Tips for reefer trailer rentals in Canada
In this week’s blog post we breakdown different options and considerations for reefer trailer rentals.
Temperature controlled trailers have two core components: The trailer you are renting and the actual reefer unit itself. As you will see, reefer materials and quality can vary through customization and manufacturer standards, so an apples-to-apples comparison of two “similar units” can be misleading. Generally, the better the trailer insulation – and quality, the better it will be at keeping a consistent temperature. This means the refrigerator unit won’t have to work as hard, lasts longer and uses less fuel. We breakdown the main manufacturers of reefer trailers and what to look for when using Trailer Link.
The overall metric when comparing reefers is thermo efficiency or the ability for the trailer to maintain a consistent and desired temperature. Loss in thermo efficiency can happen at any time. Punctures or worn insulation increase maintenance and fuel costs. Both of these are significant factors when looking at reefer rental duration and maintenance coverage.
In technical terms there are two key metrics when measuring capacity and thermo efficiency:
1. Ua value: the value of heat loss which indicates how much heat is coming into the trailer given the temperature outside
2. Btu per hour: the refrigeration capacity of the unit (A British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources. It is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of liquid water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at the temperature that water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).
For this blog post we are going to focus on the trailer itself and in the second blog – next week, we will breakdown the reefers themselves by comparing Thermo King and Carrier. In this article, we breakdown reefer trailer manufacturers and reefer trailer components such as doors, insulation and paneling.
As we focus on reefer rentals in Canada we will focus on refrigerator temperature control but also heating capabilities that can handle strict temperature control requirements for our Canadian winter.
Reefer Trailer Manufacturers In Canada
There are many trailer manufacturers in North America, but four of the most popular in Canada are Manac, Great Dane, Utility and Wabash.
Founded in Quebec in 1966, Manac Trailers has been a Canadian staple in the market. They created their first van trailer in 1977 and their aluminum van in 1986. They currently offer a line of Reefer vans with multi-temp configurations and remote evaporators available. Manac uses what they call their ArmoTul(r) interior liner which competes with some of the standard polyurethane foam. Manac offers a variety of customized reefer options from small temperature flux to their Deep Frozen Series which is rated for -28 degrees (C).
Great Dane has been manufacturing trailers since 1931. Their logo is synonymous with trailers and reefer trailers. They are one of North America’s largest providers of trailers. They carry three distinct trailer models from their Everest line
- Everest Reefer TL: The Everest TL is the industry’s lightest weight reefer. Great Dane markets this as a reefer TL of exceptional durability and unmatched protection against impact damage and moisture intrusion, with a foaming process that yields a flat, smooth appearance.
- Everest Reefer SS: The Everest SS reefer is known for being light weight, with extreme structural integrity and consistently high resale value. There are many options, and the SS can be further enhanced for a variety of specific operations.
- Everest Reefer CL: The Everest CL reefer provides the flexibility to configure as many three controlled temperature zones and an ambient section to accommodate a variety of hauls. With PunctureGuard lining as standard, the CL has increased protection from daily wear and tear as well as many other enhancements.
Wabash has been creating trailers since 1985. They are relatively new compared to the more established players in the market. Wabash carries two lines of reefers, their established product line the articLite ( ArcticLite ) and their new MSC Reefer with advanced molded structural composite (MSC) technology. The new MSC line is essentially a composite floor instead of standard polyurethane (link). By using a composite material Wabash states that they can significantly reduce punctures and in turn maintenance.
Utility is a trailer provider with many decades of operations. Utility has provided refrigerated vehicles and reefers since 1994. They have one model — the 3000R, which comes in multi-temperature and single configurations. As a result of offering only one model, the 3000R is highly customizable.
Reefer Trailer Components
The larger the trailer, the larger the reefer. Simply put, more surface area means more impact from external heat and ouside temperature fluctuations. Although some companies have tried to put a reefer unit for a 53 on a smaller trailer, it turns out to be a useless modification and not a requirement. Modern reefer units have a lot of power and can easily fill their designated space and temperature.
Size can also dictate where air ducts are located, typically situated along the sides of the van to avoid getting hit by forklifts or machinery during loading and unloading. Punctures are one of the largest contributors to thermal dynamic efficiency loss.
Reefer Trailer Doors
Reefer trailer doors can have the largest impact on thermo efficiency as they are (by design) an opening to external air and temperatures. Generally reefers have rear doors in either a swinging mount or rolling doors. Because of better seal management most prefer a hinged swinging door over a roller. These are also much easier to manage with dock loading. They also allow a single door to be opened at one time, reducing the cost of maintaining the internal temperature of the reefer. It is estimated the roll-up doors are 10-20% less efficient than a swing door. When renting, it often comes down to the requirements of where you are going to be docking and taking the rental that best suits that need.
Reefers tend to also have side doors with built in ventilation to allow for improved air flow. This is important in combining external temperature when conditions are prime (such as ice cream in the winter).
Reefer Trailer Sidewall Insulation
Insulation technology for reefer trailers has improved over the years. Trailer manufacturers place the insulation on the walls, ceiling and floor. As in all temperate controlled spaces, the more insulation the better. Insulation is continuously being made lighter (And typically polyurethane foam) however it can have an overall impact on the weight of the trailer itself. Combined with the payload itself, this distributed weight has an impact on fuel usage.
Polyurethane Insulation Foam
Most major trailer manufacturers use Polyurethane foam to help insulate their trailers. Polyurethane foam has been the standard in the reefer trailer industry for decades and continues to be the standard for providing the most thermal efficient trailers. While all main manufacturers use basically the same composition of foam, the injection process tends to be different across the different manufacturers.
Reefer Trailer Insulated flooring
For newer models and single purpose reefer trailers have dedicated aluminum flooring with built in duct airflow. Aluminum floors have the added benefit of protecting both the trailer and cargo from melted ice and any potential water damage. This is all taken into consideration as a part of the total airflow for thermos-efficiency as well.
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