Idle Free Hybrid System now available from Mack Trucks

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Truck operators no longer need to idle their truck engine to run their televisions and microwaves, or to heat and air condition their sleepers, thanks to the Idle Free Hybrid System, now available as an option from Mack Trucks. This nonpolluting anti-idling system is designed to utilize battery power to provide reliable electrical power and save fuel. Mack says it is the first truck manufacturer to offer the Idle Free Hybrid System.

“The smart operator wants to avoid idling these days,” says Jerry Warmkessel, marketing product manager of highway products for Lehigh Valley, Pa.-based Mack. “The price of fuel is near record levels, many local and state environmental regulations strictly limit the amount of time trucks may idle, and fleets now recognize the increased maintenance costs of excessive idling.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates heavy-duty truck idling in the United States consumes 960 million gallons of diesel fuel annually, at a current cost of about $2.80 per gallon, and the average heavy-duty truck burns 0.8 gallons per hour. According to EPA, truck idling results in annual emissions of 11 million tons of CO2, 180,000 tons of NOx and 5,000 tons of particulates. New emissions regulations cut emissions of NOx by 50 percent and particulates by 90 percent on heavy-duty diesel engines built after Jan. 1.

At the same time, Mack understands drivers need a comfortable environment during nondriving hours and that they want the freedom to use electric devices while off-duty. The system is designed to use a bank of high-efficiency absorbed glass mat batteries to provide stored electrical power for heating, air conditioning and amenities, such as TV or microwave. The sealed AGM batteries are known for their durable, long-life operation, and can be safely housed inside the truck. The bank of five AGM batteries is stored under the sleeper’s bunk.

Mack says the batteries can be recharged three different ways: by the truck’s alternator when the engine is running, through a shore power connection when the vehicle is stopped, or through an available connection to the reefer unit for tractors hauling refrigerated trailers. When the truck is not moving, the driver can use battery power or shore power to run heating, air conditioning and amenities. The system provides either 12- or 120-volt power.

Idle Free uses a Xantrex Prosine 2000W inverter/charger to control and regulate electrical power, as well as to charge both the Idle Free batteries and the truck’s batteries, according to the company. Mack’s complete climate control package includes a Webasto diesel-fired heater and a Dometic HVAC unit. The Odyssey AGM 31 batteries have the ability to run the AC for 10 hours with an outside air temperature of 90 degrees, the company says.

According to Warmkessel, Idle Free has advantages over traditional auxiliary power units. The total weight of the system — with five batteries, inverter, HVAC and controls — is 370 pounds, which is less than many APUs. It is also quiet, does not consume fuel, requires no maintenance, and is not subject to local idling restrictions.