Does Having An APU/EPU Really Matter?

Topic 12170 | Page 3

Page 3 of 5 Previous Page Next Page Go To Page:
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

TailGunner (Ken M)'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.

I let my truck run all weekend before, and the gauge didn't even move. The average fuel mileage did go down, but when I went to leave Sunday night, it was warm and ice-free.

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.

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

Is anyone that is idling all the time in a truck with a dpf filter? At prime my apu went out during the summer and it was a couple weeks before I could get in to get it repaired. I was having to do parked regens multiple times per day due to all the idling by the end of that couple weeks. Our road assist said that it's incredibly bad on these exhaust systems to idle, but I'm no mechanic.

I tried to limit the idling as much as I could, but you can't sleep in a 90+ degree truck, or at least I can't.

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.

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh and as far as our auto-cutoff functions, just hit the accelerator when the check engine light comes on and then the engine won't cut off. Usually once although sometimes twice doing that and it won't try to cut off again (you don't have to sit in the seat all night hitting the accelerator).

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Little Trucker's Comment
member avatar

I'm glad you asked this question because I've been having an internal battle. I am currently in training at Swift. We do not have APU'S and if we try to idle the truck shuts off. My trainer showed me a trick where you can turn on cruise control which will stop the truck from shutting off but we have gotten idle warnings, which my trainer would ignore, but then his dispatcher will call every now and then and the two of them will have an argument about it for a while. He basically ends up telling her to fire him if it's that big of a deal. They've reached a compromise where he agreed to do it a little less. As a result, some nights we lay there freezing. I am not meaning to sound like I am complaining about the company, but I don't think that's right. Drive all day and freeze at night. And because of certain circumstances, I plan to be out on the road for months, maybe even never go home for the first year or so. That means I literally will be LIVING in my truck. I'd like to be comfortable. After all, when you are on the road, the truck IS your home. You wouldn't freeze at night in your home, so why do it on the truck?

Anyhoo, this and a couple of other things have me debating whether or not I should go with a different company. May trucking has said they would take over the balance I owe Swift for school and they have APU'S and nice trucks. I am tempted to take them up on their offer or go with Prime. I'm wondering if that's not a good idea?

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

LittleTrucker shivers:

As a result, some nights we lay there freezing. I am not meaning to sound like I am complaining about the company, but I don't think that's right.

No, that's not right! First, if your trainer is driving and you're (trying to) sleep, you have your own heat and A/C controls. You might have to ask the driver to turn on/enable the rear controls (It's a button or switch on the front heater controls), then behind the privacy curtain you can have your own tropical paradise.

If you're both sleeping, that's the usual "I'm hot!"/"I'm cold" debate. Rock/paper/scissors, arm wrestle, flip a coin/R.H.I.P decides.

On you're own, use the bunk heater. I drive for Swift (solo) and I know your truck has one. Look on the bunk controls for a strange looking thermostat, there are a few different ones. That heater will toast marshmallows. I really do use mine to heat cans of soup & chili.

picture of bunk heater digimax d1000 thermostat      Possible thermostat

The Little Trucker's Comment
member avatar

LittleTrucker shivers:

double-quotes-start.png

As a result, some nights we lay there freezing. I am not meaning to sound like I am complaining about the company, but I don't think that's right.

double-quotes-end.png

No, that's not right! First, if your trainer is driving and you're (trying to) sleep, you have your own heat and A/C controls. You might have to ask the driver to turn on/enable the rear controls (It's a button or switch on the front heater controls), then behind the privacy curtain you can have your own tropical paradise.

If you're both sleeping, that's the usual "I'm hot!"/"I'm cold" debate. Rock/paper/scissors, arm wrestle, flip a coin/R.H.I.P decides.

On you're own, use the bunk heater. I drive for Swift (solo) and I know your truck has one. Look on the bunk controls for a strange looking thermostat, there are a few different ones. That heater will toast marshmallows. I really do use mine to heat cans of soup & chili.

1000970253-1000970255-310x174.jpg      Possible thermostat

He said it doesn't work now and that it used to but that even then it didn't work well. And we're still in the first 50 hrs so I'm doing all the driving. Which is why I said drive all day and freeze all night. On the nights he lets the truck idle I sleep well.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
He said it doesn't work now and that it used to but that even then it didn't work well.

Well then you're freezing because your trainer's truck isn't working properly, not because the company says you have to freeze.

And we already know it works great if another driver from the same company says:

That heater will toast marshmallows. I really do use mine to heat cans of soup & chili.

See, this is a classic case where a new driver misinterprets a situation and immediately (while still in training even!!) starts thinking they're with a lousy company. No, you're with a really good company that has great equipment and fair policies but a driver has to understand how to manage their life on the road or things are going to be a mess. That's what you're seeing right now. This is either your trainer's fault for not making sure the truck gets the repairs it needs or it's simply a short term inconvenience brought upon by a simple mechanical problem. But it's certainly not a case of working for a bad company with bad policies. Not at all.

LittleTrucker, these kind of situations are one of the big reasons we say you should stick it out with your first company for a year no matter what. You're ready to jump ship while you're still in training because your trainer didn't get his bunk heater fixed yet? Obviously that's no reason to leave a company and that's our point exactly. You don't really know enough about the industry yet to make smart career decisions.

Just focus on yourself and learning all you can about everything. You're in a great place with Swift so just settle in and move forward one day at a time.

J Johns's Comment
member avatar

Are you freezing because The Grey Dog ate your luggage? Did I read that other thread right? How frustrating. I'm sorry.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

LittleTrucker says:

He said it doesn't work now and that it used to but that even then it didn't work well.

Is your trainer an owner/operator? If so, you are stuck with his equipment, and if he wants a repair, he will have to pay for it. If he's a company driver, the terminal shop should have it able to have it bake cookies in just a few hours, for free (to him!).

Stick out your training - it isn't really cold yet, get your own company truck, and you are free to set your own heating/air conditioning temperatures!

Disclaimer: "Baking cookies" in reality is not possible. However, I hope you get my drift.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Page 3 of 5 Previous Page Next Page Go To Page:

New Reply:

New! Check out our help videos for a better understanding of our forum features

Bold
Italic
Underline
Quote
Photo
Link
Smiley
Links On TruckingTruth


example: TruckingTruth Homepage



example: https://www.truckingtruth.com
Submit
Cancel
Upload New Photo
Please enter a caption of one sentence or less:

Click on any of the buttons below to insert a link to that section of TruckingTruth:

Getting Started In Trucking High Road Training Program Company-Sponsored Training Programs Apply For Company-Sponsored Training Truck Driver's Career Guide Choosing A School Choosing A Company Truck Driving Schools Truck Driving Jobs Apply For Truck Driving Jobs DOT Physical Drug Testing Items To Pack Pre-Hire Letters CDL Practice Tests Trucking Company Reviews Brett's Book Leasing A Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Learn The Logbook Rules Sleep Apnea
Done
Done

0 characters so far - 5,500 maximum allowed.
Submit Preview

Preview:

Submit
Cancel

This topic has the following tags:

Choosing A Trucking Company Dealing With The Weather Idling Laws Life On The Road Truck Equipment
Click on any of the buttons above to view topics with that tag, or you can view a list of all forum tags here.

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More