Cold temperatures cause all sorts of problems for the trucking industry. Fuel starts to gel and wax, fuel filters clog, and seemingly every electrical problem is amplified. Liftgate batteries are no exception.
Why are cold temps a problem for electrical systems?
The colder it is outside, the more voltage is needed to charge liftgate batteries. In a 53-foot trailer, the batteries could be 40-45 feet from the nose, meaning significant voltage drop. Without a DC-DC converter, it is harder to get enough voltage to the batteries in freezing temperatures.
Another issue is with the liftgates themselves. Cold oil means a slower hydraulic system. The liftgate motor has to run longer, and with a much higher amperage draw to compensate.
Liftgates are essential to the delivery business. Retailers depend on timely deliveries, regardless of the weather. To avoid lost business, wasted driver expenses and costly road calls, liftgate battereis must be able to operate in harsh enviornments.
What can be done?
First, perform preventative maintenance every four months in moderate climates, and even more frequently in cold ones. Battery connections need to be cleaned, and the battery itself needs to be secured. Often, electrical malfunctions can be fixed by checking to see if connections are loose or dirty. A voltage drop test should be conducted to verify that the system is functioning within spec.
A DC-DC converter is essential in cold climates. Not only will it boost available voltage to the liftgate batteries, it actually gets more effective the colder it gets. If the charge source is putting out 11 volts to the batteries in extreme cold, the converter will compensate for the colder temperatures and boost the voltage.
In cold weather, all aspects of an electrical system are stressed, making preventative maintenance much more important. Preparing the electrical system for extreme cold can make a huge difference in a fleet’s delivery efficiency.
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