“Shore power is the wave of the future, but there is not enough infrastructure."
Vice President Maintenance
AC power ports located on the outside of the sleeper cab make it possible to plug the truck into a parking space power outlet (often called shore power) to meet heating, cooling, and AC power needs when the truck is not running.
Early adopters of the technology have benefitted from longer battery life and reduced fuel consumption, although they have had to deal with the lack of availability of power distribution locations.
Most truck manufacturers offer power ports as an option. One new development is for fleets to install AC power posts in their terminal lots or to allow drivers to use existing power for things other than block heaters.
AC power ports use external power and so prevent batteries from being depleted when the truck is off
Using AC power ports prevents wear and tear on vehicle components
AC power requires no diesel fuel
AC power ports require wiring specifically designed for vehicle use to avoid chafing from vibration
There is currently a limited availability of power distribution locations. In addition, the system can become overloaded if connected to a house, barn, or garage electrical system
Using AC power inside a truck cab requires different wiring from the normal 12V DC wires in the truck. In order to allow the use of regular household devices in the cab, some trucks are equipped with a power port and access to an AC power distribution system. This is often referred to as shore power because it is similar to the connection that allows a boat to use a 120V AC extension cord for power. The AC ports can be used for block heaters, to supply inverter/chargers, to provide AC power into the cab with an inverter/charger, or to run the heater or air conditioning of their diesel APU or battery HVAC system. Users pay a fee to the power distribution supplier to hook up to the power supply.
An AC power port is one of the anchor technologies of an overall idle-reduction strategy.
Executives from 11 for-hire truckload carriers were personally interviewed to find out about their idle-reduction practices. No single technology was used by all 11 of the fleets, and only four are using AC power ports on their vehicles. One fleet manager said that, “This is the wave of the future, but there is not enough infrastructure in place.”
Internet Fleet Survey
In conjunction with Michelin, the study team surveyed 200+ members of Michelin’s Fleet Forum. When asked what idle reduction technology they would purchase, 25.5% said AC power plugs, but more than half the respondents said they had no experience with AC power plugs.
Internet Owner-Operator Survey
In conjunction with Kevin Rutherford’s “Let’s Talk” truckers’ satellite radio forum, the study team surveyed owner-operators and small fleets. 46.5% of the survey respondents said they would specify an AC power port when they purchased a new vehicle, but 55.5% said they currently had no experience with that technology. When asked why they chose AC power ports for idle reduction, here is what some of them said:
- It works well when you can find them, and they are cheaper than a hotel.
- They are the cheapest alternative.
There are already a wide variety of payback calculators for any given type of idle-reduction system. In an effort to meet the industry’s need for more information, we have also developed a high-level payback equation to aid fleets in choosing the right combination of technologies.
All truck manufacturers offer an optional AC power port.
Often referred to as shore power, AC power is provided to a vehicle by using an AC power port to plug into an off-board electrical supply. The outside power is then used to power electrical loads in the cab. The biggest issue with this solution is the lack of availability of power distribution locations. In addition, many fleets do not reimburse their drivers for the cost of this service so drivers are reluctant to use it. Some fleets have added electrified posts to their terminal locations and allow drivers to plug into those for their rest periods.