“Shore power is the wave of the future, but there is not enough infrastructure."

Vice President Maintenance

Executive Summary

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.

Introduction to Idle Reduction
Available Systems

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.

Common Fleet Strategies

An AC power port is one of the anchor technologies of an overall idle-reduction strategy.

  • To overcome the lack of availability of AC power distribution locations, combining an AC power port with a fuel-operated air heater and an inverter/battery charger is a good option for some fleets. However, this combination does not provide a way to cool the cab when there is no power distribution system available.
What Others Are Saying
Decision-Making Tools

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.

Decision-Making Tools

Manufacturers

All truck manufacturers offer an optional AC power port. 

Conclusions

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.