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Old 01-16-2014, 01:14 AM   #1
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Block heater questions

My 1995 International has a DT466 engine with what appears to be a block heater plug in the vehicleís front bumper. (Itís a covered male 120VAC connector that, I assume, accepts a standard 120VAC extension cord.) Living in central Florida, it never gets really cold, but I plan to travel around the country and while I donít plan to be in Minnesota in the dead of winter, I may encounter some sub-freezing temps.

1. What is the maximum temperature I can use the block heater? If I use it above an ambient temperature of X, will it damage the heater, engine, or both?

2. At what temperature should I definitely consider using the block heater?

3. What is the typical electrical draw on a block heater? 60W? 200W? Higher?

4. Is the block heater element similar to a household water heater element that can and does eventually disintegrate over time and need to be replaced?

Thanks!
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:29 PM   #2
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Re: Block heater questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by PDBreske
My 1995 International has a DT466 engine with what appears to be a block heater plug in the vehicleís front bumper. (Itís a covered male 120VAC connector that, I assume, accepts a standard 120VAC extension cord.) Living in central Florida, it never gets really cold, but I plan to travel around the country and while I donít plan to be in Minnesota in the dead of winter, I may encounter some sub-freezing temps.

1. What is the maximum temperature I can use the block heater? If I use it above an ambient temperature of X, will it damage the heater, engine, or both?

Anything below 0 C. Your engine will dissipate the heat enough to prevent burning out the element, without any harm to the engine. If you forget to unplug before starting the engine, you risk burning out the block heater.

2. At what temperature should I definitely consider using the block heater?

Anything below 0, I don't till minus 15C for diesels, minus 20C for gas engines.

3. What is the typical electrical draw on a block heater? 60W? 200W? Higher?

1500 watts. Most house hold outlets can provide a maximum 1800 watts (15 amps)

4. Is the block heater element similar to a household water heater element that can and does eventually disintegrate over time and need to be replaced?

Yes

Thanks!
Depending on how cold it is, most engines only need to be plugged in for 2 hours before starting. Anything more is just wasting electricity.

Nat
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:57 PM   #3
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Re: Block heater questions

Thanks so much! Iím sure these answers will also be helpful to anyone else looking for this information.
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:03 PM   #4
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Re: Block heater questions



Nat
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:41 AM   #5
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Re: Block heater questions

The block heater (if its the same thing as on my 7.3-and VW diesel) replaces a freeze plug and goes into water. As long as its in water it won't burn out. The one in my Vw is 400w- I just looked it up for the 7.3-its 1000w. I've left them on overnight at times-but unless its really cold or you have a tough starting engine, a couple of hours is enough. It will only warm things up-don't expect you temp gauge to hit the normal mark.
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Old 01-20-2014, 03:20 PM   #6
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Re: Block heater questions

I've owned several buses and diesel engines and i live in michigan.

Every diesel engine i've owned with glow plugs that were functioning properly would start in any temperature with enough battery power. My buses never had glow plugs. Some engines start better than others. Most diesel engines without glow plugs will start ok down to around freezing with a good battery. Below zero F without a block heater, glow plugs, or starting fluid it's difficult to get a diesel started.

Note: never use starting fluid on an engine equipped with glow plugs or grid heaters!

At 32 degrees, a diesel may take 30 seconds or more of cranking to actually start. I believe that using a block heater in cold weather will make your engine last longer. However, plenty of engines get started in the extreme cold and last for years.

Here is a recent video of my diesel john deere backhoe starting around 32F without my block heater plugged in:

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Old 01-23-2014, 12:47 AM   #7
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Re: Block heater questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by lapeer20m
I've owned several buses and diesel engines and i live in michigan.

Every diesel engine i've owned with glow plugs that were functioning properly would start in any temperature with enough battery power. My buses never had glow plugs. Some engines start better than others. Most diesel engines without glow plugs will start ok down to around freezing with a good battery. Below zero F without a block heater, glow plugs, or starting fluid it's difficult to get a diesel started.

Note: never use starting fluid on an engine equipped with glow plugs or grid heaters!

At 32 degrees, a diesel may take 30 seconds or more of cranking to actually start. I believe that using a block heater in cold weather will make your engine last longer. However, plenty of engines get started in the extreme cold and last for years.

Here is a recent video of my diesel john deere backhoe starting around 32F without my block heater plugged in:


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Old 01-24-2014, 12:29 PM   #8
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Re: Block heater questions

I don't currently own a bus so i have less motivation to make it over here to skoolie.net.

I've taken a different path in life and bought a place in the middle of nowhere and haven't had internet where we live until recently.

I still sometimes kick around the idea of building another bus (lucky number 7.) I made money on every bus i've built and i can complete the project in 30 days or less. It would be sweet to have a barn big enough for a bus with a built in paint booth.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:21 PM   #9
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Re: Block heater questions

Quote:
I've taken a different path in life and bought a place in the middle of nowhere
Sounds nice.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:06 PM   #10
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Re: Block heater questions

having synthetic oil helps a lot in winter starting. My generator on my bus has a wattage gauge on it, shows how much power being drawn, when I plugged my bus block heater in, it showed 955 watt draw, I plug my diesels in around -10c make it so much nicer to start, you can leave it plugged in all the time it wont hurt the heater as long as there is enough anti-freeze (element has to be submerged), ill plug my back hoe in and leave it some times 4-5 weeks before I need it, also if you use your diesel every day, it seems to start better in the cold, but that might be just me.
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Old 02-13-2014, 04:56 PM   #11
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Re: Block heater questions

When I've had diesel vehicles with block heaters that I used to commute to work, I plugged them in to a timer so it would activate a couple hours before I had to start the vehicle. Worked like a charm. It is a good feeling to have your diesel instantly come to life and purr when it's freezing outside. I really dislike the sound of a loudly clacking frigidly cold diesel engine.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:06 AM   #12
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Re: Block heater questions

We've always plugged them in around freezing(32*F or 0*C). Cold weather is hard on diesel engines and bearing and cylinder wall wear go down tremendously by using the block heater. You won't ruin the heater by plugging it in above that temp but the benefits aren't as well noticed. The current draw depends on the wattage of the heater. Most are around 1000-1500 watts which is pulling about 10 to 15 amps.
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Old 01-28-2017, 01:26 PM   #13
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0128171224a.jpeg

I have this plug on my bus, near the entry way. I'm assuming that means a block heater is already installed. If so, what type of cable do I need to use it?

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Old 01-28-2017, 01:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjnye79 View Post
Attachment 12118

I have this plug on my bus, near the entry way. I'm assuming that means a block heater is already installed. If so, what type of cable do I need to use it?

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I've typically seen this style...
But, I've also seen just a good quality extension cord female end work also.

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Old 01-28-2017, 01:32 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
I've typically seen this style...
But, I've also seen just a good quality extension cord female end work also.

Thanks. That's pretty much what I thought. Is that typically a 13 or 15 amp cord... or more?

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Old 01-28-2017, 01:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjnye79 View Post
Attachment 12118

I have this plug on my bus, near the entry way. I'm assuming that means a block heater is already installed. If so, what type of cable do I need to use it?
We'll need to see a picture of the receptacle prongs to make an intelligent guess on the cable, and remember what assume does to U and ME.
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Old 01-28-2017, 01:33 PM   #17
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Since this discussion is about block heaters.... (I don't have one)

Are they a passive element that's installed in the water passage? I'm picturing something like a water heater element or one of those charcoal lighter coils.

Or a pump & element installed in the radiator hose?
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Old 01-28-2017, 01:40 PM   #18
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I like this guy's use of an old computer power supply port & cable....
Most everyone has these in the junk drawer???

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Old 01-28-2017, 07:24 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
Since this discussion is about block heaters.... (I don't have one)

Are they a passive element that's installed in the water passage? I'm picturing something like a water heater element or one of those charcoal lighter coils.

Or a pump & element installed in the radiator hose?
I believe most all O.E.M. engine heaters are a heating element installed in place of one block expansion plug.

Most of the aftermarket ones are in one heater hose. And still uses the immersed heating element.

Both will be no more than 1800 watts @ 120v because most household plug in circuits are 15 or 20 amps.

I prefer the heater hose version because it will push heat throughout the engine eventually. Whereas the in block heater heats the immediate where installed.
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:28 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
Since this discussion is about block heaters.... (I don't have one)

Are they a passive element that's installed in the water passage? I'm picturing something like a water heater element or one of those charcoal lighter coils.

Or a pump & element installed in the radiator hose?
I plugged in the block heater on our 2003 International with a DT466E for the first time this weekend. The temp was just below freezing, but it has been down close to 0F overnight. There was definitely some pulsing going on in the coolant hoses so I assume mine has a heating element and a pump.

All the ones we've had with VW diesels over the years were just heating elements stuck in the block.

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