Freightliner Trucks offers its built-in ParkSmart HVAC system on the Cascadia Evolution. ParkSmart offers an integrated auxiliary HVAC system for the sleeper that contains an electrically driven AC compressor and a diesel fired coolant heater. Replacing the traditional auxiliary HVAC system for the sleeper, this innovative and seamless design will function whether the truck engine is on or off. Utilizing power from the alternator, or from a second bank of batteries, the system keeps the sleeper compartment cool or warm. No additional internal ducting or external condensers are required. This system fits in the same location as the traditional auxiliary sleeper HVAC system, underneath the left hand cabinets. No auxiliary APU is required since the system provides 8 to10 hours of performance in engine off mode.
I’ve been pleased with the ParkSmart HVAC system although it does have its limitations. If you’re taking an extended 34 hour restart, you’ll run out of battery power unless you’re plugged into shore power. The same applies if you’re cooking or using excessive amounts of power. In the end, ParkSmart is not an auxiliary power unit (APU). As sure power locations become more common, the limited range and capacity of the system will no longer be an issue. When the temperature is extremely hot outside, there’s only enough capacity to keep the sleeper cool.
The up side of the system is its quietness and no additional engines to maintain as in an APU. I generally use the system for overnights and have found that it will keep the entire cab cool when the sun sets in the evening. During the winter months, the diesel fired coolant heater provides exceptional warmth along with the bonus of a warm engine as soon as you turn the key. The result means there is no need for warming the engine during cold weather. There’s only one thing I’ve added to the system (on my own) which is a cheap voltage gauge which I plug into my sleeper auxiliary power outlet. This gauge allows me to monitor the battery voltage for maximum efficiency of the unit. Another benefit to the ParkSmart HVAC system is that you can use it indoors should you be parked inside a warehouse facility.
There has been a major update to the ParkSmart System with the addition of optimized idle. With the new feature, the engine will start if the batteries become low. Once the batteries are at full charge, the engine will shut back off again. This new feature helps out with duration as it offers a longer range without fear of losing battery charge. It’s very important to read the Owner’s Manual on the ParkSmart and Optimized features carefully to maximize the new technology effectively.
During a normal ten hour break, my experience has been to only need the optimized idle on a few occasions. On the few occasions where I have needed to use optimized idle, the conditions were extreme being either hot or cold. When the system had restarted the truck, I was nearly at the end of my sleep period. After getting up and dressed, I decided to shut the engine off while going into the restaurant to eat breakfast. The system had charged batteries for ten to fifteen minutes and therefore there would be adequate battery charge to restart the engine upon my return to the truck. It just made more sense to me to recharge the batteries while traveling down the road. I have been very pleased with the addition of optimized idle to the ParkSmart HVAC System.