What is a Reefer or Refrigerated Truck?

Vans and trucks equipped with a refrigeration unit in the cargo area to preserve appropriate climates for temperature-sensitive goods are known as Reefers. They are offered in two different configurations: nose mount and rooftop.

truck refrigeration systems

Truck Refrigeration Systems are the use of refrigerated/reefer trucks with mechanical refrigeration systems to transport perishable goods (such as frozen foods, vegetables, fruits, ice cream, and wine) on the road in order to keep the chilled or frozen products at suitable temperatures all the way to the point of sale.

A refrigerator is a truck, trailer, or freight container that has a refrigerating unit for transporting temperature-sensitive commodities. General alternatives for supporting freight in a “cool” or “fresh” temperature range or in a frozen temperature range are available for LTL shipping. For loads such as fresh food or other perishable commodities, a “cold” range is typically used.  

Refrigerators will occasionally move their trailers with dry freight that does not require refrigeration. It’s crucial to note a few details if you want to transport typical dry items and enquire if a refrigerated trailer would work for you. 

Unlike the flat wooden flooring of regular dry tubs, the refrigerated trailer’s floors are usually made of corrugated aluminum. Certain types of cargo may be damaged as a result of this. It’s also worth noting that the weight of the refrigeration unit has an impact on the tractor’s gross weight and the freight. This means that the refrigerated trailer’s load capacity will allow you to lose weight before reaching the legal limit.

Truck Refrigeration Systems are used for a variety of reasons

Long-distance transportation of perishable and temperature-sensitive goods necessitates the use of reefer trucks. The most common examples are frozen meats and fresh produce.

To keep things cool, businesses utilize reefer units. That is, you can set a reefer unit to a specified temperature setting to maintain the temperature of a product but not to modify the temperature of the product. The needed degree in the case of frozen meat may differ.

Let’s pretend that a package of ground beef needs to be sent and preserved at 32 degrees Fahrenheit for the purpose of simplicity. If the product is already frozen when loaded onto the reefer trailer, the temperature can be maintained. Under no circumstances can you expect the trailer to take unfrozen meat and lower the temperature to below freezing in order to freeze the food. The cycle of the reefer unit isn’t capable of this. The meat is going to go bad.


In about 1925, the ice cream industry introduced the first effective mechanically refrigerated vehicles. In 2010, around 4 million refrigerated road vehicles were in use around the world.

People and businesses were scrambling to find the most effective way to carry perishable commodities as early as the mid-1800s. For many years, railways were the only viable option for transporting this type of cargo. Companies, on the other hand, desired a more portable, faster, and less expensive alternative to the automobile.


Refrigerated trucks, like refrigerator cars, are distinguished from ordinary insulated and vented vans (often used for transporting fruit), which are not equipped with chilling equipment.

Frederick McKinley Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1893 and served in the United States Army during World War I. He self-educated in a variety of mechanical and electronic sectors after the war. He built one of the most essential gadgets in film history shortly after learning to build a transmitter for his hometown’s radio station. His invention allowed sound to be included in motion movies for the first time.

Jones developed the first portable air-cooling devices for vehicles in 1938. He was granted a patent in 1940. By 1949, he had taken on a business partner and had developed a multimillion-dollar firm. This includes the debut of the world’s first fully refrigerated truck.

During World War II, Jones’ innovation of the portable cooling unit was critical. It allowed perishable goods to be transported across battlefields to military hospitals and tents.

As you can see, the reefer truck has been a monumental invention in the history of the planet.


Refrigerator trucks can be ice-cooled, use mechanical refrigeration systems powered by small displacement diesel engines, or use carbon dioxide as a cooling agent (in the form of dry ice or liquid). At the back and front of the trailer, little “vent doors” are commonly installed. These doors are designed to remain open while hauling non-refrigerated cargo (commonly referred to as “backhaul”) in order to allow the trailer to breathe.

What is the definition of refrigeration?

It’s the process of transferring heat from one site to another under carefully regulated conditions. Heat transport work is typically powered by mechanical work, but it can also be powered by heat, electricity, or other means. Refrigeration is a Closed System that involves storing an object in a system or material meant to cool or freeze it below ambient temperature. Systems (i.e. refrigerators) that use a refrigerant chemical to extract heat from goods held inside the system is the most frequent kind of refrigeration.

What Are the Main Parts of a Refrigeration System?

The compressor is operated by the vehicle belt drive system and is mounted to the vehicle engine using a compressor mounting bracket. As a low-temperature, low-pressure gas, refrigerant enters the compressor. The refrigerant is compressed and converted to a high-temperature, high-pressure gas by the compressor.

Condenser – Rooftop or nose mounted. It accepts high-temperature, high-pressure refrigerant from the compressor and, with the help of the condenser fan motor, converts the refrigerant’s condition to a high-temperature liquid by heat exchange. When the air passing over the tubing and fins of the condenser coil cools the refrigerant, it changes state.

The evaporator is positioned in the refrigerated vehicle’s cargo area. The liquid refrigerant that enters the evaporator through the expansion valve is thermostatically controlled to transition from a liquid to a low-pressure, low-temperature gas. By flowing air over the evaporator coil with the help of the evaporator fan motor, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the cargo area. 

The refrigerant in the evaporator coil is now referred to as a “saturated mixture.” The gas then returns to the compressor as a low-temperature, low-pressure gas, and the process is repeated until the desired temperature is obtained.

The Greater Impact

Hopefully, it’s evident how crucial reefers are to the logistics business by now. Only reefer trucks can transport commodities that are absolutely necessary. There are several branches to the logistics tree. One of the most essential types of freight is reefer freight.

Dry freight can also be transported using reefer trailers. As a result, you have a lot of options as a carrier. Dry freight runs, especially during peak growing seasons, can be crucial in getting your drivers to the higher-paying reefer freight.

Reefer freight, on the other hand, has a higher level of risk and obligation. Drivers must be particularly cautious when it comes to making sure the reefer unit is set to the proper temperature. You must also ensure that the reefer unit is in good working order. You may have to eat the expense of the entire cargo if there is a failure that ruins the product. You must discover and engage hardworking and trustworthy drivers as a fleet manager. If you want to maintain those drivers while keeping expenses down, a fleet management system can assist keep things operating smoothly and guarantee drivers get paid on schedule.

Refrigeration has influenced industry, lifestyle, agriculture, and settlement patterns significantly. Food preservation has been used since the ancient Roman and Chinese civilizations. In the recent century, however, refrigeration technology has advanced fast, from ice harvesting to temperature-controlled rail trains. 

The introduction of refrigerated rail carriages aided the United States’ westward expansion by permitting settlement in locations that were not accessible via main transportation routes like rivers, harbors, or valley pathways. In most industrialized countries, cities rely significantly on supermarket refrigeration to purchase food for daily consumption.

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