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Old September 7th, 2010, 10:21   #1
general lee
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Default block heater vs. inline coolant heater

I am looking for opinions as to which is better, inline coolant heaters vs. block heaters.
2001 Jetta TDI - 1.9L
probably going to have to park it outside during winter, here in Alberta, Canada

Thanks to all who reply.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 11:07   #2
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No known block heaters available. Zero Start/Frost brand, or in Canada, Canadian Tire has the kits. Work very well, heat up coolant and the oil in the oil cooler. No need to park it for winter.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 11:35   #3
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check out this site. http://www.frostheater.com/ . I just got one for my 2010 and it looks very high quality.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 14:44   #4
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To add a bit of context: your block has no frost plugs, so no way to install the conventional block heater.

As a fellow Albertan I can attest to how well the Frostheater works... easy starts and warm air out of the defrost vents much quicker than my MK2s and MK3s with traditional block heaters.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 15:09   #5
turbocharged798
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I personally would't bother with any sort of heater. Waste of time and electricity. Just get in the car and drive.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 15:21   #6
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It gets pretty cold in Alberta. He may need it to aid starting.

There are 2 pluses to an engine heater: 1) you get cab heat right away; 2) fuel mileage will probably be higher; might go a long ways to paying for the heater, and using electricity is more efficient than burning diesel.

We had a heater hose heater in our 220D in Vermont. It worked fine on a -22 F morning. Our 240D had a block heater that worked well, but we never used it much as we'd sold the place in Vermont by that time. I was always started in the garage. Still, on really cold days here in Virginia, the wife would plug it in just to get cab heat right away.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 15:37   #7
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Default Frostheater FTW!

I used a Frostheater most of last winter, and never had a problem starting, even after a few -35C nights (Rockies). I have a timer so it's not on all night if it's warmer. On nights past about -26C, I just left it on all night, and it was all good.

If you are really concerned about starting problems, maybe invest in some good synthetic oil. With the Frostheater, you shouldn't have any trouble.

Good Luck!

-M.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 16:06   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbocharged798 View Post
I personally would't bother with any sort of heater. Waste of time and electricity. Just get in the car and drive.
Nice starting and instant heat are sure nice on those chilly mornings. 2kW and 2 minutes to plug and unplug is a very small price to pay for no windshield fogging and a smaller hit on the fuel economy.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 16:07   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richter1 View Post
I am looking for opinions as to which is better, inline coolant heaters vs. block heaters.
A few theoretical comments ....

The block heaters are more efficient (if you have a choice) because there is less surface area to lose heat from. They are cheaper to replace as there is no hosing or housing involved. Just a little screw to undo and the element pops out of the block.

On my old Ford Mustang, the element was located right at the bottom of the block so the heat was distributed evenly. My in-line heater for my VW, the heat seems to collect around the temperature sensor. Once you start the car, the temperatures needle goes up and then it goes right down because the coolant does not get circulated evenly until the motor runs.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 16:16   #10
turbocharged798
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Quote:
If you are really concerned about starting problems, maybe invest in some good synthetic oil.
Ehhh....the engine should already have synthetic as it's required for the TDI.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 22:28   #11
Nich
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block heater = cheaper more efficient (pribably most effictive from a starting perspective)
frost heater = more expensive quick heat
oil pan heater = ???
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Old September 7th, 2010, 23:33   #12
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I can vouch for the frostheater... -51C and she started just fine
Oil pan heaters aren't so helpful, and might fall off and start a fire. No frostplugs means no block-heater.

Frostheater or similar is your best bet.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 23:45   #13
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I'm guessing you never see temps in the -20F range, or daytime highs below zero F. Even here in Northern Illinois it can get that cold at times and I have found a Zerostart/Frostheater a must with the TDI's. I have them in both our cars and would never look back. I even run them for a couple hours when the weather is in the 30's and 20's. Very little electricity and very much comfort and good starting. Overnight starts at 10F are just like 75F. Seriously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbocharged798 View Post
I personally would't bother with any sort of heater. Waste of time and electricity. Just get in the car and drive.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 04:30   #14
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I have seen temps dip down to -10 or so and my 99.5 always starts up unaided. A bit unhappy and rough, yes, but it will always start. Never had a situation where it won't start.

Heater doesn't help when you park the car where there is no outlet to plug into.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 07:16   #15
jettawreck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbocharged798 View Post
I have seen temps dip down to -10 or so and my 99.5 always starts up unaided. A bit unhappy and rough, yes, but it will always start. Never had a situation where it won't start.

Heater doesn't help when you park the car where there is no outlet to plug into.
-10F is a common daytime high in Alberta winter and I suspect -30F (and colder) is rather common for the low. The wind, while not affecting the actual temp, will cool an engine down very quickly at shutdown and unsures total loss of residual heat. It's hard to explain how much difference there is from -0s to -30 and colder. The difference is huge in how things start and operate.
Yes, it may start, but its hard on the equipment and the operator.
Get a coolant heater, you may not use it a lot but when its needed there is no regretting it.
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2003 Jetta GLS Black w/leather (New Project Car) fixer-upper w/broken TB
2004 Cadillac SLS (wife's)
1999 GMC Suburban (It's MN-you need one)
197? Shibura 2cyl diesel 4WD tractor-loader/brushhog (very handy unit)
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