Refrigerated Vans

In logistics and supply-chain business, it is important to have a variety of fleets for all kinds of goods especially the ones that need to be stored at cold temperatures. The company can go with different options like train cars, ships, and refrigerated vans depending on the need and overhauling distance. Here is a complete guide including all types of refrigerated trucks depending on the needs of customers.

Insulation Van

Insulation vans are specially designed to not maintain the temperature inside the van but also keep the heat out. Constant refrigeration allows the goods to be stored at the required temperature but insulation vans don’t have this functionality. They are used to maintain the cooler temperature as long as possible by keeping the heat out. Styrofoam and polystyrene insulation work best and they are usually 50 millimeters of coating combating the heat and keeping the goods cold. These vans are perfect for non-perishable goods and 50 mm Styrofoam coating acts as a thermal bridge blocking all the potential entries for heat to enter inside.

Chiller Conversion Van

In chiller conversion vans, one additional feature is attached along with insulation i.e. refrigeration component. This allows the van to introduce cool air inside the compartment while keeping all the heat blocked. These vans are optimal for transporting perishable goods that do not require sub-zero storage conditions. A few examples are fresh flowers, beverages, and food items that do not require freezing temperatures.

Semi-Freezer Van

Semi-freezer vans are one step up from chill conversion vans with 75 mm thick insulation and a more advanced refrigeration system. These vans are designed to transport items that require sub-zero conditions. So, frozen foods are transported in semi-freezer vans. The quick defrost measures allow the luxury of not installing defrost heater.

Full-Freezer Van

Full-freezer vans, as the name implies, provide for the most severe freezing of all refrigerated vehicles. They have many of the same characteristics as semi-freezer vans, but with one additional dimension: sturdier, heat-resistant doors and sidewalls. This reduces the amount of heat that enters the cargo area as a result of conduction from the sun’s rays on the metal outside. Contact Zorka Transport if you require an insulation van or a full-service full-freezer truck. We sell high-quality refrigerated cargo vans that are tailored to your requirements, ensuring that you obtain the van that is most suited to your freight.

What’s a Reefer Truck?

The term “reefer” refers to something refrigerated. The truck is a typical semi-cab. Yet, the reefer is a trailer. A “reefer truck” is a semi-truck towing a refrigerated trailer used to transport perishable commodities. These trailers are not the same as cooling vans, which are only insulated and ventilated. What distinguishes a reefer trailer? Reefers are equipped with an active cooling system. As a result, you can carry both frozen and refrigerated freight.

A reefer can be temperature controlled to transport heated goods. This, however, is considerably less prevalent. Reefers can be found utilizing a variety of cooling methods. Both diesel-powered generators and cryogenic cooling equipment may be seen. Let’s look more closely at how trailer cooling works.

How Reefer Units Work

Reefer units use a closed system. Refrigerated truck equipment is all about removing heat and keeping a constant temperature. They work by collecting and distributing heat all through the system. Now let’s go over the key components of making this work.

Components of Reefer Units and the Cooling Cycle
  • The Compressor: The compressor is powered by a small engine installed inside the reefer. The compressor uses the refrigerant and compresses it to liquefy the gas. The compression releases the heat and the temperature at this moment is still warm. After this, the refrigerant is passed to the condenser.
  • The Condenser: The liquefied refrigerant is received by the condenser and the heat exchange process is initiated. The warmth of the liquid goes to the tubing’s walls, then to the attached fins. The fins increase the surface area available for cooling outside air that enters through the condenser fan. The method is comparable to how a radiator cools an engine.
  • The Evaporator: The evaporator is located within the trailer. At this stage, the refrigerant has lost most of its heat to the condenser and has turned into a chilly liquid. The water is then pumped into the evaporator through a metering valve. The quantity of cooling is controlled by this valve. Inside the evaporator, the now-cool liquid refrigerant expands and returns to gas form. During this process, it absorbs a significant amount of heat from the surrounding finned coils. The evaporator is then blown over by air from inside the trailer. The air is subsequently returned to the compressor, and the cycle begins again.

Parts of a Reefer Trailer

Reefer trailers naturally have more parts than standard shipping trailers. Herearethevariouspieces:

  • Reefer unit
  • Insulated box
  • Airchute
  • Air ride suspension
  • Tire inflation systems

Final Notes

When talking about the transport business, fuel charges are vital in determining what the shipment is going to cost. Talking about reefer containers, the charges are usually higher than the dry freight. The refrigeration system requires additional fuel along with the regular fuel consumption of the truck. The average charges for reefer shipments are higher and the fuel tank of a full reefer container can hold up to 50 gallons of gasoline. The fuel tank can vary from reefer to reefer.

Maintenance timeline, weather conditions, and engine health can impact the consumption of fuel. One positive point of reefer fuel functionality is that it works on a closed system cycle so the driving style does not affect fuel consumption.

Why Are Reefer Trucks Used?

Transferring perishable foods, pharmaceuticals, and temperature-sensitive products was a big challenge. Reefer solved the problem of hauling these products.

Reefers are widely used for maintaining the temperature and temperature can be monitored and controlled remotely. The main purpose of the cooling system is to maintain the ideal temperature for the products do not go bad rather than decreasing the temperature below the ideal limit. Constant monitoring allows businesses to keep everything in check.

To explain the point further, the transporting company should always confirm the frozen products are received at their ideal temperature. The container cannot refreeze the product, let’s say meat if it is not received frozen. Reefer’s specialty is to maintain the temperature and if any attempt is made to freeze the non-frozen meat, there is a high chance that the product will go bad.

A Short History of Reefers

Back in the day, people were struggling to find a suitable way for transporting perishable food items. The main issue was the only train was available to transport these kinds of goods and the option was a bit expensive. Companies were looking for an alternative that can cut down the prices of transport and make the whole process time efficient.

Talking about history, Fredrick McKinley Jones was serving in the army when World War I erupted. Fredrick belonged to Cincinnati, Ohio, and was interested in electronics and mechanical sensors. He pursued his interest and helped in building a transmitter for a radio station in Cincinnati. Then he made a breakthrough in the film industry making different gadgets and allowing the sounds in motion movies.


Fredrick made a breakthrough for transportation companies as well in 1938 building a portable air cooler for trucks. From there, he went only upwards and patented his designs and build a multimillion-dollar company along with his partners. The firm was able to build a reefer truck for the first time as an alternative to transporting temperature-sensitive products. In World War I, Fredrick’s innovations allowed perishable goods to be moved on the battlefield including medicines for the hospitals and medical tents amidst the war crisis.

Reefer trucking, often known as refrigerated trucking, transports temperature-sensitive cargo such as perishable food or medications. This form of shipping is required to keep these commodities at the proper temperature for safety and quality preservation.

Reefer trucking is an essential component of many industries’ supply chains, ensuring that items reach consumers in a timely and safe manner.‍

Why are refrigerated trucks called reefers?

The phrase “reefer” is an abbreviation for refrigerator, and it refers to refrigerated vehicles that deliver temperature-sensitive cargo.

Reefers in the early days where the cold storage warehouses that were used to keep the good from going bad. These warehouses were insulated and the temperature was maintained to allow the temperature-sensitive goods to be stored and shipped whenever necessary. Reefers as in a big block of ice kept the food below freezing temperature increasing the life of the goods and allowing the goods to be transported to other parts of the state. The term reefer was adopted over time for refrigerated containers resembling the idea of a block of ice used to store perishable items.

Why is reefer trucking needed?

Refrigerated freight can be damaged or destroyed if subjected to excessive heat or cold and must be kept at a constant temperature. The reefer unit keeps perishable items at a specific temperature so that they arrive at their destination in the same condition in which they were loaded.

Reefer trucking is used to transport temperature-sensitive commodities such as:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Flowers
  • Pharmaceuticals

What is a reefer load in trucking?

A reefer load is a trailer or truckload of temperature-sensitive cargo transported in a refrigerated truck or trailer.

To minimize damage or deterioration, this cargo must be kept at a specific temperature, which the reefer unit guarantees is maintained during travel.

Reefer loads are popular in the food and pharmaceutical industries, where perishable commodities must be kept cool or frozen. These things can range from fruit to beef to ice cream.

Hauling Reefer Freight

Transporting reefer freight has significant obligations. In addition to ordinary driving duties, reefer drivers must do the following tasks when transporting chilled cargo:

  • Determine temperature requirements – different cargo will require varying levels of refrigeration and therefore have varied temperature windows.
  • Cool the trailer before loading it with cargo – Before loading the trailer with cargo, drivers must chill it to the cargo’s standards.
  • Monitor the temperature – cargo must be cooled to the proper temperature before loading and must remain at that temperature throughout the trip.
  • Monitor loading and unloading – to ensure that the cargo’s temperature does not rise or fall too quickly and that cargo is properly loaded in terms of weight distribution, etc.


Is refrigerated transportation a lucrative business?


Because it varies per carrier, refrigerated shipping can be profitable. The advantages of reefer trucking include higher rates and reduced deadheading because drivers can also handle dry freight.

However, reefer freight incurs additional costs, which include:

  • Equipment and maintenance costs
  • Reefer fuel to power the refrigeration unit
  • Reefer breakdown insurance

Which is more profitable, reefer or dry van freight?

Generally, temperature-controlled freight that necessitates the use of a refrigeration unit costs more than non-refrigerated freight. Nevertheless, there are other costs associated with shipping this type of freight, such as the cost of gasoline to operate the refrigerated unit and additional endorsements on the motor truck cargo policy, so a higher rate does not always equate to more profit.

Which is more profitable – reefer or flatbed freight?‍

Flatbed trucks, on the other hand, are more prone to deadhead because they have less flexibility in the sorts of loads they travel as compared to reefer trucks, which can handle both temperature-sensitive and non-temperature-sensitive cargo. Loading, tarping, securing cargo, and unloading are all part of flatbed transportation.

Are reefer loads worth it?

Reefer loads can be profitable, but it is dependent on a few conditions. Carriers and owner-operators should conduct a preliminary study to determine whether greater rates and cargo options will result in increased profit.


  • Reefer freight charges are higher than regular cargo
  • Loading and unloading processes are modernized.
  • Eliminate the risk of deadheading as dry freights can be transported as well if required.


  • Other expenses include equipment, maintenance, and a reefer endorsement for motor truck cargo insurance.
  • More can go wrong while moving refrigerated cargo because carriers and drivers have more obligations.
  • Load times for delicate cargo might often take a bit longer and are typically loaded and unloaded either shortly after sunrise or late in the night.

What exactly is a reefer truck?

A reefer truck is any truck equipped with a refrigeration system or one that transports a refrigerated trailer. These trucks are more expensive to maintain and manage than standard vehicles because they require special equipment to keep items at the right temperature.

Common reefer truck configurations include:‍

Semi-trucks with a reefer trailer

The largest type of reefer truck, these are used to transport large loads over long distances with a refrigerated trailer attached.

Box trucks

Box trucks are preferred over semi trucks when the distance is shorter and delivery time is sensitive. As the name suggests, the refrigeration system is attached to the back keeping the box-shaped container cool and the driver cabin is attached at the front.

Cargo vans

Cargo vans are used to transport goods over short distances. These vans are smaller than box trucks and a refrigeration unit is mounted on the back allowing the van to transport goods at a lower temperature.


Pickups are not included in the category of reefer trucks but with the help of a refrigeration unit, they can be used to haul temperature-sensitive goods. Pickups can move fast and are effective for smaller loads.

How much does a reefer truck cost?

Getting a proper estimation is fairly difficult. It depends on the size, features, and maintenance commitments. However, reefers can cost anywhere between $30,000 to $200,000. On top of that, the refrigeration unit requires separate maintenance so these charges need to be accumulated in the final spending as well.

How long do refrigerated trucks last?

The average lifespan of a reefer truck is estimated at 8 years. In terms of reefer run, it is estimated to be around 40,000 hours. These numbers can vary depending on the usage, maintenance, and reefer usage. If the truck is overhauling dry runs, then the time can extend as compared to hauling reefer freights every time.

How much does it cost to run a reefer trailer?

There is no conclusive answer because it depends on a lot of things. These considerations include the size and kind of reefer trailer, the distance traveled, and the cost of fuel in the area. Most current reefer units, on the other hand, use half a gallon to a gallon of reefer fuel per hour of engine run time. With current diesel costs, that equates to $5,000-$10,000 each year.


Flower Delivery Service

Fresh Flower Transport Solutions by Zorka Transport Zorka Transport excels in refrigerated transportation and is poised to be an integral

Cosmetics Delivery

Cosmetics Transport Solutions by Zorka Transport | Trusted Cosmetics Logistics Provider For a cosmetics delivery company that aligns seamlessly with

Pharmacy Shipping

Pharmacy Delivery Solutions by Zorka Transport | Trusted Pharmacy Logistics Provider Choose Zorka Transport as your pharmacy shipping partner for

Request a call back

Please fill out the form and one of our experts will contact you ass soon as possible.