Leaving Tractor Plugged In All The Time-Winter Start: Plug or Park?

Leaving Tractor Plugged In All The Time

Leaving Tractor Plugged In All The Time-Winter Start: Plug or Park?

Owners of tractor often have to face the issue about whether or not they should connect their tractor for all time. This can affect your budget and the life span of the equipment.

Will Leaving My Tractor Plugged In Damage It?

Most of the time, no, leaving your tractor running is not likely to cause any harm. However, there are a few potential disadvantages you should consider:

More wear on the block heater:

  • Continuous heating may reduce the life span of a heater component. The precise amount of time that the heater will last is dependent on the condition of the heater, as well as the length of time utilized. An approximate estimate of 10 % reduction in the lifespan per 2 hours continuous use.
  • That means leaving your tractor on for 8 hours per day may reduce the life of your tractor by 40% each year.

Oil Film Elimination:

  • A continuous heating process can result in the film of oil that covers the walls of cylinders to shrink and cause more wear when the cylinder is starting. This can be a problem in the case of synthetic oil that is more slender than standard oil.
  • The extent of wear is dependent on the kind of oil and nature of the film. But, generally speaking, it’s recommended to avoid leaving your tractor running for longer than 12 hours for a period of time in order in order to limit the chance of this happening.

The Wasted Energy

  • If you aren’t using the tractor often, having the tractor plugged-in can result in substantial consumption of energy. The precise amount of energy used depends on the power of the block heater as well as the price of electric power in your region.
  • For instance an example, a 1,500-watt block heater that runs all day would consume an average of 18 kWh energy. If you live in an area that has the average price in the range of $0.10 /kWh that would be $1.80 each day.
Tractor block heater
Source: TractorBynet

Also read: Is It Bad To Idle A Diesel Tractor ENGINE?

How Long Can You Leave a Tractor Plugged In?

The suggested time to leave your tractor connected is contingent upon a number of variables:

1. Climate:

  • Colder conditions: In temperatures below freezing, keeping your tractor running for 3-4 hours prior to starting is recommended. In colder weather, you will need to wait longer for time for preheating to guarantee an easy start as well as prevent the engine from wearing out.
Tractor in cold weather
Source: TractorByNet
  • Moderate climates If temperatures are above freezing, a power source that is connected for 1to 2 hours prior to beginning is enough.
  • Climates with warm temperatures: If you’re in a warm environment when your tractor is plugged into the grid may not be required in the event that you don’t intend to use it over a prolonged period or are expecting significant temperature changes.

2. Use frequency:

  • Use it daily: If you use your tractor on a daily basis, having the tractor plugged in for at night or over extended time (up to 12 hours ) is not a problem. But, you should be aware of the possibility increase in wear and tear on the block heater as well as oil film reduction.
  • occasional use: If you only utilize your tractor for occasional use then plugging it into for about 2-3 hours before you use it will suffice. It is best to unplug it after use. This will reduce the energy usage and increase the longevity of the heater block.

3. Your budget:

  • Energy expenses: Consider the cost of electric power in your region. It is not practical to plug in continuously in the event of high electricity bills.
  • Replacement of the block heater Compare the costs of replacing an old block heater because of excessive use versus the ease of having an easily accessible hot engine.

It is possible to increase the efficiency and longevity of your heater block by  Make sure you purchase a top-quality block heater. Pick a heater with thermostats to regulate the heating process, and to stop it from the heater from overheating.

Also read: Boosting Tractor Diesel Engine Warm Up Time?

Alternatives to leaving your tractor

Plugged In:

Although plugging your tractor into the electrical outlet is the norm for cold start but there are many efficient alternatives to make it easier as well as cost savings

1. Timer Switch

  • Cost: $20-$50
  • Advantages The block’s heater is automatically turned off and on according to a program-defined schedule making sure it is only used in the event of a need.
  • Savings on energy: Reduces energy consumption by removing unnecessary heating.
  • Extra-long life: Minimizes wear and wear on the heater block.
Tractor timer switch
Tractor timer switch

2. Engine Blanket

  • Cost: $50-$150
  • The benefits: Conserves heat from the engine following shutdown, which reduces the time to heat up prior to starting.
  • Reducing wear helps to prevent wear on the engine when starting cold.
  • Efficiency: Eliminates the need for a constant operation of the block heater.

3. Remote Start

  • cost: $100-$500 (depends on the complexity)
  • Features: It lets you warm the engine at some distance to ensure you are warm and prepared upon your arrival.
  • Time-saving: Saves time waiting for the engine to heat up.
  • flexibility: Starts your tractor in the comfort at home or in your workplace.

4. Engine Pre-lubrication Systems:

  • Cost: $50-$100
  • Advantages It automatically circulates the oil before the engine starts and reduces the wear of internal components.
  • Wear reduction: Reduces wear and friction during the coldest of starts.
  • Enhances performance: Enhances initial engine efficiency and durability.
Tractor  Engine Pre-lubrication Systems:
Source: Q8Oils

Safety Precautions When Leaving Your Tractor Plugged In:

To make sure your tractor is safe to operate and ensure that you are safe from potential dangers, observe these guidelines when you leave your tractor powered on:

1. Examine the extension cord

  • Check regularly for any damage to the wire, such as cracks, fraying, or exposed wires.
  • Don’t use a damaged extension cord as it can pose a major danger of electrical shock and fire.
  • Pick an extension cord designed for use outdoors and compatible with the power of your heater block.

2. Utilize the GFCI outlet:

  • An Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet cuts off power automatically in the event of ground faults. This reduces the possibility of electroshock.
  • Install the GFCI outlet designed specifically for the circuit that you are using to heat your block or use a mobile GFCI adapter to provide additional protection.

3. Make sure connections are dry:

  • Maintain the plug and connecting points dry and free of water.
  • The corrosion caused by moisture can result in electrical problems.
  • If you are using the tractor outside ensure that the tractor’s connections are protected from snow and rain.

4. Remove the plug prior to maintenance

  • Make sure to disconnect the tractor prior to doing any work that requires maintenance like changing the oil or cleaning your engine.
  • The device keeps electrical components from coming into contact accidentally with components and lowers the possibility of the risk of electric shock.

Does a Block Heater Help Start a Tractor?

A block heater is a significant factor in starting tractors particularly in winter. This is how by providing specific information:

Reducing Resistance

  • Warm oil is 30-50% more quickly as colder oil. This is cutting friction by 20% to 30 percentage when it is time to start. **
  • This can reduce wear on the internal components of engines by as much as 50%..

Increased Efficiency of Fuel:

  • A warm engine uses fuel 5 to 10% more efficiently over a cold engine.
  • It could save you $0.50-$1.00 every gallon gasoline during colder weather.

Lower Emissions

  • Cold starts release up to 50-80% more pollution than warm start.
  • A block heater is able to cut NOx emissions to 50% as well as the CO emission by 20% percent..

Longer Battery Life

  • Temperatures that are cold can reduce the battery’s capacity by 50 percent or more.
  • A hot engine needs 30% to 40% less power to begin and extends battery lifespan by two to three years.

Redued Wear and Tear

  • Cold start can make the engine more wear-resistant by 20% to 30 percent.
  • Block heaters can reduce wear on engines by 50% through pre-lubricating internal parts.

Unbeliveable Features:

  • A tractor that is started at 0°F and without a block heater could increase the engine wear up to 100%.
  • The use of a block heat source for three hours at 10°F could increase fuel efficiency by 10 percent.
  • Block heaters can help you save $100 annually in fuel costs and maintenance expenses for engines..

How to troubleshoot a block heater that doesn’t work:

  • Examine the extension cord and plug for damages.
  • Check the outlet to see if it has the power.
  • Make sure the heater for the block is correctly connected with the block engine.
  • Examine the thermostat of the block heater to ensure proper functioning.
  • Verify the durability that the heater has with the multimeter.
  • Replace damaged parts

What is the best type of block heater for my tractor? 

Three common kinds of heaters for block:

Immersion heaters: They’re inserted directly into the engine block, and can be very efficient.

Circulation heaters: The pumps cool the engine, and are efficient.

The magnetic heater: They attach to the exterior of the engine block. They they are not as effective, but they are easy to set up.

Also read: What Is Engine Operating Temperature Of Tractor?

  Are engine block heaters energy-efficient?   

The amount of energy used by a heater is contingent on its wattage as well as the time of its use. For example

A block heater of 1,500 watts that is running for four hours will consume 6 kWh of power.

The typical cost for energy in US is approximately $0.13 per Kilowatt.

Thus, the block heater shown in this scenario would be about $0.78.   

Does a block heater stay on all the time?   

Block heaters shouldn’t be left in operation all day long. It’s suggested to turn it off at least for a couple of hours prior to getting the engine started in the colder conditions. If you leave it on all the time, it could reduce the longevity of the heater for the block and also waste the energy.   

How hot does a diesel engine get with a block heater?   

A block heater usually warms the coolant in an engine to about 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (38-49°C). It is enough warmth that the engine will be easier to start, and also decrease wear on the internal parts.

Is it possible to plug in your diesel block heater for the night?   

The idea of leaving your diesel heater on overnight is a good idea in colder conditions. It’s not required for warmer climates. It can reduce the life of your block heater.   

Cost of operating a block heater: 

 The price of running the block heater is based on the power, length of usage, as well as the electricity price in your region. This is a rough estimate

  • 1.500 watts of block heater operating for 4 hours in a location which has an $0.15 per kWh electric bill is about $0.90.
  • Heating the block for over the course of a night (8 hours) is about $1.80.

At what temperature should you plug in a diesel?

The recommended temperature for plugging in a diesel tractor depends on the climate and the specific engine:

  • below freezing (0°C (or 32 °F): Plug in three to four hours prior to starting.
  • Colder than freezing (0°C to 70°C, 32°F-45°F): Plug in 1 to 2 hours before you start.
  • Moderate temperature (7°Cup to 16°C, or 45°F – 60°F): Plugging in might not be required however, you should consider heating for about 1-2 hours to make it easier to start.
  • Warmer conditions (above 16°C or 60°F): Plugging in is typically not required in the event that the tractor has been inactive for a prolonged time.


In conclusion, leaving your tractor plugged in all the time is not inherently harmful, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons based on your specific needs and climate. Consider alternatives like timers or engine blankets, and prioritize safe practices like using GFCI outlets and inspecting cords regularly. By making an informed decision, you can ensure reliable tractor starts and optimal engine longevity.

Video Guide:

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does leaving the tractor plugged in affect the battery’s lifespan?

 Continuous charging can shorten the battery life due to overcharging. It’s better to follow recommended charging cycles to maintain the battery’s health.

 What’s the ideal way to preserve my tractor’s battery life?

Charge the battery based on manufacturer guidelines. Avoid leaving it plugged in constantly and try not to let the battery drain completely before recharging.

How frequently should I charge my tractor’s battery?

Charge the battery as needed, avoiding overcharging or letting it completely discharge. Following a maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer is beneficial.

Can I leave my tractor plugged in

Cold climates (below 40°F): Plug it in! It warms up faster, saving 10-15 minutes of idle time (and that fuel!). Plus, it reduces engine wear by 30%, adding thousands of miles to its lifespan.
Warmer weather: Consider alternatives. Plugging in uses about 500 watts per hour, costing roughly 5 cents per hour at the average US rate. In moderate climates, the savings from avoiding idling might outweigh the electricity cost.

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