Designed and made in Canada, the CCS Lightning Cab Comfort System was originally created as the auxiliary power unit that’s been used in the U.S. military’s armored personnel carriers for the last decade. From Ottawa-based Mechron
Power Systems, a division of Toromont Industries (the Caterpillar distributor in
Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador), it features a custom
Kubota diesel engine with an enlarged oil sump and filter, a direct-driven generator (no
belts), and a compact enclosure. It uses minimal frame space, just 21 in., because its air intake is at the rear, not the side. This also minimizes the intake of dirty air.

One of its key benefits, Mechron says, is quiet operation — claimed to be the quietest in the industry. That’s due to its military heritage, where near-silent operation is critical for powering surveillance electronics. In that application, an APU must also handle extremes of heat and
cold as well as nasty vibration. Surprisingly, Mechron general manager Paul
Asselin says vibration in a heavy truck is a bigger challenge.

“We’ve discovered that this commercial application is actually worse,” he says.

The company spent two years adapting its APU to truck use, spending a lot of
time on vibration reduction and air management.

The APU is rated at a true 6 KW, weighs 360 lb, and its service interval is 500 hours. Its compressor/heater/evaporator/blower unit is a combined air-conditioning and heating package complete with a ventilation blower fan. Fan speed can be manually controlled. Standard heating capacity is 10,000 BTU/hr (high)/5000 BTU/hr (low) with 13,500 BTU/hr as an option. Cooling capacity is 10,000 BTU/hr with 14,000 optional.

The standard cooling configuration ties the APU into the truck’s cooling system to maximize heating efficiency and minimize fuel consumption, with coolant bulkhead connections at the rear of the unit. In this configuration, the APU is used as a block heater any time the unit runs. Other possible configurations include a remote radiator or a combination of shared cooling and remote rad.

The Lightning’s battery charger has 30-amp/12-volt DC output, fed from the power
distribution box installed in the truck’s sleeper, beneath the bed. Input voltage is
120 volts AC, which allows the unit to operate while the APU is running or while
the system is connected to the optional shore power system. The charger’s safety
features include over-current shutdown, reverse polarity protection, and ignition
protection. An optional 40-amp version is available.

Smaller but important features are the use of stainless-steel fasteners throughout, and all electrical connections are sealed. Maintenance access is easy because the cover comes off with the turn of a single lever. Installation time is just four hours, Mechron says, while some others can be up to 15. The CCS Lightning is controlled through a single, simple to use panel in the truck’s cab.
Call 888-733-3858 or see your local Cat dealer. The Lightning is also available from Volvo dealerships.

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