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.