LPG Startbox and Powerheater - petrol slayers
If you drive on short distances, say 2-3 km, after the first morning start-up in sub-zero temperatures you're bound to cover half of your route on petrol alone. The kit developed by RPS, consisting of the LPG Startbox electronic module and the Powerheater electric LPG heater, is supposed to address the issue by allowing the engine to switch over to autogas as soon as 30 s after you turn the key in the ignition switch. We'll keep the technological details of the solution until the end of our field test, but for now we're going to share the procedure behind it.
How it's done
We decided to divide the test into three phases. In the first phase we'll drive with the Startbox and Powerheater disconnected completely to determine the amount of petrol consumed monthly for start-ups by two converted cars with RPS' kits fitted. The cars have been refueled full with petrol and are being used daily just as they have been so far. The difference is we're noting down the time and distance required for the engines to warm up and switch over to LPG. And of course we're not letting ourselves run out of autogas, so that petrol consumption doesn't rise beyond what's necessary. In phase two we'll connect the Startbox only to see how much it helps to reduce warm-up time and finally, in phase three, we'll add the Powerheater to get a full picture and compare results. In the end we'll pit the savings againts the kit's price and voice a verdict. Curious of the outcome? So are we!
Testing in progress
Phase one is already happening. It's crucial, because despite of years of driving LPG-powered cars we don't actually know precisely how much petrol a converted vehicle needs, at least we don't know that as far as the test cars are concerned. And they're as follows: a brand new Fiat Fiorino 1,2 8V and a used Chevrolet Rezzo with a 2,0 16V unit. The latter has been refilled full with petrol for the first time since its current owner bought it and no wonder – hauling a full tank of petrol doesn't make much sense in a country where LPG is retailed on every corner, especially that petrol makes the car weigh more. We expect the test to conclude sometime between January and February, 2017, so expect the results around that time. Watch this space and don't miss out!
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