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The Choice Between Air or Coolant Engine-Off Heating

Posted by Cummins Expert on

Warm your cab and lower engine maintenance costs.

It’s cold outside, and idling the engine seems like the clear way to warm up the engine and get the cab all nice and toasty, right? Wrong! Idling is harmful to the engine for a number of reasons, mainly due to fuel waste and increased engine wear by pitting, face plugging and thermal cracking. (Learn more about why engine idling isn’t the solution.)

The best solution for engine protection and cost savings is an engine-off heater. There are essentially two options: air or coolant-based models. Choosing which type will depend on your personal needs, typical climate conditions, and budget.

For a Warm Engine: Choose a Coolant Heater

Integrated into the engine’s coolant system, coolant heaters circulate the engine coolant over a heat exchanger to warm the engine and related components such as motor oil, fuel injectors, cylinders, and engine gaskets. This eases the strain on the starter when the tractor is started. Increasing the coolant temperatures prior to startup also reduces the amount of particulate matter entering the DPF, thereby extending DPF cleaning cycles and aiding in regenerations. In extreme conditions, an additional heat exchanger can be integrated into the system to warm fuel and hydraulic fluid.

Key benefits:

  • Lower filter overloading, face plugging and thermal cracking,
  • Lower PM emissions
  • Longer DPF service life, for decreased fuel and repair costs 

For a Warm Cab Only: Choose an Air Heater

If you are in a cold climate and looking to warm up the cab and bunk area without idling, an air heater is a more direct option. Just as the name sounds, air heaters pull cool air over the heat exchanger and then force controlled heat back into the truck interior. Air heaters are quiet and provide a quick return on their investment in fuel cost savings. 

Key benefits:

  • Quiet operation
  • Steady, reliable engine-off heat
  • Fuel cost savings
  • Requires less maintenance
  • Programmable for consistent control

For the Most Flexibility: Choose Both

Combining both air and coolant heating systems provides the most flexibility overall. You’ll have the option to safely preheat the engine and efficiently heat the cab and bunk while saving thousands in fuel and repair costs. 

See Cummins’ full selection of Webasto heaters, including air, coolant and tandem engine-off heaters and accessories.

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