ebm-papst Lands­hut, ebm-papst Mulfingen has been deliv­ering centrifugal fans for air condi­tioners to Putzbrunn for 13 years. Truma then installs them in roof-mounted or storage compart­ment air condi­tioning systems. Light­ness is crucial for these units as well. ­Schloderer describes working with ebm-papst as comple­men­tary coop­er­a­tion: “We find solu­tions together. One can’t do without the other.”

Truma has added a special new gadget to its range, an app to control heaters and air condi­tioners. A freezing or over­heated camper is a poor welcome after a day spent on the slopes or the beach. Not a problem, because the temper­a­ture can even be controlled from outside. No wonder the trend toward living in a small space, so-called tiny living, is becoming increas­ingly popular if it means not having to forgo comfort.

Some of Tom Sandner’s coworkers do not have campers of their own, but they can still expe­ri­ence some of their company’s prod­ucts at work. Truma makes a pool of ten vehi­cles avail­able to its employees, who can borrow them for excur­sions and vaca­tions. Then the valu­able expe­ri­ences gained from trav­eling end up right where new ideas for improve­ment get devel­oped.

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