It's that worrisome time of year again ... winter is coming on, and you have cargo that has to be protected from freezing while the truck is parked in a yard or at a rest stop. In the past, drivers simply left their engines idling to maintain temperatures inside trailers. But with states and municipalities cracking down on the practice, truckers have been forced to find alternatives.
The obvious solution is a heating system that doesn't depend on the vehicle's engine for power. These independent heaters have their own engines, which typically run on diesel or propane fuel, and can keep the interior heated for long periods. Shippers and carriers like the independent heaters not just because they eliminate the need for idling but also because they save on fuel.
Several companies make this type of heater, including Webasto, Clean Burn, Elston Manufacturing, and Jonjo Transport Refrigeration (yes, they make heaters, too). How low can these heaters go? One of the newer units on the market, Clean Burn's diesel-fuel powered 45 TH Transport Heater, can maintain an output temperature of 100 to 160 degrees F in weather ranging from -40 to 140 degrees F, the manufacturer says. And it requires far less fuel than the typical heavy-duty truck engine. Clean Burn says the heater, which features a programmable thermostat with a "sleep" mode, consumes less than half a gallon of diesel an hour.