Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) are regarded as one of the most impactful innovations in the trucking industry. This secondary power generator provides a more cost-effective solution for powering a truck’s air conditioning and heater, along with secondary appliances, such as a TV, microwave, fridge, and induction stove.
The core function of an APU is to reduce truck idling, in order to comply with local and state idling laws, save gallons of fuel, and reduce their carbon footprint. Today, you can find hundreds of APUs in the market from different brands.
However, regardless of the make or model you plan to select, an APU is typically powered in one of two ways – combustion or electric. Combustion-powered APUs are like power generators attached to the side of a truck. They run on fuel (gasoline or diesel) and require maintenance like any other generator, including oil changes, engine repairs, etc.
Similarly, electric-powered APUs are battery-powered alternatives that provide finite power (usually 6 to 13 hours) on a full charge. They require relatively less maintenance and can be charged via an outlet or the truck’s engine.
In this article, we’ll explore the best APUs for trucks and share a detailed guide on how to find the right one for your business.
Best APUs for Trucks
As mentioned earlier, there are several prominent APU manufacturers in the market today. Below, we’ll list the most popular ones, along with the company’s brief background, and highlight some of their most renowned models along with their features.
- Brand: Carrier Transicold
- Model: ComfortPro
- Types: Diesel, Electric & Battery
- Website: Link
Carrier Transicold is most well-known as one of the oldest and most popular manufacturers of advanced, energy-efficient container refrigeration systems and generators.
The Carrier ComfortPro APU product line comes in three different models designed to create the ultimate homelike cab experience for truckers and deliver more cost-savings than most brands.
The diesel variant is powered by a Tier 4 2-Cylinder diesel engine with a 6kW generator. Its high power output makes it one of the most reliable diesel APUs in the market capable of simultaneously powering air conditioning, cab equipment, truck battery charging, heating, and external appliances.
Similarly, the ComfortPro Electric auxiliary power unit is the desired choice for truckers looking for a quiet power source during night trips, rest periods, and breaks. It runs on energy supplied by the tractor and offers up to 11 hours of backup through quick-charging absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries.
Finally, the ComfortPro Lithium Ion Electric variant is the go-to choice for truckers looking for optimal power and backup with minimum maintenance (up to 17 hours on a single charge). It’s also ideal for truckers with minimal cab appliances looking to save fuel and maximize their return on investments (ROI).
- Brand: Thermo King
- Model: TriPac
- Types: Diesel & Electric
- Website: Link
Thermo King is a US-based manufacturer specializing in making temperature control systems. Their expertise range from reefers and refrigerated containers to complex systems in refrigerated railway cars.
The company also has premium diesel and all-electric APUs designed to improve cab temperature management and driver comfort. The TriPac series features two APUs. The TriPac Evolution Diesel APU features a 2TNV70 engine designed to minimize idling while ensuring unrivaled performance and minimal operating costs.
Similarly, the TriPac Envidia All-Electric APU features an NXT battery powered by dry cell technology, offering up to 10 hours of runtime on a single full charge.
- Brand: RigMaster Power
- Model: MTS-t46K
- Types: Diesel
- Website: Link
RigMaster is a leading manufacturer of anti-idling solutions for the trucking industry. The company specializes in premium stand-alone APUs that deliver industry-standard performance and excellent ROI.
Its best-selling model, the MTS-t46K, features a diesel engine operating at 0.25 gallons per hour, producing around 6,000 watts, 24,000 BTUs of cooling, and 13,500 BTUs of heating. The stand-alone APU is also incredibly easy to install and fits most wheel base trucks well.
Go Green APU
- Brand: Go Green APU
- Models: Evolution
- Types: Diesel
- Website: Link
Go Green is a Pennsylvania-based green manufacturing company offering multiple anti-idling and emission control solutions for the trucking industry. It manufactures and remanufactures different types of APUs to allow for fuel savings and extended engine service intervals.
The Go Green Evolution APU is the company’s newest and most compact solution featuring a sliding frame system, making it one of the most serviceable APUs on the market.
In terms of power generation, it features a Tier 4/5.2 Kubota 2-Cylinder diesel engine generating 4,000 watts of AC power. The self-contained, stand-alone unit is also among the quietest options available, producing just over 59 dB.
Buying Guide: How to Select the Best APU For Your Truck
Besides the APUs listed in the section above, there are numerous options in the market that cater to the needs and requirements of different trucking businesses. If you’re looking to explore the market further to find an APU that best fits your needs, we recommend learning about the most important factors to consider when buying APUs.
The first thing you need to decide before buying an APU is the type that best fits your needs (your business model and your trucks). As such, you would typically be choosing between a diesel or electric option unless you’re operating in a state where diesel APUs are prohibited.
In this case, electric APUs are the way to go. However, if presented with the choice, you need to learn about the pros and cons of each. For instance, diesel APUs are excellent for long-haul transits, whereas electric APUs are more suited for short distances due to finite power.
Diesel APUs are also much more expensive to procure and maintain, meaning the time to it takes to realize any returns is much longer. They also don’t eliminate idling fuel consumption since they run on diesel themselves.
Electric APUs are much more eco-friendly, especially if equipped with solar panels or charged using the truck’s engine. However, the drawbacks of electric APUs aside from a limited output are that they occasionally face power disruptions and may require the truck to run, in order to charge them.
In general, diesel APUs are more expensive than electric variants in terms of initial and recurring costs, including oil changes, repairs, diesel purchases, etc. Moreover, they require more frequent maintenance (usually before 2,000 hours) at an average fee of $300.
In contrast, electric APUs offer a better return on investment since they’re cheaper to procure and don’t require fuel to run. So, the only real maintenance they require is a change of batteries after a few years.
Diesel APUs are typically larger and heavier than electric APUs due to their powerful engines. An average model can weigh a few hundred pounds, whereas an electric variant can weigh as little as 30 pounds without the batteries.
Therefore, your choice will also depend on the amount of cargo you haul since you’ll need to watch for gross vehicle weight rating and the size of your truck. Fortunately, diesel APUs are viable with the introduction of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which increases the allowable gross vehicle weight rating.
In addition to that, there is also an amendment that permits further weight allowance.
Auxiliary power units are available in different power configurations for different truckers. For instance, you can find electric options offering merely a few hours of backup to options lasting for 12 hours or longer.
Similarly, diesel APUs are also available in different engine outputs, depending on the trucker’s power needs. The power rating will also increase diesel or electricity consumption as well as the price of the unit.
APUs are generally expensive to maintain. Therefore, you would have to research the costs and maintenance frequencies. As mentioned above, electric APUs require mainly battery changes, usually after a couple of years, depending on the quality.
Other minor costs include software upgrades, inverter repairs, etc. In contrast, diesel APUs require oil changes, filter changes, engine repairs, and several other parts repairs and replacements.
Another important factor to consider when opting for an APU is choosing a good brand like the ones mentioned in our list above. Reputable brands have the best technologies and resources to produce high-quality APUs that are reliable and come with a warranty. They also offer additional services, including customer support, maintenance, resale, etc.
Both diesel and electric APUs require maintenance from time to time. Therefore, opting for brands offering dedicated customer support and maintenance benefits is a smart decision.
Furthermore, a dedicated technical support team can assist in the event of any issues or breakdowns of APUs while on a delivery trip. Carriers with large fleets can also request the services of a direct account manager to handle all their maintenance tasks.
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Co-Founder & Writer
About the Author
Andrew is a multi-business owner with over 12 years of experience in the fields of logistics, trucking, manufacturing, operations, training, and education.
Being the co-founder of freightcourse has given him the ability to pursue his desire to educate others on manufacturing and supply chain topics.