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Leveraging the efficiency of air and coolant heaters


Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

One of the biggest demands for power comes in the form of heating sleeper cabs. Espar manufactures diesel-fueled bunk/cab heaters, as well as engine pre-heating options. Espar options are available through every truck manufacturer and are utilized by manufacturers like Thermo King and Bergstrom.

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“Fleets are starting to realize these same idle-reduction savings opportunities also apply to both day-cab operations and maintaining temperature sensitive cargo loads,” Peay said. “Espar now offers cost-effective heating options for both of these areas, as well as mobile cargo cooling packages that can be sized to meet the requirements of fleets needing reefer cooling capability but can’t justify the reefer investment. Fuel-operated heaters continue to be recognized as one of the most cost-effective idle reduction technologies on the market today.”

Bob Gaarder, OE sales director at Webasto, which offers fuel-operated air and coolant heaters, explained that the most efficient heat for bunk and interior areas in sleepers is an air heater. “Some APUs use coolant heaters—it’s best to choose an APU with an air heater for better fuel efficiency and direct heat,” he said. “Coolant heaters are an alternative to plug-in block heaters for engine pre-heat and idle reduction.”

When shopping around for a solution, Gaarder recommended asking the following questions to find the right solution:

  • Is the product known for reliability and efficiency?
  • How does the product perform and what are the benefits in addition to idle reduction?
  • Does the product offer precise comfort for drivers that will contribute to driver retention and safety?
  • How long has the manufacturer been in business and do they stand behind their products?
  • Does the manufacturer conduct durability tests to make sure their products perform well over time?

“Some fleets believe that being ‘certified clean idle’ is a good idle reduction solution, but they are missing the opportunity to save thousands of dollars in fuel [by utilizing an idle reduction solution],” Gaarder explained.

ESPAR-hydronic-idlingAccording to Peay, for fleets to comply with regulation and take advantage of the ROI of reduced-idle technology, they need to embrace a true no-idle policy by implementing technologies that make it easy for the driver to turn the engine off without sacrificing comfort or sound rest periods. Secondly, to get the best value for the investment, a quality product that will provide long service life with a service network to provide reliable support when needed—reducing operating costs, maximizing no-idle savings and providing no-idle compliance.

“Don’t let acquisition price cloud the buying decision,” Peay advised. “Look at the long-term players, the ones that are still around today with a proven and successful product. Typically, these products have a refined and reliable package and a service support network to back up what they sell. An attractive ROI and long-term low cost of ownership will lead to a successful program.”


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