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New Technologies for Reducing Truck Idle (and Fuel Costs)

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Mar 18th 2016 12:06PM

At the rate of a gallon of fuel wasted per hour, engine idle can get real expensive -- real fast. And excessive idle is illegal in many areas of the U.S., creating risk of hefty fines if you continue running the engine to keep your truck heated or cool when it's parked.

So. what are the latest developments in idle reduction technology to help you cut fuel waste without sacrificing cab and sleeper comfort? Here are three new anti-idle systems that have just entered the market in 2016.

Solar-Powered Auxiliary A/C for Class 8 Sleeper Trucks
Manufacturers: eNow Inc. and Dometic Group
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eNow Inc., a Warwick, Rhode Island-based company that develops solar-based power systems for the trucking industry, and Dometic, a Swedish manufacturer of cooling systems, unveiled the launch of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels for the Dometic Blizzard Turbo auxiliary air conditioner at NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis on March 2, 2016, touting the combined system as the first solar-powered auxiliary A/C for Class 8 sleeper trucks.

Jeffrey Flath, president and CEO of eNow, said that truck fleets or an individual driver can install eNow Solar PV Panels with no upfront cost and pay a fixed monthly fee for the use of the hardware and the energy consumed.

Solar power is captured and stored in eNow's on-board battery system and distributed to various truck and trailer functions, including the Dometic Blizzard Turbo auxiliary air conditioner.

Battery-Powered Parking Cooler
Manufacturer(s): Volvo Trucks North America
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Last month, Volvo Trucks North America introduced a battery-powered parking cooler as a factory-installed option for its VNM 630, VNL 630, VNL 670, VNL 730 and VNL 780 sleeper models. The battery-powered parking cooler allows drivers to keep the cab and sleeper comfortable without idling the engine while parked.

Power comes from the combined energy of the truck-starting batteries and the four AGM deep cycle batteries located in the in-frame battery box. The Volvo parking cooler is rated to keep the sleeper comfortable at 74 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 10 hours and is operated by an automatic thermostat that controls both the air conditioning and heat if the truck is equipped with the optional cab parking heater. The thermostat allows the driver to simply set one temperature and the fan speed to maintain optimal cab comfort.

This system is ideal for long haul drivers who run their trucks at least six hours and then park for their required break. Smart energy management software is also included and protects the engine's starting batteries from being run down.

Kenworth Battery-Based Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Manufacturer: Kenworth Trucks
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Kenworth Idle Management (KIM) System eliminates the need for engine idle to run the HVAC system by providing full engine-off heating and cooling capability. Powered by four dedicated PACCAR batteries, the factory APU is controlled by on-board controls that allow drivers to set the temperature to their preferences.

When the engine is off, drivers have over 10 hours of heating and cooling at a maintained temperature and three fan speeds to choose from, with a battery power display that tells drivers how much time remains on the batteries. The batteries recharge to 90 percent about 4.5 hours when back on the road.

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