In an age where many radio based systems have fallen into disuse due to effective countermeasures, the Elite Dangerous stealth system is based almost entirely on heat. The range at which you are picked up by a ships scanner is directly proportional to the amount of heat you are generating. If your ship is giving off no heat, another ship has to get very close indeed to properly register you.
There are two ways in elite dangerous to give off little or no heat:
Silent Running Edit
- Main article: Silent Running
Silent running can be toggled in your ships interface (right panel: functions) or by pressing a key binding. When in silent running mode your shields and radiators will shut down. This means that any heat built up in your ship will be confined within your ship and you will be almost invisible to other ship's scanners.
On the downside if you let the heat build up too much your ship will overheat and take damage. You should avoid using excessive thrust and energy weapons while in this state and you should have heat sinks on hand.
Be warned, if you end silent running with high heat you will suddenly show up on all local scanners, with your shields still down. Make sure you are ready if you do this.
Cool Running Edit
Cool Running is when most if not all systems of a ship are switched off. This causes the temperature of the said ship to drop to single digits or even zero. Currently, there is no convenient way to initiate Cool Running without third party software, instead one must use the Ship's Modules tab from the right-hand-side of their ship to manually turn off non-essential systems. Cool Running is slightly better than Silent Running stealth wise, as it does not have the time limit imposed by continued heat generation and heat confinement .
The said non-essential systems are situational dependent. In a situation where one wishes to smuggle illegal goods into a starport, non-essential systems will be all systems but Drives and Sensors. While in a different situation where one wishes to ambush another, non-essential systems may be all systems apart from Thrusters, Shields and Life Support, allowing the Shields to be fully operational as the ambush takes place.
Also, as a ship's temperature drops to zero in Cool Running, ice will form on the cockpit's glass as an indication however this can take a considerable amount of time therefore, a heat sink may be used to reduce the time required.
The best sneaks and smugglers use a combination of Cool and Silent Running. They will use Cool Running on approach to get their temperature to zero and stay off the scanner, and then use Silent Running when they get up close. The combination of a low temperature starting point and already having many systems off means that Silent Running can last a very long time this way.
And finally it's worth noting that many players turn flight assist off while Cool Running so they can be moving while their drives are off. While this helps, it is not in any way necessary in most situations, unless you want to approach with your shields ready to go.