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“Battery drain is an issue for fleets at parking facilities where drivers require hotel loads for comfort and convenience items, especially during rest periods required by new hours-of-service regulations,” says Ryan Bennett, vice president of product and marketing at Idle Smart. “With the right technology, fleets can monitor and eliminate battery drain so trucks are ready to meet operational needs.”

Earlier this year, Idle Smart, the provider of an automatic engine start stop solution, announced Battery Protect, a new feature that continuously monitors battery voltage levels and will start and run a vehicle’s engine to recharge batteries. Battery Protect is pre-programmed to start a truck at a default setting of 12.2 volts and run the engine for a recommended 20 minutes. Fleets can change voltage and time settings to meet specific preferences.

“With Battery Protect,” Bennett explains, “fleets have the ability to customize voltage thresholds and recharge run times. This Idle Smart feature eliminates the need for electric shore power-based systems or someone to go out and manually start the truck, avoiding the cost of a service call and unnecessary downtime.”

Battery Protect is a standard feature of Idle Smart, which continuously monitors interior and ambient temperatures, and starts and stops a vehicle to maintain desired cabin temperature. Idle Smart also features Cold Weather Guard, which provides the ability to have a truck start at a specific outside temperature and run for a desired amount of time.

Ultracapacitor technology
Another option for ensuring the starting power required by diesel engines is the Maxwell Technologies ultracapacitor-based Engine Start Module (ESM). The ESM, which works in tandem with truck batteries, provides burst power to crank diesel engines (up to 16 liters) in temperatures as low as -40-degrees F. The energy storage solution, according to the company, integrates with truck battery systems and weighs less than one-fourth of the Group 31 lead-acid battery it replaces.

Maxwell, which says there are over 2,000 ESMs installed in Class 7 and 8 vehicles in North America, recently expanded its ESM product line with the Ultra 31/900 model for Class 3 through 6 medium-duty trucks. In medium-duty applications, the ESM provides 900 CCA or a three-second crank for diesel engines (up to 9.9 liters) at temperatures as low as -40-degrees F. Also consistent with the heavy-duty ESM, the medium-duty version stays fully charged even when a truck’s lead-acid battery is as low as 9.5 volts.

Weekend or seasonal inactivity, frequent starts and stops, or liftgate, tools and bucket use with the engine off can all cause battery drain in medium-duty trucks, notes Jeremy Cowperthwaite, vice president and general manager of Maxwell’s Engine Starting Group. “Technology that delivers reliable starts and allows use of on-board systems while the engine is off without fear of the truck not starting,” he adds, “can help maximize on-time service and reliable performance.