The days of idling your truck for long periods to keep the cab warm in winter and cool in summer are past. That’s because local, state and regional authorities across the country have enacted anti-idling regulations to help reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks.

Of course, drivers still need a climate-controlled environment when the truck is parked for an overnight stay, or when they’re loading and unloading. One heating/cooling method that’s gaining in popularity is battery-powered auxiliary HVAC systems. These standalone 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. Once the engine is turned off, the stored energy powers the auxiliary HVAC system.

Volvo Trucks recently introduced its own battery-powered HVAC system, the Parking Cooler, as a factory-installed option for all VNM 630, VNL 630, VNL 670, VNL 730 and VNL 780 sleeper models. It’s also available as an add-on for vocational drivers who want to maintain cab temperature without idling. Rated to keep the cab interior at 78 F for 10 hours, the Parking Cooler offers an environmentally friendly solution for climate control.

Keep in mind that along with cutting emissions from idling, a battery-powered HVAC system can also save you money. Since idling (where permitted) uses about a gallon of fuel per hour, the savings can add up quickly when the engine no longer needs to be on for cab comfort. Running high horsepower engines continuously at low RPMs also creates unnecessary wear and tear on critical engine components, resulting in higher maintenance costs and shorter engine life.

And there’s more. Compared to engine-fired auxiliary power units, battery-powered systems run quieter and require less maintenance since they have fewer moving parts. Some battery-powered systems, including the new Volvo Trucks Parking Cooler, give you the option to operate on shore power for added flexibility.

These tips can help ensure peak performance from your battery-powered auxiliary HVAC system:

  • Start with the main heater or A/C – An auxiliary HVAC unit works best if it’s used to maintain the existing temperature inside a cab, not heat or cool it dramatically. Plan to use the truck’s main heater or air conditioner at least 30 minutes before shutting off the engine so you start out at a comfortable setting. Then, use the auxiliary system to maintain temperature control.
  • Add insulation – The better your in-cab insulation, the easier it will be for your auxiliary HVAC to do its job. Consider adding foam under the carpet or installing extra insulation in the cab and sleeper. Heavy curtains on the outside windows and between the sleeper and cab can also help keep the temperature stable and reduce the load on the auxiliary unit.
  • Use true deep-cycle batteries – Battery-powered auxiliary HVAC systems pull low amps of current across the batteries’ plates for many hours, discharging a battery 80 percent or more over a 10-hour rest period. Unlike starting or dual-purpose batteries, deep-cycle batteries are specially designed to handle the heat and stress of this repeated discharging and charging. While they cost more up front, you’ll find that deep-cycle batteries offer a better value based on cost per cycle.

If you want to know more about the new Volvo Trucks Parking Cooler and other HVAC options for your particular application, contact your local Volvo Trucks dealership. And be sure to check the SELECT Part Store™ each month for regular discounts on high-demand parts and supplies.