Best Engine Block Heater in 2020 | Must Have Winter Protection for Engines

by Last Updated July 15, 2020

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.

What is the use of an engine block heater?

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.

What should you know before buying an engine heater

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:

Do I need an engine block heater?

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.

Permanent or temporary?

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.

Engine Size

A bigger engine requires a higher-powered (more wattage) engine block heater.

Installation

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.

Dmitry Leiko
Author and Today's Expert

Hi there! Dmitry Leiko here, I am the author of the article you've just read, and I write reviews for Expert Bestazy, how you've might guess. I'm passionate about a lot of things, from fishing to reviewing the newest gadgets, I especially adore writing and doing this thorough reviews on absolutely different products, as I've tested a lot of them myself and every time doing long research and advising with experts in a particular field to find the best of the best, I hope you'll find good use of these reviews! :)

Dmitry Leiko
Preview
Editor’s Choice: Best for Motorbike Engines
Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
Best Value for Money
Kat's 24150 150 Watt 4"x 5" Engine Oil Pan Heater
Easy to Install
Zerostart 3500043 Engine Block Heater for Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, International, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Hino, Mack, Nissan, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 1000 Watts
Best for Large engines
Kat's 11900 Magnetic Engine Heater
Best for Small Engines
Kat's 1155 200 Watt Magnetic Heater
Best for Cummins and Paccar Engines
Zerostart 3500022 Engine Block Immersion Heater for Cummins, Paccar, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 750 Watts
Name
Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
Kat's 24150 150 Watt 4"x 5" Engine Oil Pan Heater
Zerostart 3500043 Engine Block Heater for Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, International, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Hino, Mack, Nissan, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 1000 Watts
Kat's 11900 Magnetic Engine Heater
Kat's 1155 200 Watt Magnetic Heater
Zerostart 3500022 Engine Block Immersion Heater for Cummins, Paccar, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 750 Watts
Dimensions
4.4 x 2.5 x 3 inches
15 x 9.5 x 8.5 inches
7.4 x 6.1 x 3.6 inches
2.5 x 7 x 9.5 inches
12.5 x 8.5 x 9.5 inches
7.6 x 6.1 x 3.7 inches
Voltage
4.8
120 V
120 V
120 V
110 V
120 V
Our score
120 V
4.2
4.4
4.1
4.0
4.7
Editor’s Choice: Best for Motorbike Engines
Preview
Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
Name
Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
Dimensions
4.4 x 2.5 x 3 inches
Voltage
4.8
Our score
120 V
Details
Best Value for Money
Preview
Kat's 24150 150 Watt 4"x 5" Engine Oil Pan Heater
Name
Kat's 24150 150 Watt 4"x 5" Engine Oil Pan Heater
Dimensions
15 x 9.5 x 8.5 inches
Voltage
120 V
Our score
4.2
Details
Easy to Install
Preview
Zerostart 3500043 Engine Block Heater for Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, International, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Hino, Mack, Nissan, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 1000 Watts
Name
Zerostart 3500043 Engine Block Heater for Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, International, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Hino, Mack, Nissan, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 1000 Watts
Dimensions
7.4 x 6.1 x 3.6 inches
Voltage
120 V
Our score
4.4
Details
Best for Large engines
Preview
Kat's 11900 Magnetic Engine Heater
Name
Kat's 11900 Magnetic Engine Heater
Dimensions
2.5 x 7 x 9.5 inches
Voltage
120 V
Our score
4.1
Details
Best for Small Engines
Preview
Kat's 1155 200 Watt Magnetic Heater
Name
Kat's 1155 200 Watt Magnetic Heater
Dimensions
12.5 x 8.5 x 9.5 inches
Voltage
110 V
Our score
4.0
Details
Best for Cummins and Paccar Engines
Preview
Zerostart 3500022 Engine Block Immersion Heater for Cummins, Paccar, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 750 Watts
Name
Zerostart 3500022 Engine Block Immersion Heater for Cummins, Paccar, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 750 Watts
Dimensions
7.6 x 6.1 x 3.7 inches
Voltage
120 V
Our score
4.7
Details

1. Zerostart 3400017 – Detailed Review

Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
  • Multi-use utility heater with built-in thermostat that maintains optimum temperature on any metallic surface
  • Provides heat where and when you need it
  • 200 watts, 120 Volts AC; built-in thermostat maintains optimum temperature - will not exceed 250˚F (121˚c)
  • Ideal heater for large or small (non-aluminum) engine blocks: tractors, snowmobiles, motorcycles, snow blowers, generators, farm equipment; Also oil pans, transmissions, hydraulic equipment, steel gutters and stock tanks
  • Quick grip handle protects hands from heat

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Built in thermostat ensures temperature does not go above 250˚F
  • Quick grip handle for heat protection
  • Strong magnet to keep it in place
  • Multipurpose- can be used with transmission, engine or diesel oil
  • Magnets rest slightly below the heating plate, wasting heat energy when attached to a flat surface
  • Not ideal for larger vehicles 

2. Kat’s 24150 150 Watt 4″x 5″ – Detailed Review

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Easy to install, peel and stick
  • Works with all metal tanks and surfaces
  • Acid and oil resistant surface 
  • Affordable
  • Slow to heat up, takes 4 hours
  • Keeps engine around  85’F which may not be sufficient for some places

3. Zerostart 3500043 – Detailed Review

Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
  • Multi-use utility heater with built-in thermostat that maintains optimum temperature on any metallic surface
  • Provides heat where and when you need it
  • 200 watts, 120 Volts AC; built-in thermostat maintains optimum temperature - will not exceed 250˚F (121˚c)
  • Ideal heater for large or small (non-aluminum) engine blocks: tractors, snowmobiles, motorcycles, snow blowers, generators, farm equipment; Also oil pans, transmissions, hydraulic equipment, steel gutters and stock tanks
  • Quick grip handle protects hands from heat

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Works great for vehicles of listed manufacturers
  • Heats directly, no energy wastage
  • Minimal loss of coolant 
  • Flexibility to use without replacing the cord
  • No universal design and works with specific manufacturers 
  • Installation is not simple, may require professional help

4. Kat’s 11900 Magnetic Engine Heater – Detailed Review

Kat's 11900 Magnetic Engine Heater
  • 300W Magnetic Heater CSA
  • The package length is 5.207 centimeters
  • The package height is 20.193 centimeters
  • The package width is 16.891 centimeters

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Easy to install
  • Ideal for extremely cold temperatures
  • Works well with major vehicles and farm equipment
  • Cost-effective
  • Does not work on aluminum surfaces
  • Gap between the magnetic surface and the engine/pan decreases heat transfer

5. Kat’s 1155 200 Watt Magnetic Heater – Detailed Review

Sale
Kat's 1155 200 Watt Magnetic Heater
  • Uses include snow blowers, chainsaws, snowmobiles, or other small engines
  • Applications can include oil pan, engine block, battery holder or intake manifold
  • May also be used for warming hydraulic systems or thawing frozen gutters, livestock feeders, locks, and pipes
  • Convenient, reliable with no mechanical installation
  • Order New Number 1155X

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Convinient nad simple installation
  • Ideal for all small engines
  • Thermostatically controlled prevents wastage 
  • Works great in sub-zero temperatures 
  • Not suitable for larger engines
  • Wiill not work with aluminum surfaces

6. Zerostart 3500022 – Detailed Review

Sale
Zerostart 3500022 Engine Block Immersion Heater for Cummins, Paccar, 3/4" NPT Thread | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 750 Watts
  • Ensure quick winter starts and reduce engine wear
  • For Cummins, Paccar. See Zerostart catalog for specific applications.
  • 3/4" NPT thread
  • 6' (1.8m) cord included
  • Volts: 120 | Watts: 750 | Plug Type: 120 Volt, 15 Amp (Type A)

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Simple setup
  • CSA approval sign of quality
  • 120V-750W rating ideal for extreme temperatures 
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Works only with specific vehicle models
  • Only 1-year warranty 

Engine Block Heater Buying Guide

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. 

Type of heater

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. 

Engine size and heater wattage 

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. 

Installation type

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. 

Thermostatic control

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.

Safety features

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.

FAQ

Do you need a heater on every cold day?
No, you do not need to use the engine heater every day during winters. It is only required when the temperature is under 5 degrees Fahrenheit. On other cold days, you can go for a brief idling time or a remote start.
How long can you leave the engine heater plugged in?
The ideal time for which you must leave the heater plugged in is 4 hours. It retains the temperature and heat after reaching the cut-off value as per the thermostat, and you would only waste electricity by leaving it plugged in beyond that.
Why is a block heater necessary?
In colder areas, especially sub-zero temperatures, the fluids in the car’s engine can become thick and sludgy. Trying to start a vehicle in that state can permanently damage the engine. An engine heater keeps the fluids and engine at the right temperature. This provides a smooth start and a better fuel economy.
How safe are engine block heaters?
Always go for an engine block heater that has a built-in thermostat. This ensures that the heater does not heat itself beyond a certain temperature. It provides safety and also prevents wastage of electricity.

Conclusion

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.

Engine Block Heater: Bestsellers

Bestseller No. 1
Zerostart 3400017 Portable Electric Heat Magnet Heater for Transmissions, Oil Pans and Small Engines | CSA Approved | 120 Volts | 200 Watts
  • Multi-use utility heater with built-in thermostat that maintains optimum temperature on any metallic surface
  • Provides heat where and when you need it
  • 200 watts, 120 Volts AC; built-in thermostat maintains optimum temperature - will not exceed 250˚F (121˚c)
  • Ideal heater for large or small (non-aluminum) engine blocks: tractors, snowmobiles, motorcycles, snow blowers, generators, farm equipment; Also oil pans, transmissions, hydraulic equipment, steel gutters and stock tanks
  • Quick grip handle protects hands from heat
Bestseller No. 2
HOTSTART ENGINE HEATER TPS151GT10-000 COOLANT PRE-HEATER - Original - 1 YEAR WARRANTY
  • MFG. LIST $195.39. Molded from high Impact rust & corrosion resistant "PPS".
  • Vibration and shock tested. Incoloy element for longer service life.
  • Thermostat regulates coolant temperature between 100-120 degrees F.
  • Greatly reduced heat loss for more efficient operation.
  • All parts are field replaceable — Not a throw - away design.
Bestseller No. 3
Caframo Pali, 9510CABBX, Ignition Proof Engine Compartment Heater, 9.0” x 4.75” x 7.0”
  • Boat Engine Heater, power cord - 20 feet
  • 120V, 400W, 2 year warranty
  • Thermostat Control
  • Protects Engine Compartments up to 80 cubic feet
  • Cannot overheat
Dmitry Leiko
Author and Today's Expert

Hi there! Dmitry Leiko here, I am the author of the article you've just read, and I write reviews for Expert Bestazy, how you've might guess. I'm passionate about a lot of things, from fishing to reviewing the newest gadgets, I especially adore writing and doing this thorough reviews on absolutely different products, as I've tested a lot of them myself and every time doing long research and advising with experts in a particular field to find the best of the best, I hope you'll find good use of these reviews! :)

Dmitry Leiko