Freezing my ass off!
December 16, 2009 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Have you had any experience with in-car extra heaters like the ones on the linked page? example types

I live in the frigid north and although I have a garage (unheated), I still suffer through starting a freezing car. Especially when it's parked outside my office all day. So I wondered about getting an extra dashboard or under-the-seat heater. From the linked page, it looks like there are a wide variety.

My first question: since most seem to run off the car's 12v plug, won't that drain the battery? Especially in below zero temps when the car is vulnerable to dying anyway? If it's not a problem, how long can you keep them running: all night so it's warm in the morning? all day while I'm working?

If you have one, let me know how it has worked for you and which one you would recommend.

Thank you much!
posted by Eicats to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah, they'll drain the battery. You don't want to run it when the engine isn't running.

You might consider getting a remote starter; that's what my brother used in a sub-arctic environment. Then you can, from your office, start the car 15 minutes before you're ready to leave. (Not something you want to do in a closed garage, though.)
posted by 6550 at 12:31 PM on December 16, 2009

Second the remote starter, and maybe a set (or just 1) aftermarket seat heater. I installed mine by myself in an afternoon in high school. Those are toasty for sure.
posted by kenbennedy at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2009

I know a few people who've bought the 12-volt ones. They're essentially useless because you can only get 100 watts or so out of the cigarette lighter plug, and only when the engine is running (otherwise the battery goes flat, as you suspected.)

The more powerful 120-volt car interior heaters that you plug into an outlet are much more effective. As long as there's actually an outlet available, of course. If there is, then you might consider a block heater or coolant circulation heater instead. These will warm up the engine a bit for you, so you'll get heat out of the air vents much sooner, while also making your car easier to start and more fuel-efficient.

A friend who really hates the cold has done both: coolant heater to warm up the engine, on a timer to turn it on a couple of hours before needing to use the car. Then 15 minutes of running a 120-volt interior heater to warm up the inside of the car a bit just before heading out.
posted by FishBike at 1:11 PM on December 16, 2009

If you are up for it, a seat heater I think is a more efficient way of warming you up than heating all that cold air to indirectly warm you up. At least the seat heater dumps the heat directly to your body (and the seat, on the reverse side). Of course it won't help anyone in the back seat, or any seat that doesn't have a seat heater. What kind of vehicle are we talking about here?
posted by kenbennedy at 1:16 PM on December 16, 2009

Thanks for the responses so far: we're talking about a small 4-door car.

And yes, I'm aware of engine block-heaters- this is the first car I've owned that doesn't have one. I've just never shelled out the money/time to get one installed because I have a garage.

I was considering the little in-car heaters because I was wondering if it would be an easy and inexpensive compromise to running out to start up my car early. Although like I suspected- it sounds like they're worthless.

I truly wish I could afford a remote car starter!

At least from what you've all said, I won't waste my money on trying one of these cigarette lighter options.
posted by Eicats at 1:27 PM on December 16, 2009

yeah, i've not heard anything good about the cigarette lighter variety. i've got built-in buttwarmers in my car seats (they came with the car) and they're pretty spiffy.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:55 PM on December 16, 2009

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