Sealed Battery

By: Debbie,

Packing List IdeaMy husband just started driving an 18 wheeler. He drives for Schneider so he doesn’t own the truck. We need to know best way for him to get power for frig, microwave without connecting to trucks battery. We know we need a powere invertor, a sealed battery. Guess my question is how do we do all this without costing a fortune and how do we recharge the sealed battery. Any advice would be helpful.(*)

Response from Vicki:

Hello, Debbie,

Thank you for contacting us through our website,

You and your husband are to be commended for wanting to help him save money on the road by having a cold food storage device and meal preparation appliance in his truck. We found that food was one of our biggest expenses on the road.

My husband Mike drove for Schneider for 13 months in the mid-2000s. Their company policy at the time was that there were at least two items that their truckers were forbidden from having in their company trucks:
* battery-connected inverters and
* portable toilets.
Mike was permitted to use an inverter that could plug into a 12-volt cigarette lighter outlet, but that source provides very little power.

Although some truckers may have success using these products, we cannot recommend using a thermoelectric cooler (usually 12-volt powered) for keeping food cold, nor do we recommend using a 12-volt microwave oven. (In fact, it’s not a good idea to use a microwave oven at all.) A microwave oven that can be powered via 12-volt power is not likely to warm food up in a hurry. And of course, a compact refrigerator needs a constant supply of power.

We have never heard of any professional truck driver using a “sealed battery” for powering either a cold food storage device or meal preparation appliance. Even if your husband was to have a sealed battery in his truck (assuming that it is allowed), its charge over time (and with use) will eventually drop to an unusable level. If Schneider forbids the use of battery-connected inverters, it is most likely that they will not like the use of one of their trucks to recharge a sealed battery. Aside from any trucking company policy, I would personally be concerned about the potential negative effects of carrying and recharging a sealed battery.

If your husband needs to stay with Schneider for a period of time, my best, most frugal advice is for him to use:
* an ice chest for keeping cold food cold (which will entail buying ice and draining off water as needed); and
* a small crock pot for cooking that can adequately be powered by a 12-volt plug-in type inverter.

Unless and until Schneider changes their policy — or installs APUs (possibly with inverters) on all of their trucks — we don’t see this changing. It is possible that your husband might be able to use a larger variety of cooking appliances if he is willing to park in an electrified parking spot during his sleeper berth break. However, he might end up having to pay out of pocket for the service.

I’ve never heard of this being done by an individual trucker — and certainly can’t recommend it for recharging a sealed battery — but if your husband is the adventurous type, there may be the possibility that he can rig up some kind of affixed solar panel to capture energy during the day (when the sun is shining). Assuming that your husband’s trucking company allows such a device to be mounted on the truck, it would need to be mounted without causing any damaging to the vehicle and such that it can’t easily be stolen. It would require proper wiring.

One would also need to understand energy needs, such as whether or not a solar panel can collect enough energy to keep a sealed battery charged to deliver all the power one needs to keep a refrigerator powered around the clock. If a single panel can’t collect enough solar power, can two or three? If your husband proceeds down this path, we’d very much appreciate being able to know what he did and how.

I hope that this reply has been helpful.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to subscribe to our free monthly
Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips Email Newsletter:

My husband Mike and I wish your husband (and you, if you travel with him) safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.


Best regards,
Vicki Simons

* The query on this page was originally sent to us via our “Contact Us” form and was replied to as written.