"cordless" engine block heaters.

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
Anyone have any input on cordless engine block heaters?

Im finding that my expedition travels are normally in the winter, and up here in north Idaho, that means extreme cold.

This morning I found myself fighting to start our 7.3 Powerstroke in sub-zero temps, after being parked for 2 days. Even fresh batteries dont want to supply much juice at those temps and 15 qts of cold oil is a lot to turn.

After 4 hrs of a propane backpacking stove under the oil pan, and a shot of starter fluid she finally started. :Wow1: After allw as said and done, I wasted most of the day's usable light fighting to get it running.

So Im in the market for a cordless engine block heater.

Ive read a bit about on-board coolant heaters. Heater by diesel or propane. REAL hard to bite on either without some feedback, given the cost.

The diesel ones are made by Espar, and the cost is >$2500
http://www.espar.com/index.html

The propane ones made by Hilton are much more reasonable, but still spendy. They are nearly $700
http://www.translectricinc.com/catalog/partdetail.aspx?partno=LP6500-24V

Any thoughts?
 

Martyn

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
A few thoughts for you.

There are a couple of techniques for 7.3 diesel starts in cold weather. Turn the key to the on position and let the glow plugs heat up for at least a 1 minute before attempting to start the engine. Your chances of starting are much greater if you do so. If you try starting right after the "wait to start" light goes out their typically isn't enough heat in the pre chamber to get combustion.

The 1 minute pre start will also allow the heater in the fuel bowl to pre warm the diesel fuel, remove any clouding, and thin the liquid prior to it reaching the injectors.

Check the resistance on your glow plugs and replace them if needed.

It helps a lot if you have heavy duty glow plug relay like the Stancor (White-Rogers) 586-902 relay. It's a 200 Amp continuous and 600 Amp inrush with a 21 ohm coil resistance. A rundown on the modification can be read here. This mod should get the engine started all the way down to -16'F.

I would consider a 110v generator to power your block heater rather than an Espar or Hilton unit, unless you are going to use the cooling system to heat the interior of your cab when the engine is off.

My reasoning for this is:

The coolant and the oil using are warmed up by the block heater. Most times I pre heat my engine for 30 minutes prior to starting and it does the trick. You would reach full heat if you left the block heater plugged in for 2 hours.

You can also wire in a small battery charger along with the block heater so that when you do start the vehicle you batteries are fully charged.

The generator has other uses beyond starting your vehicle such as a home emergence power supply that make it adaptable to different situations.
 

David Harris

Expedition Leader
Was watching A Christmas Story the other day and the guy's car wouldn't start. He went in and got some hot water and poured it on the motor. I guess that's an "old school" technique? Anyway, I would be curious to see how that would work in reality. :)

David
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
A few thoughts for you.

There are a couple of techniques for 7.3 diesel starts in cold weather. Turn the key to the on position and let the glow plugs heat up for at least a 1 minute before attempting to start the engine. Your chances of starting are much greater if you do so. If you try starting right after the "wait to start" light goes out their typically isn't enough heat in the pre chamber to get combustion.

The 1 minute pre start will also allow the heater in the fuel bowl to pre warm the diesel fuel, remove any clouding, and thin the liquid prior to it reaching the injectors.

Check the resistance on your glow plugs and replace them if needed.

It helps a lot if you have heavy duty glow plug relay like the Stancor (White-Rogers) 586-902 relay. It's a 200 Amp continuous and 600 Amp inrush with a 21 ohm coil resistance. A rundown on the modification can be read here. This mod should get the engine started all the way down to -16'F.

I would consider a 110v generator to power your block heater rather than an Espar or Hilton unit, unless you are going to use the cooling system to heat the interior of your cab when the engine is off.

My reasoning for this is:

The coolant and the oil using are warmed up by the block heater. Most times I pre heat my engine for 30 minutes prior to starting and it does the trick. You would reach full heat if you left the block heater plugged in for 2 hours.

You can also wire in a small battery charger along with the block heater so that when you do start the vehicle you batteries are fully charged.

The generator has other uses beyond starting your vehicle such as a home emergence power supply that make it adaptable to different situations.

Thanks for the response. Running a small generator to power the 110V block heater is something I never thought about.

I already do all of the traditional tricks.

*double or triple cycle the glow plugs
*HD relay
*updated bowl heater

The glow plugs and HD relay are just 2 years old, and check out fine.

Much of my trouble is SLOW cranks during the extreme cold. And as you probably know, these 7.3s need a fast crank to build enough oil pressure to even get the injectors firing.

I really like the generator + block heater AND battery charger idea. :ylsmoke:
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
Was watching A Christmas Story the other day and the guy's car wouldn't start. He went in and got some hot water and poured it on the motor. I guess that's an "old school" technique? Anyway, I would be curious to see how that would work in reality. :)

David
Wouldnt do a damn thing. :)

The 7.3 wet weighs over 1000lbs.

Even a few gallons of boiling water wouldnt do much to heat it if just dumped onto it.

Circulating it into the coolant system somehow MIGHT though.
 

Lynn

Expedition Leader
I'm certainly no expert in this are, but for the slow cranking, wouldn't a battery blanket help?

http://www.jcwhitney.com/jcwhitney/sku/images/large/I_541427_CL_1.jpg

In addition to the 110V block heater and generator, of course...

However, with two large heating elements (major current draw) you might need more then a small generator...

'Course, I remember reading about Siberian truck drivers building a campfire under the engine. How much do you value your truck?
 

McZippie

Walmart Adventure Camper
I really like the generator + block heater AND battery charger idea. :ylsmoke:
Yep, On cold mornings I've used a generator to power the block heater and battery charger to help with starting my. 7.3

...that is, unless I spend half the day trying to get the generator started first.
(smiley face cuffing head with palm of hand crap)
 

The Adam Blaster

Expedition Leader
The Espar heaters are fairly popular with the oil field crews that run north of me.
I like the idea that it uses the fuel right from your regular tank, and there are programmable units that you can set to come on at a certain time - say an hour before you want to get going in the morning.
Pricey, but for the guys that need to be on the road in -40C temps, they are invaluable.
 

David Harris

Expedition Leader
The Espar heaters are fairly popular with the oil field crews that run north of me.
I like the idea that it uses the fuel right from your regular tank, and there are programmable units that you can set to come on at a certain time - say an hour before you want to get going in the morning.
Pricey, but for the guys that need to be on the road in -40C temps, they are invaluable.
This sounds ideal.

David
 

cwsqbm

Explorer
I'm certainly no expert in this are, but for the slow cranking, wouldn't a battery blanket help?

http://www.jcwhitney.com/jcwhitney/sku/images/large/I_541427_CL_1.jpg

In addition to the 110V block heater and generator, of course...

However, with two large heating elements (major current draw) you might need more then a small generator...

'Course, I remember reading about Siberian truck drivers building a campfire under the engine. How much do you value your truck?
+1. The thought I had was, if you have a heated slide-in camper, relocated the starting batteries inside and that would keep them warm.
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
I would vote for a small gas generator that would allow you to warm the truck. It could also provide 'shore' power for a dead battery, electronics, heating the sleeping area, etc.

Some of the small inverter generators are getting VERY inexpensive. Northern has a few getting great reviews.

I would love to mount one between the frame and outside skin for the bed ahead of the rear wheel. You might even be able to plumb the exhaust into the stock system for a clean look and to keep from gassing yourself. Getting the pull start in a position that would work could be interesting.
 

sjk99

Adventurer
In addition to the battery blanket (which should cure the slow cranking) you might also look at a stick-on oil pan heater from Proheat Products, Inc. Not cordless though. I've been using their model 512 (250 watts nominal which isn't too bad.) Won't heat up the block but will get the oil warmed up which a water jacket block heater won't really do.

http://www.engineheaters.com/
 

Tony LEE

International Grey Nomad
Apart from the snowfields, Australia doesn't usually pose cold start problems much below freezing but when I put the OKA together, I was looking to take it to S America one day so I installed a Webasto heater. It provides 20 Litres of hot water for the showers and sink, heating for the cabin, and if required, preheating of the engine and driver's cabin.

Talking about using a generator to get the main engine going - as someone joked, first get the @#$#$$^ generator started. The diesel Onan in my Airstream has (I presume) a dead preheat system so anywhere close to freezing I have to take a chance and use some "Start Ya Bastard". Main engine - Cat - always starts first time.
 
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