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Do you use an Engine Block Heater?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm curious - I just installed mine yesterday.

1. type / location if freeze plug
2. size/wattage
3. Brand
4. How long do you run it before you start your car?
5. Performance - how do you like it?

I'll go first:
1. Lower radiator hose - closer than it should be to the water pump; I had to sacrifice making a good connection of hoses due to my error.
2. 1.25" / 375W
3. Zerostart
4. I ran it for about 75 minutes before leaving this morning.
5. Not impressed; don't think it was able to convect past the water pump. I noticed some spikes on my temp gauge in the first minute of driving, but the needle went back down to the bottom and it took the usual amount of time to warm up to ~190F
 

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racethisescort89 said:
they like to catch fire
I have never heard of that happening, and I installed a lot of those types on pickups. Though IMO they are really not as good as a freeze plug heater, you can get the type of inline heaters that circulate the fluid too. Depending on how cold it is, 75 minutes wont do much for you with one of those. They put a lot less heat into the engine because much of the heat they put in is lost in the lines and radiator. That is why I say the type that go into freeze plugs are much more reliable. Everything outside the block of your engine is designed to shed heat.

But those inline heaters are ok, especially in applications like diesel, since you can circulate warm antifreeze through the fuel tank heater.
 

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I have freeze plug style block heater on my winter beater Cavalier. It came on it and I use it because I have only a 8 minute ride to work. Just long enough to freeze the whole way. That and the car has 290,000 on it now and I run 10/40 in it. In the cold, it turns over easier and have yet to have issue. Fire hazards are probably from bad wires/plug, not the block heater itself.
 

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I bought an OEM Ford Escort engine heater p/n F1CZ-6D008-B on eBay. Since the car stays outside, this warms it up faster for a more comfortable ride to work and better winter fuel mileage. I thermostatically control the power to the heater so it doesn't stay on all the time - only when it drops below 20F. This setup worked out well with my diesel Mercedes. It came with one from the factory.

I don't have the specs on the heater. It mounts in a casting (freeze) plug hole near the starter
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Escorgo - thanks for the OEM ford p/n. I'm going to check it out.
I originally got the inline lower rad heater because:
1. I thought it would be easier
2. I can transfer it to other cars.

After the awful installation, I know the freeze plug version would have been easier. After trying it out, I also know now that the lower rad hose heater is woefully ineffective on this car. Bummer.

Oh and the heater is more for fuel economy than my comfort. Comfort will be nice though, without a trip outside.
 

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escortrestorer said:
racethisescort89 said:
they like to catch fire
I have never heard of that happening, and I installed a lot of those types on pickups. Though IMO they are really not as good as a freeze plug heater, you can get the type of inline heaters that circulate the fluid too. Depending on how cold it is, 75 minutes wont do much for you with one of those. They put a lot less heat into the engine because much of the heat they put in is lost in the lines and radiator. That is why I say the type that go into freeze plugs are much more reliable. Everything outside the block of your engine is designed to shed heat.

But those inline heaters are ok, especially in applications like diesel, since you can circulate warm antifreeze through the fuel tank heater.
That's not exactly correct. A properly installed inline heater will NOT circulate through the radiator. It should be installed inside the thermostat/block loop and never get it hot enough to go past the thermostat.

I use a 1000W inline one on my Tercel 4WD and it works awesome! I have HOT air the second I start it up after heating on a timer for an hour. With the heater set to warm, it also partially defrosts my windshield before I ever start the car. It doesn't even engage the choke/high idle.

They are more efficient overall, with mine using just 1kWh per day vs. 2-5kWh for lower powered units left on most if not all night because they can't heat quickly enough on a timer.

It is paramount that they are installed correctly however to get proper convection.
 

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Snax said:
escortrestorer said:
racethisescort89 said:
they like to catch fire
I have never heard of that happening, and I installed a lot of those types on pickups. Though IMO they are really not as good as a freeze plug heater, you can get the type of inline heaters that circulate the fluid too. Depending on how cold it is, 75 minutes wont do much for you with one of those. They put a lot less heat into the engine because much of the heat they put in is lost in the lines and radiator. That is why I say the type that go into freeze plugs are much more reliable. Everything outside the block of your engine is designed to shed heat.

But those inline heaters are ok, especially in applications like diesel, since you can circulate warm antifreeze through the fuel tank heater.
That's not exactly correct. A properly installed inline heater will NOT circulate through the radiator. It should be installed inside the thermostat/block loop and never get it hot enough to go past the thermostat.

I use a 1000W inline one on my Tercel 4WD and it works awesome! I have HOT air the second I start it up after heating on a timer for an hour. With the heater set to warm, it also partially defrosts my windshield before I ever start the car. It doesn't even engage the choke/high idle.

They are more efficient overall, with mine using just 1kWh per day vs. 2-5kWh for lower powered units left on most if not all night because they can't heat quickly enough on a timer.

It is paramount that they are installed correctly however to get proper convection.
There are several different types..... on many applications they dont have such a convenient location to put them inline as your Tercel. Especially diesel pickups and semis, which are where I used these the most.

As for efficiency..... I lived in North Dakota up to a year an a half ago, and I still live in south dakota, so we do get a little cold weather here.

In -40 weather (not including windchill), I find running a freezeplug block heater for a couple hours is enough to warm up the car for starting.

I had the timer set to come on at 3:30 am, I left for work every day between 5:30 and 5:40. My car never failed to start, even though it sat out in my driveway. In temperatures above 0, I would usually even have slightly warm air upon starting the vehicle. Though admittedly where I was living at the time, the temperature rarely dropped below -25.
 

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I do hesitate to suggest that the inline location on the Tercel was convenient. What works, and what I had to do, was run a length of hose around and down another 10 inches below the block return outlet. The Escort looks a little more challenging, however, the main thing is just finding a point low enough to mount the heater. It all comes down to how much vertical stack you can put into the system above the heater.

My point about the efficiency is that you can't match the wattage available in an inline with a block heater, and you spend less time making up for ambient heat loss with shorter warmup times.

I know a block heater seems like the more direct route to go with this, but an inline heater provides more complete warming of the entire motor cooling system from the convective circulation action through the head, block, and pump. In other words, no hot spots or cold spots on startup, creating less thermal shock.

I can't say that's an issue really worth worrying about, but I can't say it's not.

I'm not saying the block heaters don't work well, but merely that if one spends a few extra bucks and effort to install an inline one correctly, it can work far better than any block heater ever will.

Did I mention that my windows begin to defrost on their own??? ;)

The Zerostarts are $59.99 at JC Whitney, so cost isn't much of an obstacle.
 

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I know of an instance of a block heater catching on fire. It was an OEM freeze plug heater on a CAT IT28G loader. Where I used to work we would run a generator in the winter to power the block heaters on equipment. One day my boss said he heard a pop and saw smoke and fire on one piece or equipment, it was the block heater. When I changed the block heater on that piece of equipment the end that plugged into the heater was charred and when I tested the old heater itself it was shorted to ground.
 
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