Coming to Alaska – What is a plugin for a car

over 50 years old fashion blogger in orange sweater with floral skirt outfit
Contents
    1. A male plug hanging out of the hood
      • What she meant with “The cord tells us how cold it is.”
    2. Starting your car with a remote control
    3. Plugins can reduce winter air pollution
    4. Look of the Day
        • Join the High Latitude Style tribe
        • Top of the World Style linkup
          • Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav
          • Top of the World OOTD My Fav
          • Top of the World Style Winner
        • Get a free feature – co-host the party

       

       

A male plug hanging out of the hood

When I was the first time in Alaska for my job interview at the university, the wife of the search committee chair had picked me up at the hotel. I saw a male plug hanging out of the hood of her car. I said to her “You have an extension cord hanging out of your hood.” She smile and said “No it’s just the male plug to conect to the extension cord.” “What for?” I asked. About 20 years ago, electro cars weren’t a thing except in warehouses. “To plug your car in when it’s cold in winter.”

I must have made a face like a question mark or so. After a short pause she explained that Alaskan cars have a motor block heater. This heater serves to keep the engine and battery warm so the car would start when it is standing outside in negative temperatures (temperatures below -18oC.

extension cord in snow wrapped on a bumper in Alaska
The extension cord wrapped around the hooks that are on top of the bumper. When it snowed one has to “dig” it out of the snow that accumulated on the bumper.

Then she pointed to the about a yard high (~1m) poles in the parking lot in front of the hotel. Due to my jetlack and the stress related to the interviewing process I hadn’t even taken notice of them. “See these poles? They are to provide the electricty for the blockheaters. You connect your car with a connection cord to activate the block heater. Such connections exist in the parking lots of schools, employers, public buildings and even private residences. Sometimes the permafrost causes plugins to stand at an angle like that one.” She pointed to a pole on the other side of the street. With a sudden, I saw them everywhere and realized that all cars had a male plug hanging out of their hood. Even the car I had rented! She continued “The cord tells us how cold it is.” I put on my poker face to not give away my thought “What on Earth is that supposed to mean?”

Anyhow, when we came to Alaska and had the challenge to buy a new car without credit reports, we demanded to add a blockheater.

electricity outlet in a parking lot in College, AK
Example of how a plugin pole can look like. Wood or iron poles are the most common. Typically two parking spots share one pole with two outlets. See how the cord kept the “curves” that resulted from wrapping it around the hooks on the bumper.

What she meant with “The cord tells us how cold it is.”

In the first winter, I learned fast what she meant with “The cord tells us how cold it is.” The cord is exposed to the cold ambient air. The colder the air, the stiffer the cord becomes. At 40 below, you can hold the about 4 to 5 yards (3.66 to 4.57m) long cord horizontally, vertically or at any angle in the air like it were a stick of that length. It won’t bend on its own. Thus, you have to bend the cord to get it into your trunk, roll it around your side mirror or about the hooks when you have a Wrangler (see photo).

Starting your car with a remote control

Plugging in your car is not only about getting your car to start in the cold. You could as well idle the engine for ten to 15 minutes every two or three hours. In deed, the majority of people even use a remote control to do so. The remote starts (and stops running) the engine of automatic cars. The owner just goes to the window and points the remote towards their car.

Some car owners plug their cars in and use the remote control to idle the car for some time. The goal is that the car’s inside is already warm when they enter the car.

Plugins can reduce winter air pollution

In winter, you see a lot of cars and trucks with diesel engines idling all by themselves in front of stores, in mall parking lots and in front of restaurants. Of course, idling your car means that your car produces emissions. Even worse, running an engine on low load means incomplete combustion. Or in plain English, high emissions.

Speaking of Alaska air quality; did you know that there exists an optimum speed at which emissions are lowest? Above that speed emissions increase again.

Black heater extension cord on a bumper with snow
Extension cord unwrapped and conected to the plugin outlet

When you plug in your car, you won’t have to idle your car to keep the engine warm. The blockheater warms the engine (and battery). This means that when your engine starts its emissions are smaller than when it would start (if at all) at low temperature. Coldstart emissions increase with decreasing temperature. Thus, plug-ins also help to reduce winter air pollution in Arctic and sub-arctic cities.

Look of the Day

This look is another example of how to get more wear out of your wardrobe. Here I am wearing a dress as a skirt by pulling a sweater on top. To imitate the half tuck, I pinned the sweater to the dress.

style blogger in winter look with dress as skirt and sweater

stylist sitting on a chair in boot with burgundy orange skirt, v-neck sweater, necklace

fashion blogger in work outfit with top, flare skirt and chain embellished footwear
LulaRoe fit-and-flare floral print dress, GNW tights, Vince Camuto suede leather boots with chain details, unbranded sweater, citrin and moonstone necklace, Hermes collier de chien (all own)

Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy my book now.

How do you like this look? How do you “pretend” to have a larger wardrobe than you actually have? Just curious.

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Top of the World Style linkup

Welcome to the 237th Top of the Worldstyle linkup party.

#linkup Top of the World Style linkup party every week on Thursday

Here are the featured posts from last week’s party.

Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav

Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav Amy in cozy casual holiday outfit
Amy of Amy’s Creative Pursuits became the Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. Photo from her post

Amy became the Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. She blogs at Amy’s Creative Pursuits. Isn’t her holiday outfit suggestion awesome?

Top of the World OOTD My Fav

Top of the World OOTD My Fav Sabine in maritime pants with top outfit with pops of red
Sabine Gimm of Bling Bling Over 50 became Top of the World OOTD My Fav. Photo from her post

Sabine Gimm of Bling Bling Over 50 caught my eyes with her maritime winter look. So timeless classic. the pops of red are such a nice twist for the holidays.

Top of the World Style Winner

Top of the World Style Winner Lorena in yellow top and flats, black pants
Lorena of My Everyday Wear became Top of the World Style Winner. Photo from her post

Lorena became the Top of the World Style Winner. She is the blogger My Everyday Wear.

Congrats Ladies! Grab your award buttons.


Door to the party

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Photos of me: G. Kramm

Photos of equipment: N. Mölders

© 2013-2020 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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14 thoughts on “Coming to Alaska – What is a plugin for a car

  1. That makes sense about the cars! Something you wouldn’t think of until you lived there. Your skirt is really pretty and festive. Love the boots with it.
    chez mireille fashion travel mom

  2. This is not easy weather to deal with. I love snowy Christmas. And I like do downhill skiing, but otherwise I prefer warm. o) I wish you Merry Christmas.

    Anna
    Gamadventure

  3. Very interesting about plugin heaters for the engine. Yikes! Sooooo cold.

    Your outfit is so pretty! The “skirt” is such a lovely print. And what a great way to layer.

    Michelle
    mybijoulifeonline

  4. Oh and award! I am so honored 😉
    I can only imagine this type of need for your weather – in my case its 34 degrees outside and we are just transitioning to our winter which is just rain.

  5. Interesting read! I don’t think I could deal with the amount of darkness and cold weather you all have! On a fashion note, I love red on you! Your floral skirt is lovely with the red top.and I love the chain detail on you boots.
    Merry Christmas!
    jess xx
    elegantlydressedandstylish

  6. Und ich dachte, ein Plugin ist nur etwas für einen WordPress Blog 😀

    Danke fürs Verlinken meines Outfits.

    Wünsche Dir ein schönes Adventswochenende.

    Liebe Grüße Sabine

  7. You look stunning! red looks so good on you!
    Edwige

  8. Interesting how things work a little different over there. My husband would love an electric car. I really love these bright colors on you and those boots are so fun!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom

  9. Great information about how you can keep your cars going in Alaska. We were wondering about it last winter when we had the Polar Vortex, how you guys deal with that kind of weather more regularly! I surely could have used a plug in on my car then! It wouldn’t start on several days, ended up having to replace my car battery at some point.

    Your outfit looks looks beautiful! Loving that skirt!
    Ellibelle’s Corner

  10. Oh wow! How nice to see me featured here! thank you to your readers! I never knew Alaska had plug ins, but I’m jealous. That would be nice in Wisconsin as we deal with dead car batteries all the time. On extremely cold nights, we might get up in the middle of the night just to start the car to keep the battery from freezing. Such fun, I know. But we also put lightbulbs under the hood in really bad weather to keep the engine warm. I love your outfit. The color is gorgeous.

  11. plug ins are a true necessity for so many of us. cute outfit

  12. Nicole, I love your outfit! It is so pretty and the perfect holiday style. I have heard of plug ins in Alaska from lots of military people who have been stationed there. I wonder why we don’t have that here in Northern NY. It is currently -16F as I sit here typing this, hoping my car starts when it’s time to leave! Wishing you a very happy holiday! Stay warm!
    Shelbee

  13. I love the cool chain details on your boots and what an excellent tip to pin the sweater to get the half-tuck look over a dress…I’m definitely using that idea! That is so interesting about the cars. It does make sense though because otherwise no one’s cars would start in the frigid temperatures.
    Debbie

  14. I always love learning all about living in Alaska. The unique difficulties of Alaskan winters blow my mind and are so interesting. Little things such as starting our cars in the winter, we take for granted.

    Thanks for sharing “life in the High Latitude”
    Regan

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