How Many Pallets Fit In A 53 Foot Reefer Trailer Vs Space Saver Reefer Trailer?

Author: Rohan Paulos
Updated On:

How many pallets fit in a 53 foot reefer trailer? Determining the number of pallets that can fit in a reefer truck is important as it helps you determine the amount of cargo the truck can carry. If you are wondering how many pallets can fit in a reefer truck, here is everything you need to know.

Understanding the Full truckload

The full truckload (FTL) will depend on several factors such as the measurements of the truck, size of pallets/skids, and the shipment weight. The inner measurement of a truck depends on the type of van.

While the standard 53” foot dry van is the most common type of truck, there are other types of trucks such as the refrigerated LTL trailers or the reefers, which are available in different sizes depending on their manufacturer.

The space-saver reefers are usually the roomiest and have ample space for the pallets. Other kinds of reefers have ducts running through them, reducing on height. However, reefers are usually heavier and therefore, their carrying capacity is usually lower.

You can only carry freight that has less weight or lower volume. Alternatively, the freight packing should be done in a way that there are fewer pounds for every cubic foot.

If the Freight Truck Load is less than the requirement, the cargo should be moved in smaller trailers, preferably trucks that are 28” long. Trailers have an interior height of less than 105″ or 109″. For instance, the bigger dry vans measures about 99”.

It’s therefore important to select a trailer that matches the freight’s height. Generally, the shipment should be more than 45,000 lbs unless the truck has a very light cab.

Some truckers have a lower maximum of 43,500 lbs. The skid’s total weight should be distributed evenly over the axle and should be more than the maximum load of the truck.

This is why you should find out the maximum load of the truck when booking. TIPS: Need to rent an 18 wheeler tractor at cheaper rates? Get all information here!

Loading truck with manual forklift
What is space saver reefer trailer?

What Are The Sizes of Pallets

It’s possible to custom make skids or pallets and these are available in different sizes. However, some of the most common sizes of pallets are 42″ by 48″ and 48″ by 48″.

There are also pallet sizes of 42×40″ as well as 40″ by 40″. There are some standard Euro Pallets that have sizes of 48” by 42”. By using these pallets, users can be legible for the pallet swap systems referred to as the European Pallet Pool.

There are also the CHEP pallets that have a blue color and are commonly reused inside a CHEP pallet exchange system. There are many industries such as grocery industries that use this system. Here are some of the common dimensions of pallets.

  • Pallet height. Skids have a length of 5.5”. While the size will depend on the shippers, there are custom skids that are usually as low as 3.5 and have a maximum length of 6”.
  • Pallet weight. The normal pallets have been built to withstand a maximum weight of 25,000 lbs but can be reinforced to carry loads of 45,000 lbs. However, it’s important to be extra careful on the load distribution so that you don’t breach the weight requirement of the DOT. You can be assured that all problem loading will be penalized by the DOT at the inspection station.

What is a Space Saver Reefer?

This is an insulated dry van that has a small unit. The majority of them have a flat floor for the nursery loads.

Number of Standard Pallets That Can Fit In A Trailer

Before you make a packing and loading decision, you will need to know the trailer’s inner dimension. A trailer of 53” has the following standard dimensions. These are:

  • Inner lenth:52”
  • Inner width:99”
  • Inner height:110 .25”
  • Inner door opening height:93”
  • Inner door opening width: 105”.

This sums up to about 4050 cubic feet. A 53” trailer has an empty weight (tare) of 15,000 lbs.

A reefer weighs 15,500 lbs. When planning a particular load, it’s advisable to request the exact weight of your carrier. The number of pallets that can fit on a 53” foot trailer will depend on the size of the pallets:

The number of pallets that will fit in a 45” or 48” trailer will be:

  • 24 pallets of 48 x 48” will fit in a trailer of 48” while 26 skids can fit in a 48 x42” when turned.
  • 20 skids of 48 x48” trailer will fit in a container of 40”.

For the maximum load, you may need to order a container with a high cube so that you can stick the skids at the highest level possible.

Large sized refrigerator truck

Number Of Pallets That Can Fit In A 20 Or 24 Foot Container

The standard regular pallet size of 48” by 48” may be unable to fit in a container of 20”. Therefore, you may want to consider pallets with a smaller size of 48” by 42”. You can turn the pallet so that you can easily fit 10 of them.

You should be careful to ensure that you don’t exceed the maximum limit allowed (44,000 lbs). Also, ensure that the heavy load is only moved by the trucker on a Tri-axle chassis. To be very sure, check the local as well as the federal regulations.

In an unlicensed situation, dry vans can carry a maximum of 45,000 lbs. This may go higher as long the maximum weight of the tractor and trailer doesn’t exceed the required 80,000 lbs, which is the maximum limit allowed in the US.

If the truck is a flatbed and has a light tractor, trailers have the capacity of 50,000 lbs. But with a legal permit for carrying the extra weight, it’s possible to ship heavier loads.

How Does a Reefer Container Work On Trailers?

Reefer trailers are bottom air delivery units that have been designed in a way that distributes the chilled air from the floor through a particular T-shaped decking to produce a uniform and consistent airflow across the whole shipment.

It’s powerful enough to ensure there is a perfect exchange with the products. The refrigeration units can maintain or lower the temperature of the freight even in harsh conditions.

Reefer containers ensure that the temperature of your freight is maintained at a lower level even in difficult circumstances. The containers are equipped in a way that enables them to warn up the freight where that is required. It is possible to maintain the temperature at 30 degrees when necessary, regardless of the temperature outside.

Take note that a reefer container doesn’t reduce the cargo’s temperature, except you construct a special reefer container, but maintains the cargo temperature when pre-cooled. The airflow needed for every commodity varies and there isn’t one size fits in the cargo movement of the reefer.

Weight Limit Of An 18 Wheeler

The word 18 wheeler refers to a setup of a normal tractor-trailer. The tractor refers to the power unit at the front that is responsible for pulling the trailer making the number of wheels for the two to be at least 18. However, it can be tricky to determine the weight limit of the two.

Maximum Weight of A Truck

If a truck doesn’t have a special permit, the combination of the tractor and the trailer should not be more than 80,000 lbs.

When loaded, a trailer can be about 45,000 lbs leaving a tractor weight of 80,000 lbs. When loaded, a trailer can weigh 45,000 lbs, leaving a tractor weight of 35,000 lbs.

The long-haul stretch tractors usually weigh more than 35,000 lbs and therefore, the trailer that they can haul is usually smaller, mostly a maximum of 40,000 lbs.

According to the regulation of DOT, the weight should be distributed evenly over the axle of the trailer, so that none of the axles is overweight.

It’s also important to estimate the weight correctly. The FTL load together with the gross weight factor should be a consideration early enough.

reefer trailer

Best Shipping Pallet For Loading

This will mostly depend on the cargo that you are shipping. We already understand the maximum load that can be loaded in a dry van of 53 feet is about 43,000 to 45,000 lbs while the maximum of a reefer is 43,500 lbs.

If you are shipping a lighter product, it’s advisable to maximize the ski’s height. Avoid choosing a pallet size that is only suitable for the truck’s inner height but also considers the door’s clearance. This is important as the forklift will have to move the skid to about one inch above the ground into the truck.

When loading the TL trailers like the 28 pup, there may be differences in the inner height such as 107’’ to 110’’ while the door’s height will remain at 104’’.

You should be keen on the minimum height of the boxes on a pallet. The inner height of some trailers may range from 110” to 114”, and may dip in some spots. The door height of these trailers is usually 105”. It’s advisable to ask the carrier the exact height for a particular truck to avoid problems when loading a product.

FAQs On Pallets In A Reefer

How much can a reefer scale?

You can find out how much a reefer can scale by checking its maximum capacity rating,

Can a reefer scale 45000?

It’s possible to load the standard dry van with 44,000 to 45,000 pounds. However, a reefer can only scale 42,000 to 44,000 pounds. This is because it has thicker walls that are lined with insulation plus the refrigeration unit adds to the weight.

How much does a reefer box truck weigh?

A reefer box truck weighs around 15,500 pounds tare weight when empty.

Can I use my reefer as a dry van?

Yes. A reefer trailer can also be used as a dry van.

What does it mean to turn the skin?

This is a loading technique that ensures the efficient use of space and a bigger number of skids getting into the trailer.


Understanding how many pallets fit in a 53 foot reefer trailer or even smaller trailer, is important as it helps you determine if your cargo will fit. With this guide, it should be easy to determine the number of pallets that can fit on a reefer truck.


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