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Old 11-13-2010, 12:46 PM   #1
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Engine block heater installed !

Today I installed an engine block heater on my wife's Civic (the orange). Reasons:
- she only drives very short distances (+/- 2 miles)
- her car is parked outside, so she suffers most from winter temps.
It's a type of blockheater with a resistor directly in the engine coolant. Installed in the plug to drain coolant from the block. Installation was much more complicated and difficult than expected. But men needs some challenges, don't they?
If results are (very) good, I will install the same on my Civic (the black one).
This is what I needed:

I did some first testing immediately after installation. Engine was not cooled down 100% yet (started testing at 26?C, while ambient in garage was 14?C).
After 30 minutes, engine temp was 47?C. After 1h: 57?C and after 2 hours: 64?C (really high!). But last 1h min was a waste of energy (had expected this): only 6?C increase.
I will do a more thourougly investigation on engine temp evolution when starting from engine temp at real cold (= ambient temp), and outside to reflect real life.
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Old 11-13-2010, 03:38 PM   #2
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

Good thing to have, and it's known that typically a one-hour plug-in time is all that's needed to realize the benefit.

But 2 miles drives? Get her a bicycle!
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:42 AM   #3
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

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Originally Posted by theclencher View Post
But 2 miles drives? Get her a bicycle!
I agree with you, and she has one. But life's not that simple. We have 3 children (9yr, 7yr and 8mths) and She works in shifts.
Result: 90% of the time she always needs to combine something (shopping, pick up children, bring children to activities...).
In summertime (children holidays) she drives by bicycle to work.
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:59 AM   #4
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

Did some testing this afternoon with a completely cooled down engine.
For testing I let it in almost 100 minutes.
Starting temp (=ambient) was 15?C, inside garage. I measured engine coolant temp, oil temp and attached a thermometer to the outside of the (metal) distribution case.
After 61 minutes:
Engine coolant 53?C
Oil temp 18?C
Engine outside 38?C
After 96 minutes:
Engine coolant 59?C
Oil temp 23?C
Engine outside 42?C

I also measured engine coolant at radiator, but that one did not move (good thing, would only mean I loose energy).

Remarkable: even the temp gauge in the dashreading came from its place, and when my wife drove off, the engine sounded like a very nicely warmed up engine at very low idle. So this thing works! Also engine oil temp went up a little bit. This proofs the heat is very well distributed across the whole engine.

Downside: I will not be able to measure exact mpg benefit because the first tank is not emptied yet and the EBH is already installed. Only reference for future is dashreading. Indicating 8,3 l/100 km before I installed the thing. But because of bleeding of the cooling system (long idling) it went up now to 8,5 l/100 km. First fill will be disappointing anyhow because of this bleeding and the very short distances. If there's any improvement, it's thanks to the EBH.

I will keep you informed.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:51 AM   #5
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

Just installed one in my car last night (OEM Honda one for my '95 Civic). The timer should have turned it on at around 6:00am and I left for work around 7:20am. The outside temperature was 7*F (-14*C) when I left and I did not really seem to see any noticeable difference. Do not know if the "extremely" cold temperature is the reason or not as I have never had a block heater. How long do you think I should turn it on before I leave in the morning? I am thinking about bumping it up to 3 hours because it is supposed to be around the same temperature tonight.

Any insight from block heater users?
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Old 12-06-2010, 12:49 PM   #6
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

Hi Ben,
What 'noticable' difference are you expecting to see?
At -14?C, car parked outside, it would be great if your engine coolant temp rose to 35?C. And let's be honest, that's the same as a pure cold start in summertime, around noon on a hot day.
I did some measurements in the meantime. At -6?C, parked outside, I get 48?C. But: a few seconds after starting that drops to 38?C...because of pumping the warm coolant in the heater and the icecold oil is pumped in the warm engine. So the only difference that you might notice is a bit lower idle rpm and a not icecold airstream from your heater.
But your engine will be very happy with the heater, that's for sure. And don't you get warm air or a warmer engine faster? I mean: already after a few miles?

Edit: 2 hours plugged in should always be enough. I tested it and it levels out after 2 hours.
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:53 PM   #7
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

I just meant a quicker warm up time. It took about the same as normal to get to operating temperature (which I guess might be an "improvement" since it was starting colder than normal as well). I was just hoping for something other than ice cold air and possibly temps starting to register by the first stop light I hit. I turned it up to 2.5 hrs for tomorrow to test it out and see. Will back it off from there to 2 hrs and see if it seems about the same.

I think my battery is starting to go out too... lol After sitting at a light with the engine off, the car did not want to crank and I had to jump out quickly and push start it. Was running the parking lights (turned off the headlights since I knew I would be sitting) and defroster, but that did not make a difference all fall. Gonna have to relearn my hypermiling for the winter season. Between the loses from the freezing temps and the winter gas (higher ethanol content) I have already dropped from about 50 mpg to 42 mpg.
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:20 PM   #8
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

Quote:
Originally Posted by ben98gs View Post
I just meant a quicker warm up time. It took about the same as normal to get to operating temperature (which I guess might be an "improvement" since it was starting colder than normal as well). I was just hoping for something other than ice cold air and possibly temps starting to register by the first stop light I hit.
Hi Ben, indeed, at -14?C you should notice a slight difference in the heating after a few miles. It should not be ice cold. Have you got any opportunity to do some measurements?
Today, starting this morning form a 9?C garage, plugged in 1,5 hrs: immediately (!) warm air. This evening, leaving after work, parked outside -1?C, plugged in 2 hours. It took 3 minutes before really a lot of warm air was blown in the cabine. And immediately after start it was noticeable 'not cold'.
But the way: I'm talking about my black Civic now. I also installed an EBH in that one.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:00 AM   #9
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

For warming the engine and getting warm air, a thermosiphon is probably your best bet. It heats up the coolant and circulates it through the engine block by convection. An EBH really just does the block. Coolant will get heated indirectly by convection and/or conduction, but, depending on how the system is plumbed, it may not be enough to provide heat to the cabin.

Thermosiphons cost more, but the main hurdle is having a spot in the engine bay to mount it. Relying on passive convection means it has to as close as possible to the low point in the coolant loop.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:28 PM   #10
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Re: Engine block heater installed !

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Originally Posted by trollbait View Post
Coolant will get heated indirectly by convection and/or conduction
Hi Trollbait, my EBH's are resistors that sit 100% in coolant and thus heat the coolant directly. Not by convection or conduction. I had to drain the coolant first and screw them in the block. Same principle as e.g. a waterboiler.
I had expected a bit more of the natural thermosiphon effect to minimise ice on the windscreen.
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