July 19, 2018

All-Electric HVAC Maintenance – Best Practices


Meet Anthony Cohen, also known as Tony. In March 2017, Tony became the Executive Director/Vice President of Maintenance and Infrastructure for Long Beach Transit. Previously, Tony had served as head of maintenance for Gardena Bus Lines (GTrans) and Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Sunline Transit.  Gardena Bus Line had a fleet of 57 hybrid electric buses, all equipped with all-electric HVAC, giving them the distinction of being the largest (and perhaps only) 100% all-electric HVAC fleet in Transit. Tony and Gardena Bus Line were also distinguished in 2012 by being the recipients of the Thermo King Energy Efficiency Award for the agency’s commitment to Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. 

I visit with Tony every year and hear first-hand about the challenges he sees with preventative maintenance. Tony was committed to making sure his fleet delivered on the value proposition that came with all-electric HVAC. One of the all-electric  value propositions for Tony’s units with dual scroll compressors was that one compressor would shut down when the cabin reached set point and typically stay off for the rest of the day. A California winter brings warm days where HVAC is needed, but one compressor could handle the cooling. All was well until the hot temperatures came suddenly and unexpectedly one year, and the units had to perform at maximum capacity. Tony was forced to pull units out of service for HVAC issues.

To solve the problem, Tony developed a preventative maintenance schedule that ensured each unit was thoroughly checked before the warm weather set in. The results were impressive. In a subsequent visit, he informed me that he went the entire summer with zero HVAC failures. To add to the feat, it was the summer of 2015, which was exceedingly hot all across the country.

If you own units with all-electric HVAC, please follow the recommended preventative maintenance schedule for best results. In addition to the 6,000 mile checks, Thermo King recommends an annual pre-season checkout prior to the beginning of the cooling season. For the detailed procedures, please refer to Service Bulletin SB 584 - Pre-Season Maintenance Inspection for All-Electric HVAC Systems.