Smart Trucks
Economizing with Alternative Power

Smart trucks use technology and alternative energy sources to improve fuel efficiency, replace diesel fuel, and lower costs. There are several different types of trucks available, or shortly to be available, that could accurately receive this label.

Several even make use of solar panels to provide, some or all of their power. We'll provide the information you need on this page to decide which of these technologies might make the most sense for your situation.

Smart Trucks
Kool Rig No Idle

The KoolRig No Idle solution, allows truckers to use solar power kits to provide heating, air conditioning, and power for other small appliances in their truck cabs, so they won't need to idle the trucks when they aren't actually moving down the road.

The solar panels are high efficiency, according to the site, they will provide energy whether or not the sun is shining. They are "stick on" solar panels, designed to be mounted directly on the cabs hood, or on the top of the trailer. You can buy as few, or as many, panels as you want, to power the electrical accessories you plan to use.

Installation doesn't require you to drill holes, since the panels are mounted using a "peel and stick permanent mastic backing".

This system can be used to run heating and air conditioning, Tvs, microwaves, VCRs, coffee pots, laptops, refrigerators, and probably any other appliance available for use in portable applications.

Regular appliances could be used, but if you plan to use AC (alternating current) appliances, you will also need to add an inverter to your system to change the direct current into alternating current.

Although I'm no trucking expert, one site claims you can save up to $23,000 a year in fuel costs by installing their system. Of course without a truck to put one on, I have no way of proving or dis-proving the validity of those claims, but I'm hoping that some truckers out there will share their expertise with us regarding these systems.

Smart Trucks
Solar Powered Trucks

Hybrid Electric Trucks could also be considered Smart Trucks.

Solar electric trucks are also available. Most are designed to run from conventional AC power, or from optional solar panels mounted on the roof.

Zap makes one electric truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 2998 pounds, and a cargo capacity of 108 cubic feet. The cab seats two, and it is designed to be used around warehouses, universities, airports, factories, military bases, company campuses, and city settings. There are several other options available as well.

Smith Electric Vehicles, currently based out of Kansas City in the US, also makes electric trucks designed primarily for delivery purposes. The largest trucks available come in seven and a half, ten, and twelve ton weights, and are available with four different body styles, including a flat bed model, and a refrigerated model.

Although they apparently don't sell solar panels as an accessory to the trucks, panels could easily be mounted on the cab and box of the truck to provide electrical power for truck operation, power for the refrigeration system, or both if needed.

At this point I have not found commercially mounted panels on trailers currently available, with the exception of the Zag trucks, but there are several companies presenting trucks like these at Commercial Vehicle shows around the world. It appears they will become more widely available within the next two years.

However, I don't believe the installation of these panels would be particularly difficult for anyone who was handy with doing things on his own truck. If you don't own your truck, you'd probably need to be looking at temporary applications anyway, unless the owner was willing to make the installations for you.

Smart Trucks

Trucks that use the latest alternative energy technologies to reduce operating costs are available, but you'll have to look to find them. Additionally, you'll need to do some research to be sure the options available will truly meet your needs.

If you find solar powered options that truly economize and deliver the benefits promised, please do share with us here so we'll know which ones are the best to use.

Additionally if you know of smart trucks I failed to cover, please share them as well. Together we can discover which smart trucks truly make sense at the current time.

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