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  #1  
Old 10-22-2012
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Oil Pan Heater

A fellow boater at our marina swears by the use of oil pan heaters. A thin 8" x 5" or so adhesive pad that sticks to the bottom of the oil pan. Typically 120 volt AC to power it. The motor acts as a heat sink and slightly warms the engine compartment and the rest of the boat. They seem to run $50 or so. Being in the pacific northwest we do not get severe cold weather but occasionally drops into the low 20's for a couple days at a time.

It seems like an interesting idea although hmmm, in another way seems a bit scary.

Thoughts?

Craig
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Oil Pan Heater

We have used a similar idea (a small 250W plate heater in the engine box) to good effect. It certainly eases starting over the winter by keeping the oil warm.

On our current boat we tend to keep some heat on and this engine is not quite so reluctant to start cold, so I've not added the heater yet.
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Oil Pan Heater

This the one I am looking at
Wolverine Model 16 Engine Heater - For most 6 cylinder and small block V8 engines

It has ground which many don't seem to have, 250 watt. It still makes me nervous but it could really be great. My fuel filter is also in the engine compartment so it would also benefit.

-craig
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Oil Pan Heater

Craig, they use them on cars in Alaska and Canada and New England pretty commonly. The purpose of an oil pan heater is to keep the oil warm, and therefore thin, for easy starting. And it mighg keep excess moisture from condensation away, assuming you don't normally run the engine enough (20-30 minutes at a shot) to do that.

Now, when it is 40 below zero out, that's a big deal. But if you are someplace where you don't need to wear a coat and hat...just use multi-viscosity oil. There are all sorts of multi-vis oils out today, 5W30, 0W40, and anything like that will allow your engine to start up with very little effort, then lubricate properly at operating temperatures.

I have yet to hear a good reason from anyone why a multi-vis can't be used, even when the original engine maker was too lazy to specify one.

Of course if you REALLY want to pamper your engine, you do what marine aviation folks do. A lube failure in mid-ocean is not a good thing for a flying boat, so they used to build in pre-oilers. Throw a switch, the electric oil pump starts, you build oil pressure and lubricate the entire engine BEFORE you hit the starter. Engines just love that. A bit cheaper to just use a premium multi-viscosity oil these days though.
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Oil Pan Heater

I have had them on a lot of equipment and trucks over the years. If you can install one, a block heater is much more effective than a pan heater as it heats the cooling passages all around the cylinders as opposed to the oil sitting in the pan. The advantage of the pan heater is that the oil is warmer and pumps easier, the block heater does a better job of making it easier to start which is a bigger deal in my opinion. If you have a fresh water cooled engine, you can buy a block heater and install it.

As already suggested, oil selection can deal with a lot of this. I have not installed a block heater since I have switched to using all synthetic, split weight oils as it is no longer necessary. When you try to start an engine with straight 40 weight, it rolls over super slow but with modern oils, they roll over quickly and start well.

In my opinion, there are other ways to address cold starting that get closer to the root of the problems.
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Oil Pan Heater

Hey,

What problem are your trying to solve? If you need to start your engine in cold (say under 50 degree F) days, then this might be a good idea. If you don't need to do that, then I can't think of what good that heater will be. As mentioned, use a good multiweight oil, use engine glow plugs (if your engine has them), keep the battery charged, and you should not have any problems.

Barry
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Old 10-23-2012
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Re: Oil Pan Heater

As my marina buddy explained to me, once the motor warms over a few days the engine compartment acts as a source of heat for the whole boat with a 250 watt oil pan heater. Additionally, any moisture in the compartment gets completely dealt with. Now, I did not actually go on his boat to validate, but he was rather impassioned about the whole approach. In our temperate climate, moisture is the issue not freezing as such. I do have caframo dehumidifiers, as does he, so I was simply going to add another caframo to the engine compartment. His suggestion seemed intriguing to me as they each cost about the same.

My main concern was about the safety of essentially adding a high temperature heating pad to the bottom of the oil pan. The Wolverine product does seem pretty safe and tested over many years of safe use.

Last edited by kellysails; 10-23-2012 at 12:34 PM. Reason: changed word order
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