| Read Time: 2 minutes | Glossary

In the trucking industry, “reefer” refers to insulated and temperature-controlled trailers.

A reefer trailer is designed to transport perishable cargo and other temperature-sensitive products.

These trailers are vital transportation tools because many items must get across the country without changing temperatures.

A reefer trailer’s temperature can range from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to sub-zero temperatures.

Reefer trucking involves transporting everything from meats and produce to blood products and medicines using a reefer truck.

What Does Reefer Mean?

The word “reefer” is the slang term for a refrigerated trailer. A reefer truck is a standard semi-truck pulling a refrigerated trailer.

Reefer trailers are constructed using stainless steel or aluminum with insulated walls that maintain the trailer’s temperature.

How Reefer Trailers Work

These trailers don’t necessarily cool down cargo. They are designed to keep cargo at a specific temperature.

Three main components of a reefer trailer that make up the trailer refrigeration unit (TRU) are:

  • An evaporator coil,
  • A compressor to power the evaporator coil, and
  • A small diesel engine to power the compressor.

A reefer works by removing heat from the trailer. When air passes over the evaporator coil, it removes the heat and redistributes colder air into the trailer.

The system also monitors the interior temperature of the trailer. The desired temperature is set by the customer’s requirements, which the driver controls through the TRU.

Insulation is an integral component of a reefer trailer. The foam insulation creates an airtight seal, which helps maintain a constant temperature.

There are two ways to run a TRU—cycle or continuous. Drivers can reduce diesel consumption by using cycles. However, cycles create temperature variations which might put the cargo at risk.

A less temperature-sensitive load can withstand some variances, so cycling might be an option in that case.

Reefer Trailer vs. Dry Van

Reefers and dry van trailers are not the same things. A dry van doesn’t have the same refrigeration system as a reefer trailer.

Flooring also differs in a dry van. It’s usually metal flooring or flat wood, whereas a reefer has a metal floor that sometimes is grooved.

A grooved floor is ventilated, which helps maintain a constant temperature with added airflow.

Dry vans typically only carry dry goods, while a reefer truck carries refrigerated products.

Types of Cargo in a Reefers Truck

Any cargo that can be damaged if the temperature rises or falls should be shipped in refrigerated trailers. Any food you usually put in a refrigerator or freezer gets transported in a reefer truck.

However, some other common items are also transported in a refrigerated trailer, including:

  • Hazardous materials,
  • Pharmaceuticals,
  • Flowers,
  • Bulk liquids,
  • Paint,
  • Artwork,
  • Some electronics,
  • Candles, and
  • Chewing gum.

While the primary types of cargo transported in reefer trucks require refrigeration, these trailers can also be heated. That option is essential during winter when products are at risk of freezing.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at Flores, Tawney, & Acosta P.C.

Did you sustain injuries in an accident with a reefer truck?

If so, contact the experienced attorneys at Flores, Tawney, & Acosta P.C. We have years of experience assisting injured truck accident victims in New Mexico and Texas.

Schedule an initial consultation so that we can review your case and help you understand your legal options. 

Author Photo

James Tawney

James Tawney is a native of the Southwest dedicated to serving his community. He was born and raised in Arizona where he attended Northern Arizona University where he received his undergraduate degree. James then went on to attend Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas. In 2016, he, along with fellow plaintiff’s attorneys Connie Flores and Alejandro Acosta, founded Flores, Tawney & Acosta, P.C. with offices located in Las Cruces and Carlsbad, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.

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