Bus Heater Control

A Bus Heater Control system lets you select the time for the bus to be warm and ready. The system controls the start and stop times for the heater, based on the current temperature in the bus combined with the bus heater power/strength. With unique control of in-vehicle temperature thanks to clever algorithms and an easy to use app, the heaters run just the right time to make sure the bus is at the right temperature at the right time.

A common problem is that buses aren’t warm in the morning when the bus driver arrives, or that the heaters run too long, causing unnecessary energy consumption. This is taken care of by a Bus Heater Control system, which reduces heating costs for a bus fleet. A Heater Control system gives you control of the heaters in your fleet. An App connected to the bus heaters via a Vehicle Gateway makes it possible to set the running time for the entire fleet, groups of busses or to use individual settings, bus-by-bus.

Background

Diesel heaters are in themselves equipped with timers handling their running time. The inconvenience is that individual settings must be set in each bus. It is time consuming and ineffective. In a Bus Heater Control app, you select the time for the bus to be warm and ready. Then the system controls the start and stop time based on the current temperature in the bus and the bus heater power/strength. Since the Gateway is always reachable, it can receive the signal from the app, via the backoffice system, and turn on the power for the heater and give the signal to start heating.

The app

An Android based app for Bus Heater Control can be used on Android phones and smart tablets. Through the app, you can turn on and off individual vehicles, as well as groups of vehicles from anywhere. You can also schedule start and stop times for groups of vehicles.

An example of the interface for a Bus Heater Control app. This one is from Pilotfish Networks.

Bus mode

In this app, it is possible to choose between two main modes, Buses or Groups. In the bus mode, you can manage settings for an individual vehicle and see information about the vehicle, like registration, model, type, engine and so on. You can also turn the heater on and off instantly, in case of a scheduling change of some sort.

Group mode

In the group mode you can set the schedule for each day for the whole group, set low and high temp and max runtime. This is convenient and saves a lot of time, when several buses operate on the same schedule. It is also possible to copy an existing group as a starting point for the settings of another group. And it is possible to copy settings from one day to another, which streamlines the setup procedure.

Max runtime

Max runtime is set to avoid continual heating if something is wrong. If the bus hasn’t reached the right temperature after the max runtime, it will shut off. It could for example be that a door is open, or that there is something wrong with the bus heater.  

You can easily add and remove group members. The buses are added to the system by back-office, so you just search and add the bus you want to add to the group. There is an infinite number of groups, but one bus can only belong to one group, to avoid scheduling clashes.

The Gateway

Through the back-office, the gateway in each bus gets the scheduling information and keeps track on when to switch on the power to the bus heater and give a signal to start heating, and to what temperature it should heat. The system calculates the starting time for the heater, using the set goal temperature, the current temperature in the bus and the heater capacity.

Fuel consumption

The heater app controls when the heater starts and stops, but the heater itself controls the intervals between heating the coolant with the flame. If the heater has a ‘flame-display’ output signal, i.e. a signal that indicates the exact time the heater is actually burning fuel and not only circulating the heated coolant, then it is possible to get a quite accurate value for the fuel consumption, rather than what could have been estimated simply based upon the time the heater has been on. This is because if it is warm outside, the heater may be active but no heating actually needs to be done at all.

Conclusion

The conclusion is that a bus heater system can enhance the working environment for the drivers, make managing the heater of the fleet much more convenient, help reduce fuel costs and detect faulty equipment or other issues.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is the author’s opinion and doesn’t reflect the opinion of any other person or organisation.

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