A reefer, also referred to as a refrigerator truck, is a kind of trailer that transports refrigerated or wet goods such as groceries and similar temperature-sensitive cargo. These trucks are specially cooled with a carbon dioxide cooling system or another system that uses diesel powered generators. Some reefers have to make regular stops at “reefer points” to get the refrigeration unit electrically charged.
Reefers are different from ventilated trucks as the latter relies on basic ventilation systems to keep cargo cool during transit, usually fruits being transported in short runs. Reefers also use water cooling systems or air (ventilation) cooling systems to remove heat from the cargo area. But they also have an integral refrigeration unit that is capable of achieving and maintaining very low temperatures during long transport schedules. Temperatures can range from -30˚ C to 40˚ C.
Options for Reefer trailers
Reefers come in a wide range of specs, makes and models so you can find the refrigerated cargo option that suits your needs. Typical reefer features include:
- 28 to 53 feet in length
- 96 to 102 inches wide
- 12.5 to 13.5 feet high
- Maximum volume of 3,700 cubic feet or 26 pallets
- 44,000 lbs weight capacity
- Aluminum construction
- Two movable axles that can be adjusted to balance the load
- High-lift, swing and roll-up door options
The kind of reefer trailer you get is determined by the type of commodities you haul. These may include:
- Fresh produce, juice, meat or dairy
- Plants, such as floral or nursery
- Frozen products such as ice cream or frozen fruits and vegetables
- Medical products
- Temperature controlled items including chocolate and candy, beverages (soda and wine), lubricants or computer servers
Do Reefer trailers require special equipment?
Since reefers are based on temperature controlled systems, you need a trained driver who will carefully monitor and control the condition of the cargo during transit, usually at 2-hour intervals. That said, freight is usually loaded at the point of origin and unloaded at the destination so the driver does not interact with the cargo to avoid temperature interruptions.
Modern reefers offer a number of new temperature control options for peace of mind, including:
- Temperature sensors and an alarm system
- Web-based reports to assess diesel fuel level for powering the refrigeration unit
- Remote control of reefer temperature from any web-enabled device
Do you require a special license to operate a reefer trailer?
The US law requires that all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 and 26,000 pounds be driven by an operator possessing a commercial driver’s license, CDL A or CDL B, respectively. So, depending on the size of refrigerator track in use, the operators must carry a commercial driver’s license to avoid heavy penalties.
Can reefer trailers be leased or rented?
Reefer trailers come in a range of shapes and sizes for different jobs, and they require proper inspection and maintenance to avoid huge losses if the cooling system breaks down during transit. Leasing allows you to use the most appropriate reefer for your needs for only the duration that you need it without bothering with its maintenance.