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12.05.2017
Germany
Sector: LPG

LPG Startbox and Powerheater tried and tested


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age). Relatively speaking, the small delivery Fiat reduced its petrol consumption more than the Rezzo – it needed more than five times less. That's very good already and don't forget there's phase three – potentially the most interesting one – still waiting ahead!
 
The kit in the engine bay of the Fiat Fiorino© gazeo.comDepending on available space, the Powerheater can be fitted horizontally...

Phase three is full overdrive – the Startbox is aided by its Powerheater sidekick, assisting the reducer when the engine is stone cold. With only single seconds required for the engine to switch over to autogas mode, we expected some spectacular petrol use reductions and we were not disappointed. The Rezzo used 0,83 l of petrol in 14 days, which is 0,06 l per day and less than 2 l per month, down from over 13 originally (or 6,5, if you take LPG used instead into consideration). Interestingly, the Fiorino needed almost exactly as much petrol in phase three as it did in phase two – 0,17 l daily (5 l monthly), with warmup time also reduced to 8 s. Not surprisingly, single-LPG-tank ranges were reduced by 10-20 km, but that was expected as there are fewer kilometres covered on petrol.

However, applying warmed-up LPG into the combustion chambers doesn't exactly mean smoother switchovers than in phase two. In the Rezzo, some revving was required when the solenoid valve on the reducer was released, otherwise the engine would choke and probably stall (high power consumption of the heater weakens the injectors and they cannot start working properly). After a while everything was back to normal, though, making it possible to drive in LPG mode from the first metre covered. According to Rempel Power Systems, this is typical of Opel engines and the Chevrolet actually has one. The Fiorino switched over flawlessly, just as any autogas-powered car.

The kit in the engine bay of the Chevrolet Rezzo© gazeo.com... or vertically. The key thing it shouldn't touch anything, because it becomes seriously hot

One funny thing is that there is no cabin heating available when the cars run on LPG. We're used to the fact that when the engine is ready to switch over, it's warm enough to share some heat with the driver and passengers. But not with the Startbox and Powerheater onboard – the engine may run on autogas, but in fact it's as cold as a glacier. Still, switching over to LPG within seconds of startup and at -15° C outside the window is just priceless.

And now the aforementioned notion of the Powerheater's power consumption. For it to work properly, you need a good battery, because the heater requires 60 A of electricity to warm up quickly. Once engine is warm and conditions are stable, it still needs 15-20 A, so if you have an average-output car and don't push it to the limit, program the Startbox to cut off the Powerheater once the engine reaches its optimal temperature. This way your alternator will only work under load for a short time.

© gazeo.comThe Startbox' setting switches are easily accessible. If you know what each of them does, go ahead and test various setups to find the optimum

Rempel Power Systems markets its products as made for drivers who don't necessarily drive much, but kill and restart their engines frequently. Distance covered in one go won't make the Startbox/Powerheater set any more efficient, but the number of times you make use of your car's starter will. This makes the components perfectly suitable for taxi drivers, couriers and sales representatives. As far as price is concerned, it varies between markets, so you need to ask your local dealer. According to our calculations, though, it pays back within 2 to 4 years and remember – you can move it to the next car and the one after that. Also, our data comes in half from a commuter car whose starter only has anything to do twice a day, so the more often you start and stop the engine, the more sense this entire thing makes.

Just be aware of the fact that the number of startups doesn't necessarily translate directly into savings – starting the engine 8 times instead of 4 may not reduce your petrol use by half if the engine doesn't cool down enough for the Startbox and Powerheater to do their magic. But one thing is for sure: the more times you use your starter, the more it pays and within 2 years the cost of having the additional components fitted will be recouped. We just have one problem left to solve: what to do with the Rezzo's full 60-litre petrol tank, with only 1 l of its capacity used every month?




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Robert Markowski
source: Rempel Power Systems, own measurement



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