Genuine Vs Copy, Diesel Heaters


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Genuine Vs Copy

A paradigm shift is taking place in the "mobile" diesel heating market. The once superior German and Finnish designed diesel heaters are now being copied in vast numbers by China and Russia. These copies are being marketed as "similar in performance at a fraction of the cost". Is this actually true? Or just another scam to fool you into wasting your hard-earned cash? Let's take a closer look.

Firstly, let's understand more about "genuine vs copy". Eberspacher, Webasto and Wallas first started developing compact and efficient diesel heaters for the automotive and marine markets in the 1960's and 1970's. These proprietary technologies were patented to ensure design and sales protection. Patents generally last for 15-20 years. This allows a manufacturer to have exclusive rights to technology and have a market monopoly over that period. These original Eberspacher, Webasto and Wallas patents have now expired. It is important to note Eberspacher, Webasto and Wallas don't have new patented diesel technologies and that all current diesel heating copies share the same current technology.

Manufacturers from China and Russia have now legally entered the market using previously patented technology. They come at a fraction of the cost but can have similar, or inferior, quality and performance. An Eberspacher or Webasto copy is not necessarily of lesser quality than the original product.

The truth about cheap Chinese heaters

Both China and Russia have heavily copied Eberspacher and Webasto in recent years offering both lower prices and mixed quality. Determining which manufacturer offers the best quality and price is almost impossible without manufacturer knowledge. It is just not possible for consumers to easily find out the manufacturer’s product reliability history, assembly processes, materials and components used, engineering, quality control and compliance.

Consumers are currently buying blind. Amazon, Ebay and Ali-Express are selling hundreds of copy heaters each day at impossibly low prices. These products are sold by third party individuals without any warranties, support or even spare parts. The truth is that these products are not of a similar quality or performance to a European heater, and inevitably lead to a lottery purchase and often disappointment.

In 2018 Heatspace spent a year evaluating a number of sub-NZD$300 diesel heaters made in China and sold online. It is clear after testing why these heaters are so cheap. They are both dangerous and disposable. Key differences are:

1. Safety:
  • No thermal protection. If the air intake becomes blocked, the heater doesn't automatically shut down
  • Flammable materials. The outer case is made from flammable plastics and not standard V0 self-extinguishing plastics

2. Reliability:
  • Blower motors giving less than 2000 hours operation. Quality motors provide 5000-20,000 hours operation
  • Fuel pumps giving less than 50,000 cycles of use. Quality pumps provide 100,000-2,000,000 cycles of use
  • Glow plug failure 6-12 months. Quality glow plugs should give 5-10 years use

3. Performance and Maintenance:
  • Less heat. Exit air 100-110°C. Quality heaters have exit air 150+°C
  • Extremely noisy. Lower quality bearings and components are noisier
  • Premature carbon build-up leading to units failing after less than 1000 hours use. Quality units require servicing every 2000-5000 hours use

The most alarming find was that the cheaper units are tuned to run "rich". This means un-burnt diesel turning into carbon deposits and a blocked heater after only a few months use.

Note. Heatspace tested 20 low cost diesel air heaters manufactured in China over 12 months. Heaters were life tested.

It was clear that consumers were not getting a fair deal and Heatspace had to find a product that would offer acceptable performance and quality at a similar low price

Heatspace now working with Germany and China!

When I started Heatspace, I travelled to Shenzhen in 2014 to review Chinese diesel heaters. At the time I decided not to supply these products having no confidence in their reliability and seeing overall poor quality control and performance. Times have changed and now there is the option to buy quality Chinese diesel heating at a fraction of the cost.

In 2018 I started testing Chinese diesel heaters. Over the course of a year we contacted over 25 of the top manufacturers in China, testing lowest to highest priced heaters. In December 2018 we went to one of the largest automotive trade shows in China to see the very best in Chinese diesel heating. We then went on to visit 3 of the largest manufacturers in China to review their factories, engineering teams and trial their latest products and technology. Chinese heating has come a long way in 4 years.

Heatspace made a second trip to China in early 2019 to finalize suppliers. We can now proudly say with are in partnership with the best manufacturer in China. Buying direct from the manufacturer means the best possible quality at the lowest possible price! These are exceptional heaters backed by manufacturer warranty and parts from New Zealand. For more information see NEW PRODUCTS

Heatspace's latest heaters from China are Eberspacher copies. We choose Eberspacher over Webasto copies for several reasons which include; better efficiency, reliability, and ease of service and installation. Most parts are also interchangeable meaning you now have the options to use Chinese service parts in your Eberspacher unit at a fraction of the cost.

Why are copy heaters so cheap?

Eberspacher and Webasto own the "mobile" diesel heating market. Eberspacher revenue was €4.481 Billion in 2017 (with 9489 employees), Webasto revenue was €3.5 Billion in 2017 (with 13,000 employees).

Eberspacher and Webasto didn't get big by playing fair. See European Commission CASE AT.40055 17/06/2015. Eberspacher and Webasto were found guilty of price and supply fixing for 10 years from 13th Sept 2001 to 15 Sept 2011. Both companies were fined in total €68 million.

Both Eberspacher and Webasto have traditionally been at the high end of the market, in part because of no direct competition, and because both companies fixed market pricing. The cost and development involved in manufacturing of this nature requires significant investment in exclusive ownership of design and engineering, parts and production, tooling, manufacturing and assembly, distribution, service networks and marketing. These costs are inescapable with the Eberspacher and Webasto sales model and are passed on through product costs.

China is now emerging as the new Japan. Unlike Germany with one manufacturer accountable for the costs of exclusivity, China has collectively shared the costs. Single manufacturers producing millions of components and selling to multiple companies has led to similar quality at vastly lower costs. Of course, there are still good and bad manufacturers, but China is finally being driven by quality manufacturing. It is simply impossible for European manufacturers to compete with China using the existing German manufacturing model. This is great news for consumers who now have more options.

The old China (like many other parts of Asia) relied on cheap labour, poor working conditions and inferior products to survive in the global market place. Times have changed, and China's growing middle class, high wages and superior working conditions now align to those of Europe. It is important to note that Heatspace products sourced from China are from manufacturers who share our belief in higher than average wages and best possible working conditions.

Are Genuine Eberspacher, Wallas and Webasto heaters better than copies?

1. Quality
Eberspacher and Webasto make 100,000s of heaters a year on state-of-the-art robotic production lines ensuring accurate component placement and assembly. This safeguards maximum reliability and guaranteed life of product performance and continuity. Chinese products tend to be made by hand, which is not necessarily a bad thing as long as quality control is maintained.

2. Performance and Maintenance
Heatspace Chinese heaters are similar in performance and maintenance requirements to German heaters. Both the latest Heatspace Chinese heaters and German heaters now come with diagnostics for simple fault finding.

3. Safety
Eberspacher and Webasto heaters comply with the current 2001-56 EC directive relating to heating systems for motor vehicles and their trailers. This means they comply with the current and highest European safety standards, both for general use, and for use while asleep. Heatspace Chinese heaters meet the current NZ safety standards.

Eberspacher and Webasto quality comes at a cost. For most our customers the NEW PRODUCTS will more than meet their requirements while offering incredible value for money.


Full Member
Very interesting. My son worked for Snap-on in their garage equipment section, and he also told me that all their heavy lift gear and rolling roads were built in China with American quality control officers in factory. When you think that the mass of engineering companies around the world are now using Lathes,Milling and drilling equipment produced in China, so you can say produced in Britain,Germany or America but produced on Chinese machines. Phil


Full Member
Some of my machine tools are an American brand made in china. They are supposed to be inspected in the US or Germany. I think it would help if they employed sighted people!


Full Member
interesting seems they cost 5 times the price for a "quality" Chinese heater rather than a economy version and then double that for a German quality ?


Full Member
The Parsun outboards I sell from china are owned by an American co that also have PPG paints under their wing, parsun are now the second biggest maker of water pumps and gennys in the world, China is the new Japan.


Full Member
There is a world of difference between a Factory that is in China and making a product they understand under license and with QC, and a Chinese Factory taking an established product and just copying it without actually fully understanding it, with their objective being just pumping out something that looks like the real thing.


Free Member
At the beginning you are limping in the Russian units simply as copies. Planar/ Autoterm to be significantly established in their own right.


Full Member
I'm at that age where I find it hard to tolerate things not working as they should. The one thing that really frustrates me is my body and mind failing!

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