Prius 3, PTC/AUX heaters

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Technical Discussion' started by 4md, Jan 14, 2018.

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  1. 4md

    4md Member

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    Hello everyone, let's discuss the PTC heaters in Prius3. I did a lot of digging about it, but couldn't find answers that everyone agrees on.
    As far as I read, every prius 2 or 3 has ptc heaters, even if it was made for hot climate even if it's not equipped with heated seats or the "thermos" for the coolant. Is that true?

    Another thing that not everyone agrees on is the temp settings. If the interior temperature is 35*F and the climate control is set to 72, does this mean that the air mix damper is in "MAX HOT" position? Or we have to set the temp to "Hi" to achieve it?

    The same is for the blower speed. Do we need to run it on max speed to turn the heaters on?

    Some say that the AC must be turned on, others say it doesn't matter?
     
  2. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    You know, I've had the same questions ever since I had my Gen 1 (which also had the PTC heaters, by the way), but it took your message here to actually get me off my butt to go out to the car, plug in Techstream, and watch. It's about -7 C outside here, at the moment.

    You don't have to set the temperature to anything specific. The Techstream reading of the air mix position went to 93 (as high as it goes) whenever the inside temperature is appreciably below the temperature I set. Since the lowest my US temperature can be set is 65 F, and it's below 20 F outside, that meant the damper stayed at position 93 throughout my test. The only way I could make it move was to set the temperature on notch lower, to 'LO' (which calls for unconditional cooling), and that swung the damper all the way to position 6, as far as it goes in the other direction. Move the temperature setting back up one notch to 65 F again, and the damper swings fully back to 93.

    Presumably, once the interior temperature starts to get near your setpoint, the air mix may modulate to some more intermediate position. But as long as there is much difference between setpoint and reality, the damper will be at one extreme or the other trying to correct it.

    What puzzled me at first was that I did not see a nonzero "electric heater active level" under any combination of control settings I tried. They were simply not turning on at all. At last I realized I had the car in ECO mode. I turned that off, and right away, the active level went to 1, and a few seconds later to 2, and then to 3 (the maximum).

    It remained at level 3 throughout my testing, which surprised me. I had always understood the PTC heaters to be a stopgap that would cut out as soon as the engine was moderately warm. But I saw them stay right at level 3 even as the engine shut down, having reached 58 C. This was still with my temp setting only at 65 F, and regardless of the blower setting.

    As with the air mix damper, I could only get the elements to turn off by setting the temperature to LO, so the damper swings to 6 and the elements, of course, turn off. Raise the setting again one notch back to 65 F and the elements came right back on at level 1. They seemed to have longer delays that time between incrementing to level 2 and then 3, but they still ultimately did.

    ECO mode seems to lock them out completely, though, at least as far as I can tell.

    A/C did not have to be turned on. That would be a pretty strange requirement....

    -Chap
     
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  3. Maarten28

    Maarten28 Active Member

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    Does every 3rd gen Prius have PTC heaters, also in Europe? First I've heard of it...
     
  4. 4md

    4md Member

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    Chap, this was great information, thank you!
    Do you feel the air to be any hotter when the PTC heaters are activated when you put your hand on the air vents?
    I don't feel any difference and I'm starting to wonder if they're installed or enabled. Do you know if there's an option in the Techstream to enable/disable them?
     
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i have never felt any sense of the air getting even slightly warmer in 3 pri over 14 years.
     
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  6. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Yeah, back when I measured their current draw in my Gen 1, they seemed to be worth about 700 watts when all operating. Not peanuts, and every little bit counts, but that's small compared to the 5300 watts the Gen 1 and 2 heater core is good for once the coolant is warmed up. (I don't have the Gen 3 New Car Features book in front of me for that spec.) I've never been able to say I felt a distinct difference in the air coming out.

    I did get the 700 watt figure using an actual meter, so I do know they were coming on!

    -Chap
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    probably why early pip adopters tried putting 1,500 watt heaters in the car to preheat, but gave it up as a bad job.
     
  8. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Armed with this newfound knowledge, I now turn ECO mode off if I'm starting the car first thing on an icy morning to put on the front defrost before getting out to chip at the windshield. Now that, really, does noticeably help, more than doing the same thing with ECO on.

    So, throwing in an extra 700 watts in the right conditions can have a use after all.

    -Chap
     
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  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    thanks, i have never had eco off, i'll give it a try.
     
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