Cold weather can be one of the worst things for your vehicle. Starting your car after it has stayed out in the freezing temperatures overnight is not only hard but can also damage the engine. There is a simple solution to all that- Engine Block Heaters.
As the name suggests, an engine block heater is used to warm the engine and its fluids before you start the vehicle. Most of the block heaters warm up the engine coolant and not the engine oil, but certain variants do warm the engine oil and other fluids. Certain block heaters can be kept in the lower rad hose, some in the expansion plug hole and certain models just need to be placed on the engine like a blanket.
This protects your car from damage due to idling and cold starts. The block heater ensures that fluids quickly reach their optimal operating temperature once you start the car. In cold temperatures, engine oil can become sludgy and thick increasing the friction between parts. Warming it using block heaters helps to increase fuel efficiency and decrease emissions.
Block heaters also minimize the stress on your car’s starter motor, engine, battery as well as other components. It helps in decreasing the warming time and helps to warm the cabin faster. If you want to ensure that your engine lasts long, does not have performance issues during the harsh winter months and your vehicle’s fuel efficiency does not decrease, then you must have an engine block heater.
You may not notice the effect of not having an engine heater at first, but the impact builds up over time and decreases the efficiency and life of the engine. Be it a car, a snowmobile, or any other engine powered appliance- they all need protection from harsh winters during sub-zero temperatures.
There are different types of heaters too- not all of them are block heaters. There are other variants such as frost plug heater, in-line heaters, oil-pan heaters, etc. Before buying a block heater for your vehicle, you must know a few things such as:
If where you live experiences below-zero temperatures, engine heaters are a must. In cases where your car is not used regularly (and thus does not get warmed daily), engine block heaters are even more important.
Do you need a block heater for a short vacation to a colder climate or do you need a permanent one for where you live? For those living in cold regions, a permanent block heater would be the ideal choice.
A bigger engine requires a higher-powered (more wattage) engine block heater.
Most block heaters are easy to install, but certain variants do warrant professional help. Before you make a buying decision, you must know if you will install it yourself or seek professional help. These are just a few of the things to be considered- we will talk about what are the most important considerations in detail to help you make the right choice. But before that, let us see what are some of the best engine heaters and what they offer. We will also talk about how long must you keep an engine heater plugged in and when must it be used.
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Zerostart 3400017 is a portable multi-utility heater. It is rated 120V AC and has 200W wattage. This can be used as an oil pan heater or as an electric car heater. It is ideal to be used for small or large non-aluminum engine blocks on motorcycles, farm equipment, snowmobiles, and other small engines. This is from the range of zerostart heaters that have a universal fit. It has a built-in thermostat which ensures that the temperature does not go beyond 250˚F or 121˚c.
The heater maintains a constant temperature of 180˚F after being auto-shutoff by the thermostat. You can fix this magnetic car heater on any non-aluminum metallic surface. The quick-grip handle protects your hands from any heat that you may encounter while removing it. All you have to do is connect it to a compatible power source and fix it on the required part- no other assembly or complex installation required.
The 24150 oil pan heater from Kat is a thermostatically controlled heater. You can use this heater as a transmission pan or oil heater. This oilpan heater is covered using silicone to add to its acid and oil resistance properties. The major benefit of using these types of oil pan heaters is that they are easy to install and use. This is a plug-in car heater with no other steps required.
The wattage of this specific model is 150 watts, making it sufficient for most small to medium cars and vehicles. The thermostat ensures that it does not get too hot. It is a semi-permanent fixture, which means you can remove it when not required. This oil pan heater is only designed for tanks and reservoirs that are made of metal, and are not suitable for other materials. This heater takes around 4 hours to reach the peak temperature which is not all that high for areas that witness drastic winters.
The 3500043 is from Zerostart’s range of engine block heaters which has been specifically designed for major auto brands like Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Hino, and Nissan among others. This heater keeps all the oils and fluids at the right temperature to ensure a quick and safe start. It has 1000W wattage and a 120V rating. It directly heats the coolant and engine block, which makes it more efficient as compared to models that provide heat indirectly.
This block heater needs around 3-4 hours to transmit heat to all the right areas. You also have the flexibility to use just the heating element and not replace the stock cord. Since this is specifically designed for certain vehicle brands, you can rest assured about its performance. It has a 0.75in NPT thread size. This block heater is also CSA approved. Other than the brands specifically listed with the product, it will not fit any other manufacturers.
Kat’s is known for quality auto parts, and the 1190 magnetic block heater does not disappoint. This heater has a thermostat to prevent overheating and to ensure that it heats the engine and flids to an optimum temperature. The heat output from this varies between 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a 120V-300W heater and is ideal for most major vehicles. This heater is ideal for those who live in areas where temperatures go to several degrees under zero.
Since this is a magnetic heater, it can only be used on surfaces that are metallic and non-aluminum. It has to be attached firmly on a large flat area that is bigger than the heater’s base. You can easily attach it to the engine block or oil pan with little effort. The heater is made using fire retardant materials for greater safety. You can also use it for large farm equipment and vehicles.
Engine block heaters are not just required for large engines, but for smaller engines powering different equipment and to heat other equipment as well. 1155 from Kat is a 200-W magnetic heater designed for smaller engines like those in snowblowers, chainsaws, and snowmobiles. You can use this on the engine block oil pan, intake manifold, or even on the battery holder. Since this is magnetic, it must be stuck to a non-aluminum metal surface. No mechanical installation is required so setting this up is easy and hassle-free.
As mentioned earlier, cold starts can damage not only vehicular engines but other engines too. You can also use it to warm hydraulic systems or for thawing locks, pipes, livestock feeders, etc. It has been used with great results at temperatures under -40 degrees celsius, so you can be sure of it meeting your requirements. It weighs just 2.25 lbs making it a portable unit and is backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty.
If you are looking for a value for money heater for car from Zerostart, then the 3500022 may just be the right choice. For this specific model, the block heater installation is simple and does not require any complex manual work. It is an immersion heater designed specifically for Paccar and Cumins. A 6 inch or 1.8-meter cord is also included along with the heater. It has a ¾” NPT thread.
This immersion heater is CSA approved, which means it follows all necessary quality and safety standards. It is a 750W-120V heater. You can use it on any engine where this can be threaded into the cooling. Installation is not hard and anyone who has some knowledge about engines can easily put this in the right place. This heater is one of the most durable and affordable options out there, so you can be sure about getting value for your money.
Now that you know what is an engine block heater and what the best ones in the market are, the next thing is knowing what to consider while buying one. To help you with just that, we will talk about some of the most important things to consider while you go shopping for engine block heaters.
Not everyone needs an engine block heater- there are different types of engine heaters depending on the engine, material, and installation type. The first thing you need to figure out is if you need a block heater, an engine warming blanket, a frost plug heater or an oil pan heater. For instance, for metallic surfaces, a magnetic block heater is the simplest and most effective choice. An oil pan heater can be used in engines with aluminum casings where magnetic heaters cannot be used.
For smaller engines like snowmobiles, chainsaws, and certain bikes and small cars, you can do with a lower-wattage heater. However, for larger vehicles, farm equipment, and other large engines, you would need a higher wattage heater of at least 750W or more.
For most DIYers, magnetic block heaters and engine-warming blankets are the ideal choices since they are easy to install. However, if you are a professional or will be taking the help of one, you can go for bolt-on external heaters or oil pan heaters too. Both these require professional expertise before installation.
Any engine block heater must have a thermostat. This ensures that it does not heat up beyond a certain safe temperature. Overheating can not only short-circuit the heater itself but can be a hazard as well.
Since the heater will be close to the engine and other parts that have flammable fluids, you must ensure that it is designed for providing maximum safety. Apart from thermostatic control, the block heater must be made using fire-retardant materials. Check if it is CSA approved- this would mean it passes the necessary quality and safety standards.
Cold temperatures can take a toll on any engine. Protecting them from sub-zero temperatures is important, and that is exactly what an engine block heater can help you do. Our review of the best Zerostart and Kat’s heaters should help you to learn what the most efficient engine heater variants in the market have to offer. These engine heaters will help you prolong the life of the engine and ensure great performance even in the harshest of conditions.
As you go shopping for engine heaters, these tips should also help you in finding the best one for your money. Along with the budget, do ensure that you check all important features like compatibility with the engine, power requirement, heating efficiency, and safety features like a thermostat, and fire retardant materials. All these things will ensure that you get an efficient engine block heater that keeps the engine ready to go even in the coldest of winters and helps you get maximum value for your money in the form of an efficient heater and a long-lasting engine.