About Idle Elimination

What is discretionary truck idling?

Discretionary truck idling is the act of running a vehicle's engine even when the vehicle is parked for an extended period of time.

Discretionary idling is a common practice because it provides a steady stream of energy to meet the HVAC needs of drivers. It also provides electricity for the hotel needs of over-the-road drivers (televisions, microwaves, computers), many of whom spend hundreds of nights each year sleeping in a truck.

Discretionary idling also keeps truck and school bus engines warm. This can help ensure a fast, predictable start in cold weather.

What is idle elimination and why is it important?

Idle elimination (or no idling, anti-idling, and other terms) is an effort to eliminate discretionary idling by finding alternative power sources to meet the year-round HVAC and hotel needs of drivers.

Idle elimination is important because discretionary idling is costly. Discretionary idling for a typical sleeper truck can consume as much as 3,000 gallons of additional diesel each year. It also increases the total engine run time, which in turn accelerates wear and tear and related long-term maintenance. Both of these factors lead to higher costs and, consequently, lower incomes for drivers, many of whom are independent business people who own their own truck.

Discretionary idling also creates health and environmental costs related to excess engine emissions. This has inspired new voluntary programs to promote idle elimination as well as new regulations to ensure that the costs of discretionary idling are ultimately paid by drivers and fleet operators. With regulations and fines likely to grow along with concerns about global climate change and the United States' reliance on imported energy, idle elimination is an increasingly important consideration for drivers and fleet operators.

What are the key factors I should consider when thinking about idle elimination?

There are several key factors to consider:

  • How much does it cost? One of the primary goals of idle elimination is to save money. So the idle elimination system you choose should, at a minimum, be less expensive than discretionary idling.

    When considering overall costs, it is important to consider all costs, including installation, annual operation, and maintenance costs. Since adopting idle elimination likely involves an upfront investment, payback period is a helpful proxy for your overall costs. For example, the payback period for the Idle Free electric APU can be as short as one year for a sleeper pulling a dry van. This means you can pay off your investment in an Idle Free electric APU in one year thanks to the money you save by eliminating discretionary idling.
  • Does it eliminate idling? It is counter-intuitive, but not all idle elimination systems eliminate idling. For example, a diesel APU is a diesel engine that is, in effect, "idling" whenever it is in use. Although it consumes less diesel than discretionary idling, it still consumes as much as 600 gallons of diesel per year. A diesel APU also generates emissions.
  • How easy is it to install? Easy installation helps you keep your costs down and increases the chance that an idle elimination system will perform as expected. For example, Idle Free electric APU modules, such as the A/C unit, come pre-assembled and wired with quick connect couplings. In addition, many key modules are mounted externally. As a result, the Idle Free electric APU can be installed in approximately eight hours—half the time required for other systems.
How can I learn more about idle elimination?

You can contact us to learn more about idle elimination and how the Idle Free electric APU can help. Please visit the Contact Us page for contact information or to access our convenient online contact forms.

About the Idle Free electric APU?

What is the Idle Free Electric APU?

The Idle Free electric APU is The Complete Electric APU Solution.™ It allows drivers and fleet operators to eliminate discretionary idling year round without compromising performance, cost savings, driver comfort, or environmental safety.

The Idle Free electric APU uses the energy from one of two sources—an independent battery bank or a reefer unit—to heat or cool the bunk, warm the engine or fuel tanks, and provide 120 volt AC electricity to run a TV or computer. It also includes a standard shore power outlet, which means drivers have at least two alternatives to discretionary idling when truck stop electrification (TSE) services are available.

What is an electric APU?

An electric APU repurposes energy produced during a vehicle's normal operation.

For example, the Idle Free electric APU uses the energy from one of two sources—an independent battery bank or a reefer unit. In both cases, this is renewable energy—energy that is produced for other reasons but is usually wasted.

When it comes to idle elimination, what is the difference between the Idle Free electric APU and a diesel APU?

A diesel APU uses a small, independent diesel engine to generate energy on its own. This energy can then be used to meet the HVAC and hotel needs of drivers.

Unlike an electric APU, a diesel APU can't completely eliminate idling. This is because it is, in effect, "idling" whenever it is in use—while consuming as much as 600 gallons of diesel per year. A diesel APU also generates emissions and requires an expensive upgrade to be CARB-compliant. Finally, a diesel APU requires regularly scheduled maintenance, just like any other type of engine.

In contrast, the Idle Free electric APU lets drivers eliminate idling completely for their HVAC needs—year round and in any climate. The Idle Free electric APU is also CARB-compliant by design and does not require regular maintenance.

What is the battery-based Idle Free electric APU??

The battery-based Idle Free electric APU is the complete, year-round electric APU solution for for sleeper trucks and day cabs pulling a dry van. It captures energy produced by the engine's alternator and stores it in an independent AGM battery bank. When the engine is off, this energy can be used to:

  • Power A/C and heat systems
  • Provide 120 volt AC electricity for televisions, and computers
  • Keep the truck engine warm
What is the reefer-based Idle Free electric APU??

The reefer-based Idle Free electric APU is the complete, year-round electric APU solution for sleeper trucks and day cabs pulling a refrigerated trailer. It uses patented Reefer Link technology to make energy from the reefer unit available to:

  • Power A/C and heat systems
  • Provide 120 volt AC electricity for televisions, microwaves, and other hotel needs
  • Keep the truck engine warm
  • Provides unlimited run time
  • Provide backup alternator power for both the reefer unit and the truck's starter batteries in the event one or the other fails.

This patented, one-of-a-kind solution is available only from Idle Free.

What is the Reefer Link™ technology?

The Reefer Link technology is the patented technology at the heart of the reefer-based Idle Free electric APU. It provides the "link" that makes the energy from the reefer unit available to meet a driver's HVAC needs. It is also what provides backup alternator power for both the reefer unit and the truck's starter batteries in the event one or the other fails.

Will the Idle Free electric APU drain my truck's starter batteries?

No. The battery-based system accesses energy stored in an independent AGM battery bank, not the truck's starter batteries. The reefer-based system accesses energy produced by the reefer unit.

Will the Idle Free electric APU work with my truck?

Yes. The Idle Free electric APU can be installed in any make or model of truck if appropriate frame rail space is available.

What particular driver needs does the Idle Free electric APU meet?

The Idle Free electric APU meets all the HVAC and hotel needs of drivers without discretionary idling.

Specifically, the Idle Free electric APU provides year-round climate control (the standard configuration includes heat and A/C; a heat-only or A/C-only configuration is also available). It also meets driver hotel needs by providing 120 volt electricity through a GFI-protected outlet that can be used to operate a television or computer.

If the system configuration includes heat, it can also be used to warm the truck's engine and possibly the fuel tank (depending on the design of the truck or any after-market modifications).

Is the Idle Free electric APU CARB-compliant?

Yes. The Idle Free electric APU is CARB-compliant. In addition, the heat system includes a water heater that is CARB-approved.

The Idle Free electric APU is also an EPA SmartWay-verified technology, which means it is one of the cleanest and most fuel-efficient technologies available on the market.

What kind of A/C and heat performance can I expect from the Idle Free electric APU?

Both the A/C and heat systems deliver better performance compared to other electric idle elimination systems.

Specifically, the patent-pending A/C unit is rated at a maximum output of 10,000 BTU. It is also designed to be energy efficient, which enables it to run upto 10 hours when powered by batteries. (system run time is unlimited for the reefer-based system).

The heat system delivers 17,000 BTUs while consuming 12 to 15 ounces of diesel per hour (assuming it is running continuously, which is unlikely in practice).

What is shore power and why does it matter?

Shore power is the term for the 120 volt AC electricity available from truck stop electrification (TSE) services. This electricity is identical to the electricity available from the utility-managed electrical grid.

A shore power outlet is standard on the Idle Free electric APU. This allows drivers to literally plug their truck into the grid whenever TSE services are available.

Because the Idle Free electric APU runs on 120 volt electricity, it can be run entirely on shore power. Shore power can also be used to recharge the AGM battery bank and the truck's starter batteries if the optional battery charger is included.

By including a standard shore power outlet with the Idle Free electric APU, Idle Free is also preparing drivers and fleet operators for the shift to a "smart grid" offering even more plug-in options.

How can I learn more about the Idle Free electric APU?

We encourage you to contact us to learn more about the Idle Free electric APU and its benefits. Please visit the Contact Us page for contact information or to access our convenient online contact forms.

About the Reefer Link™ Technology

What is the Reefer Link technology?

The Reefer Link technology is the patented technology at the heart of the reefer-based Idle Free electric APU. It provides the "link" that makes the energy from the reefer unit available to meet a driver's needs. It is also what provides backup alternator power for both the reefer unit and the truck's starter batteries in the event one or the other fails.

What benefits does the Reefer Link technology offer?

The Reefer Link technology allows drivers pulling a refrigerated trailer to use energy produced by the reefer unit to meet their HVAC and hotel needs. Specifically, it allows drivers to:

  • Power A/C and heat systems
  • Provide 120 volt AC electricity for a television or computer
  • Keep the truck engine warm
  • Provides unlimited run time
  • Provide backup alternator power for both the reefer unit and the truck's starter batteries in the event one or the other fails.

This patented, one-of-a-kind solution is available only from Idle Free.

About Costs, Installation, and Maintenance

How much does the Idle Free electric APU cost?

The cost of the Idle Free electric APU varies depending on the type of system and configuration you choose. But no matter what, significant fuel and maintenance cost savings (and other system-specific efficiencies) translate into a payback period of as little as one year for a sleeper truck pulling a dry van. For a sleeper truck pulling a refrigerated trailer, the payback period is even shorter.

For more information about costs, please visit the Contact Us page for contact information or to access our convenient online contact forms.

Is it difficult and/or costly to install the Idle Free electric APU?

No. Each system module comes pre-assembled and wired with quick connect couplings. For example, the A/C unit uses two pre-charged, quick-connect Freon lines that can be installed without a certified A/C technician. In addition, many key modules are mounted externally.

As a result, it is possible to install the Idle Free electric APU in approximately eight hours—half the time required for other systems.

Do I need to hire a specialist to install the Idle Free electric APU?

No. The Idle Free electric APU is easy to install by design—any experienced fleet mechanic can install it in approximately eight hours (half the time required for other systems). In addition, the A/C unit uses two pre-charged, quick-connect Freon lines that can be installed without a certified A/C technician.

Finally, Idle Free provides detailed documentation and hands-on customer service to make sure your system functions as expected.

How much does it cost to operate the Idle Free electric APU?

Operating costs for the Idle Free electric APU are minimal compared to both idling and diesel APUs.

Specifically, the Idle Free heat system consumes approximately 6 ounces of diesel per hour (assuming it is running continuously, which is unlikely in practice). The A/C system doesn't consume any diesel and therefore costs nothing to operate.

In contrast, discretionary idling can consume up to 3,000 gallons of diesel per year; for a diesel APU, the typical annual consumption rate is 600 gallons.

How much does it cost to maintain the Idle Free electric APU?

The Idle Free electric APU, if properly installed, requires no regular maintenance.

In contrast, a diesel APU is a mechanical engine that requires regularly scheduled maintenance—just like any other type of engine.

How can I learn more about costs related to the Idle Free electric APU?

We encourage you to contact us to learn more about the Idle Free electric APU and its benefits. Please visit the Contact Us page for contact information or to access our convenient online contact forms.