Does Having An APU/EPU Really Matter?

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Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

It's common to hear drivers discuss whether or not a company has APU's or EPU's in their trucks. I've personally never driven a truck with an APU in it. I simply idled the main engine to stay comfortable or have electrical power. No big deal.

Well it's my belief that it shouldn't matter too much to a driver if a company has APU's in their trucks or not. If a company thinks they can save money that way then great - the driver can use the APU for power and comfort. If they don't think they're worth the money and maintenance then great - the driver can idle the main engine for power and comfort.

Regardless of what equipment the company chooses, the driver should at least have the option of being comfortable and having electric power when they need it.

However, I also think it's fair that your company connect your fuel efficiency to your pay. I'm fine if a company wants to offer a fuel bonus to drivers who go out of their way to save the company money on fuel, as long as I have the option of staying comfortable by idling the engine. I don't mind giving up a small fuel bonus to stay comfortable. And by small we're talking maybe $20/week on average.

That's a choice I'm making for luxury most of the time, not necessity. You're not going to die if it's a little too hot or too cold in the truck, but you won't have much fun out there either. So if you're living in the truck it's only fair to expect to have the option of being comfortable in the truck. If you want to freeze or fry to make a few extra bucks then great. If you're willing to give up a few extra bucks to use the company's fuel to stay comfortable then great. Either way is fine by me.

What is not fine by me is a company that takes away your opportunity to be comfortable. For a company to say that you're not allowed to idle unless the conditions are extreme doesn't seem right to me, especially if you're OTR or regional and you live in the truck.

So I'd like to know how everyone is doing when it comes to idling the truck for comfort and power. I'd like to know if everyone at least has the option to pay up a little to be comfortable or if you're being forced to freeze or starve.

1) Do you have an APU?

2) Do you get to idle as much as you like?

3) Does it cost you anything if you idle above a certain amount?

4) When choosing a company to work for do you consider whether or not they have APU's as one of the factors?

For me this is a survey of real life living conditions at different companies. We get a lot of questions about this topic so I want to gather some information from all different sources at different companies to see what's really happening out there.

And since we're mostly rookie drivers here it's important for everyone to understand the various company policies and find strategies they can use to be comfortable out there as often as possible. Sometimes the hardest part about being a rookie is that you don't even know what it is you're supposed to know! Like "Wow, we can idle whenever we want? I didn't know that! I've been freezing my *ss off for no reason!"

Problem solved right there....

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Epu's:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

These have been awesome answers that everyone has given and I really appreciate you taking the time to explain your situations.

As you can see by the variety of situations people have presented, no one is freezing or frying whether they have an APU/EPU or not. Those who have an APU seem to like them, but those who don't are able to stay comfortable just fine. And that's what I was hoping to demonstrate to everyone because there are very few trucks on the road with APU's in them and I know a lot of people are under the impression that you need one to be comfortable. But that's not true at all.

You may find a situation where you're not allowed to idle, like in California, so it would be an advantage to have one if you spent a lot of time out there sitting. But then again a large portion of California seems to hover around 70 degrees most of the time so you often times won't need it anyhow.

I know a number of people are making decisions about what company to work for based in part on whether or not they have APU's and I think for the most part they are overestimating the importance of it and thus limiting their choice of companies to work for needlessly.

James and some others are in the situation I was most concerned with. Their company does not have APU's but does have an extensive fuel bonus system in place. I know from experience that there are almost no limits some people will go to in order to make an extra buck as James pointed out:

I have seen people sitting in their truck with a box fan in the window in 100 degree plus heat, in the all black trucks, in nothing but a white t-shirt covered in sweat for the sake of trying to get that extra bit of money. Power to them, no one's making them do it.

As long as the company doesn't force people to endure those extremes then I'm fine with it. James has the option of staying comfortable or he can freeze or fry to make a few extra bucks on his paycheck if he so chooses. That's a very common scenario. I'm confident the $80/week figure is not the difference in what he's losing by idling to stay comfortable. I believe he means if his fuel mileage was just incredibly awful it would cost him about $80/week but he's not going to lose nearly that much by idling to stay comfortable while he sleeps.

Finally there's one more thing I wanted to clear up about APU's and Phox pointed this out:

Sounds like for the most part APUs are most important when leasing or o/o since they pay for the fuel.

Obviously it's true that you'll save on fuel consumption by idling the APU (or using the batteries on an EPU) versus idling the main engine. But the fact that 99% of the trucks on the road do not have any sort of an APU or EPU tells you that overall they are not cost effective to own. If they were, every truck in America would have one. But they are expensive to buy, install, and maintain. Also, as several people have pointed out they tend to break down from time to time and that's one more thing that can put you in a shop waiting on repairs.

So overall my advice is not to worry about whether or not a company has APU's or not. If anyone was in a position to worry about it I would say it would be someone running for a refrigerated company that plans on making regular runs to California. It's quite common to sit out there for a day or two (or more) waiting on return freight to the east coast and they're strict about idling so it might benefit you somewhat in that scenario.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APUs:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Pat M.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Brett, your number is a little far off. Idling a truck for one hour uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel. At a cost of $2 per gallon that is $20 per night and $100 over 5 days. Multiply that by the number of trucks, say 200 trucks and you have $20,000 per week or $1,040,000 per year.

What does Swift have like 16k trucks? At $100 per truck per week that comes to $83,000,000 if every truck in the fleet were to idle for 10 hours, 5 nights per week.

When you do the math you can see why carriers do not like idling.

If you were to do the same math with an APU that uses 1/4 gallon per hour that is 2.5 gallons per night or $5 and that would equate to $25 per week running 5 nights per week. So for a 200 truck operation that would come out to $5,000 per week or $260,000 per year. That is a savings of $780,000 per year. Or the cost of 5 new trucks.

With someone like Swift that brings the cost down to $20,750,000 for a savings of $62,250,000 per year.

Now not everyone on here is capable of running a trucking business but even they can see the cost savings of having an APU over not having one.

Real numbers and savings are not going to come out like my example because you do not need either at certain times of the year and not all trucks are going to idle 10 hours a night 5 days a week but you can still see that there is a significant cost benefit of having an APU over not having one.

I have not researched the fuel usage for bunk heaters but I believe it to be lower than the APU. If that is the case then there may be the happy medium. With the cost of the APU running around $10,000 per unit the company would have to keep the truck more than 3 years to recoup the additional cost of the APU over the fuel costs for not having one. Add to that the cost of maintaining the APU and it may not be cost effective and increase down time for repairs. It is not just the cost of the repairs that need to be considered, but also the cost of the down time due to lost revenue.

So, if it were my company, I would order the truck with a bunk heater and no APU. Idle the truck during the 2 months that we have really hot weather and run a fan or bunk heater the rest of the year.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Hrynn's Comment
member avatar

I work for Roehl transport.

1. Do you have an APU?

I have an EPU. For those that don't know the difference an APU is diesel based and an EPU is battery based. Some trucks have an autostart function so that when the EPU batteries get low, the truck will automatically idle to recharge them, some don't have that feature (because driver's would leave on the autostart while they were on hometime).

2) Do you get to idle as much as you like?

I would say no. The trucks won't idle past a certain point anyway. 15 minutes if it has the Autostart function. If you don't have autostart, the engine will cut off after about 45 minutes.

3. Does it cost you anything if you idle above a certain amount?

Eeeeh...not really. Maybe. Roehl pays on what they call the "my choice" pay plan. You get performance points for different categories, like miles, passport, on time delivery, etc). Fuel mileage is one of the factors, so by getting better fuel mileage you could arguably increase your performance points enough to bump into the next pay bracket the next pay quarter, but it's not really ever going to be enough by itself to do that unless you get crazy crazy good mileage. You'll also have to have performance improvements in other areas.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I have an EPU. For those that don't know the difference an APU is diesel based and an EPU is battery based.

In fact I didn't know! I've now added EPU to our glossary so thanks for that!

so by getting better fuel mileage you could arguably increase your performance points enough to bump into the next pay bracket the next pay quarter, but it's not really ever going to be enough by itself to do that unless you get crazy crazy good mileage

So would you say it may cost you a little bit of money if you have to run the engine in order for you to stay comfortable but it isn't enough money to worry about?

Speaking for myself, that's how I always felt about it. I didn't care if it cost me a few extra bucks or not, I was gonna be comfortable. And I certainly wouldn't choose a company based upon whether or not they have APU's.

Oh, and I had to go back and add question #4 - would you choose a company based upon whether or not they have APU's?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Kurt G.'s Comment
member avatar

I seem to remember reading a couple of years ago that the concern about having an apu had to do with state or local laws against idling. Did that go away? Or maybe I'm remembering wrong.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I seem to remember reading a couple of years ago that the concern about having an apu had to do with state or local laws against idling. Did that go away? Or maybe I'm remembering wrong.

Excellent point and you're correct - the main advantage to having an APU is that you can idle in states with no-idling laws. California is the biggie. They've always been super strict about that. Most states don't have anti-idling laws and the ones that do rarely enforce them. I'm from New York and you're not supposed to idle for more than 5 minutes but I've never heard of anyone getting a ticket for it, though I'm sure it's happened.

If you run refrigerated freight and you wind up in California all the time you're probably going to care about having an APU. That would be the one big situation I think would make an APU a major consideration when it comes to choosing a company.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

∆_Danielsahn_∆'s Comment
member avatar

Drivers with sleep apnea , from my thoughts would need to run their machines. I have no clue how much power they actually draw, but I think, that one could argue the need for an apu or epu.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Drivers with sleep apnea , from my thoughts would need to run their machines. I have no clue how much power they actually draw, but I think, that one could argue the need for an apu or epu.

Excellent point.

But I guess a company without APU's wouldn't have much of a choice but to let you idle if you needed to charge the batteries in order to use the CPAP machine overnight, ya know? Otherwise they wouldn't be able to hire you.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone using a CPAP has run into any concerns over this.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Hrynn's Comment
member avatar

Yup. It may make a difference, but not enough to worry about. To answer question 4, last year when I was looking into trucking, APUs/EPUs were not something I took into account at all. I kind of just took it for granted that there was going to be some method of not dying because of temperature extremes no matter what company I chose. My main concerns were hometime, company sponsored cdl school, and safety.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APUs:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Epus:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

SouthernJourneyman's Comment
member avatar

1- yes I have APU. And I love it. Having the APU allows for a refrigerator instead of an electric cooler. All trucks also have the 1500w inverter. So I can cook and stuff without running the engine. Not sure that I would go with a company OTR and not have APU.

2- Melton really pushes for us to idle as little as possible. Also the trucks shut down after a bit. I think it may be 5 minutes of idle before it shuts down. Which only applies if you are in neutral and brakes are set. But if your APU is broke down you can idle if needed. I believe as long as you don't set the truck brake it will run longer. Not to sure about that though.

3- Our MPG is calculated on a 90-day average. So you have to do pretty bad before you are penalized. I'm not sure exactly what the penalty is though. Apparently I left the paper at home. I do know we are supposed to keep mileage above 6.0mpg average. So you'd have to do pretty bad to be lower this that over 90 days. For keeping it at 6.8 and higher we do get a mileage bonus. Starting at 6.8 you get $0.01 with another cent for each tenth.

I can't remember how much fuel the APU saves but it is a significant amount. I'll give an example. When I took my home time for Christmas I parked the truck Thursday night. It stayed parked until Sunday morning the following week. So 10 day with the APU cycling on and off. When I parked the fuel gauge showed just barely touching the 1/2 mark. When I left it was sitting pretty much on the mark.

Probably would have used less if I had turned the climate control off, then it only turns on to keep the batteries charges. But my kids wanted to camp out in the truck every night.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Bud A.'s Comment
member avatar

I work for Prime as a lease op.

1) Do you have an APU?

Yes, all Prime trucks have APUs as far as I know.

2) Do you get to idle as much as you like?

Yes, as a lease op. When I was a company driver, idle shut down automatically after 5 minutes.

3) Does it cost you anything if you idle above a certain amount?

It costs me fuel as a lease op. I can idle as much as I like, since lease trucks don't have the automatic shut off programmed. The APU saves a lot of fuel, so of course I prefer to use that.

As a company driver, I only qualified for the fuel bonus one week out of eight, so it wasn't a factor in my thinking. It's damn hard to make the fuel bonus as a flatbedder, since the bonus for mpg is really based on reefer numbers, which average at least 1 mpg better than flatbed due to the better aerodynamics of reefers. Besides, even when setting the cruise control to idle high, the engine would shut down after 15 or 20 minutes, so it doesn't have that big of an effect on fuel mileage on a 2800 - 3000 mile week.

4) When choosing a company to work for do you consider whether or not they have APU's as one of the factors?

I would care about this only if there was a significant fuel bonus involved. Last winter my bunk heater didn't work for 3 months. I woke up plenty of times with the temp at 40 degrees or less in the bunk, so it sucked a little bit. I rarely idled to overcome this since I really don't mind cold. I'm much more concerned with overheating. Anything that got in the way of keeping the bunk cool in the summer would be a bigger concern for me. My current APU setup in the Pete is excellent for keeping the bunk cool, far better than the Freightliner I had before.

If the APU conked out, I would definitely idle in the summer. If I were a company driver, this would be a bigger concern. APUs malfunction frequently enough that this would be a factor in my thinking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APUs:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

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