Cars come with powerful heaters which are designed to keep you warm even in the coldest conditions, but what do you do when your car heater fails? Car heater repairs can be prohibitively expensive, and 12 volt car heaters relatively affordable, so it’s natural to wonder if you can get by with a less expensive option.

Although 12-volt heaters are not designed to replace factory car heaters and they are not capable of generating the same level of heat, they can come in handy in many situations. It’s just important to understand what you’re getting into so you can make an informed decision.

To choose the right 12 volt car heater, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself. These questions will be about how you plan to use the heater, allowing you to effectively choose whether to buy a 12-volt car car heater with a large wire block, or can a regular 120V heater fit,

With these important questions in mind, you will also be able to decide what type of heater to choose, how much power you need to get the job done, and whether you really need a real universal car heater replacement, which is connected to the cooling system.

When will you use the 12 volt heater?

The most important question you need to answer is how and when you plan to use your 12 volt heater. There are three main situations you can use a 12-volt car heater, and each one requires a slightly different solution.

For example, a 12-volt car heater can be used to replace a faulty factory heating system while the engine is running. However, the 12 volt heater not is the right choice for heating the car when the engine is not running.

How will the heater be used?

  • To warm up the vehicle while the engine is running Note: You’ll need a 12-volt or battery-powered heater for this, although you can use a standard inverter-powered heater if your generator has enough power to save.
  • For heating the car interior before driving A: If you can safely connect an all-weather power strip to your car, a standard 120-volt heater designed for use in recreational vehicles might be a good choice. Make sure to get one that you save for use in small spaces.
  • To defrost the windshield before starting the car : This is another situation where a standard heater can help. Window defrosting can also be done with low voltage 12V heaters or even with an air conditioner depending on local humidity.

Replacing a faulty factory heating system

If you plan on using your 12-volt car heater only when the engine is running, then you’re on the right track. Since the engine is running, you can safely start the heater without draining the battery.

This is the only possible way to use a 12 volt heater in a car, and also the only way to use electric car heater as a direct replacement for a failed factory heating system.

Unlike factory systems that use hot coolant from the engine, the 12-volt heater will heat you up the moment you turn it on. However, it also draws much more power from the vehicle’s electrical system than from the factory system, which only requires electricity to run the fan motor. It is also important to remember that no 12 volt heater will provide the same amount of heat as your factory heater .

If you’re looking for a replacement car heater that will provide the same level of heat as the factory heater, then you’ll be happier with a generic car heater replacement that includes the cooling system and replaces the factory heater. These systems provide much more heat than 12 volt electric heaters.

12V car heater running with engine off

If you’re planning on using a defroster to defrost your windshield or warm up your car with the engine off, then a 12-volt car heater probably won’t be a good idea. If you do not start the engine while the heater is running, the battery may be discharged to the point where the engine will not start.

In this case heater With battery powered can solve the problem of defrosting, and a plug-in car heater that runs on 120V will suit your purpose when warming up the car.

For more information, check out our complete guide to the best portable car heaters .

Are there fire hazards?

The next question to ask yourself has to do with fire hazards, which usually come in the form of combustible materials inside your vehicle. Everything from loose paper to upholstery that isn’t flame retardant can pose a fire hazard, so it’s important to consider the space you’re working with before choosing a 12-volt car heater.

Most 12-volt car heaters are designed for use in tight spaces, unlike domestic heaters, but every car is different. Use common sense and consult an expert if necessary.

If your car doesn’t have any combustion hazards, or you can install the heater at a safe distance from any potential hazards, then you have a more or less free choice.

You may be better off using an oil-filled heater if there are any questions about combustion hazards. These heaters take longer to heat up, but the trade-off is that they do not create the same type of combustion hazard as other types of heaters.

Radiant and convective 12-volt car heaters

The two main types of 12-volt car heaters are radiant and convective, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Oil filled heaters fall into the convective category and are the safest for use in cars, trucks, recreational vehicles and other confined spaces.

Convective heaters, such as oil-filled units, transfer heat to the surrounding air, which then rises because hot air is less dense than cold air. This causes an influx of cold air to fill the void, which in turn rises and draws in more cold air.

This cycle is called convection, which is where the name of this type of heater comes from. Because convection relies on a closed volume of air, these heaters work well in pressurized vehicles.

Although oil convection heaters are relatively safe to use in confined spaces, some convection heaters use heating elements that may pose a risk of combustion.

Radiant heaters also use heating elements, but they do not heat the air around them. Instead, these heating elements emit infrared radiation. When this infrared radiation hits the surface of an object, it causes it to heat up.

This makes radiant heaters great at providing heat in poorly insulated environments like cars, but it also means they won’t heat the air inside your car. Some radiant heaters are also dangerous for use in confined spaces due to the combustion risks associated with their heating elements.

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