There’s no doubt about it, Fall is here and with it, the cold winds of winter are right around the corner. The nice things about today’s trucks and vans is the manufacturers have done an amazing job of creating climate control systems that truly do allow a level of comfort for drivers and operators never seen before. With the push of a button, you can literally select – to the exact degree – what you’d like the temperature to be in your vehicle.
There are, though, a few exceptions.
For a lot of “work” vehicles, the creature comforts are somewhat spartan. Crew cab trucks use the exact same heating system a regular cab uses, with twice as much space. Cargo vans? Same problem. If you’re in the back, things can get a little chilly.
And what about on the job?
Sure, it’s warm in the driver’s seat, but if you’re working in the back of the van, it’s cold! When it’s fifteen below outside, factory heat simply doesn’t cut it. Besides, not everyone has a 55 gallon drum filled with wood scrap to burn on the jobsite!
That’s exactly the problem that Red Dot and Espar set out to solve. Both of these great companies created unique solutions to this problem, but the results they both can produce are perfect – a warm truck or van interior when you need it for as long as you need it.
Let’s take a look at these great products to keep you and your crew – and your equipment – warmer all winter.
The Red Dot auxiliary heaters are what we’d consider “wet” heaters – they are plumbed into the hot coolant from the vehicle’s radiator system in much the same way the factory-installed heater core is and their blower unit is wired into the vehicle’s electrical harness to complete the installation. This gives you the ability to adjust the airflow and the heat output.
The nice part about the Red Dot family of heaters is they can be mounted in many different configurations and the heat they produce can be routed nearly anywhere.
Espar is a company that has long been known for their fuel fired vehicle heaters, but instead of using the vehicle’s coolant system, Espar ties their units into the existing fuel and electrical systems to run independently of the engine. In today’s climate of anti-idling regulations and climbing fuel costs, Espar has doubled down on the technology to utilize the vehicles’ fuel and electrical systems to allow operators and fleets to ensure comfort when a truck or van is not running, but heat is still required. Examples abound, but vans and slide in truck bodies, especially those with workstations, are prime candidates for an Espar upgrade. As with the Red Dot heaters mentioned earlier, the Espar units have a small footprint and are extremely forgiving regarding where they need to be installed.
Perhaps the nicest part of the Espar fuel-fired heaters is even though they utilize fuel from the vehicle, that usage is dramatically lower than idling the engine. The problem, of course, is in “the good old days”, gasoline and diesel cost a fraction of what they do today. Aside from the impact to your pocketbook, idling an engine on the jobsite simply racks up hours on the engine and plenty of studies have suggested that long periods at idle speed can cause cylinder wall washdown, leading to premature wear.
What makes each of these types of auxiliary space heaters so nice is they put out plenty of heat and have the benefit of being able to be placed nearly anywhere in the vehicles’ cargo area or passenger compartment, making them ideal for a variety of applications. We’ve installed these in the cargo areas of countless vans to keep crews warm and, honestly, to keep critical parts from getting too cold. Think about all the sensitive electronics we use today. Computers, meters, and countless other tools of the trade, when taken from winter’s bitter cold into warmer spaces, tend to form condensation – never good with electronics!
Speaking of idle time and wasted dollars, let’s take a moment to explore vehicle coolant, or engine block heaters. These compact units install within the vehicle’s cooling system passages or in the engine block and simply keep the coolant circulating and warming. The result, of course, is a vehicle that starts the first time, no matter how cold it is.
These are nothing new – block heaters have been installed on trucks and vans for well over 70 years, but like so many other things, technology has allowed these units to be far “smarter.” Today, Espar’s coolant heaters come with the technology allowing the fleet user or owner to simply program the time to begin the warming process. Half an hour? Two hours? You can decide, but in the end, you’ll minimize warm up time on those cold mornings … and unlike the old style “plug in” block heaters, you won’t have to run power to the unit all night – driving up your electrical bill while you hope you’re saving on your fuel bill.
THAT’S no savings at all!
All of these auxiliary heaters are perfect for trucks and vans, no matter how “new” it is, and each one of them offers real savings in terms of costs and maintenance over the lifetime of the truck or van. Reach out to our team to find out more about them and stay warm this winter!