Buying An Air Conditioner Or Heater For Your Sleeper Cab? A Couple Of Important Considerations To Keep In Mind

Automotive Articles

Anti-idling laws, designed to save fuel and limit harmful emissions, are in effect all across the United States. There are a myriad of local, state and federal regulations that affect the length of time that idling is allowed and that also define acceptable idling reasons. Unfortunately, from a truck driver's perspective, anti-idling laws can be at-odds with the comfort of drivers who are resting. Traditionally, drivers have depended upon the power provided by idling diesel engines to operate sleeper cab heating and cooling equipment; without that source of power, drivers are now seeking alternative means of powering their heaters and air conditioners during their off hours. However, the market has responded to the need, and several auxiliary options that can be added to sleeper cabs are available for truck drivers. Before purchasing a heater or air conditioner, you should understand a couple of key questions and their answers:

What is the power source?

Auxiliary heating and cooling units are typically powered by the truck's batteries or by an external power connection, also known as offshore power. Some systems utilize 12 volt DC power, but others use 120 volt AC for power. Units that operate with 12 volt DC power possess an advantage by being able to run without an offshore power hookup. Since they use the truck batteries, which are recharged by the truck's alternator during normal driving, this frees up a concern about where to plug-in at night.

However, 12 volt systems do have a few disadvantages. Since they are tied to the truck's batteries, there is a possibility they may put additional wear-and-tear on the batteries. In addition, running the system too long may completely discharge the batteries, and a trucker may find themselves stranded and unable to start the truck.

Heaters and air conditioners with 120 volt AC power are not tied to the truck's electrical system, and that allows the trucker to plug-in to a conventional offshore connection. Truck stops all across the United States are adding Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) in an effort to make plugging-in convenient. By using TSE, truckers save money by paying a lower fee that is favorable in comparison to the cost of diesel fuel. In addition, TSE systems permit trucks to power heaters and air conditioners on an indefinite basis, which can be convenient in particularly hot or cold climates or in extended driver stops.

There are a few drawbacks to 120 volt systems, however. The still-limited availability of TSE at truck stops across America has not yet made offshore power a routine convenience. Truck drivers are dependent upon other power sources that are neither reliable or easy-to-find. In addition, if a trucker is stopped at a rest location in a remote area, getting access to 120 volt power may be impossible. That prevents the use of a heater or air conditioner altogether.

The best option is to choose a system that is capable of being powered by batteries and offshore power. These dual-source systems are likely to be more expensive than sole-source options, but you will benefit in the long run by having complete flexibility.

How is the unit installed?

Another factor of importance when choosing a sleeper cab climate control unit concerns the details of installation. Air conditioning units, which may or may not contain an added heater component, often come with separate evaporator and condenser/compressor units. Some units are designed for an inside installation of the evaporator with an outside condenser/compressor arrangement. This can help reduce noise levels inside the cab since the compressor/condenser is the noisiest component. However, other systems may contain a compressor/condenser that is installed inside the cab. This can increase noise inside the cab, which may be unacceptable to some drivers.

The installation process of heater and air conditioners is another consideration. Some systems can be installed by the end-user in a matter of less than a few hours. However, other systems may require extensive modifications and retrofitting, and this can lead to higher costs for the purchaser. In addition, you should consider what type of impact installation will have on your truck. If there are major cuts and holes that need to be made in the cab, you will want to ensure they don't allow moisture to penetrate or create other problems. Also, you will not want to install a system that requires extensive changes on an old truck. First, consider checking out a truck retailer online at, and then choose the heating and cooling system that works best for it.


20 January 2015

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