Trucker Defeats Cold Starts with Maxwell Engine Start Module
August 08, 2016 | Jessica Baris, Communications Specialist and Copywriter
When trucker Bill Harlow turned the ignition key and heard the dreaded failure-to-crank sound, he knew it was going to be a tough day.
It’s a situation every long-haul trucker loathes—park in a safe place for a night’s rest, only to wake up to a frigid morning and a no-start.
Bill braced himself against Oklahoma’s bone-chilling 20-degree weather and hiked into a small town for help. Luck was on his side—Bill spotted a truck dealership where the employees arranged two pickups to jump-start Bill’s Freightliner.
"That was the worst experience," Bill recalled, "that cold morning and nothing to turn the engine over."
But now, that experience is just a distant memory. Four years ago, Bill installed the Maxwell Engine Start Module (ESM) in his truck, and ever since then he hasn’t worried about getting stranded. In this story, Bill shares how switching to the Maxwell ESM’s ultracapacitor starting technology has been an advantage for his one-man business.
In the case of batteries, isolation is a good thing
Leased Owner Operator
Average miles per year:
Battery box set-up:
3 AGM batteries, 1 Maxwell ESM
Years of ESM ownership:
What type of freight have you worked with?
Nursery products, paper towels, soda cans, air conditioning units, newspapers, Christmas trees, trade show exhibits, machinery, and kitchen cabinets for Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Now that you don’t worry about starting issues, what are your main on-the-job concerns?
Tire blow-outs and brake problems.
The fact that the Maxwell ESM provides high cranking current to the starter—and isolates the batteries from the starter—was enough to convince Bill that it was worth the investment.
Bill’s 2005 Freightliner came with a four-battery system. He removed one battery and replaced it with the Maxwell ESM, which became the only unit powering the starter. Now, the truck’s batteries are dedicated to powering onboard loads and the ESM takes care of all engine starting. This made Bill think about how to optimize his battery system.
"I don’t have to use the starter batteries anymore," he says. "Now I can use AGM deep-cycle batteries, much like the batteries in an RV. They provide longer use overnight."
Bill explains that regular starting batteries provide limited run time when used to power sleeper loads, and their life is shortened when employed this way. By converting to AGM deep-cycle batteries, he can use the batteries overnight worry-free because he can rely on the Maxwell ESM for starting his truck in the morning.
"This is stuff that I learned before I bought the Maxwell ESM," Bill says, "and I did the investigation on how more efficient it is to use it plus three deep-cycle RV batteries."
Convenience and freedom on the road
In cold weather, many truckers have to take the extra step of plugging in an engine block heater. It’s a slow process—it can take two or three hours for the engine block to warm up, especially when it gets so cold that the oil thickens. Bill says that the Maxwell ESM makes his job easier because it eliminates the need for a block heater, and it saves him several hours of precious time.
"The ESM is convenience," he says. "It’ll turn over a cold engine even with standard oil in it, not synthetic. It just allows you to go whenever you want, instantly."
The Maxwell ESM has also given Bill some freedom from the APU. "I don't like using my APU overnight. I don’t like the noise when I’m trying to sleep."
Before installing the ESM, Bill often found himself in a pickle: Should he shut off the APU and get a good night’s rest (but risk drained batteries that won’t start the truck in the morning) or deal with the APU’s incessant hum?
Instead of being forced to choose one bad situation over another, Bill chose the reliability of the Maxwell ESM’s ultracapacitor starting technology.
Unlike a battery, the Maxwell ESM’s ultracapacitors can endure much harsher climates. That’s because ultracapacitors are electrostatic energy devices—they don’t depend on internal chemical reactions that can be slowed down by cold weather.
Now, Bill can get a good night’s sleep. He doesn’t run the APU all night because in the morning, the Maxwell ESM gives the truck a "swift kick, like you’re putting in all the bulls that you can handle. It just starts it right up," he says.
Extended starting temperature range
The Maxwell ESM extends the truck’s starting temperature range from –40 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit—a much wider range than standard lead-acid batteries. It can also start the truck with batteries drained to 10 volts.
Bill says it’s important for truckers to remember that the truck’s ECM, or engine control unit, typically needs at least 9.6 volts of battery energy to turn on. Once the computer is on, the Maxwell ESM turns over the engine in such an impressive temperature range that Bill won’t consider going back to batteries for starting. The ESM, Bill says, is "perfect for the starters. They just love that extra power it provides."
In the end, peace-of-mind is gold
In his 16 years of truck driving experience, Bill has come to learn that when so many things can go wrong, peace-of-mind has no price tag. "You just can’t put a cost on your state of mind knowing the ESM is there, ready for you," says Bill. "I would never own a truck without it now."
Communications Specialist and Copywriter
About this author
Jessica A. Baris is communications specialist and copywriter at Maxwell Technologies and enjoys telling a good story. Her background includes writing and editing for the high-tech, construction, and meetings and conventions industries. A San Diego native, Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of California, San Diego and a Master of Arts in rhetoric and writing from San Diego State University.
The statements made in this article reflect the experience of the featured customer. Individual customer results may vary.
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