A new accessory from Carrier Transicold uses solar energy to charge transport refrigeration unit (TRU) batteries to maintain peak performance in an environmentally sustainable way.
The new Thin-Film flexible solar panels are easily installed on the roofs of trailers, truck bodies, containers, and refrigerated rail cars chilled by Carrier or other systems. When exposed to daylight, the panels continuously charge batteries, ensuring ample power for system starts and helping to avoid issues and costs associated with a weak or dead battery.
Refrigerated fleet demands for value-added electrical loads have increased in recent years, says the company, tapping refrigeration system batteries to power additional electronics such as telematics devices, fuel-level sensors, interior trailer lighting, and other accessories.
Such power draws can range from milliamps to a few amps per hour, depending on the number of devices tied to the battery. If the TRU has not been operated for some time and these accessories continue to draw power while the unit is off, its battery might not have enough charge to start the engine, resulting in a service callout or battery replacement.
Solar panels can offset the draw from accessory electrical devices while the TRU is off, significantly reducing callout charges related to the battery.
They can also help conserve fuel by minimizing the need to run the TRU engine to charge the battery. Carrier Transicold solar panels provide up to 1.8 amps per hour and are compatible with 12-volt wet-cell and absorbent-glass-mat batteries.
This solar cell technology performs reliably even in low and indirect lighting conditions, the company says. Weighing less than 2 lb, the panels are highly flexible and measure less than one-eighth of an inch thick. They’re designed to withstand the harsh transportation environment, being waterproof and puncture-resistant. They have a five-year limited warranty on power output.