Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Did you know that driving times of up to 40 hours can be required to charge deeply discharged cold batteries? Since no one drives 40 hours nonstop, you might not be fully recharging your batteries this winter and unknowingly doing damage to your trucks.
Recharging truck batteries is very different with the changing weather conditions. According to Purkeys Fleet Electric, “If the temperature is above 40°F, even deeply discharged battery packs can be completely recharged in a few hours. However, the colder it is outside, the less charge the battery pack wants to accept.” The colder it is, the more important it is to keep your truck batteries charged and your diesel engines warm to prevent cold starts. Since dead batteries can freeze in cold weather, Purkey Fleet Electronic officials recommend to never try to jump-start a truck that has frozen batteries. While jump-starts can get the vehicle started, the battery will still need hours of charging before it will recharge the battery pack.
A few products exist to help keep your batteries warm and charged to help prevent cold starts. First, you can use the Arctic Fox Battery Warmers which utilize hot engine coolant to provide heat beneath your batteries. Think of this as a blanket for your batteries. Second, you can install a coolant by-pass thermostat which senses the air temperature inside the battery box, and automatically controls the flow of coolant through the Battery Warmer to avoid overheating the batteries. Last, you can utilize an engine start-stop solution, such as Opti-Idle or Idle Smart, that will monitor your battery voltage and automatically restart and run your diesel engine to charge your batteries.
Mike Collins, President of M&D Transportation based in Rhode Island, runs from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. To maintain his batteries, he doesn’t just rely on the battery voltage of the batteries but he also test the battery’s cold cranking amps to make sure they are greater than 22% (>203amps) of the ideal 925 cold cranking amps. He checks the battery’s water and refills it with de-ionized water that is available in any grocery store or big box retailer. Mike also takes his batteries out and desulfates them to extend their life.
M&D uses a combination of Idle Smart’s auto start-stop system and diesel fired auxiliary heaters. Mike says, “The use of auxiliary heaters/diesel fired heaters will run down the truck batteries throughout the course of the night. By utilizing Idle Smart, our drivers can crank his heater full throttle and not have to worry about the truck starting in the morning. This is a perfect combination with our Deka dual purpose batteries.”
Since weather patterns can change quickly, it’s important to have a plan of action in place as we are in the middle of winter. With the right products and correct plan of action in place, there should be no need to worry about your batteries starting and staying warm this winter.
Interested in reducing the idle time of your fleet? Check out the Idle Smart Services and calculate how much fuel cost you could be saving!