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Reefer Refrigerated Containers

Jun 28, 2022Introduction to Trade

Reefer Containers

Reefer containers, also known as refrigerated containers, are specialized shipping containers designed to keep perishable goods fresh during transport. Reefers are outfitted with a refrigeration system that can be powered by an external power source or diesel generator while in transit, and can maintain a temperature range of -65℃ to 40℃. Reefers have revolutionized the trade of perishable goods by allowing them to be shipped anywhere in the world at any time of year without compromising quality or quantity.

Features and Benefits

  • Reefer containers are refrigerated containers that can maintain precise temperatures, making them ideal for storing perishable goods.
  • Reefer containers are made of durable materials that can withstand adverse weather conditions and are compatible with all refrigerants.
  • Reefer containers have low maintenance and operation costs, and their reliability makes them a popular choice for businesses.
  • Reefer containers can help to extend the shelf life of products by manipulating the ripening process.

How Reefer Containers Work

Reefer containers, also known as refrigerated containers, are specialized shipping containers designed to keep perishable goods cool during transport. Reefers work by circulating cool air throughout the container using a bottom-air delivery system. This ensures that the cargo is evenly and consistently cooled. Reefers can maintain temperatures as low as -30 Celsius or as high as 30 degrees Celsius, depending on the needs of the shipment. Temperature is controlled via a control box located near the cooling mechanism. Reefer containers are an essential tool in transporting perishable goods around the world safely and securely.

Temperature Control

Reefer containers are a type of container used to transport temperature-sensitive goods, such as food and pharmaceuticals. Reefers maintain the prescribed temperature by circulating temperature-controlled air internally throughout the cargo space. The type of packaging used and the method of cargo loading affects airflow. Different types of cargo have different temperature, loading, and packaging requirements. Generally, chilled cargo is kept separate from frozen cargo due to different air circulating needs.

For chilled cargo like meat, the packaging used should have ventilation for air to flow through. To remove heat and gases, the air has to flow through the cargo. The main reason for this type of airflow is that the heat is generated by the cargo, in addition to the heat from the outside atmosphere.

For frozen cargo like fresh fruits and vegetables, the respiration process and airflow requirement are different. They require air to flow through the commodity as well as around it to remove gases like Carbon Dioxide and Ethylene (formed due to the respiration of fruits). To achieve this airflow, the cargo is stacked so that there are no gaps between the packages and the walls of the container. As no heat is produced by the cargo, the reefer container fan only needs to remove the outside heat which penetrates through the container walls.

Atmosphere control and fresh air circulation are also extremely important while transporting fruits and vegetables. Carbon Dioxide and Ethylene gases are released because of continuous respiration from this kind of cargo. Excess presence of these gases can lead to product damage, uncontrolled ripening, bad flavor, and aging. Most reefer containers are equipped with Atmosphere Control and proper ventilation to remove these gases and maintain product quality. Reefer containers allow for the transport of temperature-sensitive goods that would otherwise spoil quickly, ensuring that products retain their quality and freshness during transit.

Container Stowage Principles

When packing a reefer container, it is important to follow a few key cargo stowage principles in order to allow proper airflow and efficient loading. These principles include:

  • Boxes should not extend beyond the pallet
  • Spacing between deck boards should be maintained to allow vertical airflow
  • Boxes should be vented for vertical airflow
  • The pallet load should be secured
  • There should be air/free space above the cargo.

By following these principles, you can ensure that your perishable goods will arrive at their destination in good condition.


They are typically six times more expensive than a standard shipping container, but the price varies depending on the type of cooling system used, the size of the container, and any additional modifications or customizations. A new 40-foot reefer container can cost anywhere from $7,500 to $27,000.

Types of Reefer Containers

Reefer containers are specially designed to transport perishable goods that need to be kept at a certain temperature. There are different types of reefer containers, each suited for a different type of product.

  • Closed reefer, which comes with an integral front wall and an all-electric automatic cooling and heating unit.
  • Modified/controlled atmosphere (MA/CA) reefers use insulation to maintain a constant atmosphere.
  • Automatic Fresh Air Management (AFAM) containers are highly advanced reefers that regulate airflow and composition of gases automatically.
  • Cryogenic cooling reefers use the Total Loss Refrigeration method to keep products frozen.
  • Redundant refrigeration reefers have both a primary and secondary refrigeration unit for increased reliability.
  • Refrigerated or cool tank containers are designed to transport liquids like milk and pharmaceuticals.

Different types of reefers are better suited for different products, so it’s important to choose the right type of reefer for your needs. Whether you’re transporting frozen goods or liquids, there’s a reefer container that’s perfect for the job.

There are a few more varieties of Reefer Containers available, each one with its own set of options. These include:

  • 20 feet Deep Freezer Container
  • 40 feet Ultra Freezer Container
  • 20 feet Dual Temperature Reefer Container
  • 40 feet Dual Temperature Reefer Container
  • 20 feet Triple Temperature Reefer Container

Difference between Reefer container and Dry Container

Reefer containers are refrigerated containers used to transport perishable goods that require temperature-controlled transportation, such as food and pharmaceuticals. Dry containers, on the other hand, are non-refrigerated containers typically used to transport general cargo, such as clothing, electronics, and construction materials. Unlike reefer containers, dry containers do not have their own cooling or heating system; instead, they rely on the ambient temperature to keep their contents at a stable temperature. Because of this difference in design and purpose, reefer containers are more expensive than dry containers.


What is the energy consumption of a refrigerator container?

The power consumption of a reefer container depends on the nature of articles stored, outside temperature, and the number of times the container is opened and closed. Reefer containers have been designed to consume less power compared to older models. Reefer containers are an important part of the food supply chain as they help to keep perishable goods fresh during transport.

How long can I keep products in a reefer container?

The duration for which you can store goods in a reefer container will depend on the type of product and the external temperature. For example, meat can be stored for a shorter duration than fruits and vegetables. External temperature also plays an important role in determining how long products can be stored in a reefer container. If the outside temperature is too hot or too cold, it can shorten the shelf life of the product. Therefore, it is important to take into account both the type of product and the external temperature when deciding how long to store goods in a reefer container.

What are the key factors to consider when loading and unloading reefer containers?

In order to ensure that your product arrives at its destination in optimal condition, there are a few key factors to consider when loading and unloading reefer containers. First, the container should be placed on level, firm ground. Additionally, it should be at least one meter away from any walls to allow for proper ventilation. This is important in case repairs are needed, as the technician will need enough space to work.

Are reefer containers airtight?

Yes. One of the benefits of using a reefer container is that they are airtight, which helps to maintain the internal temperature and prevent spoilage or deterioration of the goods.


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