APU

Thermo King Envidia

Having an auxiliary power unit, or APU, installed on your truck is one of those things that you do not truly appreciate it until you have one. Once it has been installed you will never want go back. No more idling for hours on end wasting fuel and hoping not to be caught or fined due to anti-idling laws. No more hotel rooms just to get a decent night’s sleep. The APU gives you the power you need during these times to make your cab comfortable as well as the ability to run other small appliances or electronics.

Choosing an APU can be difficult though folks as there are so many different brands and manufacturers out there today. With all of those choices how do you know that you are picking the right one for you and your needs? In this article we are going to take an in-depth look at one of these APU models known as the Envidia from Thermo King. This is an all electric model that is rated highly from those within the industry. Let’s take a look ourselves:

Diesel Vs Electric

Before we get into the actual review I first want to illustrate to you the differences between an electric and a diesel APU. As I write this article the diesel APU is by far the most popular but in recent years the electric has been making inroads with various city fleets and other applications. What type of APU you need directly depends on what and how you drive. Are you a long-haul driver who is on the road for many nights out of the week? Then chances are a diesel APU will be the best for you. However, if you are smaller distance driver and could use the APU while waiting at a dock or port then the electric model would be best for you.

The electric APU offers you an almost maintenance free APU experience. The downside of these systems though is that they have a limited power supply and when the batteries are depleted you will need to run your truck for another four to eight hours to charge them back to full capacity. A diesel APU on the other hand will run as long as there is fuel in your truck’s fuel tank. Diesel can also provide overall more power when needed then an electric APU. The big downside with diesel is that there are maintenance requirements that take time and money. Keep these facts in mind when reading the review.

Thermoking Envidia Electric APU

I’ll start this off by stating that Thermoking is seen within the industry as the king of APUs. They are the premium model. If you are driving for a fleet and your truck has a Thermoking APU in it then you know your company takes care of its drivers. However, It should be known that there is some debate on who takes the gold medal for APUs. Some truckers and companies prefer the Carrier Comfort Pro over the Thermoking, but I still believe the majority of truckers that state Thermoking is number one and Carrier is a close second.

Features & Components

As I stated at the beginning of this article the Envidia model from Thermo King is an electric APU. This means that there is no engine that comes with this unit, only batteries. This puts you in compliance with all anti-idling laws across the country including California Air Resources Board (CARB). It also prevents you from having to have a secondary diesel particulate filter on your APU. (Diesel APUs require DPFs in California.) This APU also has an overall very quiet operation volume and you will burn even less fuel then you would with a diesel system.

Now for the bad news, since this is an electric system you will need to have a much larger alternator on you tractor truck. Some of you may already have this due to using a large power inverter but for those of you who do not you will need a minimum two-hundred and seventy amp alternator installed to run this electric APU. The other drawback here is that you do not get nearly as many features that you would versus the standard TriPac diesel. An example of this is that the Envidia does not come with a standard heater but instead only comes with the installation kit and the standard eight-thousand BTU air conditioner. While you can still purchase the heater, it is an additional option.

Another point here is that the air conditioner is only an eight-thousand BTU. The TriPac diesel model comes with a thirteen-thousand BTU air conditioner. So, as you can see the amount of power provided by the APU is significantly smaller then that of a diesel… but if you do not need as much power then you’ll be fine!

Along with the seventy-five hundred BTU heater option there are also a one-thousand watt power inverter, solar panel, additional batteries for longer running time, shore power converter, and an even larger heater at nearly fourteen-thousand BTUs. Obviously this depends on your needs but I would definitely opt for the heater and the power inverter. The extra batteries as well if you plan to be running the APU for hours on end. I do like the shore power option though especially if you pass by a lot of rest stops or RV stops. This will give you free reliable power without having to do much of anything.

The battery box is typically mounted on the side of the truck a bit behind the cab and to the left of the fuel tank. This can change depending on your truck but Thermo King stated that this APU can be installed on most any tractor on the market today. I’m sure there are exceptions, so discuss with your dealer before purchasing. The air conditioner’s condenser is mounted on the outside back of your truck so that it is protected from salt and other debris. The evaporator is installed under the bed inside your sleeper cab. The whole unit installed comes in at five-hundred and seventy-two pounds. four-hundred and eighty of that is the battery box/cables and the other ninety is the air conditioner.

On the inside of the cab in the sleeper is the human machine interface, or HMI. The HMI has three easy to use knobs that allow you to adjust the heating and cooling as needed. You will also see various alarm codes on this panel in case something goes wrong with your APU. This same panel also allows you to customize the APU using the control system. This will allow you to program the APU to have it geared towards fuel savings, battery life, or driver comfort. The controller can also be programmed so that heating and cooling does NOT occur during days when the truck is not in use. Since this is an electric APU there is also a battery life alert/sensor on the HMI display as well.

Cost 7/10:

We have established that this Envidia from Thermoking is the premium APU, but now for the bad news. Because this is seen as the premium model you will also see a premium cost associated with it. I have rated the cost for this product as a seven out of ten only because of how expensive it is. These prices can change at any time but as I write this article the average cost for a new Thermoking Envidia system is between ten to twelve-thousand dollars with installation.

While this is a quite an investment many dealers may offer financing options for your purchase. Thermoking also offers a payback calculator which can be found by clicking here. This calculator allows you to put in all of the data for you and your truck and then at the end will provide you with estimated savings as well as an estimated time on when the savings would pay for the APU itself.

Quality & Savings 8/10:

As I stated before, the Envidia is seen as the best of the best. Besides the reputation let us also take a look as to why this is. The first point I want to make is the overall fuel savings you receive when running the APU versus when idling. When a truck idles it typically burns about one gallon of fuel per hour of idling. As you can imagine this can add up quite fast if you are idling for multiple hours at a time multiple days a week. With the Envidia system the diesel fuel burn rate is shrunk significantly to .17 gallons per hour when compared to idling. That is OVER an eighty percent reduction in fuel cost! This feature alone will help pay for the APU after only about a year of having it installed.

The other big point to look at is the maintenance needs of this APU. While the maintenance needs on an electric system are MUCH smaller and less complicated then that of a diesel APU there still needs to be some visual inspection of the cables and harnesses as well as the life of the batteries. The recommended service window on this unit is around two-thousand hours. This should put you right in line with your annual preventive maintenance and inspect for your truck as well.

The last point worth mentioning here is the overall sound level of the APU. Many of the cheaper APUs on the market today have complaints on how loud they are. The Envidia from Thermoking comes in at only fifty-nine decibels. That is little less then the sound of a normal conversation nearby. Compare this to some of the louder APUs on the market place that sound like a lawn mower running and you can physically hear the quality difference coming from the Envidia APU.

Serviceability 8/10

Since this is an electric APU the maintenance required is very minimal. At most a visual inspection of the cables and harnesses to ensure everything is connected how it should be and that there is no fraying or damage. Along with this inspection the only other thing you need to look out for is the life of your batteries. Eventually the batteries will need to be replaced. Thermo King recommend a two-thousand hour service window for this APU. That works out to be about once a year for most drivers. 

Having this large service window gives peace of mind and truly makes the APU part of your truck instead of a ride along. Other APUs out there with service windows of only one-hundred or five-hundred hours are a pain in the ass as maintenance is required every month or every other month. If something does go wrong with this Envidia APU it comes with service alarm codes to help diagnose and correct the issue.

Thermoking has nearly two-hundred authorized service centers across the United States with many of them offering twenty-four hour service. This puts most of these locations within an hour or two drive from you. It is recommended that any service be done by these authorized service centers. These technicians have been trained on the Thermoking models and know how to diagnose and repair. They also have access to the right replacement parts. If repairs are done at a non-authorized service shop then you may run into difficulty such as not able to find replacement parts or the mechanic simply doesn’t know how to solve the issue.

Dependability 8/10:

Thermo King claims that their Envidia APU is the longest running electric APU on the market today. According to them the APU can run as much as ten hours before needing to be charged. Some drivers have stated that they have had theirs last as long as fifteen hours. When the batteries are drained it can take anywhere from four to eight hours of your truck’s engine running to fully recharge the batteries.

One thing to keep in mind though with that battery life is that if you are driving in extreme climate conditions such as extreme heat/cold then your battery charge life can be impacted. As an example, if you are driving through Phoenix in the summer and decide to stay overnight then your air conditioner will be working overtime just to cool the cab off. Because of it constantly cooling the power used will be much higher then normal. This will result in a shorter battery life.

Warranty policy and terms can change but as I write this article I found that Thermo King offers a one year warranty on the Envidia unit and a two year warranty on major components. There was also talk of an extended warranty option that you could be offered at time of purchase. When I was researching this article I found that the Thermo King TriPac diesel model had reports of breakdowns after a few years. The good news here is that with the electric model there are much less moving parts for break downs like this to occur. If something does break the chances are it is small repair due to this being electric. 

When something does break you should attempt to seek out a certified Thermo King dealer. If you are not nearby an authorized service center and it is an emergency then you can take it into a mechanic’s shop but they may not know how to work on the Thermoking APU.  That is one thing that can be said about the less expensive APU models. A mechanic can typically figure them out and know how to repair them… but with a Thermoking model if you are unable to find a service center then you may have difficulty finding someone who can repair the unit.

Effectiveness/Power 8/10

As we all know with electric APUs the amount of power that you can use is limited to the amount of power stored in your batteries. With that in mind this is why we see a significantly smaller air conditioner then we do on the diesel model. This isn’t necessarily a fault of this model from Thermo King but just a limitation when it comes to electric APUs. I am still going to give an overall score of eight out of ten in this category as this model is best in class when it comes to electric APUs. If you find yourself needing more power then you should be looking a diesel APU model.

Conclusion

When it is all said and done folks I give the Thermoking Envidia APU a rating of seventy-eight percent. While this scored lower than I had anticipated a big part of the lower score was due to the cost and the reports of downtime after a couple years of service. Do not get me wrong though this is a high quality APU that provides you with a long service window and fuel savings. I do want to state before I close this article that I do NOT own a Thermoking unit.

Instead, this review was written off of my research by talking to those within the industry, reading product information, other reviews, and comparing that information to competitors data. I also want to point out that some of the finer details in this post may change as new models and revisions are released by Thermoking. I hope this article was helpful and provided you some insight before making your APU purchase.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

ThermoKing TriPac APU

Adding an APU to your truck can end up saving you thousands of fuel expenses, wear and tear maintenance repairs, and potential fines or tickets due to idling. While the benefits can be quite large there are also all different brands and manufacturers of auxiliary power units out there as well. Each one has its own specific set of pros and cons.

So, how do you know which one is the right one to buy for your needs and your budget? In this article we are going take an in-depth look at one of these auxiliary power units on the market today. We will review cost, quality, dependability, serviceability, and the overall effectiveness and power that TriPac APU from Thermoking can provide for your truck.

Diesel Vs Electric

Before we get into the actual review I first want to illustrate to you the differences between an electric and a diesel APU. As I write this article the diesel APU is by far the most popular but in recent years the electric has been making inroads with various city fleets and other applications. What type of APU you need directly depends on what and how you drive. Are you a long-haul driver who is on the road for many nights out of the week? Then chances are a diesel APU will be the best for you. However, if you are smaller distance driver and could use the APU while waiting at a dock or port then the electric model would be best for you.

The electric APU offers you an almost maintenance free APU experience. The downside of these systems though is that they have a limited power supply and when the batteries are depleted you will need to run your truck for another four to eight hours to charge them back to full capacity. A diesel APU on the other hand will run as long as there is fuel in your truck’s fuel tank. Diesel can also provide overall more power when needed then an electric APU. The big downside with diesel is that there are maintenance requirements that take time and money. Keep these facts in mind when reading the review.

Thermoking TriPac Diesel APU

I’ll start this off by stating that Thermoking is seen within the industry as the king of APUs. They are the premium model. If you are driving for a fleet and your truck has a Thermoking APU in it then you know your company takes care of its drivers. However, It should be known that there is some debate on who takes the gold medal for APUs. Some truckers and companies prefer the Carrier Comfort Pro over the Thermoking, but I still believe the majority of truckers that state Thermoking is number one and Carrier is a close second.

Features & Components

When purchased and installed the TriPac comes with a few major components. The first and obviously most important is the APU engine itself. This engine, along with the alternator, and air conditioner compressor are typically mounted on the side of the truck a bit behind the cab and to the left of the fuel tank. Now, obviously each truck is different so the ideal location on your truck may be in a separate area. It comes with a standard sixty-five amp alternator but can be upgraded to one-hundred and twenty amp if you want faster charging or need more power.

The seventy-five hundred BTU heater is typically mounted inside the cargo compartment of your sleeper. Again though, this can be upgraded to a thirteen-thousand BTU heater if you need the extra heat. You also receive a thirteen-thousand BTU air conditioner. The condenser is mounted on the outside back of your truck so that it is protected from salt and other debris. The evaporator is installed under the bed inside the sleeper. The whole unit installed comes in at four-hundred and fifteen pounds. Three-hundred and forty-five of that is the APU itself and the other seventy is the air conditioner.

On the inside of the cab in the sleeper is the human machine interface, or HMI. The HMI has three easy to use knobs that allow you to adjust the heating and cooling as needed. You will also see various alarm codes on this panel in case something goes wrong with your APU. This same panel also allows you to customize the APU using the control system. This will allow you to program the APU to have it geared towards fuel savings, battery life, or driver comfort. The controller can also be programmed so that heating and cooling does NOT occur during days when the truck is not in use. Instead, the APU will simply monitor battery life and engine temperatures so that your truck can start reliably the next time you are ready for the road.

There are also some options that you can add to your APU before purchasing such as an eighteen-hundred watt power inverter or a diesel particulate filter onto the APU. (This is necessary in California.) Other options exist, but they are not as sexy as the ones I’ve mentioned already.

Cost 7/10:

We have established that this TriPac from Thermoking is the premium APU, but now for the bad news. Because this is seen as the premium model you will also see a premium cost associated with it. I have rated the cost for this product as a seven out of ten only because of how expensive it is. These prices can change at any time but as I write this article the average cost for a new Thermoking TriPac system is between ten to twelve-thousand dollars with installation.

While this is a quite an investment many dealers may offer financing options for your purchase. Thermoking also offers a payback calculator which can be found by clicking here. This calculator allows you to put in all of the data for you and your truck and then at the end will provide you with estimated savings as well as an estimated time on when the savings would pay for the APU itself.

Quality & Savings 9/10:

As I stated before, the TriPac is seen as the best of the best. Besides the reputation let us also take a look as to why this is. The first point I want to make is the overall fuel savings you receive when running the APU versus when idling. When a truck idles it typically burns about one gallon of fuel per hour of idling. As you can imagine this can add up quite fast if you are idling for multiple hours at a time multiple days a week. With the TriPac system the diesel fuel burn rate is shrunk to .185 gallons per hour. That is OVER an eighty percent reduction in fuel cost! This feature alone will help pay for the APU after only about a year of having it installed.

The other big point to look at is the two-thousand hour maintenance needs. There are various APUs on the market today and their maintenances needs are all different. Some of them require maintenance every one-hundred hours, five-hundred hours, or even one-thousand hours. There are very few out there that offer such a large service window of two-thousand hours. The only other APU on the market that can compete with this is Carrier’s Comfort Pro. This large window works out to only needing to service the APU about once a year.

The last point worth mentioning here is the overall sound level of the APU. Many of the cheaper APUs on the market today have complaints on how loud they are. The TriPac from Thermoking comes in at only sixty-eight decibels. That is little less then the sound of a hair dryer or vacuum running nearby. Compare this to some of the louder APUs on the market place that sound like a lawn mower running and you can physically hear the quality difference coming from the TriPac APU.

Serviceability 8/10

I know I mentioned this earlier folks but I have to say it again – A two-thousand hour service window. It is a remarkable time that allows you to time your APU maintenance with that of your annual truck maintenance. Having this gives peace of mind and truly makes the APU part of your truck instead of a ride along. Other APUs out there with service windows of only one-hundred or five-hundred hours are a pain in the ass as maintenance is required every month or every other month. If something does go wrong with this TriPac APU it comes with twenty-two different service alarm codes that makes diagnosing the problem much easier for trained technicians.

Thermoking has nearly two-hundred authorized service centers across the United States with many of them offering twenty-four hour service. This puts most of these locations within an hour or two drive from you. It is recommended that any service be done by these authorized service centers. These technicians have been trained on the Thermoking models and know how to diagnose and repair. They also have access to the right replacement parts. If repairs are done at a non-authorized service shop then you may run into difficulty such as not able to find replacement parts or the mechanic simply doesn’t know how to solve the issue.

Dependability 7/10:

Warranty policy and terms can change but as I write this article I found that Thermoking offers a one year warranty on the TriPac unit and a two year warranty on major components. There was also talk of an extended warranty option that you could be offered at time of purchase. Typically extended warranties are usually a waste of money, but it may not be the case here on this unit. The reason I say that is during my research I found quite a few drivers or fleet owners stating that their TriPac units would tend to breakdown after a couple years of use. This would result in downtime and finding an appropriate dealer to work on the unit.

If you are not nearby an authorized service center and it is an emergency then you can take it into a mechanic’s shop but they may not know how to work on the Thermoking APU.  That is one thing that can be said about the less expensive APU models. A mechanic can typically figure them out and know how to repair them… but with a Thermoking model if you are unable to find a service center then you may have difficulty finding someone who can repair the unit.

Effectiveness/Power 9/10

You will not be wanting for power, air conditioning, or heating if you have a TriPac unit installed. They are known for their power and can provide you with a cool cab all the while running multiple appliances as well. This is another reason why there is so much fanfare for these units within the industry. However, there are other competing APUs out there have larger air conditioners and heaters.

One such example is the APU from Rigmaster. Their air conditioner comes in at twenty-four-thousand BTUs and their heater at thirteen-thousand. Personally though, I think that twenty-four thousand air conditioner is overkill and actually sucks power away from other needs such as appliances or electronics. For another comparison, the Carrier Comfort Pro has an air conditioner of only twelve-thousand BTUs. If you have a very larger sleeper and are driving in hot climates then the Rigmaster may make sense for you… just note that it may be overkill in most situations.

Conclusion

When it is all said and done folks I give the Thermoking TriPac APU a rating of eighty percent. While this scored lower than I had anticipated a big part of the lower score was due to the cost and the reports of downtime after a couple years of service. Do not get me wrong though this is a high quality APU that provides you with a long service window and fuel savings. I do want to state before I close this article that I do NOT own a Thermoking unit.

Instead, this review was written off of my research by talking to those within the industry, reading product information, other reviews, and comparing that information to competitors data. I also want to point out that some of the finer details in this post may change as new models and revisions are released by Thermoking. I hope this article was helpful and provided you some insight before making your APU purchase.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Installing an auxiliary power unit to your truck can end up saving you a significant amount of money each year. In fact in most cases they end up paying for themselves after only about twelve or thirteen months. After that all you see are savings in your pocket. That being said, there are still a lot of questions on the topic of APUs. Over the past few weeks we here at ToughAssTools.com have attempted to answer these various questions in different articles. Today’s topic is what kind of maintenance do these APUs need?

We have to remember that the diesel APU is literally a small engine that you are sticking onto the outside of your truck. As we all know, engines need maintenance. The typical maintenance that a diesel APU needs are what you would expect: Regular oil changes, fuel filter changes, and other general preventive maintenance you would do for any other engine. Another point to mention is that California requires DPFs on diesel APUs as well as on the actual truck engine. So, if you are routinely trucking in California you can either opt to have the DPF added to your APU and end up having to pay more maintenance costs or just not run your APU at all while driving through California. The choice is yours, but just be aware that adding more options like a DPF will also result in more maintenance needs.

There is one key thing to remember though when selecting an APU and that is brand name. The brand or company that you go with will directly determine how often you are having to do maintenance. For example, there is one APU brand name out there that requires you to perform maintenance every one-hundred hours of use. While one-hundred hours of use sounds like a lot of time… in reality, it is not. Let us say that you are a long-haul driver and spending four or five nights a week on the road. This could mean that you are running your APU for eight, ten, or even twelve hours a day. Times that by the week and you are looking at around fifty-hours of run-time per week. So, in just two weeks your APU will need maintenance.

These one-hundred hour models can be a pain in the ass, but they are also one of the cheapest APU models out there. As you shop around for APUs you’ll find that some have five-hundred hour service windows, one-thousand, and even two-thousand. Obviously, the two-thousand hour service requirement is the best of the best. This could mean only having to perform maintenance once or twice a year. That is a hell of a difference when compared to once or twice a month! Just be prepared to have to pay a lot more for these premium models such as Thermo King TriPac or Carrier Comfort Pro.

Another point to make here when it comes to maintenance is the finding of parts. If you select an APU with a lesser known brand name then you could have the hardest time finding parts to repair the unit. One brand name that is notorious for this is Rigmaster. They are routinely cheaper then other APUs out there but finding parts for these APUs can be very difficult. On the opposite side of the spectrum if you look at APUs like Carrier or Thermo King you will find certified dealers all over the country that can not only provide parts but can service your APUs with locally trained experts. So, remember folks that a cheaper upfront cost can end up coming back to bite you later on down the road.

Up until now this article has focused on the maintenance requirements of diesel APUs, but I am sure as many of you know there are also electric APUs. Electric APUs have their upsides and downsides. The downsides are that they a limited power supply that is pulled from the stored energy on your truck’s batteries. Once the batteries are depleted you no longer have any power from your APU and it can take anywhere from four to eight hours of your truck’s engine on to charge the batteries back to full capacity. Along with the limited power supply you are also limited timewise. The longest and best performing electric APUs can only last around eleven hours and that is in ideal conditions. If you are in a very hot or cold climate then you could see that time limit shrink even more. These electric APUs are not the most ideal for long-haul drivers.

There are upsides to those electric systems though folks. The biggest is that they require very little maintenance. After all, these electric APUs are not engines. They do not need oil changes or filter swaps. The most you will have to do is routinely check the electrical connections to ensure everything is connected where it should and there are no frayed or damaged wires or harnesses. At some point during the electric APU’s life you will have to swap the batteries out for new… but besides that there is no other maintenance required. These electric systems are great for drivers who have to wait at a dock or port for hours on end or if you are a long-haul driver and may not need power for the whole night.

Conclusion

Overall though folks the maintenance needs on an auxiliary power unit can vary quite drastically as you can tell from reading above. You could be looking at maintenance every month or just once a year depending on the brand name you chose. You may not be able to find parts depending on the brand name. Or, if you went the electric route then you may not even need to worry about maintenance. Whatever APU you end up with be sure to take care of it and ensure it gets the care that is needed. These are expensive machines and I would hate to see unnecessary wear and tear due to lack of maintenance.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Installing an auxiliary power unit to your truck can improve your quality of life significantly. With an APU installed there is no more idling for hours at a time just trying to keep your truck cool or trying to watch your favorite television show. No, with an APU all of your power needs, including heating and cooling, are met with ease. Along with providing the power that you need you also end up saving on fuel costs and no longer have to worry about anti-idling laws.

The only real main downside when it comes to APUs is their cost. New APU systems can range between five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars for the top of the line models. While many companies and dealerships offer financing the cost is still prohibitively expensive for a lot of people. These folks have a few choices. They can either keep idling and risk being fined by various states, they can go with the redneck solution, or they can look at purchasing a refurbished APU from various companies across the country.

Depending on what type of company you go with or what type of model you want to purchase you can end up seeing savings between thirty to fifty percent on a refurbished auxiliary power unit. In most instances every part of the APU is tested and either repaired or replaced if necessary. The end result is a fully functioning APU with new parts that will end up saving you a bundle. In many cases these APU refurbishers will also take trade-ins of your old APU as well.

A few example APU refurbishers are:

My last point is while a company may not specifically offer refurbishing or remanufacturing an APU it cannot hurt to ask. For example, say you are at a Kenworth dealership for a repair. While you are there waiting on your truck it cannot hurt to ask the service writer if they offer remanufactured APUs. When I was doing the research for this article I found that some dealer groups advertised this service while others did not… so you may strike out from time to time but you may also strike gold.

It is not all roses and sunshine on these remanufactured APUs though. There are drawbacks as well. The major downside with these refurbished materials is that you are either not going to have a warranty or it is going to be significantly shorter then if you were to buy a new product. Each company here is different but one example was a ninety day warranty. That is just enough time for things to get settled and for your APU to need some preventive maintenance. So, if you do wish to go refurbished just keep this in the back of your mind that if parts fail the repair is most likely not going to fall under a warranty.

I hope this article was helpful and was able to answer your questions.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Adding an auxiliary power unit, or APU, to your truck can solve a lot of problems for you or your drivers. Once the APU has been installed there is no longer a need to idle for long periods of time or to stay at hotels during overnight trips. The APU provides you with a source of air conditioning, heating, and power for other appliances or electronics like televisions or microwaves. Along with providing this power source they also can end up saving you a significant amount of money when it comes to fuel expense.

When you idle a truck for a long period of time you end up burning between 0.75 to 1.25 gallons of diesel fuel per hour. As you can imagine, that can add up pretty quickly if you are idling for multiple hours per day five days a week every week. If you have a diesel APU installed you will see that fuel consumption shrink to a range of 0.10 to 0.50 gallons per hour. If we take the average number here between both scenarios we get 1.00 gallon per hour used when idling compared to 0.25 gallons per hour when using an APU. That is a seventy-five percent reduction in fuel usage.

All of this is assuming that you are using a diesel APU. There are also electric APUs out there that do not use any fuel. Instead these APUs rely on the stored power of batteries on you truck. This can give you one-hundred percent fuel savings, but there are a few downsides here with using an electric APU. Because electric APUs rely on your batteries they have a set amount of time they can run before the batteries are drained.

Even the most highly rated electric APU systems can only last between ten to eleven hours and that is with ideal conditions. If you are driving through the desert in Phoenix, Arizona in July then your truck’s electric APU will NOT last the full ten hours. The air conditioner will be constantly running in an effort to keep the truck cool. This constant running is going to drain the power faster then expected which will result in an overall shorter run time. The same can be said if you decide to run other appliances or electronics on your electric APU. The more you run the shorter the lifespan will be.

In conclusion folks a diesel APU will use anywhere between 0.10 to 0.50 gallons of diesel fuel per hour. Each APU is different so the exact number is going to depend on what brand and model that you have on your truck. There is also the electric APU option that does not use ANY diesel fuel… but they have set amount of time that they can run until the batteries are drained. You will then need to recharge the system for four to eight hours before you can start it up again.

I hope this article was helpful and able to answer your question,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

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Adding an auxiliary power unit, or APU, to your truck is quite an investment. These products can range from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars. What they offer though is worth it. When your truck has an APU installed you will have a source for power, heating, and air conditioning all without having to idle your trucks’ engine. This ends up saving you money on fuel and maintenance as well as keeping you in compliance with anti-idling laws.

Over the past few weeks I have been looking at and answering the most common APU questions. My goal here is to provide a one stop place for all APU related questions. Today’s topic is going to focus on just how long these APUs will last? How long will they run before they need to rest? Knowing this number can be an important factor when it comes to purchasing an APU.

How Long Can They Run?

Before I can answer this question we first have to determine if the APU you are looking at is electric or diesel. Answering this question can have a significant impact on how long your APU will last.

Electric APUs

An electric APU does not run off of an engine but instead pulls its power from batteries. These batteries are charged as your truck’s engine is on either while driving or idling. Then, when you are done for the day or are at a period where you no longer need the truck’s engine you can flip the APU on to begin enjoying the stored power.

Because electric APUs use stored power that means that there is a time limit involved. The batteries can only store so much power before they are depleted. Even the longest lasting electric APU on the marketplace, Thermo King or Carrier Comfort Pro, can only last between ten to eleven hours. That eleven hour timeline is in flux as well and it can vary depending on the variables that are introduced. For example, if you are driving in Phoenix in August and are facing one-hundred degree temperatures then your electric APU will NOT last that full eleven hours. The air conditioner is going to be running constantly trying to keep up which will result in more power used.

The same can be said if you are driving up north in Maine or North Dakota in the dead of winter. More power will be consumed just to keep your cab warm. This will result in a shorter battery life. Along with the weather you also need to consider if you will be running other electronics or appliances along with your air conditioner or furnace. That eleven hour timeline is based on ideal conditions and ONLY using the air conditioner or the furnace. If you add more electronics/appliances then you will be draining more power which will result in a shorter timeline.

In short folks an electric APU will most likely not get you through a solid night of rest. Chances are you will run out of battery charge sometime throughout the night. When the batteries have run out of charge it will take anywhere between four to eight hours of your truck’s engine running to charge the batteries back to full capacity. These electric systems are recommended for folks who will be waiting at a dock or a port for a few hours at a time. These are not the recommended systems for long-haul drivers.

Diesel APUs

Now that we have the electric systems covered it is now time to take a look at the diesel systems and exactly how long they can last. As I mentioned earlier, diesel systems are by far the most popular type of APU. They are much more reliable, provide more power, and can power for a much longer period of time. Their main downside is that they do use diesel fuel and they are not the most environmentally friendly. (It is more friendly then idling your engine, but you are still running a diesel engine.)

Most diesel APUs will be connected directly to your truck’s fuel tank. A trucks’ fuel tank can typically range anywhere from one-hundred and twenty-five gallon to three-hundred  gallons. Now, typically when idling you burn anywhere from 0.75 to 1.25 gallons per hour. As you can imagine, this can add up fast when idling for a long period of time. A diesel APU though will only eat between 0.10 to 0.50 gallons per hour. If we take the average between both numbers we get an 1.00 gallon per hour use when idling and a 0.25 when using an APU. As you can see, that is a significant difference in fuel spent.

Now to answer your question as to how long a diesel APU will last. So, let’s use a 125 gallon tank as an example and a burn rate of 0.25 gallons per hour and also assume that your fuel tank has 60 gallons of fuel in it. In this scenario you could run your APU for over two-hundred hours without having to refill your fuel tank. Obviously, this is an extreme example but it gets the point across of why diesel APUs are so popular. When taken care of and proper maintenance is done these APUs can provide you with endless hours of power, heating, and cooling while on the road.

Conclusion

In conclusion folks the amount of time your APU can last depends on quite a bit of variables. Is your APU electric or diesel? If it is electric what is the rated time? What climate are you in? There are a lot of factors that can contribute to how long an electric APU can last. If you have a diesel model then how much fuel do you have left in the tank? How long do you plan to run it because chances are your diesel APU will last much longer then you actually need it. The only thing I can say is make sure you have enough diesel in your tank before you decide to run the APU all night. Besides that, you’ll be fine.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Adding an auxiliary power unit to your truck seems to be the only way to go nowadays. Constantly idling your truck to keep the air conditioning/heater going is not only bad for your engine but is also illegal in many states and cities. By installing an APU on you truck you are removing the need for idling during overnight stays or even during a long wait at a dock. With the APU you can shut that engine off and let the power unit take over while you can still enjoy that comfortable temperature and even watch a movie on your television.

There are quite a few choices when it comes to selecting an APU though. What brand or manufacturer do you go with? What type of brand do you go with? Do you get an Electric? Diesel? Hybrid? In this article we are going to take a look at the differences between these diesel and electric APUs and exactly what type you need based on your job conditions. Let’s dive in and take a look:

Diesel

Even today the most common APU you are going to run into is diesel or combustion based. These include some of the big brand names in the APU market such as Thermo King, Carrier, Rigmaster, Cummins, Centramatic, and many others. A diesel APU comes with a specific set of advantages and disadvantages. The first big selling point is that a diesel engine can run indefinitely or until your fuel tank is empty. They can also typically power much more equipment then a standard electric APU.

The downside of diesel is that they can be loud. Now, not as loud as an idling truck engine, but still loud. In most cases though this isn’t a problem as a truck stop isn’t the quietest of places in the first place. The other downside of diesel is that it will require more maintenance then their electric counterparts. This is an engine that you are running and depending on the brand you will require maintenance between five-hundred to two-thousand hours of use. This can include changing the oil, belts, and other moving parts.

It is recommended that diesel APUs be used by long haul truck drivers. Say you have hit your hours for the day and need a place to stop for the night. Your diesel APU will be able to provide you power for the entire night without issue. In some cases if you have a twenty-four hour layover until your next pick-up/drop-off your diesel APU can come to rescue as well. Remember, that this APU uses only about twenty to twenty-five percent fuel then your standard truck engine does.

Electric/Battery

The concept of the APU is to give the truck driver an alternative means to power their vehicle other then idling their engine. Remember, that all of this was needed due to environmental concerns. The States saw their anti-idling laws as cleaning up the environment. Going with an electric APU is by far the most environmentally friendly of the APUs. There is no noise and no fuel consumed when using these battery powered APUs.

The big downside of these APUs though is that because they are battery powered they have a limited run time and can also only power so much before being maxed out. When you do run out of juice you have to wait hours before the system can be recharged again. The average electric APU can provide you with around ten to twelve hours of air conditioning time and a bit longer for heating (This excludes extreme conditions like Minnesota in January or Phoenix in August). You will also impact your run time if you decide to power other appliances such as a microwave, coffee maker, or even a television.

When the APU is drained and needs to be recharged it will typically take anywhere between six to twelve hours before the system is fully charged and ready to go again. If you couple this recharge time along with the limited run time and limited power supply it is recommended that electric APUs are used by small cab drivers on shorter trips. A long haul driver with a full sleeper would not have the best experience with an electric APU.

For an example scenario where this would be needed, say you are on site waiting to drop-off or pick-up but there is a one to two hour wait before you can even get tot he dock. This is a great opportunity to use the electric APU as you will only be using it for a few hours at a time. Then, when you start your truck back up the batteries will begin to recharge. Just remember that for a few hours these work great but if you plan on spending the night and running the APU for twelve hours then you are most likely going to need a diesel system. Also consider what climate you will be driving in mostly. If it is going to be an extreme climate like say Arizona or Maine then you should probably go with a diesel APU.

Hybrid

These systems did not get as popular as many folks would have hoped. The concept behind them is that they function as an electric APU until the batteries get too low on their charge and then the APUs diesel engine kicks on. The engine charges the batteries back to one-hundred percent and then the engine shuts off again. This process continues. The idea behind this is to not be running the diesel APU engine constantly and instead on an as needed basis.

This allows for fuel savings and a more environmentally friendly system. The downside here is that I could not find much literature or articles on the topic of hybrid APUs. The most recent article I found on this was back in 2006 and as you can imagine it was quite dated. If you know anymore about these types of models please reach out to me and I can update this article with more information.

Conclusion

As stated earlier, the diesel APU is king and will most likely will be for the foreseeable future. While the electric can you get you through those long waits at the dock or port they cannot provide you with the constant comfort for overnight stays. On the inverse though those diesel APUs will require maintenance down the road while the electrics have far less moving parts and require less maintenance. If it was up to me though folks I would choose the diesel every time. The diesel I know is going to get me through the night whereas the electric may run out of charge partway through the night.

I hope this article was helpful and thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Adding an auxiliary power unit, or APU, to your truck is an investment, a large one at that. Typical APU prices can range anywhere between five-thousand dollars up to twelve-thousand dollars per unit. If you are a fleet owner and are looking to outfit multiple trucks at a time this expense can add up quickly. Or, even if you are just a sole owner-operator a twelve-thousand dollar expense is nothing to sneeze at.

So, the question now is adding an APU to your truck really worth it? What kind of savings can you expect? How long before these savings end up paying for the initial investment? These are all important factors to consider before purchasing an APU and in this article we will take an in-depth look at these points and more. Let’s dive in and take a look:

What Can You Save?

The first thing we need to look at here is exactly what you can save by adding an auxiliary power unit to your truck or to your fleet. The most obvious savings is fuel. If you do not have an APU installed and your driver is either sitting at a dock for multiple hours at a time or they are staying overnight then they will most likely end up idling their truck for either heating, cooling, or just general electricity for their appliances or electronics.

This idling eats up fuel. As you all know fuel is by far the biggest expense when it comes to trucking. So, by spending multiple hours a day idling you are throwing that fuel expense right out the window. If you had an APU installed this fuel expense would be cut significantly. Along with the savings from fuel you also need to consider that in many states idling for a long period of time is illegal. If caught you could face heavy fines and other consequences. Having an APU installed and running saves you from these possible fines.

Again, if we look at idling the engine for extended periods of time we also learn that idling is much tougher on the engine then standard driving. Over time constant idling will end up causing your truck more maintenance needs. Things that were going to need to be done perhaps a year down the road may show up much earlier with constant idling. These repair expenses can add up quickly. Along with the extra engine maintenance the idling can also have adverse effects on your diesel particulate filter. Soot and other containments can accumulate due to idling which will result in your DPF needing cleaned much earlier then normal. Again, this is a large expense that comes directly from idling. If you had an APU installed you could avoid all of this and push those maintenance needs further down the road.

Another point to recognize here is that if your truck or your fleet does NOT have an APU installed you could also be looking at a problem of driver retention. The APU is a comfort item. Many drivers swear by them and many drivers will not drive trucks without them. Could you sleep in your bed in the summer without air conditioning? Then how can you expect a trucker to do so? If you are a recruiter or small fleet owner you may actually see your offers declined due to your trucks not having APUs. I have even seen some examples where drivers take a small pay cut just to go with the company that offers APUs. The cost of replacing and hiring drivers is difficult to measure but it is there and should be considered when looking at APUs.

The last point to mention most likely doesn’t impact a lot of you but some overnight drivers will check into a nearby hotel room instead of sleeping in their cab. This holds especially true in warm or cold climates when their truck has no APU. By adding an APU you are able to prevent these hotel charges as the driver will be more then comfortable in their own truck rather then checking into a hotel room.

How Much Can I Save?

This is a difficult question to answer as each situation, each driver, and each fleet owner are different. We all drive different routes, make different stops, drive different vehicles, and experience different situations. This is why it is so difficult to gauge. With all of that in mind, what I can give you are some basic guidelines and facts when it comes to APUs. Use this information to determine exactly what fits right for you.

Throughout my research I have found that an auxiliary power unit will end up saving anywhere between seventy-five percent to eight-five percent in fuel usage when compared to idling. So, for an example let us say that idling for one hour consumes about one gallon of fuel. Your truck idles for eight hours a night five days as week. That equals four hours per week and about one-hundred and sixty hours a month. That equates to one-hundred and sixty gallons of fuel spent during that month idling.

One-hundred and sixty gallons of fuel times whatever fuel cost at the time. For our example let’s call it three dollars a gallon for diesel. Three dollars times the one-hundred and sixty equals four-hundred and eighty dollars total expense per month. Now here comes the fun part. Let’s shrink that number by eighty percent to get a new fuel cost if you had an APU installed. four-hundred and eighty dollars per month less eighty percent equals ninety-six dollars. That is a difference of three-hundred and eighty-four dollars per month, or almost five-thousand dollars per year.

Now remember, that five-thousand dollars per year is a complete estimate. What if you were idling for two-hundred hours a month instead of one-hundred and sixty? What if the cost of diesel fuel went up, or down, quite a bit? All of these factors can impact your savings when going with an APU. To help answer some of these questions and to also give you a bit more input a few APU manufacturers have actually created their own savings calculators.

One such example is from Thermo King. The link to this calculator can be found by clicking here. I walked through a set of my own data and ended up saving around nine-hundred a month or a little less then eleven-thousand a month. The cost for a new Thermo King is about twelve-thousand dollars so you more or less break even after about a year after install. The other company that has a calculator is Rigmaster. Their calculator can be found by clicking here. The results were mostly the same with a savings of around nine-hundred a month and a yearly total of around ten-thousand dollars per month.

Conclusion

As you can see folks determining the savings from an APU can be quite difficult due to all of the variables and factors that exist for every driver. It is a hard number to ascertain but based on the information I provided in this article along with the links to Thermo King and Rigmaster’s APU savings calculators you should be able to get an idea on exactly how much you could save per month and year by installing an APU.

I hope this article was helpful and thanks for reading folks,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Adding an auxiliary power unit, or APU, to a truck can make a significant difference when it comes to quality of life. It could be that you, or your driver, is stuck at a port or a dock and is waiting in the heat for multiple hours at a time until it his turn to load or unload. In this situation the driver either has to idle his engine for multiple hours in order for the cab to stay cool, he can shut the engine off and endure the heat, or if he has an APU installed he can turn the engine off and fire the APU up to enjoy a nice cool cab. In many states the first option of idling for multiple hours on end is illegal so what you are left with is to either sweat it out or to use an APU and enjoy the air conditioning.

The main problem with APUs though folks is that they are expensive. Prices on these units can range from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars. There are all different types of brands and manufacturers out there but either way you are going to be making a significant investment. The question now in this article though is it worth it to invest the money into an APU?

Is it Worth it?

There are a few points to look at before purchasing an APU. The first is driver comfort. You cannot truly put a value on this. If you are a driver yourself then how much do you value staying comfortable in your cab in the summer or winter? How much do you value your creature comforts like television, microwaves, refrigerator, and everything else? Hard to put a number on it. If you are a fleet owner then it may be a bit easier to weigh this. Many drivers out there today may not even come to your company if your trucks do not have an APU installed. I have even seen some folks take a small pay cut just to drive a truck with an APU. Comfort means that much to them and it should mean that much to you if you are a fleet owner or manager.

There is also a more tangible measurement here when it comes to the APU paying for itself and that is maintenance. If your truck is being idled for hours at a time each and every day then that is going to cause significant wear and tear on your engine. This will result in more maintenance each year. Along with the engine maintenance the constant idling also will impact your diesel particulate filter. The idling will actually create more soot and other containment accumulations within the filter. The end result is you will need the DPF cleaned more often then you normally would. For those of you that have had to pay the DPF cleaning bill you know how expensive that can be.

Another point to look at here is if you or your driver are staying at hotels. This may not even be an every day thing but the cost of a hotel room can add up, even on some of those cheaper rooms. By adding an APU to your truck the driver does not have a reason to stay at a hotel. Instead they have all of their creature comforts from home right there with them on the truck including air conditioning, heating, and television.

As you can see from above there are a lot of variables that go into determining if adding an APU to your truck is worth it. Everyone’s situation and route is different then the other guys. In an effort to help with this and provide you an estimated payback period for installing an APU a few manufacturers have created a savings calculator. The calculator allows you to customize each variable to fit your needs and at the end it gives you an estimated time for the APU to pay for itself.

One example of these calculators is from Thermo King. It can be found by clicking here. I used this calculator myself when writing this article filling out some basic information and I got an annual savings amount of about ten-thousand dollars. This would end up with me having the APU paid off in about thirteen to fourteen months. Not a bad deal if you ask me…

Another one to look at is Rigmaster. While I am not personally a fan of this APU they do offer a calculator as well which can be found by clicking here. This calculator is not as advanced as Thermo King but it still gives you an idea of what you could save per month when purchasing the APU. In the Rigmaster example they have you paying for the APU after only about eight months of use. (Again though, I highly recommend Thermo King over Rigmaster.)

Conclusion

Big picture though folks I would say yes, having an APU is definitely worth it. It makes you comfortable, it helps with driver retention, and it helps with maintenance. Yes, it is a big purchase at first but the idea is to have it pay for itself after only a year or has passed. If you cannot front the money upfront many of these APU manufacturers offer financing as well as some of the dealers that can install these units for you.

I hope this article was helpful and thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

For those of you who have been in the trucking game for quite a while you know the benefits of having an auxiliary power unit on your truck. This holds especially true for those long-haul drivers who are on the road for multiple nights each week. An APU allows you to heat, cool, and provide power to anything else you desire all while without having your truck idle. Idling your truck is not only wastes fuel but it can also increase maintenance needs on your engine and even on your diesel particulate filter (DPF).

Constant idling can lead to costly repairs that may have not shown up for years down the road. If you couple that with the fact that many states do not allow idling for a long period of time then you are left with two options to get a comfortable sleep during winter or summer. The first is finding a hotel room for each and every night. This gets old and can get expensive fast. The other option is getting yourself an auxiliary power unit, or APU.

Purchasing an APU for your truck or for your fleet can be a daunting task though. There are a lot of brands out there today and each one is different. In this article we are going to take an in-depth look at the best of the best when it comes to APUs. I will tell you right now that if you are looking for a budget build then this is NOT it. The APUs in this article are top of the line and will be the most expensive.

Considerations

Now before I get into what APUs are the best I first want to go over a few considerations that I looked at before writing this article. A lot of folks can say that brand XYZ is the best but how did they come up with that? Is it just a feeling, or is there factual information behind it? I am and have always been a facts and numbers guy. I need to see the proof and understand the proof before I believe that something is the best. Because of that I want to illustrate the specific considerations that I looked at when selecting these two best APU models for your trick.

Diesel Versus Electric

There are two main types of APUs out there today: Diesel and Electric. The most common is the diesel model but electric has its uses as well. In order to identify which model is correct for you we need to determine if you are spending nights on the road and need power for multiple hours at a time. Or, if you are a day driver and may end up spending an hour or two waiting at a dock or port.

First, let’s look at the waiting at port or dock scenario. You do not want to be idling this entire time but you also do not need an entire diesel engine just to provide you with heating/cooling for an hour or two. Chances are you are also driving a cab with no sleeper so there is less room to heat and cool. In this example an electric APU would fit perfectly for your needs. However, if you are a long-haul driver, have hit your hours for the day, and will be needing power for ten or twelve hours… then you will most definitely need a diesel APU.

While electric APUs are cleaner and produce no noise they are also limited. These APUs draw power directly from your vehicle’s batteries. When the power is drained from your batteries you have no APU power. Along with this the batteries can only produce so much power at one time. So, if you have a high capacity air conditioner and wish to run a television and a microwave then the electric option is not going to be for you.

But, if you’re just looking to stay cool while waiting at the port of Los Angeles for an hour or two then electric may be the best option for you. The one thing I can say here is that electric is NOT a one size fits all approach whereas the diesel is. The diesel APU will work while waiting at port and it will work during overnight trips. The electric will ONLY work at port or dock. Keep this in mind when selecting your APU type.

Maintenance Needs

APUs are engines with moving parts and will require maintenance. That is just a fact of life. How much maintenance your APU needs can be a big deciding factor when it comes to purchasing a unit. Depending on the brand of APU you go with you could be looking at maintenance needs every one-hundred hours of use, five-hundred hours, one-thousand hours, or even two-thousand hours. (One point of note here is that if you do decide to go with an electric APU rather then diesel you will see a significant savings in maintenance needs.)

Now, while every one-hundred hours of use does not sound that bad keep in mind that if you are doing overnight trips for our five days a week for ten hours or more each night then you could be looking at fifty hours of use just after one week! This could mean maintenance on the APU once a month or even twice a month. This is not a hassle free system and requires your involvement just to keep it running correctly. This is why that model with the two-thousand hour maintenance needs is so attractive. Using the same scenario above where a driver is using the APU for forty to fifty hours a week you will now only need maintenance once, maybe twice, a year. The rest of the year you are good to rely on  your APU.

The last point to mention when it comes to maintenance and APUs is finding replacement parts and technicians who are experienced with the APUs. If you buy a lower cost APU from a lesser known brand then you are going to have trouble finding parts and mechanics who are familiar with the brand name. However, if you purchase an APU from a recognized name then you will be able to find parts that much faster and most techs will have already seen them before and know exactly how to work on them.

Wattage Capacity & Run Time

The last consideration to review before we move on to our best APU brands is the overall wattage that they can produce and their run time. Now in most cases a diesel APU is tied directly into your existing diesel fuel tank. So, the run time is tied directly to how much fuel you have left. If you have an electric APU then your run time is directly impacted by how much life your batteries have left in them. Do note that when you start your truck engine up again the batteries will automatically begin to recharge… but it can take six hours or more for them to fully recharge. If you have a diesel then run time is not much of an issue as long as you have a reasonably full fuel tank.

A diesel APU is more or less a portable generator that goes with your truck. The engine on the APU produces kinetic force which feeds into the alternator causing rotation and resulting in electrical current being generated. As far as how much current or wattage is being generated that depends on your APU. If the APU is on the lower end of the pricing scale then the wattage it produces will most likely be lower as well. This could mean that you are stuck with only using heating or air conditioning and are not able to power a television or microwave as well.

On the other hand, if you purchase a higher end model then the wattage will be increased as well. This means more power! (I’m reminded of the old Home Improvement show with Tim Allen.) More power generated means that you are able to run more appliances and electronics off of your vehicle’s APU. If you are just looking for air conditioning/heating and nothing more then this may not be a concern, but if you want some other creature comforts then definitely consider the wattage output of the APU.

The Best APUs

Alright folks we are now on to the bread and butter of this article. You understand my logic and considerations from the above points. I also want to make it known that I asked various truckers across the country what their thoughts were on the best APU unit. As I had expected their feedback matched my research as well. In essence there are two main brands when it comes to wanting the best APUs for your truck. Let’s take a look:

Thermo King

Thermo King truly is the king when it comes to auxiliary power units. They have been the reigning company on APUs for many years and are still sitting on top as I write this article towards the end of 2020. When I had reached out to various truckers the constant feedback was that Thermo King was the best. Many folks could not afford them because of their very high price point but there seemed to be no debate that Thermo King was the best of the best. Their home page on their APU products can be found by clicking here.

Now earlier I had mentioned the whole diesel versus electric debate and which one would be the best for you. Well, Thermo King has both options for you to choose from. Their diesel model is known as Thermo King TriPac. The official brochure for this APU can be found by clicking here. This diesel APU can run for two-thousand hours without requiring maintenance. This is the top tier as you will only need to maintenance it a few times a year. If something does go wrong with the TriPac unit there are hundreds of certified dealers spreads out across the country that can diagnose and repair the system.

For those of you that want to go with the electric route Thermo King has their Envidia all electric APU model as well. The official brochure for this APU can be found by clicking here. This model boasts having the longest running electric APU within the industry at ten to eleven hours. Note, that run times are extremely variable depending on if you have multiple appliances or electronics running or if you are in a harsh environment like Phoenix, Arizona in August or Bangor, Maine in January. Once the battery has been depleted it will take anywhere from four to eight hours for them to be recharged.

Both of these products can provide you enough power to heat and cool your cab comfortably as well as power accessory appliances or electronics such as a refrigerator, television, computer, or microwave. There are many add-on options as well that Thermo King offers such as adding a one-thousand watt power inverter or adding the option for a shore power converter. Overall, you cannot go wrong when it comes to a Thermo King unit… just be aware that they can be quite expensive. If you are unable to afford it out right you could either look at financing or also look at some of the refurbished models that are out there.

Carrier

The second best model worth bringing up here are the diesel and electric models from Carrier. These ‘Comfort Pro’ models are a very close runner up when being compared to Thermo King. There were many reefer drivers that swear by Carrier’s APUs over Thermo King. At this point it seems too close to call on exactly which one is better. I only put Thermo King at the top as I had more folks recommend that… but those that did recommend Carrier were quite fanatical about it. So, who truly knows?

Carrier’s diesel APU option can be found by clicking here. Just like the Thermo King unit this diesel APU Comfort Pro can go as long as two-thousand hours without needing maintenance. While Carrier does not have as many dealers as Thermo King does they are adequately spread-out across the country so that you can find a repair shop at each major city you drive through. I used to work for a dealer group that owned a few Carrier-Transicold shops and we had one in Kansas City and then another in Colombia, Missouri which was only about 70 miles away. The point being is you should be able to find one without any issues.

Carrier also has their electric APU unit which can be found by clicking here. Again, just like Thermo King this unit comes with a ten to eleven hour run time. I do find it a bit funny that Thermo King states they have the longest running electric APU and then here is Carrier offering a unit with the same run time. I could not find the average charge time on these batteries but since we have about the same run time as Thermo King I am going to assume we would still be looking at around four to eight hours.

Conclusion

Alright folks so there you have it. Thermo King and Carrier have the absolute best APUs on the marketplace today. Yes, there are many other brands out there from various manufacturers such as Centramatic, Kubota, Kohler, Cummins, Dynasys , Rigmaster, and Green APU but when it comes to ranking them Thermo King and Carrier are truly the best of the best. I do not want to diminish some of these other brands though. If I had to choose something other then Carrier or Thermo King I would most likely go with a model from Dynasys or Green APU.

Dynasys is a cheaper model and requires maintenance every one-thousand hours. Green APU is a similar story and requires maintenance every six-hundred hours. So, while you’re not getting that two-thousand hour benefit you are still saving a significant amount of time when compared to the one-hundred hour maintenance units.

All in all though folks, the decision is ultimately up to you. Do you want to spend that extra money and get a premium APU? Or, do you want to save some money and get a product that sits right in the middle? Or, are you strapped for cash and are looking at that one-hundred hour system? The choice is yours.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com