refrigerated vans

How do “Refrigerated Vans” Work !

Refrigerated Vans

Refrigerated Vans

The way the refrigeration units sitting on the front of the cab of these vans work has always been a mystery to me. So, this excellent article explains a lot. I supply batteries to a couple of people who operate refrigerated vans. However, I was never fully explained on how they work. Now I am a bit closer to this!

In today’s world, many businesses in various industries invest in refrigeration vans to carry out their cold chain operations. Even my local butcher has one of these.

As the name suggests,

Refrigerated vans are equipped with specialised cooling systems designed to maintain low temperatures inside the vehicle. These vans are essential for transporting perishable goods such as food, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive items.

The refrigeration units installed in these vans utilise advanced technology to regulate the internal temperature and ensure that the goods remain fresh and safe during transit. This allows businesses to maintain the integrity of their products and deliver them to customers in optimal condition.

The use of refrigerated vans has revolutionised the logistics industry and enabled efficient transportation of goods that require specific temperature control.

These vans transport goods at certain temperatures to prevent consumables, perishable items, medicines, and other valuable items from being contaminated and degraded. 

They’re quite ubiquitous on the streets, even more so during the height of the pandemic, when the transportation of goods became more limited. But some new business owners may not be aware of just how valuable they are to keeping things going.

If you’re one of them, here’s a quick primer on refrigeration vans.

Refrigerated Vans: How Do They Work?

These temperature-controlled vehicles work the same way as household fridges. The interior is equipped with a complex system of coolants that absorb heat using an insulated compartment and then disperse it into the environment. This process happens constantly, allowing heat-sensitive products to keep their shelf lives and stay protected in transit.

There are some obvious differences, the main one being the amount of insulation. Refrigeration vans use a much thicker layer to provide optimal heat protection. 

For example, Citroen temperature controlled vans have 50 to 75mm of insulation in their interiors. This is made of high-density polymer foam, which keeps heat from entering and circulating through spaces. It’s what gives refrigeration vehicles the capacity to store and haul goods through varying weather conditions and periods.

What Are Their Major Components? 

The average refrigerator van has the following parts in its cooling system: 

  1. Condenser: This is a length of pipe with a coil inside containing sealed refrigerant tubes. Its job is to pass air over the coil and condense it into liquid refrigerant. This liquid then moves on to the evaporator.
  2. Evaporator: In this part, the liquid refrigerant from the condenser passes through a coil where fans blow on the surface. This causes the refrigerant to turn into vapor, which then absorbs heat. This is what reduces the internal temperature of the vehicle.
  3. Compressor: This pumps the coolant throughout the system. After it receives the vapor from the evaporator, it applies heat to turn it into high-pressure gas. It then brings it back to the condenser, where the cycle repeats.  

When these parts are in top condition, they allow you to transport temperature-controlled goods from one place to another with great ease. If you work with refrigerated vans, always inspect these parts for signs of deterioration or damage. This should save you from unexpected breakdowns that lead to lost hauls and costly repairs.

What Is Their Power Source? 

Another distinction refrigerated vans have from regular refrigerators is how they’re powered. Unlike appliances, they can’t be connected to a main electrical supply. 

Instead, these temperature-controlled vehicles generally run their cooling systems in two ways:

  • Direct drive systems: They’re considered one of the most efficient ways of powering the cooling system to maintain the needed temperature. These have the compressor attached to the side of the vans’ engines.
  • Standby compressors: Also known as separate mains-driven compressors, these are another way of powering up cooling systems. They work by pre-cooling the load space to provide optimal climate control in the storage compartment.   

These systems have their unique perks and maintenance requirements. Knowing them should help you make the ideal choice for the vans you get for your operations. Make sure to compare warranties and prices for the best value out of your chosen system.

How Long Do Refrigeration Vans Last? 

In most cases, refrigerated vehicles may last for approximately seven years or more, depending on the level of maintenance. Making routine inspections and decisive repairs and replacements should keep these temperature-controlled vans running without a hitch for as long as you need them. 

Obviously, the cooling system itself should get the most attention. Without a fully functioning one, you might as well not transport your goods at all.

Next to that, make sure the storage unit is clean to prevent contamination. Inspect the insulation for any cracks and holes. Check the drains for leakage and the seals and doors for damage. 

Battery check 

Furthermore, you should run through the other parts of the van for any problems. Conduct regular tune-ups and check the battery, tyres, and fluid levels. 

Speaking of the battery, you wouldn’t want to get stuck on the road because of a dead one, especially considering the goods you’re hauling. So, make battery maintenance a regular part of your van inspections. Clean the terminals, inspect the battery fluid level and add distilled water if it’s low, and do tests every now and then to check its condition.

If you stay vigilant, you can maintain a fleet of refrigerated vans that let you move goods and meet the needs of clients any day of the year.  

eric roberts
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