Your Vehicle’s Block Heater

engine block heater, when to plug in your block heater

Ensuring a Warm Start: 

The Crucial Role of Your Vehicles Block Heater in Edmonton

For vehicle owners facing the harsh chill of winter, the engine block heater emerges as a savior against the frigid temperatures that can take a toll on a vehicle’s performance. In this detailed guide, we will explore the intricacies of engine block heaters, shedding light on their functionality, the importance of plugging in, and how they play a vital role in ensuring a smooth and reliable start in cold climates.

Understanding Engine Block Heaters

Warming the Heart of Your Vehicle

Engine block heaters are electrical devices designed to pre-warm the engine’s coolant and components, particularly the engine block itself. By doing so, these heaters mitigate the challenges posed by extreme cold weather conditions, ensuring a more efficient and smoother start for the vehicle.

How Engine Block Heaters Work
Harnessing Heat for Improved Performance

The core of an engine block heater is a heating element installed directly into the engine block or the coolant system. This element warms the coolant and, consequently, the entire engine.

Thermostat Control
Many modern engine block heaters are equipped with thermostatic controls

These controls regulate the temperature, ensuring that the heating element operates only when necessary. This prevents unnecessary energy consumption and maintains an optimal engine temperature.

Warmth Distribution

As the engine block heater warms the coolant, the heat spreads throughout the engine through convection, preventing the formation of ice and reducing the strain on critical engine components.

The Importance of Plugging In 
Unveiling the Cold Weather Challenge

The effectiveness of an engine block heater relies on being plugged into an external power electrical outlet. Plugging in the heater allows it to operate, warming the engine and preparing it for a more efficient start in cold conditions. This is especially crucial in Edmonton where temperatures can plummet to levels that impede the normal functioning of a cold engine.

Benefits of Using Engine Block Heaters
A Winter Warrior’s Advantage


  • Easier Cold Starts:
    Engine block heaters significantly ease the strain on the engine during cold starts, reducing wear on critical components and enhancing overall reliability.


  • Fuel Efficiency:
    A warmed engine operates more efficiently, requiring less fuel during the initial startup phase. This contributes to improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
  • Battery Preservation:
    Cold temperatures can adversely affect battery performance. By using an engine block heater, the load on the battery is reduced, extending its lifespan and ensuring a reliable power source.
  • Reduced Wear and Tear:
    Cold starts can contribute to increased wear on engine components. Engine block heaters mitigate this by ensuring that the lubricants circulate more efficiently, reducing friction and wear.
  • Faster Interior Heating:
    A pre-warmed engine means that the vehicle’s heating system can start producing warm air more quickly, enhancing passenger comfort.
  • When to Use an Engine Block Heater: Strategically Battling the Cold
  • Extreme Cold Conditions:
    Engine block heaters are particularly beneficial when temperatures drop significantly, typically below freezing. In these conditions, using the heater can prevent issues associated with cold starts.
  • Extended Parking Periods:
    If your vehicle will be parked for an extended period in cold weather, using the engine block heater is advisable. This ensures that the engine remains warm and ready for efficient startup.
Diesel Engines

Diesel engines, in particular, can benefit greatly from engine block heaters, as they often require additional assistance in cold conditions.

How to Use an Engine Block Heater

Plugging in for Success

  • Locating the Block Heater Cord:
    The engine block heater cord is typically attached to the front of the vehicle and may be accompanied by a protective cover. Locate the cord, ensuring it is not damaged.
  • Use an Appropriate Extension Cord:
    If an extension cord is necessary, use one designed for low temperature, outdoor use and with the proper amperage rating to safely power the engine block heater.
  • Plug into a Grounded Outlet:
    Connect the engine block heater to a grounded electrical outlet. Ensure the outlet is functioning properly and that the heater is securely plugged in.
  • Set a Timer if Available:
    Some engine block heaters come with timers. If available, use a timer to ensure that the heater operates for an optimal duration, preventing unnecessary energy consumption.
Common Misconceptions
Dispelling Myths Surrounding Engine Block Heaters 
  • Continuous Operation:
    Engine block heaters do not need to run continuously. They are designed to warm the engine within a specific timeframe, usually a few hours before starting the vehicle.
  • Unnecessary in Moderately Cold Climates:
    While engine block heaters are more commonly associated with extremely cold climates, they can provide benefits in regions where temperatures regularly drop below freezing. Plug in your block heater at -15 degrees Celsius.
  • Energy Consumption Concerns:
    The energy consumed by an engine block heater is relatively low compared to the fuel savings and reduced wear on the engine. The overall impact on energy consumption is minimal.
Choosing the Right Engine Block Heater
Tailoring to Your Vehicle’s Needs


  • Manufacturer Recommendations: Adhering to Guidelines for Optimal Performance.
    Manufacturers often provide guidelines on the use of engine block heaters, including recommended operating times and temperature thresholds. Adhering to these recommendations ensures optimal performance and reliability.

All plugged in

In the battle against our Edmonton winter’s icy grip, the engine block heater stands as a stalwart ally, ensuring that your vehicle starts smoothly and operates efficiently in cold conditions. By understanding the function of engine block heaters, the importance of plugging in, and the benefits they bring, you can navigate winter with confidence, knowing that your engine is well-prepared for the challenges of frigid temperatures. As a winter warrior’s tool, the engine block heater is a testament to modern automotive technology’s ability to enhance both comfort and reliability in the harshest of conditions.

If all else fails, and you have run your battery down because you didn’t plug it in, here is a video on how to boost your battery — The right way.