5. What about a built-in battery charger?
“The simple answer is yes if you can use ‘shore power’ (electrical outlets at home or on the road at terminals, loading docks, or truckstop),” says Carlson. “When plugged in, you can run everything you’re running with your inverter for as long as you want, plus you can recharge and top off your batteries. The more you can use shore power, the better, as it prolongs the life of your batteries.”
In fact, Carlson says having the shore power option and a charger in the system will add 20% to 30% to the life of the batteries if plugged into grid power whenever possible. “It also has the potential to eliminate one battery swap out over the five to six years use of the truck. This happens by keeping batteries fully charged, offsetting parasitic loads, and reducing the number of cycles.”
According to Carlson, most installations use the inverter off the truck’s starting batteries and quality inverters will have a low voltage disconnect (LVD) to shut down when voltage drops to 11.7 volts. This ensures the truck will have enough juice to start.
“Check on the LVD feature before you buy an inverter,” cautions Carlson. “Many inverters on the market will run the batteries down to 10.5 volts, which will let drivers run electrical devices longer in the cab and sleeper. However, they won’t be able to start the truck unless the truck comes equipped with its own LVD.
“Another option is to run two dedicated deep-cycle batteries and connect them to the inverter,” continues Carlson. “Yes, they do add weight to the vehicle, and added cost. But, deep-cycle batteries were designed to be drawn down to a 50% state of charge, or 10.5 volts. This gives you double to triple the amount of continuous power to run hotel loads. Something your drivers will appreciate.”