Whether they are called side skirts, air dams, air fairings, side fairings or truck fairings, we are referring to the devices that are installed under the sides of big truck trailers to
Many professional drivers are familiar with
We previously wrote about aerodynamic wheel covers as a means of increasing fuel efficiency.
Here are what some websites have to say about trailer skirts:
"Produced by the Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co of Industry, Calif., both designs are verified through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay program and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as meeting governmental fuel efficiency standards."One of the products is said to provide a 4 percent savings in fuel, the other 5 percent.(3)
Vicki was delighted to find that numerous trucking companies have decided to implement these aerodynamic devices on their trailers. Let's take a look.
This rig is operated by Salson Coast to Coast.
A close-up of the skirt reveals that this is a US EPA Certified SmartWay Trailer.
This is an ultra close-up of the seal that the side skirt bears.
This Prime Inc trailer has one installed behind the fuel tank for the trailer's refrigeration unit.
This close-up shows the clearance behind the reefer's fuel tank.
Whereas the skirt shown on the Prime trailer above has sloped sides, the one shown here has pointed sides. We're not sure, but it appears that the fairing may extend a little closer to the ground than the one above.
This J.B. Hunt trailer features a side skirt.
Up until taking this photo, the only writing we've seen on skirts is the EPA certification. This Trans West trailer's skirt is printed.
Here's a close-up of the Trans West side skirt. We wouldn't be surprised if some day in the future, this turned into advertising space.
Please notice that some trailer skirts (whether shown on this page or on linked pages) have different configurations.
We noted the skirts' edges above.
Of particular note to us is the straight (in line with the sides of the trailer) versus sloped (narrower toward the front of the trailer and fanning out toward the sides of the trailer toward the rear) installation.
We would be interested in knowing which configuration works best to reduce the most wind resistance.
We would also be interested to read drivers' experience in using different brands of trailer skirts.
Money saving tip: Any device used on a vehicle to reduce wind resistance or air drag will help improve that vehicle's fuel efficiency.
There is absolutely no doubt that tractor trailer side skirts or air fairings accomplish both.
Professional drivers who own their own trailers would do well to calculate the ROI (return on investment) that purchasing and installing these devices will provide.
While costs may vary between brands, one driver stated:
"With the cost of the Windyne Flex-Fairings being $4,600 U.S. ($5,000 Canadian), it will take approximately 13.6 months to pay for the fairings. With an expected life cycle of 10 years, my total dollar savings (at today's fuel prices) will be approximately $39,000."
Overdrive Online uses the "default prices of around ... $1,800 for side skirts" for which they say "the EPA estimates a payback of about a year...in fuel savings alone."
Notice, too, that the payback period range (that was shown graphically on one website) showed two different types of skirts: standard and advanced.(5)
The EPA's website provides a list of SmartWay verified technologies and devices, including those classified as one of these two types of skirts.
In some places, incentives such as grants may be available to help drivers purchase trailer skirts.
If you are interested, investigate all opportunities and take advantage of the one that works best for you.
Be aware that some locations may require drivers to have these devices installed on their trucks before they can enter.
Know ahead of time what restrictions are involved before you make the trip.
When you calculate your ROI, be aware that your driving habits also affect your fuel savings.
Furthermore, determine if the quoted cost of the skirts includes installation.
1. http://www.allbusiness.com/manufacturing/transportation-equipment-mfg-automotive/11651223-1.html (no longer online)
2. http://blog.fleetowner.com/trucks_at_work/2009/03/20/aerodynamics-and-trailers/ (no longer online)
New-tractor-trailer-side-skirts-tailor-made-to-hem/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/662292 (no longer online)
4. http://www.greatdanetrailers.com/products/misc/epa.asp (no longer online)
5. https://fleetsmart.nrcan.gc.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=rfet.5#rf1 (no longer online)