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Engine Block Heaters

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 240
Posted by: David
Posted on: Monday, 5th February 2007

Engine Block Heaters are frequently seen failures in the field during winters. The purpose of the Block Heater is to heat the coolant or the radiator fluid inorder for the engine to start during cold winters. Element of the Block Heater heats up when current is applied and causes the coolant circulating though it to heat up. If there is a leak in the coolant, the element fails as it gets exposed to air. Also if the thermostat or the switch fails the Block Heater fails thus causing the heating process to fail leading to starting problems. How can this problem be addressed. Is there a TRIZ definition of the problem for heating an engine or maintaining a constant temperature without using an element which could potentially fail when the coolant level is low or if the anti-freeze mix is not proper leading to scale formation on the element ?

Message: 241
Posted by: Michael S. Slocum
Posted on: Tuesday, 6th February 2007


There is a specific problem-solution decomposition that yields your current dilema (simplified to illustrate a point):

problem: I want to go from point A to point B

solution: mechanical transportation aid

problem 2: must start to operate

solution 2: integrate electronic ignition system

problem 3: system doesnt work well in cold weather

solution 3: use a block heater to keep the system warm

problem 4a: coolant leak causes block heater failure

problem 4b: thermostat fails causing block heater failure

problem 4c: switch fails causing block heater failure

The problem-solution decomposition gives us insight concerning our “points of problem solving” entry:

Problem Strategic at the Strategic Level–> we can address the original problem, problem 2, or problem 3…work here will lead us towards the generation of competing systems 

Problem Solving at the Tactical Level–> we can address problem 4a, 4b, or 4c.

Your final question was specifically related to problem statement 3 and could be formulated such that a competing system (instead of the block heater) would be generated.

There is alot more to say but I hope this gats you started.


Michael S. Slocum 

Message: 259
Posted by: Pentti Soderlin
Posted on: Saturday, 10th February 2007

David, and Michael S. Slocum,

your problem statement and “strategies” & “tactics” are of outer space. I think if your engine leaks coolant, you are in trouble in any weather. Same applies to the thermostat and the switch. So get your components in order, define the reasons of poor performance, change your supplier or do smthg the like. No TRIZ needed sofar unless you have done smthg to “improve” the previous design and run to difficulties. Maybe simply the TC would help?

Message: 264
Posted by: Mike Carnell
Posted on: Monday, 12th February 2007


I think Pentti made some good points with regards to other component failures. Those are separate issues from block heater failures. Block heater failures are a function of? (Y= f(x) where block heater failures are the Y and the thermostat and coolant leaks are x's. Fix the x's.

Have you locked yourself into a paradigm? The object is to heat the engine to ease starting in cold weather. First I would think it would be important to know at what temperature there is a significant difference in ease of starting. It seems difficult to believe that heating the coolant can move the temperature of a chunk of metal significantly in a short period of time. (Maybe the customers are more interested in how quickly the heater blows hot air?) Why do you need to reach that temperature by heating the water? What do air cooled engines do to start in cold weather? Can you heat the oil? Do you need to change the temperature of the entire engine or just the temperature of the cylinders? What happens if you warm just the intake manifold? Warm the fuel line? We have cold crank batteries.

If you are being driven by less reliable components that it would be advantageous to either improve the reliability of those components or find a differnt method that excludes those components.

Just my opinion.

Good luck