What is Reefer Fuel and is it Different Then Tractor Fuel and Diesel?

Author: Rohan Paulos
Updated On:

As you already know, regular diesel fuel and gasoline are subject to taxes. These types of fuel is generally use to power on road vehicles like large trailers and big rigs, and other vehicles you might see on the road. 

Fuel reefer, on the other hand, is not subject to task because it’s mainly used to keep products within the truck cool – is use for refrigeration purposes.

In this highly detailed report, we not only tell you what is reefer fuel, also provide succinct  explanations often confusing issues like tractor fuel vs reefer fuel and many related topics.

With so many differences you might be wondering if it can be use in place of the other. Keep on reading this guide to find out.

What is Reefer Fuel?

It is marked with a red dye in the United States. Like you are aware, on-road diesel fuel, and modern gas is usually subjected to a tax.

However, it can be identified by a distinctive red color is a form of diesel fuel that is considered to be an off-road diesel or smartly called reefer-diesel!

The red die marks it as combustible for off-road vehicles and equipment and therefore, doesn’t have road taxes included in the cost. To clear the red die, would require a lot of fuel to dilute, and therefore, it will be very obvious when put in an on-road truck.

Facts About Using Reefer Fuel in Your Trailers?

Reefer combustible is considered to be offroad equipment as not use to power anything driving on a road.

If you happen to use on-road clear fuel in reefer trailers or van, you should track and keep the receipt for the on-road fuel being used in the off-road unit as you can file for the fuels tax back.

You will be required to show proof and therefore, you should consult your accountant. Tax authorities usually check for vehicles using it on the road.

They do so using a black light that can spot any residue presence of the dye and the major engine compartment.

It is commonly used for agriculture use, construction fueling, and other offroad that aren’t use on the highway where fuel-taxes is necessary. REPORT: how much to rent a semi truck for a week or day?

What is reefer fuel?

Trailers Tractor Fuel vs Reefer – The Differences

Are there tractor vs reefer fuel differences? Reefer combustible is use on refrigeration trucks. As offroad fuels, it can also be used in construction, heating, agriculture, and other off-road equipment that isn’t used on the highway where the government requires fuel-tax.

So, what is fuel tractor? It is the standard number 2 diesel fuel. It’s a low-grade that is in between gas and standard diesel when the distillation of crude oil is happening.

This refining technique that was developed during the World War 11 was turned into a more useful one. Power fuel was considered a higher grade of tractor fuel.

Do Reefer-Fuel Has Same Use As Diesel?

So is tractor or reefer diesel the same? Diesel and reefer are not the same. Reefer fuel and diesel have similar chemical compositions, but their tax rates and runtime differ.

Regular fuel, such as gas and diesel, is typically taxed, but reefers are not. Modern reefer units consume 0.4 to 1.1 gallons of diesel per hour, depending on their engine run time.

Furthermore, unlike diesel, reefer can only be used on private property. It is red to avoid misuse or confusion in its intended purpose.

It can be use to keep the refrigeration in reefer vehicles, but it should never be used to power a truck or other highway machines.

tractor fuel vs reefer fuel

Can You Put Fuel In A Diesel Truck?

Now, can you put diesel in a rig? Reefer fuel can only be used in off road vehicles or for other purposes like maintaining the refrigeration of reefer trailers. However, this is more of a legal matter.

In actuality, is just regular diesel with a red dye in it and can actually power any diesel engine.  You can only use reefer trailer fuel on a pickup if it’s used for off-road purposes. But due to the special tax designation, using it on a normal tractor can attract very steep fines.

So what happens if I put reefer fuel in my vehicle? If you ever plan to use it on a public road, including crossing the street and the dye is found in the vehicle, you will liable to a fine that may rise to $10,000. So you’re legally permitted to use trailer fuel

Although many people try to get away with it by diluting it, it’s still possible to identify the reefer fuel using a special black light that tracks residue red-dyes within the tank.

If you have a big farm or closed facility and you don’t intend to use the vehicle for on-road purposes, you can use the reefer combustible in the vehicle.

Can Drivers Put Tractor Fuel In Trucks?

Short answer, yes you can put tractor fuel in your truck. Either tractor or reefer fuel are similar, the only difference is the special tax designation and the red dye that marks the reefer fuel.

However, interchanging the two is illegal in the United States. Many states do due diligence to avoid this type of tax evasion by drivers. And now you may ask, is tractor fuel diesel? Well, tractor combustible is a type of diesel.

It is adapted specifically for a type of climate and it is categorized as a standard number 2 diesel. This is rather low-grade and it is somewhere between gas and diesel when the distillation of crude oil happens.

Tractor fuel can be used by vehicles like semis, construction vehicles, trucks etc but it is more expensive than reefer fuel.

Parked long heavy-duty truck

How Many Gallon Does A Reefer Tank Hold?

What is the reefer fuel tank capacity? Most reefer tanks contain a 50-gallon petrol tank at the back of the unit that stores enough fuel for long-distance shipment.

However, the reefer tank size should be 80 to 100 gallons to support long-distance shipping needs, although a 50-gallon capacity can still suffice for localized shipping needs.

So, how big is a reefer tank? The size of a reefer tank depends on the size of the rig. Typically, reefer trucks are 40″ long and 20″ wide. Due to their small size and 250–350 liter capacity, the trucks are very fuel-efficient.

Reefer containers, as opposed to trailer tanks, are typically 20 to 40 feet long, easily maneuverable, and have a 3.5 to 5-ton capacity. 

How Long Does Rig Fuel Last?

Reefer fuel lasts four to five days on average. However, if you open the reefer unit frequently, you may need to refill the tank every day or every two days. Reefer fuel consumption varies according to automobile’s capacity and average temperature.

If it has a capacity of around 2,500 cubic feet, each driver will get about 7 hours of reefer fuel, depending on whether it is used in a cool or hot climate.

You do not need to refill the tank if the unit has never been opened for more than a few hours and is still safe to use.

3 back axles of a truck

Reefer Diesel  / Fuel FAQ

What is it used for?

Reefer fuel is meant to be used for the refrigerator unit of the heavy truck. It’s supposed to keep the trailer cool and should not be used for road purposes. This is because the on-road fuel is subjected to tax.

Since it’s used to keep the refrigeration trailer cool and not to run the truck, it isn’t subjected to the on-road tax. This fuel is usually dyed to ensure that it’s untaxed and is only used for off-road fuel.

Using reefer fuel on the road is illegal and can lead to a fine of more than $10,000 depending on the state. Many states work very hard to prevent this type of tax avoidance.

On West Coast, the fuel is ultra-low sulfur fuel, meaning that it would not cause any maintenance problems when used in an engine. Depending on how old the fuel is, it can be low sulfur or high sulfur fuel.

How much does this fuel cost?

Reefer fuel is off-road dyed diesel that costs $2.99 per gallon. It is much cheaper than the on-road diesel because it is not taxed and does not contain a cent of petroleum.

Moreover, national reefer rates average $2.97 per mile, but regional rates vary, so the cost of reefers varies across the nation.

Heavy-duty truck illustration

How does pickup truck reefer units works?

Reefers are designed to maintain the temperature of a material inside them and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t cool them. A small engine drives the compressor in a reefer unit. The compressor draws gaseous refrigerant in and compresses it.

The compressor then creates enough pressure and this pressure inside the it liquefies the gas, and the now-liquid refrigerant gives off heat to the body of the compressor, and ultimately to the air.

Why is reefer container generator important?

Reefer trailer generators are used in the refrigeration industry to power units within freight vehicles. This allows you to actively avoid a possible breach in the cold chain and prevent the rotting of stored items. The trailer generator is the best way to deliver power to a cooling unit in refrigerated vehicles and reefer trucks.

Is the fuel taxable?

It has lenient tax policies. Reefer units that use reefer fuel are not taxed in the same way as diesel or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

This type of fuel is not reported in the IFTA filing because it powers the trailer’s refrigeration system. To avoid harsh tax penalties, use a separate receipt for reefer fuel when operating your refrigeration unit.

Heavy-duty truck on a bridge

How much fuel does a reefer unit burn per hour?

How much fuel does a reefer burn per hour? Reefer units use between 0.5 and 1 gallon of diesel per hour. Modern reefer units use between 0.5 and 1.1 gallons of diesel per hour of engine operation, and a diesel tank takes 4-6 hours to recharge fully.

In automatic mode, the engine only runs for a fraction of the time it takes to fully recharge a diesel tank. The unit is activated and works to safeguard the cargo, thus the fuel consumption per hour is likely below estimated levels.

A unit is usually on a closed-loop system not attached to the truck and therefore, the fuel efficiency isn’t affected by the driving habits.

Truly, if a unit is poorly maintained, this could increase its fuel consumption. When running under normal conditions, a reefer tank with a capacity of 50 gallons can last for 4 to 5 days.

What is diesel #2 and #1?

They are different forms of diesel based on their vitality in cold weather conditions. Diesel #1 is more effective in wintry weather than diesel #2. It has a lesser viscosity and doesn’t gel easily at low temperatures, hence, does not freeze as quickly. 

What is diesel #2 used for? It is geared for local temperature weather conditions and is less expensive than Diesel #1. Moreover, most stations provide a premium Diesel blend suitable for local and cold weather conditions.

Which is the best Reefer diesel engine brand?

Thermo King is regarded as the best diesel engine brand since they offer a large range of reefer models that meet practically all requirements.

Carrier reefers are yet another popular reefer truck service option. Their 6-piston compressor units can handle more refrigerant than T-K compressors.

Carrier units are preferable when dealing with frozen goods because they don’t have to work hard to keep your trailer at the right temperature.

Summary of what reefer-fuel is!

It is important to understand on-road fuel and offroad fuel such as reefer fuel. This is because if you are caught using reefer fuel on an on-road vehicle, you will against the law as we have already mentioned above.

Fortunately, with this guide, it should be easier to choose the right one for you.

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