Originally Posted by glider_rider
In the grand scheme of things, is it worth time and effort to upgrade the stock engine with cold air induction system?
Depends how you fly in cruise. If you are WOT and Rich, then yes a power boost and speed increase. If, like most of us, you run lean of peak EGT, the CAI will not produce any more power than a standard plenum at the same fuel flows. Their objective is to ingest more air (via greater density) and therefore make more power with more fuel added to that extra air (technically, the cooler air is denser and therefore more oxygen molecules in the same cubic space - power produced is directly related to the quantity of oxygen mixed with fuel). None of this really applies at leaner mixtures. So, for all out power production these are a benefit, but that also requires more fuel to get that power. For max efficiency, they don't really help, as the leaner mixture is not fully mixing with all of the oxygen anyways. LOP, by definition, means there are more oxygen particles than fuel particles to mix with it. ROP is the opposite and Peak is perfectly balanced, otherwise known as stochiometric.
Probably more than you wanted to know. As a family hauler, like mine, you will likely soon care about range instead of max power or speed and possibly fuel efficiency with the prices we have seen lately. When that happens, you will start to care about MPG and the CAI is no help in that equation. The only real "free lunch" adders are increasing compression ratio and optimizing ignition timing.
I would spend the money on the more efficient cowls mentioned above that can reduce drag and therefore improve MPG. This gets you your couple of knots in cruise without burning any more gas.