As greater efficiency and greener options are considered for vacuum trucks, natural gas has become a great choice. Gasoline or diesel conversion to natural gas is costly; so as vacuum trucks and other commercial vehicles are becoming more unreliable, replacing them with natural gas-powered ones is what many companies are considering. Done over time, it can be more easily achieved and companies can benefit from alternative fuel trucks more quickly.
Why Natural Gas?
Most vacuum trucks travel long distances and spend a lot of time idling and running pumps, which can add up to a sizable gasoline or diesel fuel bill over time. Conversely, natural gas which is a newer and greatly available fuel choice is cleaner, less expensive than oil products, and 25 percent more efficient at current diesel prices.
A frequently overlooked financial boost from using such fuel is that certain states still offer incentives for companies that switch over to natural gas engines. As a way to help small companies absorb the cost of more expensive technology, this can be a great opportunity for businesses to start a changeover and see benefits much sooner. Even without state-offered incentives, company vacuum trucks can be slowly replaced to offer an easier time to cover the cost of such replacement, increase profits, and lower operating expenses.
Is It Worth the Expense?
New technology and more efficient fuels can make operating fleets of vacuum trucks more economical; however, there will be some instances when the change-over expense might not be financially wise for operating costs. Although environmental benefits will always be there, companies should carefully examine if a good return will be achieved by replacing vehicles with ones that run on natural gas engines.
- How Much Are The Trucks Used? – Just like buying in bulk at the grocery store, fuel savings increase by the mile. This means that a vacuum truck traveling 1,000 miles a week is going to see a greater benefit from natural gas sooner than vacuum trucks that only travel 100 miles. If it takes that long to realize a cost difference, it may be better to either purchase a hybrid or keep the current diesel one.
- Where Can Fuel Be Purchased? – Since natural gas is so popular, some areas cannot purchase fuel within a reasonable distance. If a changeover to natural gas adds more acquisition cost, it might be better to do otherwise. The good thing is that as natural gas becomes better recognized, it should become more widely available – so waiting a little longer until that happens might be a good option.
- Do I Want New Technology? – New and expensive technology can cause some hesitation before buying. Fleet owners should be aware of how natural gas vehicles are performing and look at engines available for currently-owned vacuum trucks. Full and hybrid natural gas engines are made by Cummins and are being put into trucks to pave the way for increased acceptance of cleaner, less expensive fuel. So don’t be put off by an option that seems too new; see what results buyers with similar trucks are getting.
The number of commercial trucks operating on natural gas is only slightly over 100,000 vehicles, although this number continues to grow daily. The advantages are very attractive to vacuum trucks companies; the more this resource is used, the less expensive the technology will eventually become. Before replacing any vacuum trucks, be sure to look into natural gas and the advantages that can be gained from making such a switch!