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Matt Herring 08-12-2009 01:51 AM

Cost of running an Engine Block Heater
I'm having my EBH installed on Friday and I'm getting my ducks in a row to maximize it's usage. A couple issues I am tackling right now and need your advice/suggestions.

I have easy and free access to power at work but at home it's a different story. The closest parking space to my apartment is roughly 100 feet away and running a cord across the parking lot would probably not be allowed and in the winter I would run the risk of plows catching the cord and tearing it from my car/wall in my home. Not to mention, running the EBH off my own electric costs money and I'm searching for free options. I've walked the grounds and can't find any outlets anywhere that I could tap into without alerting the management staff.

There are tenants that rent garages on the grounds and I believe they have power outlets in them (not confirmed). Maybe I can talk one of them into letting me plug into their power source (which they pay no extra fee for).

I don't want to go to the complex management because I know they will charge me for plugging in.

On the same note does anyone know the cost of running a 400w EBH for 3 hours a day for 180 days (my estimate is around $200)? My local electric company charges .10 per kwh. Think my math is correct at around $200 for my example.

Thanks for any suggestions you have!

SVOboy 08-12-2009 01:58 AM

12 cents a day for half a year is more like 20 bucks than 200, really negligible. You probably also won't need 3 full hours, but you can test and find out.

Matt Herring 08-12-2009 02:02 AM

Yeah...I'm fuzzy on the math. So if I HAD to approach my management I could say that the 400w EBH running 3 hours a day for 180 days costs roughly $20? Not bad if I HAD to approach them with that figure. The only bad thing about approaching management is they don't mind me using the power...but they think big picture and think "What if we let this guy do it and then every person wants to do it?"

Trying to avoid that route...need to find one of those people with a garage to tap into their power if they have it.

SVOboy 08-12-2009 02:05 AM

You can probably convince them you're in a relatively small minority or that maybe they should offer it as an advertisement for living there :p

Matt Herring 08-12-2009 02:10 AM

I'd love to think they are forward-thinking and might think it would be an incentive for future EV owners to live there to plug in their cars but...I'll leave it as my third option in search of power (behind using my own apt. power and a tenant's garage power).

If it's only $20 total cost to power the EBH maybe I could pull my car up closer to my apt. window (driveway is about 20 feet from my window) a couple hours before work and plug in until I leave for work. At that cost it's worth waking up earlier to plug in and the cord wouldn't be in the path of a car (although in the winter it would be work to get to my window through the snow).

Frank Lee 08-12-2009 02:17 AM

Used to be a landlord and it made me scorching mad when my retarded tenants plugged in 24/7. No amount of educating re: time it takes to do the job penetrated their heads. :mad: You might be up against them thinking of that undesireable scenario. If you end up talking/negotiating with them better have a timer in your hands to show them and promise to set it for 2 hours max runtimes.

Matt Herring 08-12-2009 02:22 AM

That's understandable Frank. I used to pay for electric for a houseful of tenants as well and seeing lights on when they weren't home and the like used to drive me nuts.

Good advice on showing them a timer...thanks!

Who 08-13-2009 05:03 PM

If its 400 watts @ $0.10/KWHr then 3 hours is 12 cents per day or $23 for 180 days more or less.

An EBH won't gain that much in MPG compared to what it saves in poor emissions spewing from an ice cold engine. Well worth the effort for the air quality alone...

RobertSmalls 08-14-2009 11:50 PM

My Subaru burns 0.05-0.08gal more fuel to get warmed up in the winter (per ScanGauge), regardless of the length of the trip. On a 0.3gal (each way) commute, that is a huge number of em pee gees.

The amount of fuel a block heater would save has a CO2 output similar to 0.3-0.5KWh of grid-average electricity. If the Subaru's block heater uses more than 500Watt-hours, it's greener (in terms of CO2) to not use it. I'm guessing the Prius uses less gas than a Subaru to get warmed up, so unless your block heater can do the job in less than an hour, I'm pretty sure it's going to produce more CO2 than just letting the gas engine warm itself up.

Bottom line: With block heaters, PHEVs, and deep-cycle alternator replacements, you can save a lot of gas, but the environmental benefit of plugging in is questionable on US grid average electricity. Of course, if you opt to purchase low-carbon energy from your utility company, or if you care more about energy security or HC emissions than CO2, then you'll want to plug in.

Another interesting calculation: one deep-cycle marine battery probably has enough energy to heat your engine block. You could recharge it with the alternator (or DC-DC converter on a Prius), or recharge it at work. However, the 65lbs of dead weight won't help the FE.

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