Aviation Consumer Reviews
Here are the summary quotes:
"Electric Preheaters: Reiff Enjoys Value Edge", March 2007
"In the teeth of an ice storm, we compare the top contenders...the field is dominated by two major companies - [other brand] and Reiff Preheat Systems "
"We think [Reiff's] Standard System is the best value choice for most owners... with [other brand] you'll pay about 30% more"
"The Reiff Turbo XP showed the best performance"
"Reiff's HotBands are high-quality...they're easy to set up, so easy in fact that both owners and cavemen could do it...they required about six minutes each to install."
Regarding competitors selling only sump heaters..."In crazy cold weather we don't think it will be adequate... to plug in and fly as soon as possible, you'll need to add cylinder heaters."
Below is our reply to the March 2007 article...
While I appreciate the favorable coverage our products received in “Electric Preheaters: Reiff Enjoys Value Edge”, I’d like the opportunity to add some comments.
The only “Thumbs Down” we got was “The Reiff sump pad proved difficult to install, due to adhesive bonding problems.”. The problems described were not the fault of the J-B Weld epoxy, but of improper curing. The article states “After two hours we turned on the element to accelerate the cure”. However, our Installation Instructions indicate “Do not plug in the heater to cure J-B Weld “. Excessive heat ruins the cure.
J-B Weld does not “eat paint”, as the article indicates. The reason they want the paint removed from the sump is because a better bond is obtained on bare metal. That is true of any epoxy, or silicone pad adhesive. Like others, we could simplify installation by dropping the paint removal step, but the price you pay for that shortcut is diminished bond strength. We prefer the job be done the right way, not the fastest way.
The article incorrectly states “Reiff requires that a hole be drilled through the aft engine baffling with a grommet to get the plug back to the non-pressurized side of the baffling." It is the customer’s decision where to mount the AC plug. On the Lycoming 360 used in the article the oil dipstick is behind the rear baffle, so if you want the plug at the oil door the harness needs to penetrate the rear baffle. That can be easily avoided by mounting the plug at one of the front air inlets. On most engines the oil fill/dipstick is on top of the crankcase, so you do not need to penetrate the rear baffle to put the plug at the oil door.
Our systems are FAA-PMA’d also.
Robert P. Reiff
Reiff Preheat Systems
An edited version of this letter was published, followed by their editorial reply: "Frankly, we found the instructions for mounting the sump heater confusing. There is a warning not use JB Weld to cure the epoxy [sic], but a few paragraphs later, the instructions advise to turn the heater on after two hours."
Frankly, we found the editorial reply confusing, but we assume they meant to say "There is a warning not to use heat to cure the JB Weld epoxy, ..." Our response is that our Installation Instructions covered two types of epoxy. One is Aremco epoxy that can be heat cured by plugging in the heater, and the instructions cover how to do that. The instructions also say that JB Weld can be substituted, but "Do not plug in heater to cure JB Weld". We feel that statement is very clear. The JB Weld also is packaged with its own instructions, which are also clear and say nothing about applying high heat to accelerate the cure. Our customers have not had a problem with it but since Aviation Consumer found it confusing we have changed our instructions to make them even more clear. We also note that our instructions have the following printed prominently at the top:
to follow these instructions may result in product failure.
any of these instructions are unclear, please call for clarification before
They did not call us. We also asked several times that we be given an advance draft of the article so that we can check for obvious mistakes, but they didn't do that either. We didn't know they had an installation problem or "confusion" until we read the published article.
To their credit, after receiving my letter above they did edit the article that appears on their web site to soften the criticism that appeared in the original printed version, though they did not remove or revise the summary graphic that gives us a “Thumbs Down” and it still indicates, unfairly we think, “The Reiff sump pad proved difficult to install, due to adhesive bonding problems.”.
"Pad, Plug, or Flamethrower?", March 2001, and 2002 Buying Guide
"When combined with the sump heater the HotBands delivered impressive performance. At 6 hours the oil was 113o and the cylinder, case, and nosepiece between 70 and 80o...the engine smelled and felt warm to the touch. In fact, we used the hot start procedure to fire it up and noted that the oil temperature was immediately off the lower peg. With this kind of performance, we estimate the HotBand & sump pad combination is suitable for temperatures well below zero - say minus 20, or even colder with an insulated cover."
"[Other brand] loses us in claiming that the top of the cylinder is more critical to heat than the rest of the cylinder."
"As for heating the top of the cylinder being better, we just don't buy that."
"As for bands versus cylinder head plugs, our view is that [other brand] overstates the case in saying it's best to heat the head."
"Hot Ideas", February 1997
"With both the Reiff cylinder heaters and the oil sump pad plugged in, we parked our Mooney [4 cylinder Lyc. IO-360] on the ramp on a blustery 25o night with no cover. After some 10 hours, we were somewhat surprised to find heat shimmering off the cowl, with the cylinders, crankcase, and accessory case toasty warm with temps between 65o and 77o, or 40 to 52o above ambient, this after a night spent in sub-freezing winds. The nose section of the crankcase was at 75o, the oil temperature at 99o [74o above ambient]. The engine started easily and showed above minimum oil and cylinder head temps soon after starting."
"We were impressed with the performance of Reiff's HotBand system when combined with a sump heater. When operated overnight on a cold, windy ramp with no cover, this system had our four cylinder Lycoming uniformly warm to the touch. This system is an excellent value and is suitable for very cold conditions."
"The Great Winter Pre-heat Test", March 1996
"On a [other brand] equipped Cessna 172 [4 cylinder Lyc. O-320] plugged in overnight and without a cover, we found that both the oil and the cylinders were 30o above the outside temperature of 25o."
Last revised 6/5/07