Prius mods part 3.1 – DEFA Engine Block Heater

Finally. After several weeks of postage (preceded by a month or two of umming and ahhing) I received the DEFA SafeStart engine block heater (EBH) I’ve been waiting for.

To recap, an EBH attaches to the engine and is plugged into the mains. Some designs attach to the oil sump or sit inline to a coolant hose. Originally used in extreme cold conditions to allow an engine to start at all, EBH are now being promoted to improve fuel consumption and emissions. For the Prius the particular advantage is that the car can move to a higher “stage” faster and therefore reach efficient operation sooner.

DEFA SafeStart engine heater, connection kit and loads of catalogues

Package arrived with two thick catalogues full of Waeco camping and car accessories. In total the cost was 214.45 EUR or about AUD280 at the time. (I wonder how much cheaper the 55 EUR postage would have been without those books? At least I didn’t have to pay 19% sales tax in Germany!) Since Waeco in Australia is synonymous with travel fridges and seat coolers, you can see why I couldn’t buy an engine heater from them and had to import one instead.

The parts list includes the EBH, connecting cables, brackets etc. and is very neatly presented.

DEFA SafeStart and PlugIn for Prius – Clockwise from top right: 5m lead; bracket and heatsink compound; engine heater; power cable with weather-proof connector, connector brackets; CEE 7/7 plug to AS/NZS 3112 adapter model’s own

You can possibly see how it all connects from the photo above: the EBH plugs into one end of the black lead. At the other end is a weatherproof socket that attaches to the grille or bumper; somewhat like a caravan socket. The green lead connects from the socket to the mains.

Toyota Canada market and fit their own EBH for a mere CAD249 on new Toyotas, though the same basic unit is available from PriusChat for USD59. The EBH is about the size of a lipstick and fits snugly within a hole in the engine block and runs at 120V 400W.

The DEFA SafeStart runs at 230V 300W, is much larger (100mm x 48mm and 40mm deep) and clamps to the engine. The instructions aren’t entirely clear on where it clamps, so I’ll be translating the various languages in the single paragraph to get clearer directions.

The installation process will need to wait until I have a good look.


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