Plugged In

Max Kvidera | August 07, 2011

Charles Claburn

A former owner-operator who now drives the truck owned by “Ice Road Truckers” competition winner Ray Veilleux, Claburn is a TSE devotee. “I loved it because I didn’t have to idle the truck, and I could watch TV,” says Claburn, who lives in upstate New York. “It’s 375 miles from one end of New York State to the other and the state has very tough idling laws. When you couldn’t find a place to hook up, you risked getting a ticket. It’s the same in a lot of other states.”

So Claburn carefully plans his hauls of farm machinery and specialized equipment, looking for truck stops with electric service. “At $1.25 an hour you can’t beat it,” he says. “For example, I stopped in West Memphis, Ark., rather than go across Arkansas because I didn’t think I could find IdleAir where I was going. I deliberately shorted myself eight hours of drive time because I wanted to be comfortable for the weekend and not burn $4-a-gallon fuel.”

Michael Ben-Dror

An owner-operator leased to Anderson Trucking Service, Ben-Dror used to connect three to four times a week, but now he only finds service a couple times a month. “We lost so many locations in areas where I spend a majority of my time,” he says, which has been mostly east of the Mississippi River.

As an early customer, York, Pa.-based Ben-Dror has window adapters for using IdleAir and CabAire heating/cooling equipment. He’s upset that some truck stops have removed TSE stations. “It makes no sense to me with the emphasis on going green and [reducing] the carbon footprint that we lose the ability to turn off our trucks,” he says, adding that he lets the truck stops know they should offer the service.

Ben-Dror says TSE saved him a big tow bill. His alternator was failing and the truck stop couldn’t fix it. He knew if he turned off the truck, he wouldn’t be able to start it again. Instead, he used an IdleAir extension cord to get power. “I charged my batteries all night and was able to start the truck the next morning and drive it to the dealership,” he says.

Bryan Richardson

The owner-operator, who runs B&R Transport from Long Beach, Calif., plugged into IdleAire a few times before the company shut down and used AireDock service once in Florida.

After idling through too much diesel, though, he bought a $200 generator a year ago. He cranks up the generator when he needs heating and puts a $100 portable air conditioner in his truck window when he wants cooling.

He says the generator holds four gallons of diesel, costing him about $16 to run overnight, compared with more than twice that amount of diesel when idling. “I got tired of waking up in the morning and seeing my fuel gauge was down a bit from idling,” he says.

Richardson says it requires a little effort to set up his generator outside his truck, but it’s cheaper than an auxiliary power unit or idling.

Richardson’s only complaint with TSE is that many parking stalls were set up for bobtails and didn’t have enough space to accommodate tractor-trailers.

Bill Brady

The Las Vegas-based owner-operator, leased to Landstar, says he used the former IdleAire dozens of times before it closed.

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