Called Clean Power by Kenworth and ComfortClass by Peterbilt, these new battery-based HVAC systems
provide heating, cooling and 110-volt ‘hotel-load’ electrical power for up to 10 hours, even in 95-degree
weather — without the need to run the truck’s engine. It will be available as a factory-installed option this
summer on the Kenworth T660 72-in. AeroCab and on class 8 Petes equipped with 70-in. Unibilt sleepers.
Peterbilt Chief Engineer Landon Sproull claims a significant bottom-line improvement by reducing operating
expenses by as much as $5000 a year, per vehicle. The systems also make compliance with anti-idle regulations easy.
While the truck is in operation a 185-amp alternator charges the power pack (four dedicated, advanced
glass-mat, deep-cycle batteries) and starting batteries. At the same time, the electric air conditioning
compressor charges the thermal storage unit – about the size of a microwave — mounted under the bunk in the
T660 and behind the sleeper on Peterbilts. When the system is activated, the power pack batteries supply power to an electric fan blower in the cooling unit to circulate chilled air through the thermal storage unit and into the sleeper. Air temperature is regulated by adjusting a thermostat and fan-speed dial conveniently located in the sleeper area, near the bunk.
As the truck is driven down the road, or if it’s connected to a 120-volt AC electrical supply, the liquid inside the
storage unit is cooled to freezing – which translates to roughly 21,000 BTUs of cooling capacity. Once the truck
is shut off, the battery-powered cooling system – turned on from the sleeper control panel – takes over and
keeps the sleeper at the dialled-in temperature. For dual bunk set-ups, a second duct keeps the upper bunk area cool.
On the T660, according to Kenworth chief engineer Mike Dozier, the combination of Clean Power with
high-output, low-current LED lighting and an enhanced sleeper insulation package provide a significant
advancement in energy efficiency. If you suffer from high idling time, he says you could get as much as an 8%
boost in fuel economy by not idling.
In especially cold weather, both Kenworth and Peterbilt systems use a small diesel-fired heating unit mounted
under the bunk.
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