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Warming/defrosting van on cold mornings
Bear with me on this, folks.

The good lady wife gets up very early in the morning to take our two GSDs out for a walk.  At this time of year when there can be heavy frost/ice/snow on the vehicle she has the habit of putting the two dogs in the van, starting the engine and letting it warm up to start defrosting.  She then comes back indoors to put her warm kit on whilst keeping an eye on the van at all times.  I am not too keen on this procedure but, who am I to put her right!

So, my plan is this.  I will fit an external surface mounted angled downward pointing round pin caravan type socket at high level on the panel immediately behind the driver's door (the side door being on the nearside).  This would then be wired inside the van to a standard UK type three pin socket fitted on a board behind the external socket.  A mains voltage low wattage fan heater would then be fitted to the top of the dog cage pointing forward and plugged in to the internal socket.

The operational procedure would be as follows:

The evening before run a suitable lead from the external caravan socket on the van in the drive (4.5m from the house) and into the utility room via the disused cat flap.  In the utility room it would be plugged in to an RCD protected switched socket which would be turned off.

When wife comes down in the morning to feed the dogs in the utility room she switches on the mains socket powering the external lead.  The fan heater would then come on and start to heat/defrost the van.

After breakfast when she leaves to go for her walk she switches off the socket in the utility room on the way out, puts dogs in van, disconnects the flying lead from the external van socket and puts the plug end back through the cat flap.  She then drives off with a warm and de-frosted/de-iced/de-snowed van!

Result should equal one happy warm wife and dogs (and my piece of mind about leaving a vehicle unattended with the engine running!).

There would be no mains voltage running to the van overnight or at any time either she and/or the dogs are loaded within.

Can anyone see any downsides to this plan bearing in mind I shall be the one running the cable out in the evening and coiling it up in the morning.  Just to make damn sure she un-plugs the cable from the van a BIG notice could be hooked on the steering wheel or propped up in front of the speedo housing!!

B9 (2016) 1.6 BlueHDi 100 Multispace XTR = Mine;   B9 (2013) Enterprise 1.6 HDi Van = Hers.
You may need some pretty fancy software to enable you to program your wife.

(29-11-2021, 03:11 PM)Guanock Wrote:  You may need some pretty fancy software to enable you to program your wife.

Big Grin She will be given full training in the procedure together with a Certificate of Competence!  If she cocks it up, she pays for it (as she's the one with the money)!

I fancy compliance will be a lot better than having to face me should the van disappear (with dogs) whilst following her current regime.

B9 (2016) 1.6 BlueHDi 100 Multispace XTR = Mine;   B9 (2013) Enterprise 1.6 HDi Van = Hers.
Sounds as though you have covered all bases!!

My first thoughts are:

1) Possibility of water ingress into the caravan socket (or would it have a covering flap?)
2) Possibility of corrosion over time due to exposed metal (and also water ingress) where the bodywork is cut
3) Thick snow would be persistent despite the heat

I'm trying to think of potential problems or limitations here, not saying it's a bad idea overall.  It's certainly not a good idea to leave a vehicle running unattended - easy pickings for criminals, especially if they can expect the opportunity to appear every morning.
Work van:     2020 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Enterprise Berlingo
Spare van:    2001 1.9 600d Berlingo
I'd use a 110v transformer ( split 55v ) much safer all round !!
Can you still get electric block heaters ?
What about a log burner and your wife and dogs could sleep comfortably outside. If your missus needs to come in for the toilet she can use the redundant cat-flap. 
If you do go ahead with the plan you can bet a neighbour/burglar will go arse-upwards over the lead, but driving away with a live power lead attached would be my top tip.
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to oilyrag for this post:
  • notsofast
Alternatively, try showing your wife this BBC Leicester article:
It's from a few years ago but I doubt anything has changed. There's a lot of stuff on the internet in a similar vein. Note the last few words from the police sergeant: "if a car is stolen in this way you might not be covered by your insurance company".

If that doesn't work, there's always this article from the Met. Police:
Note the second paragraph: "It is actually illegal to leave your vehicle running unattended while you de-ice it or warm it up in cold weather."
Work van:     2020 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Enterprise Berlingo
Spare van:    2001 1.9 600d Berlingo
I would put a big warning sign each night on the steering wheel reminding the driver "have you detached the extension lead". I have seen loads of vehicles that have had a power/charge for something or other and the driver jumps in gets distracted and drives off ripping out the socket. If your wife is easily distracted there are specialist sockets that will automatically disconnect if the vehicle is moved but they are extremely expensive.
Are we there yet????? Huh
Ex 1.6hdi van now 3 seater 1.4 multispace

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