An engine heater is used to keep an engine and its components from freezing in cold climates. They can operate on external power which can be generated by a power cord plugged into an outlet. The power cord engine heater is the most common and runs through the grille of the vehicle and into a standard power outlet. In regions such as the northern U.S. and Canada, it is not uncommon to see power outlets in front of many parking spaces to accommodate an engine heater. These parking spots with outlets are normally in muti-story parking garages which are exposed to the elements. Engine heaters can also be installed in a vehicle and ran on its own electricity or use the vehicles own gasoline/diesel fuel supply.
Engine heaters can replace one of the engines core plugs, or can be installed in line with the radiator or heater hoses. They work by circulating heated coolant, usually by thermosiphon, through the vehicles heater core and engine. Heaters are also available that warm the engines oil which allows warm oil to be circulated around the engine quickly at startup. Warming the oil is usually done through a heated dip stick which replaces the original equipment. Easier starts when using an engine heater are the result of warm engine oil and less condensation of the fuel and cold metal surfaces inside the engine. Advantages of using an engine heater include a faster heating of the passenger compartment, and reduced emission of unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide which is caused my condensation buildup in an engine.
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