What Is a Reefer Truck and How Does it Work Different Than Dry Van?

What is Reefer Truck

The word reefer is gotten from the slang word refrigerated. A reefer truck is, therefore, the traditional semi-truck that is designed to carry perishable items but with interior insulations and vents.

This is because they have a cooling system that makes it possible to transport frozen and refrigerated cargo. It’s possible to adjust the temperature of a reefer truck to enable it to haul heated cargo.

How A Refrigerated or Reefer Trailer Works

Here are some details how refrigerated trucks work…

The compressor of a reefer trailer is usually driven by a small diesel engine. The compressor pulls in the gaseous refrigerant and compresses it so that the gas is liquefied.

The liquefied gas heats the compressor’s body and into the air. The trailer will at this point still be relatively warm and will, therefore, need to be condensed into a condenser.

The heat exchange process takes place in the condenser. At this phase, warmth move from the liquid to the walls and tubings fins in the same way tubing works. This process works in a similar way to how the radiator cools the engine.

After releasing most of its heat to the condenser, the refrigerant turns into a cold liquid that is then pressurized more.

The cold liquid is pushed into the evaporator through a metering liquid.  The evaporator that is placed in the compartment or trailer is then tasked with cooling with the liquid.

With the use of a metering valve, a controlled amount of refrigerant is released into the evaporator. This also helps to maintain the backpressure into the system’s high-pressure point that runs from the compressor to the evaporator.

There is a refrigerant that expands quickly in the evaporator, turning into gas. When this happens, a lot of heat is absorbed from the environment. Air from the interior of the trailer is moved into the evaporator.

The gas that helps in the refrigeration is then moved into the compressor. This cycle keeps on going on. The items inside the trailer are placed in a pre-cooler before shipment, ensuring that they remain in good condition during transportation.

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History of Reefer Vehicles

The first commercial reefer trucks were made around 1930. These trucks were designed in different variations.

However, in most of them, the trailer and the truck weren’t separated. By the late 1930s, there were refrigeration trucks that ranged from 38 to 40 feet.

In 1939, Joe Numero tasked Fred Jones with the task of designing a refrigerated cooling system for his tractor-trailer.  Read full details of reefer trucking invention here!

This is what came to be referred to as the Thermo King. This is when bodybuilders started attaching the refrigeration unit to the exterior of the trailer to cool the freight inside.

As of the 1940s, the number of refrigerated road vehicles had risen to over 18,000, with the majority of them being mechanically cooled.

When the interstate highway act of 1956 was implemented, there was rapid growth in the trucking industry. The number of reefers on the road continued to grow. Today, we have thousands of reefer trucks offering shipping services.

What are The Benefits of Refrigerated Trucks?

There are several benefits of acquiring a reefer truck. These include:

  • Lots of business. Reefer trucks have higher demands than box trucks. This is because the demand for perishable goods, milk, and medicine will always be there.
  • Higher charges. As compared to the dry van freight, refers cargo pays better. This is because the goods transported using the trucks require greater temperature control. In cold weather, the trucks also work as heaters to ensure that the cargo remains warm during transit.
  • Reefer trailers can help ship refrigerated goods as well as temperature-sensitive items.

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Let’s Discuss The Dimensions

The capacity and dimensions of a reefer trailer will depend on the manufacturer and the year of production. However, on average, they are as follows:

  • Tare weight of 9,000 kgs
  • Cubic capacity of 85 m3
  • The payload capacity of 31,000 kg
  • Internal length :13.31 m
  • Internal width:2.60 m
  • Door opening width:2.46 m
  • Side opening height: nil

The Main Types of Reefer Trailers

There are 3 categories of reefer trailers. These are:

  • Refrigerated trailer. These trailers have both a refrigerator and a freezer. In other words, they can maintain very low temperatures.
  • Cryogenic reefers. These reefers aren’t common. They are often used to transport medical and technical supplies as they are built to maintain very low temperatures.
  • Heated trucks. These are used to carry products in warm temperatures.

Here are Some Key Parts

There are several parts of a reefer unit. These are:

  • The compressor

The reefer unit features a small engine that is responsible for driving the compressor. The gaseous refrigerant is drawn by the compressant, which is tasked with compressing it. The resulting pressure helps to liquify the gas.

This releases the heat to the compressor’s body. At this point, the temperature is still quite warm, and the refrigerant moves through the condenser.

  • Condenser

The condenser receives the liquid from the compressor resulting in an  exchange of fluid liquid. The liquid’s warmth moves to the tubing of the wall and on the exterior of the fins attached. More surface area is provided by the fins to cool the outside air that passes through a condenser fan.

  • The evaporator

This is placed in the interior of the trailer. During this point, the refrigerant has produced most of the heat and turned into a liquid. This passes through a metering value through an evaporator.

The amount of cooling is controlled by this valve. Inside this evaporator, the liquid refrigerant that is already cool expands turning into a gas.

A lot of heat is absorbed from the finned coils in the surroundings and this process goes on over and over again. The air inside the trailer is then blown over the evaporator.

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And, Some Vital Parts?

As compared to a normal shipping trailer, reefers have more parts. Some of the major ones include:

  • The reefer unit
  • Air chute
  • Insulated box
  • Tire inflation systems
  • Air ride suspension.

What Are Average Reefer Truck Prices?

Questions & Answers

Here are the frequently asked questions in reefer trailers.

What does reefer mean in trucking?

Reefer is a slang that means refrigerated.

What are average reefer truck prices?

The rates for reefer trucks range from $3.19 per mile to $10 per mile. The highest rates are in the west where the average is $3.41 per mile while the Northeast has the lowest rates at an average of $2.47 per mile.

What is the temperature range?

The temperature of a reefer truck ranges from -85˚F to 104˚F. You can adjust the temperature to suit your freight.

What is the difference between a fridge box and a reefer container?

A reefer is a container that is dedicated to the holding of refrigerated or other commodities whose temperature is controlled during transportation. The fridge box is an individual box that has the capacity to hold two pallets of an item.

How big is a reefer truck?

Generally, reefer trailers have a standard length of 28 to 53 feet. They have a maximum length of 13.5feet. The reefer truckload should be a maximum of 44,000 pounds.

How cold do they get?

There are reefer trailers with different zones all with different temperatures, allowing drivers to haul different types of goods. They can get as cold as -85˚F.

What is a reefer engine?

Reefers generally have small engines that are paired with the compressor to ensure minimal drive losses.

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What is the cost of running a reefer trailer?

The average cost of fuelling a diesel reefer is about $4,000 in the US.  When you add the annual maintenance cost of about $1500, you may end up with huge overheads that aren’t in general truckers.

Is TransAm trucking just reefer?

Yes. Transam specializes in providing temperature-controlled trucks

Do reefer trucks have e trac?

While reefer trucks don’t come with an e trac, you can have one installed.

What reefer vehicle will carry 20000 lbs?

The best reefer truck for carrying 20,000 lbs is a single axle reefer truck.

Do they have vents?

Modern-day reefers don’t have vents.

Do you need a CDL to drive a reefer?

In order to be employed as a reefer truck driver is to have a commercial driving license (CDL).

Does a reefer truck keep things frozen?

If you would like to keep the freight frozen, you can adjust the temperature to very low levels. Likewise, if you would like the freight to remain unfrozen, you should set a higher temperature level.

Does a truck-mounted reefer unit run on 12 volts?

There are models of reefer trucks that run on a 12-volt engine.

When is the best time to buy a refrigerated truck?

A reefer trucker is an important tool for those engaging in hauling perishables. The best time to buy one is during winter when the demand isn’t so high like in summer.

How to heat a reefer for cold weather transport?

You can control the temperature in a reefer truck. To heat the truck, simply adjust the temperature upward.

What do the drivers make?

Reefer truck drivers earn a salary of between $42,000 and $80,000.

What is the cheapest state to buy one this year?

The cheapest state to buy reefer trucks in Minnesota. The temperatures in the states can go down to as low as negative 60 degrees, making the demand for the trucks lower.

What is a reefer load?

Reefer load refers to any freight that necessitates temperature control, checking, and maintenance in a specific limit

Can you use a reefer as a dry van?

How Big Is A Reefer Truck?Yes. It’s possible to haul the dry freight in the reefer trailers.

Is reefer better than a dry van?

A reefer trailer is usually better than dry vans because it has a higher load capacity than the dry vans.

The reefer trailer also makes it possible to carry temperature-sensitive loads. It’s also easy to secure a reefer trailer.

Conclusion

Primarily a dry van, a reefer trailer is built when insulated and refrigerated to ensure the transportation of temperature-sensitive and perishable goods.

The trucks maintain a preset temperature to ensure that the freight doesn’t get spoilt. The fact that you can also transport dry freight using the truck means makes them versatile. Therefore, a refer trailer is a key vehicle for all individuals who ship temperature, sensitive products.

Guide By: Auto Renting Tutors!