Of all of the variety of different heaters on the market, 12v heaters are probably one of the least efficient and have the most limited range of uses. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that 12 volt heaters aren’t a good option for certain situations—it just means that you need to be aware of the limitations of this type of heater before making a purchase. Nonetheless, most models can be had quite cheaply, so you won’t be out that much money if you decide the heater you bought just won’t do the job.
Uses of 12v Heaters
A 12 volt heater is designed to be run off of a 12v battery—the exact same type you have in your car, which explains why they are also commonly referred to as car heaters. These small heating units are designed to connect to the car’s battery, usually through the vehicle’s cigarette lighter/outlet. The only problem with this set-up is that these heaters can actually use quite a bit of power, meaning you will quickly drain down your battery if you try to use the unit when the vehicle isn’t running, possibly leaving your battery dead and your car unable to start when it comes time for you to drive.
This is the biggest limitation of these heaters—12v batteries simply cannot be used for too long without being recharged by the vehicle’s alternator, which only happens when the car is actually turned on. Nonetheless, this still doesn’t mean that these heaters aren’t a good option for certain situations. In fact, there are basically two different times when these heaters may come in handy.
Using a 12 Volt Heater to Replace a Broken Factory Heater
Replacing the entire heating unit in your car if it’s broken or not working properly can sometimes be incredibly expensive and labor intensive, as it requires removing the entire dashboard and possibly dismantling almost the entire interior. For this reason, many people decide to turn to a 12v heater as an inexpensive solution to their problem. In these situations, these heaters may do the trick, but again they should only be used when the car is running and most won’t put out near the heat that you’re used to from the factory heating system.
Supplementing Your Heat with a 12 Volt Unit
If you live in an area where the temperatures can get bitterly cold, you’re definitely used to having to warm up your car in the morning or defrosting your windows, which can sometimes seem to take ages. In these situations, a 12v heater can be a good way to add a secondary heat source to your vehicle, either warming up the vehicle or working to help defrost your windshield if you aim the heater directly at it.
Types of Heaters- 12v
There are two different types of car heaters available—radiative or convection. Convection heaters work heat up the air, causing it to rise and thus drawing in more cold air through the heater and continuing the process. These units are typically considered safer and more effective, as they will heat up the air in the car without the unit itself becoming too hot and posing a fire hazard.
With radiative heaters, infrared radiation is produced that heats up the surfaces in the car instead of the air, meaning that your seats and dashboard may become warm while the air in the vehicle is still cool. Of course, this means that they do work well as a secondary heating source, as they can work to heat up the surfaces of the car as the factory heater works to warm up the air.
Overall, despite not being the most effective products on the market, these 12v heaters are still a decent option for anyone needing some additional warmth inside their vehicle.