Vicki Simons is the author of an upcoming series of ebooks: Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips & Inquiries (one ebook each year). Stay updated: subscribe to our blog.

how to stay cool without an APU

How can I stay cool without an APU?

Response from Vicki:

Thank you for asking a question about how to stay cool without an APU. This is an ultra-important subject because when truckers become overheated in a hot truck, serious health problems can arise.

Furthermore, one's sleep can be badly affected, causing fatigue and possibly lead to accidents.

One of the ways to stay cool -- but which can be very expensive from the standpoint of the wear and tear on a truck's engine (not to mention the cost of fuel) -- is to idle the truck with the air conditioning on. Unfortunately, many trucking companies -- and jurisdictions around the USA -- put limits on how long trucks may idle (even if a truck bears a "clean idle" type sticker). Consider idling alternatives.

A second way that one may try to stay cool is with a climate control unit in one's truck. I reviewed one that was installed in a truck that Mike drove for a time. At one point, not only could it not keep up with the heat in the truck but it was powered by batteries. If the charge on the batteries drew down too far, guess what? The climate control system turned off.

A third way to stay cool is to connect to a service like Idle Air.

A fourth way to try to stay cool is to run a fan (which as you know moves around the surrounding air). Mike ran a 12-volt fan in one of his trucks some years back that led to electrical problems.

A fifth way to try to stay cool is by blowing a fan into a specially cut ice chest that contains ice, so that the cool air blows out. If one has an unlimited supply of ice and if one's truck batteries will never draw down so far from powering the fan, this is a distinct possibility. Of course, continually transporting ice to a truck and draining off the water could pose problems.

A sixth way to stay cool is install a generator on one's truck and make the necessary cooling connections. If there is a separate air conditioner in the truck (apart from one built-in), one may even run an electrical cord to a service or approved-for-use electrical outlet.

A seventh way to stay cool is to go indoors somewhere where there is air conditioning running. This is obviously not a possibility during one's 10-hour break -- unless one gets a hotel or motel room.

And obviously, the most reasonable solution to stay cool in a truck is with an APU -- which I strongly recommend be diesel-powered, not battery-powered (for the reasons listed above).

The payback on an APU may take time, but it can be worth it from a comfort point of view. I wrote A Proposition Between Drivers and Trucking Companies on APUs some time back to give some food for thought.

Trust me, Mike and I understand heat in a truck in the summer. We're from South Carolina where summertime temps can rise into the 90s and 100s.

I hope that these ideas help. Please let us know how you end up resolving this situation.

One way that you may be able to apply some leverage is to use the information in the "hot truck" article linked above -- and our empowerment article -- by documenting how hot it gets in your truck -- and then submitting this information to your trucking company. If you can get other drivers from your trucking company on board with the idea, that's even better. I suggest on that page using a certain kind of thermometer so that there is no guessing on the temps in your truck.

If your trucking company will not respect your documentation and your need to stay cool in your truck, it may be time to move on. Just saying...

Whatever you do, watch your body for signs of overheating, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It's not worth getting sick and endangering your health. If you're unloading a load in a hot trailer, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

If other drivers have suggestions that I have not mentioned here, we welcome you to share them below.

As always, we wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.

Best regards,
Vicki Simons

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