What Is A Reefer Container and How Does It Really Work to Frozen and Preserve Things?

What Is A Reefer Container and How Does It Really Work to Frozen and Preserve Things?

A reefer container is a big fridge that is used for the transportation of temperature-controlled freight such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, seafood, and dairy.

They can also be used for the transportation of non-food items such as drugs, flowers, and film.

When transporting items that need to be chilled, frozen, or at controlled temperature, reefer containers can maintain the required temperature during transit on either larger trucks or smaller carrier called refrigerated vans.

How Reefer Trailers Work

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 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.

RELATED:  Is Reefer Fuel The Same For Other Trucks?

Importance of Cold treatment

To prevent the transportation of certain pathogens, some countries such as Japan, China, and Nigeria require some fruits to be cold treated in a process known as Steri shipments.

The Steri shipments require the fruit to be pre-cooled to lower temperatures as compared to the commercial market. The amount of temperature variance allowed is minimal.

If the tolerance is exceeded, additional days or hours will be needed to take it to the required standards.

If one of the probes rises to more than the tolerance level, the cargo will be rejected at the destination as there are chances of the fruit retaining the pathogen.

This is why the cold treatment cargos follow the usual shipping patterns with about two requirements.

Where the freight is well packed and this is followed by the post-harvest process of the cargo, it’s possible to receive the cargo at the custom when ready to eat or even when ready for further storage.

Importance Of A Refrigeration Container

In the past, a lot of care has been put in transportation facilities of perishable products to ensure that they reach the right place and in the right conditions.

This has led to an increased demand for reefer containers, as the temperature is a key concern when it comes to the preservation of perishable items.

These special containers come with their self-cooling systems which have helped to maintain the right temperature for a product when getting transported.

These kinds of reefer containers have helped to ensure products don’t deteriorate. Depending on the product’s nature, the internal temperature is changed by the containers.

RELATED:  Do Werner Trucks Also Have Refrigerator Vehicles?

Some Benefits of Freezer Truck Containers

  • Warm/moderate temperature

Just like the name suggests, reefer containers are used to not only ship refrigerated items but for shipping other items.

Therefore, if you want to maintain room temperature for your products, you can still use reefer containers.

  • Multimode transportation

As a result of the different dimensions and sizes of containers, it’s possible to use them for road, sea, and air transportation.

Therefore, it’s advisable to adopt different modes as per your needs.

  • Carry chilled and frozen goods

Reefer containers have a unique ad distinctive feature in that it’s possible to partition them.

By doing that, you can create different departments for the storage of different products and at different temperatures.

You can, therefore, use them to store and ship frozen or chilled products at the same time.

  • Cost-effective

Since it’s possible to transport different products when frozen or chilled at the same time, you can save some money.

On top of that, instead of constructing a cold storage facility and investing huge amounts in it, you can simply use a cost-effective reefer container that will offer the same or even more benefits.

RELATED:  What is Swift Refrigerated Trucking & Services?

  • Durable and strong

It’s possible to use reefer containers on the road, air, or sea as they have structures that are well designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, strong currents as well as dangerous climatic conditions.

They are usually durable, strong, and cost-effective.

  • Available for rent

Some entities tend to hire reefer containers temporarily.

Therefore, there is no point in spending huge amounts of money. However, it’s possible to rent out reefer containers without having to worry about making huge investments.

How Many Euro Pallets Are In A 40ft Reefer Container?

Tips to Store Cargo on Reefers

When storing cargo in a reefer container, there are several tips you should follow. These are:

  • Avoid stuffing cargo beyond the T-floor end.
  • Don’t stuff cargo beyond the red load line.
  • You should stably store cargo on the floor. It should also be tightly wedged to ensure that it doesn’t shift during transportation.
  • The unit should be set at the right carrying temperature and the set temperature can vary depending on the cargo getting loaded.
  • It’s important to check the dehumidification controls.
  • Where pre-cooling is needed, you should pre-cool the cargo and not the container unless the container gets loaded in an air-locked cold tunnel in cold storage.
  • The ventilation setting is very important and should be set at the right temperature.
  • Since air tends to follow the path with the least resistance, the restriction on the airflow should not happen. If there are gaps between the pallets and the doors, these should be closed using wood or cardboard. This will ensure that the air is circulating right and can help reduce the potential of the heat sinking (warm air circulating continuously near the doors.

RELATED:  What is Truck Freezer and How Cost to Hire?

The Components…

If you would like to create the right environmental conditions, you should ensure that the reefers have several sections, many of which have a dry container rack.

Some reefer containers have interior fans, fresh air vents, control units, unit evaporator, and condenser section.

There are also reefer containers with heating capacity when using electrical heating elements or hot gas. These work together to ensure that the temperate inside the container is well maintained.

The main parts…

  • Interior fans

These are normally located inside the reefer to help in the circulation of air and to promote enough temperature control and stability.

  • Control unit

This is the part that is responsible for setting and adjusting the internal atmosphere of a reefer such as temperature, alarm conditions, ventilation, and humidity levels.

  • Fresh air vent

This part allows air to enter from the exterior. Any gas such as ethylene that can cause the ripening of fruits escapes.

  • Unit evaporator

If there is excessive moisture in a reefer, this can cause products to spoil quickly. This can also cause breakdown packaging, making the content to be vulnerable. The moisture inside the container is maintained by the unit evaporator.

The evaporator of the reefer unit can heat or cool the air circulating beyond it from the fan. At times, the air will be warmed by the reefer ensuring that the interior temperature is consistent, something that can be done using electrical heating elements or hot gas heat.

The temperature can be maintained by reefers to a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius. Whether this cools or heats the air will depend on the internal temperature desired.

  • The Condensers

Condensers usually have their water or air cooling even though air-cooled condensers are among the most used in the industry.

The air-cooled models draw the cooled air from the container’s top before discharging it below the cargo, pushing the air to back doors before it can convert naturally and rise.

It then flows back over the freight and gets back to the return air inlet. Since air moves below the cargo, the floor should be loaded and covered as much as possible is required. This can prevent the chimney effect as well as short cycling.

  • Voltage transformers

Some containers also allow for dual voltage transformers, making it possible to operate with a voltage down to 200 V 3ph.

There are other extra features in some reefer trucks such as remote monitoring, and specially made frames that ensure sensitive items don’t explode.

To ensure the efficient operation of reefers, it’s advisable to perform regular inspection and servicing of the unit when going for long-distance trips.

Avoid using a reefer if it has any malfunctioning equipment.

Factors affecting the cost

The cost of a reefer container depends on various factors such as size, type, condition, features, and manufacturer.

Let us look at how these factors affect the cost.

  • You will want to ensure that you choose a reefer container that is large enough to accommodate your current needs and future shipping or storage needs.
  • You can contact a supplier of used equipment to buy a used reefer. Alternatively, you can buy a new one from the manufacturer. In case you go for a used container, you should seek the help of a professional in inspecting its condition and operation before buying.
  • There are several types of reefer containers all serving different purposes. These include ultra low-temperature reefer containers, explosion-proof reefer containers, military reefer containers, and offshore DNV containers.
  • There are reefer containers that come with built-in features to maximize safety and efficiency. These features include internal genets, remote monitoring capabilities, and explosion-proof features.
  • You will want to know the company that manufactures the reefer container before buying one. Read more on the company, industry experience, and customer testimonials.


Here are some frequently asked questions on reefer containers

What does reefer mean in shipping?

Reefer is a term that  is used in shipping and stands for refrigerated shipping containers used to transport perishable freight

How many euro pallets are in a 40ft reefer container?

It’s possible to fit 23 euro pallets of 80 cm by 120 cm in a shipping container of 40 feet. Read more about pallets units here!

What is the size of a reefer container?

20 feet reefer containers have dimensions as follows:

  • Internal width of 7.5ft or 2.29 m
  • The internal height of 5 ft or 2.27 m
  • Door opening width of 7.3 ft or 2.2 meter

How long can a reefer container work?

What Does Reefer Mean In Shipping?Refrigerated containers are a good choice for the transportation and storage of goods.

There should be a consistent temperature control for the goods stored inside whether food, chemicals, or pharmaceuticals.

The container feature a chamber loaded with carbon dioxide and the temperature is regulated by an electric fan controlled with a thermostat.

The air freight versions are therefore made to maintain the temperature for about 100 hours

How much does a reefer container cost?

On average, a new refrigerated container of 40 costs between $10,000 and $12,000.

A used refrigerated container can cost between $4600 and $63000. A new high cube refrigerated storage container can cost between $10,000  and $12,400.

How many pallets are in a 20ft reefer container?

It’s possible to fit nine standard pallets of 100 cm by 120 cm in a reefer container of 20 feet.

How to set the temperature on the facility?

First, you will need to ensure that the reefer container is getting power from a genset or power cord.

Turn it on and wait until it completes the start-up function s well as the self-tests.  If it shows an error message, avoid using it.

Press on the up and down arrow until you have reached the desired temperature.

You should press the Enter key within three seconds to save the selection and minimize the temperature. Press and hold down the arrow.

The temperature you set will depend on the items you are transporting, traveling distance, and condition of the shipment route.

What is a genset and do they need it?

If a reefer unit is moving on land where there is no power such as in the ports or vessels, they often rely on genset for their power. Genset stands for generator set.

It’s responsible for providing the power needed by a reefer and ensuring that it works efficiently.

There are two types of gensets on reefers, which are the clip-on genset reefers that are attached at the container front, and the underslung gensets that are put below the frame.

Do all reefer containers have condensers?

The condenser unit features a condenser fan and a motor, an air-cooled condenser coil, and the condenser saturation sensor.

An air-cooled condenser gets pulled from the bottom and discharges horizontally through the center of the unit. Some units have a condenser that is cooled with water but the units are usually expensive.

Do they require special trucks or chassis to move?

Reefer containers can be placed on a flatbed truck to the mover.

How many euro pallets are in a 20ft reefer container?

It’s possible to fit 10 euro pallets of 80 cm by 120 cm in a reefer container of 20 feet.

How many standard pallets fit in a 20ft?

A 20 feet container can fit nine standard pallets.

How much does a 40-foot weigh?

A 20 feet container has a tare weight of 4,800 kgs or a payload capacity of 27,700 kg and a cubic capacity of 59.3 cubic meters.

How much does a 20-foot reefer container weigh?

A 20 feet reefer container has a tare weight of 3080 kg or 27,400 kg or 28.3 cubic meters

How much power does it use?

Various studies have shown that the overall energy consumption of a 20 feet or 40 feet container is about 3.6 kW per TEU.

What is a dry reefer container?

Dry container refers to the standard shipping containers that are used to carry dry shipment that isn’t sensitive to temperature.

These are usually in the size of 40 but there are a few options that have a size of 20. Read about dry van trailer rental here!


There is the complete information you will ever need to know on reefer containers.

Since transportation of perishable products is an important task, it’s important to choose your logistics widely.

Depending on the business you do and the different products you ship, you can now choose the right reefer container.

Brought to You By: Auto Renting Tutors!