Aircraft Tools Blog

How to Build Your Own Aircraft Engine Preheater!

I have spent considerable time studying airplane engine preheaters.  Those engine preheaters that I conducted reviews on included the Aerotherm, Hornet, EZ or E-Z, Tannis, Safe Heet, Reiff, and the Red Dragon.  After my aircraft engine preheater reviews I concluded that some types are better than others to protect your airplane during cold weather.  My airplane engine preheater reviews also concluded most of these units are very expensive, suggesting you are paying for the word “aircraft” or “airplane” preheater.

After these preheater reviews I set out to build my own aircraft engine preheater. It turned out that I could build the best type of engine preheater for my airplane for less than $100 using simple tools and parts.  The aircraft engine preheater took less than three hours to build and it works great!  In addition, my heater can provide heat for the inside of the cockpit which will protect the interior components of your airplane.

My aircraft engine preheater includes a thermostat to control the temperature of the ceramic heating element so it only runs when the outside temperature drops to a point where it is necessary to preheat the engine.  The airplane engine preheater has two power settings including low watts and high watts.  During cool weather I can set it on the lower setting and the unit keeps my aircraft engine warm.  During severe cold I can set my airplane engine preheater on the higher watt setting and it assures my engine is ready to go in the extreme cold weather.  The unit also has a safety overheat protection system.  The system uses standard 120 volt service.

Evenly preheating the aircraft engine in cold weather is important to reduce wear and tear on the pistons, cylinders, camshaft and other internal components which will help extend the hour life.  Oil heaters do not provide even heating of the engine and can induce condensation internally which causes corrosion and rust.  My design using heated air circulation reduces the possibility of condensation preserving the engine life.  In addition, using an insulated cowl cover will help keep the heat even in the aircraft engine compartment.

I took great care in documenting the materials and build process to make this aircraft engine preheater.  The plans will be available on our website for a very low cost.  If you don’t want to spend $500 plus on a really good engine preheater for your airplane consider building this unit for less than $100.