Our last two trucks have been equipped with the capability to be plugged in to an outside source of power. The idea for this is not a new one as people in the marine industry have been doing it for years, calling it "shore power". The name stuck and we in the trucking industry call it the same thing. I know most trucks have some type of power supplied by an APU or a generator of some type, but these require fuel and maintenance. In my opinion it is less expensive to plug in than it is to run that fuel fired power supply.
With anti-idling laws, it forced the trucking industry to look at alternate means to provide the power required to keep the driver comfortable during the rest break. There is also the power need to keep things charged, laptops, phones and in some cases a CPAP machine. There is also power needed for entertainment and cooking in the truck.
Our current truck has an Onan generator, made for the RV industry, it is very quiet running. It still makes noise and exhaust fumes, and if there is one thing I detest, it is the sound of an engine running if there is no need. Idling at the fuel island, in the parking lot when there is no one in the truck or when the weather outside is perfect for sleeping with the windows open. We do set the Onan to auto start for temperature so it will maintain a reasonable temp in the sleeper and to keep the batteries charged.
With the newer emissions on these trucks, idling can be detrimental to these systems, so APU's have come to be even more important. But these little motors can be noisy, some very noisy, and again I don't like listening to that little guy putter all night long. Here is where shore power comes in to the picture.
At the Jubitz truck stop in Portland, OR. there is a no idle zone. If you were to park in one of those spaces and leave your truck idling, someone from Jubitz will come tell you to move or shut it off. I like that, they have also had shore power stations installed so you can back in, plug in and be comfortable with quiet. Keeping your batteries charged, your AC or heater powered, power for cooking and/or entertainment all for an hourly rate. You know you will be there for at least ten hours, so you can purchase as many hours as you think you need, much quieter than running the APU, and as reasonable in cost to you as running the APU.
There aren't many truck stops around the country that are shore power equipped, but with more drivers using or needing this service the availability will increase. There is a company that has developed the stations and the infrastructure to make this happen and oddly enough it is called Shorepower Technologies. They can be found at shorepower.com
, to find locations and contact them if you have a favorite truck stop you would like to see electrified. I believe the major truck stop chains have been burned by some of the other services that are similar, but if enough of us call for it maybe we can get it in some of the locations we stop at regularly.
This is not like getting congress to do something, well maybe similar, but we should try. Lets get the word out that we would like to see more truck stop electrification, even if the chains do it on their own, if they have it, it will get used and more spaces will become available at more locations. When at the truck shows stop at the truck stop booths and let them know you would like to see some type of shore power available at their locations. For now lets plug in when we can and be safe out there.