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October 01, 2009  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

Heating Systems Help Reduce Emissions, Costs

By allowing engines to rapidly heat without idling, modern heating systems make schools eligible for idle-reduction grants and funding opportunities.

by Claire Atkinson, Senior Editor


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Today’s engine heating systems available for the school bus segment help make vehicle start-up more efficient, reducing idle times and thus emissions and fuel consumption.

While all of the systems detailed here provide preheating for the engine and heat bus interiors in cold weather, not all of them use the same technology. The products from the three companies discussed below offer a variety of unique features and capabilities.

Espar’s E-Guardian system is compatible with biodiesel and features a digital programmable timer.

Espar Products Inc.
Espar Products, based in Mississauga, Ontario, offers its E-Guardian series of engine preheaters, which operate as hot water furnaces, utilizing the bus’ own diesel fuel and batteries to produce heat. The heater’s water pump circulates engine coolant to transfer heat to the engine and heat exchangers. “It’s a true, compact heating system with all components integrated into the system, not just a stripped-down heater,” says John Dennehy, Espar’s vice president of marketing and communications. “The heater is capable of heating the engine, defogging the windshield and heating the passenger compartment, all at the same time.”

The E-Guardian 5 provides engine preheating, instant defrost and driver standby heat. Basic kits for the E-Guardian 5 include the heater, installation kit and crash sensor.

The 8, 10 and 12 models — in addition to the features of the E-Guardian 5 — provide supplemental heat to the entire passenger cabin. Kits also include a protective enclosure, mounting tray and digital programmable timer.

“It is a mobile system, in that it goes where the bus goes — there’s no need for electrical plug-ins,” Dennehy says. “The E-Guardian also features a diagnostic system, making it easy to maintain. The brushless water pump motor and blower also provide reduced maintenance costs and downtime, even as units age,” he explains.

Timer controls can switch heaters on remotely one to two hours prior to engine start-up, eliminating cold starts and operator waiting time. The set-and-forget digital programmable timer allows for continual repetition of the selected cycle event. “The timer helps ensure heater usage, adding to the success of the [operation’s] idle reduction program,” Dennehy says.

The E-Guardian’s compact design allows for a variety of location mounts. Other features include automatic altitude adjustment and a boxed design for protection from the elements. “It’s packaged for turnkey installation, so there are no hidden costs for the school,” Dennehy says.

The 40,000 BTU-plus heating system is approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Dennehy says. It is also verified by the EPA and compliant with Department of Transportation regulations. In addition, he says it is the only fuel-operated heater that is compatible with biodiesel.

Espar’s E-Guardian provides a particular benefit to school bus operations due to the availability of a nationwide service network through IC Bus dealers, Espar MSDs (master sales distributors) and other original equipment manufacturer dealers. “Driver acceptance of fuel-operated heaters has been exceptional, resulting in more successful idle-reduction technology implementation,” Dennehy says.

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Joe, you are correct, Webasto has bio capability. The comment should have been ESPAR E Guardian 8 KW has 100% BIO Fuel capability. I am not aware that Webasto has one rated at 100%. Do you?

John    |    Feb 26, 2010 07:32 PM

The atatement about the Espar heater being the only biodiesel operational heater is false. Webasto is capable of biodiesel operation as well.

Joe Grycko    |    Jan 27, 2010 10:36 AM

As a European heating system supplier and now USA supply operation, Grayson Thermal Systems offered the Webasto water heater and Blown air heater as part of their original equipment heating system on transit bus and school buses. We found that the Webasto became the industry standard and customers would always say "my vehicle has a WEBASTO" even if it was the ESPAR (Eberspacher in Europe). Grayson Thermal systems have also used the Webasto as additional heating for low temperature operations, it maintains the heater system temperature even on a light load on the latest EPA (or Euro 4-5) rated engines giving fantastic performance, far more cost effective that running the engine whilst stationary. A real saving in fuel cost. David, Heating system design engineer.

David Wright    |    Jan 20, 2010 11:31 AM

It appears that if you are talking about reduced idling technology, then the only two that should be compared in this article are the Espar and Webasto heaters. The third heater has to have the engine of the bus running in order for it to produce any heat, thus not qualifying as an anti idling device. Thus it would not assist the engine with pre-heat to assist cold weather starts, like the others mentioned would.

Steve    |    Jan 08, 2010 12:29 PM

This all sounds great but if the school bus operators refuse to take advantage of the new technologies available to them then we the drivers in the G.T.A of Toronto will never get to drive a warm bus in the winter without idling for hours throughout the day. How do you think a driver is going to keep the bus warm when it is -10c up at the ski slopes in Barrie,Ontaro or in Toronto waiting at the R.O.M. where there is a 3 min. idling law. These are the frustrations some Ontario School bus drivers are going through. We need some outside help.

Ivan    |    Dec 29, 2009 09:22 PM

This kind of heating system sounds like it could become standard equipment in multi-climate area's. Is it possible this may become standard equipment on all manufactured yellow buses. Joe, School bus driver of 24 years in Menomonee Falls Wisconsin.

Joe    |    Nov 22, 2009 06:04 PM

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