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Overheating (sometimes also called overloading) a module allows you to get more output from it for a short time. As the name suggests, overheating isn't something you can do indefinitely. Eventually you will burn your module out, making it inoperable.
However, if used with care or in an emergency, the benefit gained from an overheated module could be the difference between losing your ship and killing your enemy. Good pilots know when the risk is worth the possible reward.
Overheating -- and knowing how and when to do it -- is a very important skill in small fleet and solo PvP.
The skill required to be able to overheat your modules is called Thermodynamics (3x, 4.5M ISK). This skill reduced the heat damage from overheating by 5% per skill level. This is a starting skill for characters made after Vanguard update but older characters will need to train the requisites and this skill on their own.
- Nanite Operation (2x, 1M ISK) - Requires Mechanics IV and provides a 5% reduction in Nanite Repair Paste consumption per level.
- Nanite Interfacing (3x, 5M ISK) - Requires Mechanics IV, Nanite Operation III and provides a 20% increase in damaged module repair amount per second.
You can begin overheating a specific module by clicking the green light at the top of the module button. You can turn it off the same way -- note, though, that it won't turn on or off until the next cycle begins. Alternatively you can right click the module and choose to overheat it. You can also use a keyboard shortcut: by default you can overheat by holding down shift and pressing the key(s) required to activate a module normally.
In some circumstances, you may need to overheat many modules as fast as possible. You can choose to overheat an entire rack (all the highslots, all the mid slots, or all the low slots) via the small buttons to the left of each rack.
The effects of overheating vary depending on the module. Most weapons will generate more damage (in the region of 15%). Tackling modules like webifiers get more range (about 20%). Propulsion devices like Afterburners boost your speed even more (roughly 50% more). With such benefits, it is easy to see that overheating is very powerful in the right circumstances.
Not all modules can be overheated - cloaking devices and damage controls can't, for example.
|Module Type||Overheat Effect||Percent Bonus|
|Armor Hardener||Strength Bonus||20%|
|Armor Repair||Duration Bonus||-25%|
|Armor Repair||Strength Bonus||10%|
|Cap Booster||Duration Bonus||-20%|
|ECM / EWAR||Strength Bonus||20%|
|Energy Transfer Array||Duration Bonus||-15%|
|Hull Repair||Duration Bonus||-15%|
|Remote Armor Repair||Duration Bonus||-15%|
|Shield Booster||Duration Bonus||-15%|
|Shield Booster||Strength Bonus||10%|
|Shield Hardener||Strength Bonus||20%|
|Shield Transport||Duration Bonus||-15%|
|Short Range Turrets||DPS Bonus||15%|
|Long Range Turrets||Duration Bonus||-15%|
|Warp Disruptor||Range Bonus||20%|
|Warp Scrambler||Range Bonus||20%|
Shield Boosters and Armor Repairers have multiple effects.
Weapon DPS bonuses aren't uniform: missile launchers and long-ranged turrets (artillery, beam lasers and railguns) fire faster, while short-ranged turrets get more raw damage-per-shot. Both ultimately result in more DPS, but it's worth noting that overheating won't give you a bigger alpha strike when you're using missiles or long-ranged turrets.
Modules that are overheated generate heat. This heat builds up relatively quickly over time, and causes damage to the module, and any module next to it in the same rack. Heat damage is what limits the use of overheating and has to be balanced between the need for the extra boost, and the risk of losing the module entirely.
Every module has a certain amount of health (visible in the repair shop or when you compare multiple mods from the variants tab on the info screen) and overheating does a set amount of damage, found in the attributes tab of the info window for the module. When the amount of heat damage is greater than the module health, the module will 'burn out' and cease working until it is repaired in a station's repair shop.
Two modules overheated, and next to each other in the same rack will damage each other as well as themselves, causing them to burn out that much faster. Care has to be taken whilst fitting a ship to try and fit modules that are likely to be overheated away from each other. Note that whether or not modules are 'next to each other' is determined on the fitting screen, and not the location of the buttons on your screen in space. Moving the buttons around has no effect on heat transfer. Minchurra has shown the effects of spacing modules with experimental science: How does module spacing affect heat damage?.
This is because in addition to taking the listed heat damage in the info tab, each overheated mod has a percentage chance to damage other modules in the rack. This "splash damage", when multiplied by having more than one module overheated, can lead to very rapid heat damage. The tachyometer-looking heat displays around the capacitor in the central HUD display a kind of damage multiplier, from 1-4, that increases the amount of heat damage taken the more heat is built up in the rack.
Some people fit offlined modules in between modules they plan on overheating to act as a 'heat sink' and limit the transfer of heat. Of course, this means a slot isn't being fully used, and could be a waste, so a balance has to be struck (however, this can be a good option for utility slots, eg. the 8th high slot on a ship with 7 missile or turret hardpoints). What happens is, if the RNG for the splash damage hits the offlined module or the empty slot, no damage is done and you can effectively overheat longer. Note that empty and offline slots are effectively equivalent for overheating purposes, so there's no need to place modules you won't ever online. However, an online module instead of an offline module will increase the rate at which modules burn out. Minchurra has done a nice bit of science about this: Turning down the heat (Overheating part 2).
Repairing Heat Damage
If a module has been damaged by heat, but not destroyed, then in-space repairs can be made using Nanite repair paste. This isn't excessively expensive, but the costs can add up if you use it a lot. Repair is done by right clicking the damaged module and selecting repair. As a rough rule of thumb, 1 minute, and 1 unit of paste repairs 10 points of heat damage. Likewise, frigates should carry 100 units in their cargo hold, cruisers and battle-cruisers 200 units, and larger vessels 300 units. Several skills can be trained to speed up repair time, and reduce the amount of paste required. If a module is destroyed (burned out) then it can't be repaired with nanite paste and will have to be repaired in a station with a repair shop.
You can't use a module while it's being repaired, and you can't overheat anything while any module on your ship is being repaired.