What’s the future of trucking fleets and solar power? Companies like Mesilla Valley Transportation, Groupe Robert, and K&J Trucking are experimenting with solar panels in innovative and creative ways. They’re using solar panels to stretch money on fuel, reduce maintenance costs, improve uptime, and bring greater convenience to the lives of drivers.
Want to learn more about the future of trucking fleets and solar panels? Read on for a rundown of how the companies mentioned above are using alternative energy to reshape the industry.
Mesilla Valley Transportation
The Texas-based truckload fleet, Mesilla Valley Transportation, has long been at the forefront of new technologies including trailer aerodynamic innovations and 6×2 drivetrains. They started installing solar panels nearly six years ago to extend the performance time of their auxiliary power units (APUs).
Initially, they found that the aerodynamic penalty of the solar panels offset their savings. So, did some more experimenting. They discovered that newer. thinner, flexible solar panels remedied the problem. Today, Mesilla boasts several hundred Navistar trucks outfitted with eNow auxiliary solar system panels. The results? Less idling time, longer alternator and battery lives, and more driver satisfaction.
Groupe Robert, one of Canada’s largest trucking companies, has been experimenting with solar panels for many years. Their goals have included keeping drivers comfortable, batteries charged in cold weather, and batteries charged on methane detectors (on trucks fueled by liquefied natural gas). They’ve found that electric APUs are preferable to diesel ones but battery life was limited to six hours. So, they went back to the drawing board in 2012.
They started testing a single solar panel mounted on the roof fairing. This solar panel provided eight hours of battery life. By adding an additional six flexible solar panels, they provided drivers with ten full hours of battery life each night for idle-less sleep. In three and a half years, they’ll have a return on their investment based on fuel savings alone. What’s more, they’ve reduced their carbon footprint.
The South Dakota-based company, K&J Trucking, has found another way to use solar panels. Instead of powering their APUs, they rely on them to charge the refrigerators in the sleepers. That way, even when the truck’s not in use for extended periods of time, the food in the refrigerator stays cold and safe.
Prior to this innovation, drivers had to remove all food from their refrigerators if they planned on being gone for more than 24 hours. But with the solar panels, they don’t have to. As a result, they can keep healthier food stocked and not have to rely on last-minute fast food.
Trucking Fleets and Solar Power
Driver comfort and APU powering aren’t the only places where trucking fleets and solar power are coming together. Solar panels are also being used for safety lights, HVAC for emergency vehicles, truck and trailer liftgate applications, trailer refrigeration, pallet jack chargers, and trailer tracking and telematics.
Interested in learning more about trucking fleets and solar panels? Or, maybe you’ve already installed them and need to know how to keep them clean and functioning properly? Either way, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to discuss your trucking fleet needs and how we can help.