block heater worthwhile for Ontario, Canada climate?

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by prius234, Nov 6, 2016.

  1. prius234

    prius234 New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I am scheduled to take delivery of my new 2017 Prius Touring model in the November/December timeframe. Winter temperatures get down to about -25C (-13F) where I live, but the car will be kept in my garage overnight. I am considering having the dealer add on the Toyota block heater before I take delivery. I have read that hybrid cars, in particular, benefit from block heaters, specifically in the areas of fuel economy and general engine wear and tear. I am somewhat concerned about the idea of 'breaking in' a brand new car during the colder months, and though that a block heater would be a worthwhile investment.

    I was wondering if anyone else has had any good/bad/neutral experience with the dealer installed block heater. Anyone else have any concerns about buying a new hybrid car and breaking it in during the winter months (is this an actual concern for hybrids or cars in general in this day and age)? Anyone experience any engine wear issues that might have been mitigated by installing a block heater? Aesthetically, does the plug stick out of the grill when not plugged in?

    Thanks
     
  2. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    Sure EBH should help MPG and one would think reduce engine wear due to warmer lubes, although i have never heard reduced engine wear as the reason.
     
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    We got the block heater installed at time of purchase, on the West Coast, very mild winters compared to you, so think you can justify it, Ontario get's much colder. FYI, we use it year 'round, typically for a couple of hours before the first cold start of the day. Reasoning:

    1. Faster warm-up and engine shut-down sooner. (understand shut-down happens much easier on 4th gen)
    2. Suspect it's good for engine longevity.
    3. Cabin warms sooner in winter.

    When ours was installed the dealership just coiled and tied the cord, inside the engine compartment. I ran it out through the front grill, zip-tied so it hung a few inches, but not long enough to drag on the ground if forgotten. To further ensure that doesn't happen, I would strongly recommend tandem zip-ties, well cinched, a few inches apart, on one of the grill slats.

    You want to operate on the assumption you will forget to unplug sooner or later, and likely more than once. Make sure the extension cord you're plugging into can pull out easy/straight, and that the block heater cord is VERY securely zip-tied to the grill.

    Secure your extension cord somehow, so there's no possibility of it dragging down the driveway: I loop ours around a barbecue leg, simple but effective lol. If you're early start commuting daily, consider getting a decent heavy-duty timer.

    As mentioned before, a couple of hours use is satisfactory, most of the year. One hour even, if you're rushed, will get the temp about 60~75% raised to the plateau. Don't expect a full warmed engine; what it does is raise coolant temp by about 25~30C, which gives you a head-start on the warm-up process.

    I believe Toyota Canada posts an installed price for this accessory now? A year or two back it was quite good, somewhere around $135? And then they raised it, to around the mid 200's I think. Still not bad, as it is a PITA doing this yourself, especially with a new car purchase.

    We got stung for $400 with our install. I would check Toyota Canada, do a build of your car, see what the amount is for that, and make sure the dealership at least matches (or betters) that cost.
     
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  4. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    The warmer lubes probably cuts both ways, on the one hand the warmer lubes will drain back to the oil pan faster, but they should put out faster too. Also the warmth may allow oxidation reactions etc...so I don't know how to net it out.
     
  5. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

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    Yes get a block heater, and yes use it. There is literally no down side. Dealership in Alaska charges $199 installed, no option as they put them in every new car they sell.
     
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  6. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    They may not be able to tie to the grill slats due to the shutters on Gen 4.
    See Grille Shutter Inoperative and Check Engine | PriusChat
     
    #6 Prodigyplace, Nov 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  7. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

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    You do have to take care with the cable routing: Grille Shutter Inoperative and Check Engine | PriusChat

    There is a way to do it correctly that still looks clean, though.
     
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  8. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    Good point. You'd want to snake the cord through right at the grill corner, or around headlight? Check operation of the active shutters.
     
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  9. Kremtok

    Kremtok Smug Alert!

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    I'll take some photos and post them after work today.
     
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  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    That's not a bad deal. The part is around $80, but it's not a fun install. And having the dealership do it is better for warranty I think, no finger pointing if it fails prematurely.
     
  11. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Given that I went through this:

    Extreme Cold Weather Performance | PriusChat

    I'd say, yes, go with a block heater.

    Benefits:
    • Faster engine warm up time since you're giving your engine a head start by pre-heating
    • I don't have the numbers but I'm pretty sure it's cheaper to warm up the engine with electricity than burning fuel at -25°C
    • Cabin heat comes on sooner - A thermally efficient engine is great for fuel economy but not so great for heat (Why do you think those V8s cars have fantastic heaters? lol)
    • Your engine isn't starting from the ambient air temperature so potentially less wear and tear
    • You can still benefit from it even at 0°C or +5°C (but you don't need it plugged in for as long.. maybe 20-30 mins instead of 2 hours. You do have active grille shutters which can help. I have to manually block the grille with foam pipe insulation on my Gen 3).
    • Finally, because your engine can get up to operating temperature faster, it can shut down sooner, allowing you to benefit from the hybrid system even in the winter.

    Cons:
    • Well, there's the cost of installing it
    • Some extra electricity cost at home (but free at work!)


    The fact that I can keep my Gen 3 is the 5.x L/100km range all winter with the EBH and manual grille block should say something. My commute is only 10-12km long so it's short and I need the EBH to ensure engine shut-off so I can glide or drive in EV mode. I use the EBH at work since I park in a garage at home. The worst tank I got was 6.11L/100km calculated by hand and that was the week it hit -46°C in the morning that one day (and most of the tank was done in -20°C to -30°C temps)


    As for aesthetics, well mine is in the lower grille but I don't know if you can do that in the Gen 4 with the active grille shutters. Here's a photo if you want to see how it looks. It's not very noticeable. I stuff the plug between the grille slats (unlike in the photo) to make it even less noticeable.

    DSCN3227.jpg


    A side benefit of full hybrids in the winter is that you never crank the engine (even if you didn't plug in the EBH). All you're simply doing is "turning on the computer". This means there's less wear on the engine. It also means less stress on the 12V lead-acid battery since you're not draining the battery to crank an alternator. As long as the 12V battery can start up the computer, you're fine. MG1 is responsible for starting the engine. I don't know if start-up speed is different but during driving, MG1 spins the engine to idle speed before firing the ignition. A normal car with an alternator spins the engine to about 100 rpm before firing it up so the engine has to spin up from 100 to idle speed (new engines are about 800 rpm).
     
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