Optimal settings for the night stealth camping in cold weather (below 32F) and how often engine...

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by OutdoorsPrius, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    Optimal heating settings for the night stealth camping in cold weather (below 32F and 0C) and how often Prius should have to start gas engine to warmup?



    I would like to know what are the optimum heating settings in cold weather stealth camping (sleeping) (below 32F and 0C)?


    With this I mean that Prius should start engine as seldom as possible to help get better sleep and better stealth camping!


    How often Prius 2nd gen has to start to warmup engine in 32F(0C), 14F(-10C), -4F(-20C)?

    I have read posts from couple minutes up to 10-20 minutes? And how long the engine runs when it turns on?


    I would like to maximize the time between engine startups at night. What heating settings have you found to be optimal for the 2nd gen Prius?


    I have found that in 30-40F (0-5C) weather:

    -temp set 66F (19C), fan speed manual 1, inside air circulation, AC off, airflow to feet or feet&face.

    -engine runs about 30s-60s and then stops for about 3-6minutes. Should these times be longer or is this normal?


    Thanks.
    2005 Prius
     
  2. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Well, I've camped a bunch of times at rest stops when it's only 15 degrees F / -9 degree C out.

    I have sunshades with reflective foil in them for all the windows, which probably helps a little...

    But I'll never be the energy wasting fool who leaves their car on all night to keep the interior cool or warm depending on summer or winter.

    What I do it is put on tons of layers and a hooded jacket and cover myself in lots of blankets, then when I can no longer sleep because it's starting to get too cold I turn the heater on full blast pumping through the floor vents till the interior is super toasty warm (less than 1/2 hours) and then I turn the car off and go back to sleep. The coldest evening I've had to do this no more than twice to sleep comfortably.

    This seems less wasteful than other ways, but I haven't done the research to be certain...
     
  3. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    Your asking about the operating parameters of a 14 year old car. There must be 100 different things that could affect how often your car would start, no one can give you a precise answer. Whatever you do please use a carbon monoxide detector if you plan on being in a sitting car for an extended period.
     
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  4. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    I was going to give your post a like but basically calling the guy a fool stopped me. I agree with the rest though.
     
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  5. oldtechaa

    oldtechaa Active Member

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    The numbers seem about right based on my car. I don't know as I would be concerned about CO in a Prius when you have several minutes between run periods.
     
  6. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    Well if you do math, your way is about the same ”energy wasting” than this other method and not so comfortable. You didn’t even mention how long did you sleep. But if you blast full for one hour per night. And this constant method turns on the engine for total one hour for about 6-8 hour sleep (constant 19c). Both methods use about half gallon (~2L) of gasoline?

    Prius lowest temp setting seems to be 16c (61F)? and this should give even better efficiency? And should be enough comfortable with good winter blanket and thick mattress.. I have not yet tried 16c for overnight at freezing temperatures.

    I wish heating temp could be set lower than 16c... and there would be a way to set minimum engine warmup time to couple minutes (at night), so engine would not need to start so frequently...

    I’m ready to sleep some nights even without heating with my winter sleeping bag (-30C).

    And of course everyone should use carbon monoxide detector. I have one that shows also temperature.
    And don’t park on “bowl” and try to park car nose to the wind.
     
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  7. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    Ok, thanks for confirmation. I wish 2nd gen Prius would use a little longer engine (couple minutes instead of 30s) heating sessions when parked for a longer time. Maybe it does while sleeping?, hard to tell. Software update?

    Sometimes engine runs about two minute and it seems to give about 10-15min of heating ( 40F weather), but usually it seems to run only for 30-60s. A little longer engine heating at night might be even more efficient and more comfortable for sure. And more stealth.

    Always use CO detector.
     
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  8. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    I’m not settled yet which heating settings are the best for the night. I have to do more testing but it might be good to try ‘airflow to face mode’ and tilt those middle air flows to point over the middle seats towards the ceiling... to the sleeping area.

    Auto mode seems to do good job also, but it’s fan noise is a little louder? (even when it shows air flow speed 1) when compared to manual air flow speed 1 !?

    When the weather is in 30-40sF, my parked Prius in Auto heating mode (ac off, inside air flow) seems to be able to use fan speed 1 when inside temp is set to 19c(66f), but if you raise temp to 19.5(67f) it will use min fan speed 2 (and it doesn’t lower it even with time).
    I’m assuming in weather like -10c(14f), 19c heating setting will have to use higher fan speed than 1?

    Prius seems to be a great car for hikers and outdoors people. It has a big flat bed for plenty of room for a big mattress, room foor two to sleep comfortably.
    A small warm home after a long hike.

    Small consumption, reliability and intelligent heating are +++++

    I’m waiting for the colder temperatures :)
    And skiing and snowshoeing.
     
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  9. Gen2Prii

    Gen2Prii New Member

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    Don't worry about wasting fuel because the Prius sips gas. It becomes a very efficient generator when running it overnight for camping.
    If you don't want to run the car overnight, get a low-temp sleeping bag from Teton. They're big and fluffy rated at 0° and -25°.
    I used that for one winter in the Rockies and it was invaluable. Just park the car with the heat blasting. When the cab is toasty, shut off the car and get into your sleeping bag. The warm bag will hold the heat all night.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
    #9 Gen2Prii, Nov 30, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
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  10. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    The age of the car has nothing to do with performance of the heating when comparing 2nd gen prius. There are differences between different generations, but 2nd gen prius cars should work the same way and of course we are talking about cars with healthy batteries.

    Extra window insulations/covers etc. will help and it would be nice to hear what kind of results other prius owners get with their heating settings and what improvements they have done to their cars.

    The main reason I asked this in the first place was that I wanted to know if others 2nd gen owners are experiencing different engine on off times in cold weather situations than my Prius. Is my prius heating working properly? Could it be better with software update? Etc.

    ~2min engine on and ~15min off, would be more ideal for camping, than ~30s on and ~ 2min off with the same outside temperature.

    But it seems, at least 2nd gen, engine will run quite short time and often?

    It would be interesting to know if this is the case in newer generations also?
     
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  11. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    For many reasons it seems less safe to leave your car on all night unattended while you sleep inside it... Not just the risk of exhaust poisoning, but also driving the next day is way less safe due to being unknowingly sleep deprived because most people's bodies will come out of their most deep restful sleep stage every time the engine goes on and off.

    You could easily wake up and get back into your road trip thinking you had enough hours of sleep, but you really didn't get deep recovery sleep and driving hundreds of miles non-stop is not safe if you're still sleepy! For me personally, I don't sleep hardly at all if my engine is running because when I'm in my car and my engine is running I'm conditioned to be driving and a super safety conscious kind of alert and aware and that's not how a good night sleep works.

    I will continue to use my method of being woken up from being too cold and then heating up the car super hot inside for less than a 1/2 hour and then falling into a deep, deep sleep because I'm so cozy and warm once I turn off the car. It also gives me the option of using less energy because some nights when it's super cold, if my sleeping gear doesn't come undone, I can sleep through the cold and barely even notice.

    Also an essential winter survival tip that you can read in most winter survival guides: It takes more energy to keep your body warm on a full bladder, than on an empty bladder. 1/2 the time I wake up cold with a full bladder, I warm back up real quick after relieving myself, which also means I have less need to turn the car on and use the heater.
     
    #11 PriusCamper, Nov 30, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
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  12. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    Thanks for the reply, I also have a very good sleeping system (-35C) that I use when doing winter outdoor hikes. I will keep that in car at winter time.

    Prius seems to have efficient generator & heating system combo, but I would like it to run its engine little longer and have a little longer engine off times. It would be better for stealth camping and maybe for sleep. Couple nights that I have already slept in Prius, I didn’t have any problems with engine start vibration or fan speed noise.

    TIP
    I think it helps a lot to vibration if you turn the tires to almost extreme position when parking! (and using foot parking pedal)
    TIP

    Less frequent engine start vibrations might still give better sleep? and maybe even more efficient heating performance? Toyota engineers, software update?
     
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  13. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    People have different sleeping habits for sure. I have found that I might have bought a better feeling mattress to my Prius that I have at home ;)

    And I have an option to sleep in a car in the harshest conditions at winter without any heating, just by using winter sleeping bags (-35C). The wide, thick and comfy mattress (car) helps a lot compared to narrow air mattresses (tent).

    I like that Prius gives an option to heat the cabin without running the engine all the time. It’s also nice to be able to cuddle with your gf in comfy temperature in the middle of the night :)

    So far I’m very pleased with this car. Suits my needs very well.

    I’m keen to find out how it performs when temperature drops to -25C(-13F).
     
  14. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Apart from the driver's cabin heat demand, the goal set in the computer is to keep the engine coolant warm enough that the engine can burn gasoline cleanly, with less of the pollution generated from a cold start. The best way they found to do that is short runs with lots of restarts.

    It sounds like yours is working correctly.

    The best hack you could do for less frequent engine starts would be a block heater. You might even get somewhere by powering the block heater from the car itself.
     
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  15. Landon51

    Landon51 Member

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    I agree with op. more and longer runs would be best. It's probably not best spec, but i often force charge my battery to just under green or the first green bar. this will give me a good long run.

    Have you heard of Hobbit? he used to post on here with some extremely thorough research on prii.

    He worked on some complicated upgrades that allowed a person to run the Prius blower that the AC uses (for fresh air). When run off a second battery, it used a lot less power than when run with the car powered on.

    I can't get to bookmarks right now, but will try to find and post it here later today.



    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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  16. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    You mentioned the desire for Stealth camping... And leaving the car on all night means that a fussy overly-sensitive person within earshot of your vehicle will hear your engine starting up regularly all night and each time it starts up they'll get more upset... Whereas if you limit using the engine to just one or two events in the middle of the night you'll draw way less attention to yourself.
     
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  17. oil_burner

    oil_burner Active Member

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    I know exactly what you are trying to do, because I tried the same thing last year in temps from -10c to -20c. But I was not stealth camping, I was at a campsite with electrical outlet. So I used an extension cord to keep the block heater plugged in and also to keep a 12V battery tender 1.5amp charge on the 12V battery at all times. Because I was thinking this would minimize the electrical discharge and also help to make the time between starts longer, and add some heat to the engine with the block heater.

    My equipment:
    -20c sleeping bag
    -carbon monoxide detector using 9V battery and low battery alarm
    -covered the grill openings

    So I will say that by camping like this for 14 days, I ruined my engine. The car would start about once each 20 minutes and run for 3-5 minutes if I kept the heat on +1 from lowest and fan on min. I believe the repeated cold start was too stressful to the engine, and it never got a chance to warm up completely, oil still remained cold. After 7 days I noticed some strong odors and the cause was a blown head gasket. The engine was fine prior to this and just finished a 300 mile highway journey.

    I really don't know what happened but I have 2 theories.

    1. The cold start added a lot of wear and tear, and a weak head gasket could not take it.

    2. The exhaust condensation never had a chance to heat up enough to evaporate, and thru the night repeatedly froze ice inside and built up each night more and more until it was nearly plugged. And the extreme back pressure caused the head gasket to blow.

    So I don't recommend you do this, even under ideal conditions I damaged my engine. What I ended up doing after a week was to put a 1000W space heater on the dash, it had a tip over sensor and overheat sensor. I had to run it at nearly full power to keep the cabin warm once it was -20C and I kept the windows opened about 1cm to get fresh air. Keeping the windows shut also is a bad idea because your bag will accumulate a lot of moisture, after a couple of days the bag became damp and suddenly lost all insulating capability.

    So for me to save about 2 weeks of motel fees cost $700 for a junkyard engine and a week of my time to swap my engine. Not worth it. If I HAD to do it, I would put the Prius in maintenance mode and let it idle the entire night because at least the oil and coolant will be fully at operating temp, same with the cat. You may burn 5L of fuel each night, but that's still cheaper than damaging any part of your engine or catalytic convertor.
     
  18. Landon51

    Landon51 Member

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    Here's the page i thought you might be interested in .. why would you be interested? Your car won't have to turn off and on all night. Charge the battery driving during the day and never turn it on at night.

    Prius camping

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
  19. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    You mean a block heater that is plucked in to a electric outlet? That is out of the question because I will usually park places where there is no electric outlets.

    “You might even get somewhere by powering the block heater from the car itself.”
    What do you mean with this? Sounds too experimental and impractical. Has anyone done this?

    I already have used pipe insulations to block the front grills of my prius. I also have tinted back windows. Next I will have to plan something for the window insulations.
     
  20. OutdoorsPrius

    OutdoorsPrius New Member

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    Thanks for the link, I will check that later today.

    I think Toyota engineers optimized this heating thinking about just shorter stops (~max 1/2-1 hour after park(engine still hot when first parked)).

    Change from half minute to two-three minutes (engine on) would make a big difference in engine off times (in cold weather). I don’t understand why they didn’t program it like that. Maybe they didn’t even think overnight heating. It would heat more the engine and engine coolant and give less frequent and less stressful starts to engine.
     
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