|A Hot Idea|
Part 2: Installation is simple (and therefore inexpensive) because the heater mounts externally.
By Richard Thiel — January 2003
Some engineers claim that if you could eliminate the lubrication deficiencies inherent in cold-starting, you could decrease wear by as much as a third. You could do this by heating the engine oil, but a simpler, safer, and cheaper method is to heat the engine coolant, which in turn will heat the block, crankcase, and, eventually, the oil. Besides reducing engine wear, such a system also provides a significant reduction in visible exhaust at start-up, as the higher engine temperature is more conducive to efficient combustion. A warm engine should also start more quickly, which can reduce the wear on your starting batteries.
A number of companies manufacture engine coolant heaters, including Racor, which offers three models: a small plastic tank-type heater, a medium metal tank-type heater, and a large metal tank-type heater. The 400-watt plastic unit is designed for small engines such as those powering gensets, while the medium model is available in 750-, 1,000-, and 1,500-watt models for use with engines from 150 to 500 cubic inches. The large unit, which comes in 500- to 2,000-watt ratings, is designed for engines of 150- to 700-cubic-inch displacement. All three units are available with or without thermostats and plug into standard 120- or 240-volt outlets; the two larger units are available for other voltages as well.
Installation is simple (and therefore inexpensive) because the heater mounts externally. Coolant is taken from a low point in the system, routed to a heater through a hose, and returned to the engine near the top. Circulation is by the thermo-siphon (convection) process—no pump is required—and you can leave the heater plugged in all the time if you order the optional oil-pressure switch, which shuts it down when the engine is started.
List prices for the Racor units range from $120 to $585, depending on size. At that cost, an engine coolant heater provides inexpensive insurance against wear and hard-starting that’s hard to pass up. Plus it’s maintenance-free. Now that’s a hot deal.
Racor Phone: (800) 344-3286. www.parker.com/racor.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.