Long-Haul Truckers Save Fuel with Lithium APU Batteries
Your truck’s electric APU is designed to cut fuel costs and idle time and increase the comfort of your sleeper cab. But does it always live up to expectations? Many of the limitations of electric APUs come from using lead-acid or AGM batteries. Lead-acid batteries are effective as starter batteries, providing short, large bursts of energy. They are less suited to deep-cycle applications like electric APUs, which need a steady, consistent current to run appliances and electronics. By upgrading your house (hotel) battery bank from lead-acid batteries to lithium ones like our new LightningVolt™, you could see long-term savings and significantly improved performance. You can find out more about the differences between the two batteries here
So, how can switching to lithium batteries improve your fuel economy?
Cut Down on Idle Time
Long-haul truckers used to idle their engines for extended periods to power their electronics without running down the starter battery. However, as idling is the lowest-duty cycle, it rapidly clogs up your DPF, leading to unnecessary active and forced regens, and more time stuck on the side of the road. This is also a very inefficient method of powering your hotel load accessories. Your main engine has to pull the entire weight of your truck and any chassis-mounted accessories. This means that it burns an enormous amount of fuel—far more than you need to run your electronics.
Idling an engine for an extended period dramatically drives up your fuel costs. In one hour, an idling truck can burn through a gallon (3.8 litres) of fuel. That means that every hour of idling costs you on average $4.00 USD or $5.32 CAD. This adds up quickly the longer you idle, with 10 hours of idling setting you back $40 USD or $53.00 CAD. Over a year, with 250–300 nights on the road, this can come to $10,000–$12,000 USD or $13,250–$15,900 CAD. This kind of expense over ten years is just one of the reasons that investing in an electric APU with high-performance batteries can save you money, fuel and hassle. This is where LightningVolt™ lithium batteries come in! With a 10× longer lifespan, 1 LightningVolt™ battery saves you from replacing 10 traditional AGM batteries.
Electric APU as Idle Reduction Technology
In an effort to reduce air pollution, officials introduced limited-idle or no-idle regulations in much of North America. Keeping on top of the different regulations as you drive through the country can be tricky! You can see a full map of US state idling regulations here. These regulations are also in place at loading zones and truck stops, where many trucks gather. This is sometimes inconvenient for long-haul truckers, but the reasons behind it are in drivers’ interests. The HVAC system, which provides trucks with heating and air-conditioning, draws ambient air into the sleeper cab. If there are trucks idling in the area, the HVAC system will draw diesel fumes into the sleeper cab, which is unpleasant and bad for the driver’s health.
Due to these regulations, many modern trucks were not built to handle long idle times. Idling a modern commercial truck for extended periods can cause extra wear and tear to your engine and aftertreatment system, significantly decreasing their service windows. In fact, according to estimates from the American Trucking Association, idling can cause twice the wear and damage to engine parts that normal driving causes. On top of this, aftertreatment parts are not normally designed to handle extended low-duty cycles, and idling is the lowest-duty cycle.
These factors make idle reduction systems like electric APUs an attractive option to drivers and fleet owner-operators. An eAPU lets you use your electronics, appliances and temperature control systems, without idling while stationary. This is especially important during mid-summer and mid-winter when temperature extremes drive up trucking costs. By running an electric APU on LightningVolt™ lithium batteries, long-haul truckers get the most from their sleeper cab, and operators avoid excessive idling costs.
Reduce Unnecessary Engine Starts
A battery-powered eAPU is a quiet, efficient way to run essential electronics and appliances while on the road. However, many drivers find that their electric APU’s battery power isn’t nearly enough to last 8 hours running appliances and an HVAC system. A large part of this is down to running a high-load system on inefficient AGM batteries.
By upgrading to lithium batteries, you can get more use from your auxiliary system and run higher-draw appliances. LightningVolt™ doubles the run-time between charges and offers twice the usable power of an AGM battery due to greater depth of discharge. This means you don’t have to start your engine to recharge during long breaks or overnight, saving you fuel. With more charge cycles, a battery like LightningVolt™ also lasts 10× longer than lead-acid alternatives.
For added value, our LightningVolt™ batteries include a management system to extend their working life and optimize performance. The in-built safety feature protects against overcharging, and overcurrent, and lets the battery reach maximum discharge depth without being damaged.
Maintain Performance Levels During Temperature Extremes
We build our LightningVolt™ lithium batteries in Canada and design them to withstand the extremes of Canadian weather and terrain. They maintain considerably higher rates of charge than traditional batteries, even below freezing. This cuts fuel costs by allowing you to run your batteries in extreme cold, without having to turn the engine on to charge them. You can charge them in temperatures as low as -4F, but charging speeds decrease below freezing to protect the battery. After 15–30 minutes of running a moderate load, the batteries will warm up enough to charge at normal rates. If you want to increase your runtime or boost your voltage for higher-draw appliances, you can also connect LightningVolt™ batteries in parallel, or up to four in series.
To find out more about LightningVolt™ and how it can lower your fuel costs, check out our auxiliary power blog. You can also head to our website or contact a member of the team to learn how LightningVolt™ can benefit your truck.