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Old 11-07-2013, 08:02 AM   #1
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How cold before using engine block heater on DP?

We live Texas and camp pretty much year round (not full time). This is our first fall with a DP. In terms of outside temps, when should I start to preheat the engine? So...how cold is cold enough to need it, and then how far in advance should I turn it on??
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:18 AM   #2
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If it is cold (30-40 degrees) I'll turn ours on for a couple of hours prior to departure. I don't do it to start the engine, I do it to get the heater going earlier.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:34 AM   #3
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I was thinking about this the other day. I need to break out the manual because I bet it gives me a good answer.

Since I hadn't used the block heater after buying the MH in January I plugged it in to verify it works. It does but man...you should see the power meeter spin when it is on. LOL

Some side bar questions to the thread...

1. Does the block heater have a thermostat to shut it off after the water reaches a reasonable temp?

2. I was thinking that one should be able to monitor the water temp through the dash temp gauge. Any reason that wouldn't work?

3. I would assume that if the temp gauge works as I expect that after water temp gets above 40* the engine will be very happy to start with less smoke.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:38 AM   #4
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I usually don't use mine till at 25* or less. Mine starts easily to that temp.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:12 AM   #5
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I use mine at 30 degrees or below. And, if it is really cold outside like maybe 15, I may start it the night before we leave, otherwise a few hours works just fine.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:23 AM   #6
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Not a DP MH, but having had diesel pickups for decades here in Texas (even when we had those days in the teens for a week) I never bothered to use a block heater... only reason I would is to warm up the cabin... but since the last few have had steering wheel heaters I use that

If your engine is maintained and functioning well, you really shouldn't need it unless it's been off for months and frozen solid

I even carry it to the point of not idling for long - just an easy start and easy first few miles are the best warm up...

Some may have other opinions, but that's my experience - good luck !

oh, and my sis has 2009 40' phaeton Dp - NICE - NICE ! they too just do the bare minimum to get going...
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky_Boss View Post
I was thinking about this the other day. I need to break out the manual because I bet it gives me a good answer.

Since I hadn't used the block heater after buying the MH in January I plugged it in to verify it works. It does but man...you should see the power meeter spin when it is on. LOL

Some side bar questions to the thread...

1. Does the block heater have a thermostat to shut it off after the water reaches a reasonable temp?

2. I was thinking that one should be able to monitor the water temp through the dash temp gauge. Any reason that wouldn't work?

3. I would assume that if the temp gauge works as I expect that after water temp gets above 40* the engine will be very happy to start with less smoke.
I turn mine on below 32 and just a few hours before starting.
My heater doesn't have a thermostat There is a lot of water in that system and a big radiator it will never get hot, just warn.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:33 AM   #8
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If it's around 50 I turn it on when I get up. If it's below 32 I turn it on when I go to bed. It's about 1500W and has to heat a huge hunk of iron; so it can't get too hot in those times. I beleive all motors prefer warm oil. It's not my electric bill!
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:43 AM   #9
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I'll turn mine on below 35 a couple hours before I plan to start it.

Yes, I can see the temp rise on my dash gauge. Usually gets up to about 130 or so.

This past January while in northern Illinois I discovered that when its really cold (4 degrees F) that the engine won't even crank. You turn the key and nothing happens. Heat the block up though, and it fires right up. Apparently there's a lockout circuit that prevents the operator (me) from attempting to start the engine when it's really cold out.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:51 AM   #10
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One more thing.

Be sure to turn the block heater off before attempting to start your engine. This instruction should be in your owners manual.

Here's the theory...

Even though your block is heated, the radiator still contains very cold coolant. When this cold coolant hits the very hot heater element, the element can be damaged.

I've messed up a time or two and forgotten to turn mine off. Heater still works so apparently it's somewhat forgiving.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky_Boss View Post
I was thinking about this the other day. I need to break out the manual because I bet it gives me a good answer.

Since I hadn't used the block heater after buying the MH in January I plugged it in to verify it works. It does but man...you should see the power meeter spin when it is on. LOL

Some side bar questions to the thread...

1. Does the block heater have a thermostat to shut it off after the water reaches a reasonable temp?

2. I was thinking that one should be able to monitor the water temp through the dash temp gauge. Any reason that wouldn't work?

3. I would assume that if the temp gauge works as I expect that after water temp gets above 40* the engine will be very happy to start with less smoke.
Cummins uses a 1,000W block heater, no thermostat, constant on. No reason you can't use an ordinary household timer if it is rated for that load. The block heater uses an ordinary 120VAC cord and plugged into a receptacle somewhere. On my diesel pusher it is under the bed> engine access panel.
After using the heater, the temp gauge moves within minutes of driving.
Yes, pre-heating the engine reduces white smoke (unburned fuel), is easier on the starter, and you get warm air from the cabin heater faster.
As to what temperature it must be used; personally I use the block heater when 32* or below. The coolant is heated by convection, warm coolant rises, moving into the radiator, cold coolant sinks and moves toward the block heater and slowly heats the entire coolant capacity.( 4 hours min,longer depending on ambient temp)
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Old 11-08-2013, 08:04 AM   #12
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One more thing.

Be sure to turn the block heater off before attempting to start your engine. This instruction should be in your owners manual.

Here's the theory...

Even though your block is heated, the radiator still contains very cold coolant. When this cold coolant hits the very hot heater element, the element can be damaged.

I've messed up a time or two and forgotten to turn mine off. Heater still works so apparently it's somewhat forgiving.
Big myth. Everything is submersed in liquid and so the element is nearly as hot as you think it is.
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Old 11-08-2013, 08:27 AM   #13
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Big myth. Everything is submersed in liquid and so the element is nearly as hot as you think it is.
True
We in the great white north have autostart that we start the car or truck from the house and after 10 to 20 minutes walk out and disconnected the heater and drive away. We do this every winter for the life of the car. We usually plug in the night before.

Every heater is equipped with a self limiting cut off.
I usually can leave it on for days. Did that when I was way north with -40 degree for 3 months.
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:02 PM   #14
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Owning three diesels, all with different engines, the use of the block heaters are all different. The Cat engine really needs the block heater on about an hour before starting below 40-35 degrees. The Cummins in the truck needs about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, sometimes less, below 25-30 degrees. The Jeep, a CRD "common rail diesel" made in Italy, needs about 1/2 hour below 20 degrees. I've never read or heard I need to turn the block heaters off before starting the engines? Been doing it for many years and their not the worst for wear? But maybe I've been doing it wrong all these years?
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