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Parking heaters: Problem-free through the winter

Wolfgang Groeger-Meier
Parking heaters
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S heating systems are a great thing: they make the windows in winter free of ice and snow, without the driver having to do anything. Annoying scratching in the early morning is a thing of the past. They also preheat the engine. That means: You sit in a preheated vehicle during the frosty days - a very pleasant experience, and the envy of the neighbors is free of charge. Of course, it is easiest to order the parking heater when you buy a new car. But not every vehicle manufacturer offers the auxiliary heater as an extra for every model.

Parking heaters last the life of the car

All that remains is to look at the accessories market. There special installation kits are offered for almost all cars on the market. The costs for retrofitting a parking heater depend on various factors. This includes the heater, the desired control element and the installation effort in the workshop. On average, the workshops charge around 1,300 euros for the complete package. Since auxiliary heaters are always integrated into the cooling water circuit in vehicles, they also preheat the engine block. This reduces the wear and tear on the drive unit, which is particularly high during a cold start in winter. The winter use does not affect the heaters, they have been designed for these tasks and should normally last the life of the car. And that without an inspection. As a rule, parking heaters are maintenance-free - which many do not know.

Just as little do many know about the fuel consumption of a parking heater. A modern device does not need huge amounts of preheating in winter. With a half-hour heating phase, today's diesel parking heater consumes around 0.2 liters of fuel. At current fuel prices, this corresponds to around 25 cents. These costs are more than compensated by the significantly lower consumption in the warm-up phase.

Anyone who now believes that warming up the engine in winter can achieve the same effect as using the auxiliary heating is wrong. Consumption and pollution are three times as high as with a warm engine. In addition, it is forbidden to run the car unnecessarily - that costs a fine.

Auxiliary heating is more efficient

The question also arises as to whether warming up is the fastest method. This may be the case compared to conventional parking heaters, which need about half a heaterHour to preheat the drive unit and remove the ice from the windows.

In contrast, the latest generations, such as those in Webasto's range, are faster - thanks to integrated thermal management functions and intelligent control of the water circuits in the vehicle . In the best case, they only need half the time to preheat and are particularly a tip for short-distance drivers. 'We listened carefully to what our customers wanted: more flexibility in heating. And ideally a single solution for both short and long-distance journeys,' explains Klaus Hemmer, responsible for the global parking heater business at Webasto.

The new systems have another advantage: They conserve the vehicle battery because of the shorter running times. Because what should not be forgotten is the fact that an auxiliary heater not only needs fuel, but also electricity for the control functions. And it gets this from the battery. In other words: if you use the conventional devices in winter and then only cover short distances, you run the risk of an empty battery. That is why there is a rule of thumb: heating time equals driving time. This ensures that the alternator has enough time to recharge the battery.

Control via apps

Even when it comes to operating a parking heater, a lot has happened in recent years. It can now be started in many ways. Either via the control element in the car or conveniently via a timer or remote control. Depending on the version, the mobile control tools even have the option of programming heating periods in advance. The phone start is a fine thing. A receiver takes commands from the phone provided it can send multi-frequency dial tones or SMS. Smartphone owners benefit from free apps that use the Apple iPhone or Android device to remotely control the heating.

A modern parking heater is versatile: You can even use it in summer when the heat is building up in the car . If the driver switches on the auxiliary heater fan minutes before the start, the interior of the car is significantly cooled with fresh air. Clever!

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