Your Mack® truck is more than just an office on wheels. It's your home away from home. Whether your route is 20 city blocks or 600 highway miles, you spend more time in your cab than anywhere else. And that means it has to be comfortable.

Of course, a high-performing HVAC is essential. But the spread of anti-idling laws - coupled with fluctuating fuel prices and a desire to minimize engine wear - means it's time to explore other cab heating / cooling methods that don't involve the ignition switch. One great option? A battery-powered auxiliary HVAC system.

Battery-powered auxiliary HVACs provide the most environmentally friendly and efficient solution for controlling climate in the cab. While more commonly used for long-haul truckers to keep their sleeping environment temperate during a 10-hour stop, they're also ideal for vocational drivers who want to stay comfortable and reduce idling while waiting to load or unload.

These independent units work with either the truck's existing batteries or a dedicated bank of batteries to store energy from the alternator when the engine is running. When the engine is turned off, this energy is used to power the standalone HVAC system, making it a true no-idle alternative.

With an average fuel burn of 1 gallon per hour during idle (where permitted), a battery-powered auxiliary HVAC system can save you up to 2,000 gallons of fuel per year. It can also lengthen the time between overhauls. That's because continually running high horsepower engines at low RPMs causes unnecessary wear and tear on critical engine components, increasing maintenance costs and shortening engine life.

Other benefits of battery-powered auxiliary HVACs include quiet operation compared to engine-fired auxiliary power units (APUs); fewer moving parts, which require less total maintenance; and the ability to operate on shore power, giving you added flexibility.

To maximize the performance of your battery-powered auxiliary HVAC, be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Respect its limits - A battery-powered auxiliary HVAC is designed to maintain temperature inside a cab, not alter it dramatically. So plan ahead. Run your main heater or A/C 30-60 minutes prior to shutdown to get the cab comfortable. Then use the auxiliary HVAC to maintain the temperature.
  • Improve insulation - Better in-cab insulation will reduce your auxiliary HVAC's workload. Consider adding foam under the carpet, installing extra insulation in the cab and/or sleeper, and using heavy curtains to separate the sleeper compartment from the cab.
  • Use true deep-cycle batteries - These systems pull low amps of current across the batteries' plates for many hours, which can discharge the batteries by 80 percent or more over a 10-hour period. Unlike starting or dual-purpose varieties, Group 31 AGM batteries are designed to handle the heat and stress of repeated discharging and charging better, and will retain their effectiveness for more cycles.

Wondering if a battery-powered auxiliary HVAC is right for you? Just ask the parts and service experts at your local Mack dealer. They can review your entire HVAC system and recommend the best climate control solution for your particular application. And be sure to check the SELECT Part Store™ each month for regular discounts on high-demand parts and supplies.

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