Auxiliary Heating Systems 101

Essential considerations for choosing reliable, easy-to-maintain units

He cites oil changes as an example, using a truck that idles roughly 50 percent of the time, is driven 120,000 miles annually and has the oil changed at a typical 20,000-mile interval. "That truck will require six to seven oil changes yearly at a cost exceeding $1,100," he says. "Eliminate the idling and you could cut the need and cost for engine oil changes by nearly half."

Another factor is engine life. "Engine rebuilds are typically done at 800,000 miles," observes Lande. "At that point, a typical engine with roughly 50 percent idle time will have about 32,000 operating hours - driving and idling combined. At $15,000 for a typical engine rebuild, the cost per engine-hour is about $0.49, which can translate to more than $1,000 a year just for the idling hours.

"Holding down engine hours through idling reduction generally extends the life of the engine, allowing a longer trade cycle and a higher resale value," he goes on. "Consider two trucks, each driven 650,000 miles. The one without an APU racked up 24,000 engine hours, while the other accrued only 12,000 engine hours because an APU was used during idling situations.

"Everything else being equal," says Lande, "it's clear which one would likely have the higher resale value."

It bears mentioning that auxiliary heating systems are not just for heating truck cabs and sleepers. There are units available to protect temperature-sensitive cargo from cold damage as well.

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