China, Russia or Europe? Features and differences of engine preheaters
Like any equipment, automotive pre-heater is offered by manufacturers in different price segments and has “regional features” depending on the country of origin and brand. There is a choice, and differences in cost and quality can be very significant … We will study the features of preheater with different “pedigree” and determine what is right for you!
Prestarting heater – not to say that a mandatory but extremely useful device for any car allows you to make trips more comfortable, save time and fuel on warming up and significantly extend the life of the engine with warm winter starts. For some (as a rule, expensive cars of the upper price segment) this unit can be installed from the factory as a standard option. But much more often, car owners order the installation of the heater abnormally, since these devices are universal and easily mounted even on the Lada, at least on the Bentley. But among the manufacturers of the heaters themselves there are both their “frets” and their “Bentley” – the geography of companies producing such equipment is very wide. Let’s try to figure it out!
Chinese manufacturers have recently been actively exploring the market for automotive engine preheaters. They have already successfully passed the period of childhood illnesses in the segment of electric boilers powered by a 220 volt network, and enter the segment of fuel-powered liquid engine heaters and cabin air heaters. There are no more or less well-known brands here – the name of the manufacturer is either unpronounceable or not announced at all. Sometimes they try to pass off these products as Turkish or Polish, but the search on AliExpress puts everything in its place.
On the technical side, these devices approximately copy the products of well-known brands – basically, basically everything is the same there: a chamber for burning fuel, a heat exchanger, a fuel pump, a glow plug, an air supercharger, and an antifreeze pump. Here is just the best indicator of the level of development is the fact that the vast majority of Chinese manufacturers of such heaters make them to work only on diesel fuel. The Chinese most often prudently refuse to deal with gasoline, rightly assuming that with a low level of assembly, the potential dangers with slow-burning diesel fuel are much less … Actually, this is enough to understand the level of development and the “quality” of crafts from the Middle Kingdom.
China-made liquid pre-heater (diesel)
Chinese devices, of course, have a right to exist and someday they will certainly get to any acceptable quality. If you compare with the same Chinese auto industry, which has long been not the same, since it has radically improved its quality, then the current heaters from the Middle Kingdom look like a Chery Amulet 10-12 years ago. Remember such a machine? One of the first more or less massive “Chinese” in the Russian market, which, when hit, decreased in size by four, and without blows rotted “in the grass” in a few years …
The heater is connected to the tank, the fuel burns in it … The safety margin and the protection provided for from any conceivable and unimaginable malfunctions in such equipment should be at least triple! It’s hard to imagine that, being in your right mind, you can implant such a device from a manufacturer without a name into your own car … Yes, we repeat, once everything changes, and confidence will appear, but today it’s voluntary to become a beta tester of such products for their own , though not too big, money – thanks, no …
Domestic preheaters for cars are primarily Binar devices that are manufactured in Samara and quite successfully repeat the concept of development of European manufacturers in terms of selecting characteristics and forming a model range. Not so long ago, the Samara prestarting boilers were real “Frankenstein” in appearance and consisted of several blocks connected by hoses and wires, but today they got to the monoblock circuit and make a wide range of very compact and technological devices. In addition to the basic configuration with a timer and the ability to connect to an alarm, domestic heaters also have versions with control from a phone or smartphone. What is important: unlike the Chinese, all models of our boilers are presented both in diesel and gasoline versions, with equal reliability and safety.
BINAR-5S-COMFORT liquid pre-heater (diesel) complete with SIMCOM modem
Our only ones are slightly more voracious than European ones – say, five-kilowatt models consume 0.7 liters per hour on gasoline and 0.62 liters on diesel. “Europe” is more economical – the same Webasto burns 0.45 liters per hour on any fuel.
The German household name Webasto, which has become a household name in the field of prestarting heaters, is a natural Mercedes in its field; a complex of technologies worked out to perfection. The company was founded in 1901, introduced the first pre-heater in 1949, and has been supplying them for cars since 1965 as a standard. That is, even at the lowest level – more than half a century of experience in the development and creation of devices of this type! Native native heaters installed in the model of many brands directly on the conveyor are almost always Webasto. Mercedes, Volkswagen, Range Rover and many others – in conjunction with a heater under the hood you will probably meet Webasto due to the highest level of safety and equipment protection. Well, another strong point is the assembly, in fact, the Germans are conservative and even orthodox in this matter, stubbornly not agreeing to transfer the plant to China. All Webasto preheaters are made in the city of Neubrandenburg, in the north of the country.
Chinese models cannot yet be called competitive, in principle – too early. Only risky hobbyists, for whom it is not the result that matters, but the pleasure of digging through the equipment, fixing problems and finalizing the factory design, are at risk of dealing with them. Therefore, the choice of a preheater today is a choice between domestic and European models. Russian prestarting heaters gained quite a lot of popularity and pretty well spun up a few years ago when they successfully “fired”, defeating childhood illnesses and playing at a sharp price gap with European units. Say, five years ago, a four-kilowatt Webasto Top Evo cost 32,000 rubles and did not even have a timer for inclusion in the kit – it was sold separately and cost 5,000 rubles (a model with a power of 5 kilowatts already cost 43 thousand!). Domestic “Binar-5”, in turn, looked very advantageous against the background of expensive Germans with a price of 17,000 rubles, with a timer in the kit and a power of 5 kilowatts …
Webasto Thermo Top Evo Family liquid pre-heater
Today, the prices have become indecently close, and the obvious benefit once gradually disappeared … If we talk about equipment without installation, then Webasto Thermo Top Evo Start costs 30,000 rubles, and the Binar-5, similar in characteristics, costs 25,000-26,000 rubles. The difference is insignificant, 4-5 thousand … Both five-kilowatt, both with timers in the kit and ready to connect remote control. The installation of a heater on a car is also comparable in price, since both a Russian and a German boiler are installed identically, with the same labor costs. Well, the truth is, ours will be put on a couple of thousand cheaper – as a rule, this is due to the price and quality of various related details: clamps, bolts, angles and other brackets. This small thing is not included in the set of heaters, since the installation configuration is different on different models of machines. But with domestic heaters, all of the above is bought simply at the car market, and certified installers of German equipment take such consumables from the dealer, with strict quality control. The heater is expensive equipment, and Webasto carefully monitors that reliability does not suffer from nonsense like the flimsy Chinese hose clamp!
By the way, there are situations in which European prestarting heaters are practically uncontested. As a rule, this applies to the installation of heating on modern models of premium brands like Mercedes or BMW, with developed digital tires. It is impossible to install a prestarting boiler on such a machine in the simplest analogue startup mode. It will work, but it will drive crazy the smart electronics of the car … In these cases, special electronic interface modules are used – there are simply no such modules for Russian heaters …
True, we will be frank: insignificant differences in the price of Russian and German heaters mainly relate to the basic versions with the simplest timer control, designed to exclusively heat the engine. In models with the Comfort index, which warm both the engine and the interior, and are also equipped with remote control modules via telephone, German models are noticeably more expensive than Russian ones … However, the installation of Webasto Comfort class preheaters is usually ordered for cars at a level higher average, so the costs are not so tangible and quite comparable with the total costs of ownership and operation.