HomePartner UpdatesImproving Your Existing School Bus Engine Block Heater Solution

Improving Your Existing School Bus Engine Block Heater Solution

Many cold-climate school districts around the country use engine block heaters to help get their diesel buses started on cold winter mornings. Engine block heaters have been the answer for years – but there are ways to improve that solution with a better power source that can help make things easier and improve safety in your bus lots at the same time.

An industrial cord reel power station brings the power right to the engine block heater with a reliable, retractable solution that keeps extension cords off the ground. A trained sales specialist or engineer can help provide direction on a durable cord reel power station that is best suited for school bus engine block heater applications.

Time Trusted Engine Block Heaters

For years engine block heaters have been used in cold climates to warm diesel engines by turning electrical energy into thermal energy prior to starting. The engine will reach optimal operating temperature sooner so the engine does not have to run – idling – as long. It helps create less workload on the starter, battery and engine, increasing the life of the components.

But there must be access to electrical power to run these engine block heaters. In a parking lot or bus yard this can traditionally mean a lot of extension cords trying to get the job done.

Problems with Power

A quick internet search finds there can be issues with properly powering engine block heaters for busses. Primarily these tend to be caused by the lack of knowledgeable experts sourcing the necessary power components, or general safety issues overall. Utilizing electrical engineers and certified electrical contractors can go a long way in reducing problems for your bus fleet and an industrial cord reel power station can provide better solutions for these concerns.

  • Operators forget to disconnect the extension cord before driving away – damaging the cord.
  • Other buses drive over the cord – results in wear and tear.
  • Hard to see extension cords under snow – vehicles and equipment drive over and crushing cords.
  • Walking through parking lot snow, hard to see extension cords – major tripping hazard.
  • Extension cord gauge is not rated for the wattage of the heater – engine block heater melts an extension cord plug.
  • The extension cord is not UL or CSA certified – dangerous.
  • The plug is not NEMA rated, watertight or has a GFCI – power failure & dangerous.

An industrial cord reel power station, with retractable cord reels is designed by an engineer with each specific job application and specifications in mind. So many issues can be avoided by working with an expert to create a power solution that properly meets the unique engine block heater application specifications. Durable NEMA 4 retractable reels keep cords off the ground and working with sales engineers that are able to customize each solution will ensure that the necessary power requirements are met.

What a Trip!

On site power is necessary for operations, and making sure proper cord management reduces tripping hazards and meets safety guidelines is critical. Sometimes the location of the power source, location of the bus fleet, and the layout of the parking lot can be part of the issue. When the power source is too far from the busses’ engine block heaters, long extension cords can often be seen running across the parking lot.

School bus drivers and other district employees are typically focused on their own responsibilities, rather than the ground below them in the bus parking lot. An obstructed view of a power cord could result in a serious injury with a trip and fall.

One of the biggest problems on job sites – and one OSHA notes specifically – is extension cords as tripping hazards. Nobody wants a visit from OSHA regarding safety issues. According to OSHA 1926.416(b)(1), “Working spaces, walkways, and similar location shall be kept clear of cords so as not to create a hazard to employees.” Additionally, OSHA 1926.416(e)(2) addresses extension cords being mishandled in an attempt to get them out of the way by fastening them with staples, hanging them from nails or suspending extension cords by wire. So making sure that employees are free of trip hazards is critical.

An industrial cord reel power station is ideal for helping to keep trailing cables and extension cords off the ground. Heavy duty, 20 Amp retractable cord reels are designed for extreme weather environments and can handle a variety of cord lengths depending on the layout of the job site. The tension in the retractable cord reel will keep the cables safely off the ground as the power is run to the engine block heater. When the bus drivers arrive on a cold morning they find their bus has been warmed by the engine block heater and they can just unplug, retract the power cord and they are ready to go.

KH Industries Cord Reel Power Station

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KH engineers developed the Cord Reel Power Station to provide on-site power by ensuring it could withstand the outdoor elements, provide proper cord management and meet customer specifications – a critical factor. By engineering a system that supplies power and utilizes heavy-duty cord reels listed by UL & CSA, it ensured the equipment was being produced to meet stringent requirements on quality and safety.

The six-foot Cord Reel Station is installed right at the site requiring power, allowing users to safely get power to their vehicles and engine block heaters. It’s available in a variety of configurations – two to four cord reels, mounted in a variety of tiered arrangements, and with varying cord lengths. Customers have the option of either local GFCI protection or GFCI circuit breakers in the UL508A listed junction box. This power station includes power and current indicator lights for quick visual confirmation power is being supplied to the block heater as well as breakaway cables to further enhance safety in parking lots or garages. The cord reel power station can be mounted on a 6’ or 3’ powder coated steel pole or on a raised foundation/Jersey barrier mount system, depending on each school district’s individual needs.

The 20-amp RTF series cord reel provides ample power for most standard engine block heaters and the standard 50’ retractable cable extends to reach the school bus and ratchets in place to stay off the ground. By using durable NEMA 4X retractable cord reels, customers are assured that the reels are rated to withstand extreme weather conditions – rain, sleet, snow and more.

The KH Cord Reel Power Station comes fully assembled and delivered to the job site with a lifting hook for easy installation. By working with KH Industries and the expertise they bring, school districts and fleet managers will realize this complete solution allows them to get up and running efficiently. Watch our video (below) on how to begin your next project.

Interested in contacting KH Industries to help create a power solution for you? Call us at 716-312-0088 or email us at sales@khindustries.com.

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