While plenty of us love the first cool days of fall and the changing of the leaves – not to mention the passing of the mosquitoes and black flies – it is the rare Canadian who looks forward to the cold, dark days of winter. The extended warm up periods, long idles to prevent fuel gelling, and, of course, the occasional night in a snow bank are all well-known challenges that we all know and love. On the other hand, an ounce of prevention is often worth a lot more than a pound of cure – and that’s why one of the first items many of our clients in the fleet and trades industries often ask about are auxiliary heaters.
Simple – warm engines start easier and run more efficiently. We’ve all heard old indirect-injection diesel engines trying to start on those -30 degree mornings and with something as simple as a little heat, even the most stubborn engine will often fire right up. There’s a few other reasons to think about investing in an auxiliary heater for the trucks and vans in your fleet or your driveway, though, and they all make great financial sense:
- Faster warm up. There’s nothing like trying to get the ice off your windshield after another Artic blast rocks western Canada, and if you’ve ever had to wait and hope for an engine to warm up when it was blowing a gale outside, you know that it might as well not happen. By using an air- or coolant-preheater, though, you can reduce warm up time by 50% AND make cold starts a lot easier. Even more importantly, when you get in and sit down, you can be settling into your morning drive with heat, not cold, coming out of the vents.
- Reduced engine wear. Coolant preheaters help warm oil and warm oil can lubricate better. By being viscous enough to get into all those “nooks and crannies” at start up, preheated oil reduces the metal-to-metal wear in cold engines and helps fuel to atomize better, meaning that you don’t have to go through multiple glow-shift cycles or crank the engine for extended periods to get it to “catch”. Bottom line? When the mercury dips, warm oil and coolant in an engine helps ensure longer engine life.
- Reduced idle times. Sure, there are some times that you have to idle the engine. Why leave it idling? To stay warm, of course! With auxiliary heaters, though, you can operate a heater unit independent of the engine and drivers and passengers can stay warm, the engine can stay in a “ready-to-work” state, and you can reduce your fuel consumption and emissions.
- Longer battery life. Since warm engines take far fewer amps to crank, battery life and the overall longevity of a vehicles’ electrical system is increased. Despite the fact that many of the units that we sell as auxiliary heaters use battery power and the electrical system to run while the engine is off, the actual amount of electricity used is minimal, allowing the vehicles’ own batteries to warm the cab or the preheat the engine for smoother starting. As a result, the draw placed on electronics at start up is minimized and the alternator can easily replenish lost voltage in a matter of a few minutes.
- Year-round flexibility. When you outfit a truck, van, or even a piece of equipment with an auxiliary heater, you equip it to deal with the vast array of weather that we see in western Canada. No matter whether the cold front has chased the Chinook from the skies, you can depend on your equipment starting effectively and your people being able to work comfortably.
- Faster responses. Let’s face it, most, if not all, of our clients make money by going where they are needed. The experts and skilled workers that our customers employ are usually paid hourly and time is of the essence. In this world, being on the job is critical – and being late, whatever the excuse, is never acceptable. With preheaters and auxiliary heaters, you can be ready to work faster, your equipment can be ready to deploy faster, and you can get your people to the next job faster. It’s simple economics – the more work you can do in a day, the more money you and your team can make. Why pay skilled men and women to wait for the truck to warm up?
At Expertec, we firmly believe that the trucks and vans being built today are among the best ever produced. At the same time, every one of our customers knows that no bone-stock vehicle can compete with a specialized and customized vehicle to do a specific job, and custom upfit solutions are what we’ve offered for over 10 years. Now that it appears the cold winter weather is here to stay, we encourage you to spend a few minutes reviewing how auxiliary heaters – no matter how they are designed – can add an important component to your vehicle fleet and operations speed.