Adding an Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU, to your truck can make a world of difference. If you are a long-haul driver and are on the road for multiple days and nights a week then you need to look into an APU for your truck. How many of those nights have you spent idling your engine for a few hours just so you can get some heat or air conditioning? Or, perhaps you just wanted to watch some television and microwave yourself a meal.
Whatever the reason is adding an APU to your truck will allow you to do all of that without having to idle your engine. Not only does idling the engine end up costing you in fuel but in many states it is illegal to idle for long periods of time. The APU puts you in compliance with many state laws and gives you the peace of mind that at the end of the day you are going to have a cool, or hot, place to sleep and recharge yourself for the next day’s drive.
Over the past few weeks we have been writing numerous articles on these APUs in an effort to learn more about them and to also provide various questions and answers to our readers. In today’s topic we are going to take an in-depth look at exactly how much these APUs cost to purchase and install on your truck.
Auxiliary Power Unit Cost
First let me state that this is a hard question to answer. There are many brands and manufacturers of APUs out there today and each one comes in at a different price point. The price range of these various models can go from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars. Now that five-thousand dollar minimum price will get you an APU but it is not going to be the best quality.
An example of a lower dollar APU is the model from Rigmaster. Many of you may have heard of this brand name before. Recently they do not have the best reputation as their APUs require a significant amount of maintenance. The other day I was reading about this model and users stated that it requires an oil change every one-hundred hours of use. While one-hundred hours of use sounds like a lot it is really not. Think about it. If you are using the APU for ten hours every night for relaxation and sleep then you are going to need to change the oil after only ten days of continual use. This can be a pain. This is just the beginning of maintenance when it comes to these APUs and in many cases dealerships or truck stops may not carry the parts you need for these Rigmaster APUs.
So, while these are on the cheaper end of the APU price range you are going to end up spending more of your time maintaining this APU. As we all know, time in trucking is everything. Time is all valuable and if you are having to sink your time into maintaining this APU then did you really end up saving any money when compared to a higher priced APU?
On the inverse if we look at a top of the line APU model which can cost anywhere between ten-thousand to twelve-thousand dollars we can see a significant difference. The TriPac APU model from Thermo King is widely considered the best of the best. The Rigmaster expects you to perform maintenance every one-hundred hours whereas the TriPac model only needs maintenance every two-thousand hours. Yes, you heard right… two-thousand hours. If we use that same logic above of ten hours a day of APU usage then you will need to perform maintenance on this APU every two-hundred days. That is just about two times a year if you are on the road constantly and using it every day. I think we can manage that maintenance routine.
Another brand name and model to look at that more or less rivals Thermo King’s TriPac model is the ComfortPro APU from the Carrier Corporation. This model may end up being just a bit cheaper then the Thermo King but it has many of the same benefits such as maintenance every two-thousand hours. It is also highly recommended from many drivers.
Now there are many models in between the Rigmaster and the Thermo King/Carrier as well and their price points are varied. If you cannot quite afford that top of the line Thermo King but you also do not want to purchase a Rigmaster then you can look at some other models that put you right in between. For example, the Dynasys APU EIS model requires maintenance every one-thousand hours. Yes, it costs more then Rigmaster but you end up getting more benefits overall. I consider this a middle of the road option when it comes to quality and price.
If you are looking for just one step up from the Rigmaster then you may look at the APU model from Kohler. These are nowhere near as expensive as those top of the line models but they can provide you with five-hundred hours between maintenance. That works out to be about needing maintenance every fifty days or so. While that is not ideal, it is much better then the Rigmaster option.
Another point I need to mention to everyone is that if you are truly concerned about cost of these APUs there is another option here. There are companies out there that refurbish used auxiliary power units and sell them at a discount to drivers. Typically you can see a discounted price range from twenty to thirty percent off. Now each shop is different on their refurbishing guidelines as well as any warranty they offer. A few of these that I found online while looking are:
If cost is a real concern but you also need air conditioning or heating badly to get you through the nights then there is a third option here that can help you reduce your cost significantly. I have seen many videos of trucking doing the ‘Redneck’ approach when it comes to APUs. While I do not recommend going this route it can end up saving you a bundle… it is just not the most safe and reliable. I wrote an article on this approach which can be found by clicking here.
I spent most of this article talking about maintenance needs for your APU and while that is important it is also worth considering the power of these APUs. As you end up spending more the power output these APUs can produce goes up as well. If you have a large sleeper that you wish to cool off or heat up every night or if you have many electronics that you wish to power while the truck is off then it may also be worth looking at some of the higher priced models such as Thermo King or Carrier.
But, if you just need heating and air conditioning in a small are then you can probably get away with the Rigmaster or Kohler models. Hell, you could even go with the redneck approach if you are strapped for cash. Just remember that bottom price is not always best. When you spend that extra money you pay for quality and quality is something that you want while on the road.
Thanks for reading,