Differences Between a Fridge and a Reefer Container

Reefer Container

Recently, temperature-sensitive commodities such as perishable foods and pharmaceuticals have seen a rise in shipping. In fact, it is fair to say that with the rise of e-commerce, the global community is becoming increasingly dependent on the supply chain to ship temperature-sensitive goods.

These kinds of goods are stored and transported in either a fridge box or a reefer container. Both of them do essentially the same thing, but they go about it in completely different ways. 

So, today, we just want to give you a quick refresher and talk a bit about these two types of equipment. We are going to discuss what both of them do, their benefits, and even discuss a few of the disadvantages that separate the two.

If you are ready to jump in, bundle up because it is about to get cold in here!


What is a Reefer Container?

A reefer is a dedicated container for pre-cooled or frozen products within a specific temperature range. This type of freight container does not contain any air conditioning equipment, as it isn't meant to cool goods.

Rather, it simply keeps them at the same temperature; the temperature they had upon loading. Or, at least in the same range.

It does this by using a bottom air cooling design. Essentially, cold air circulates under the floor. From here, it is recycled back into the container. This design allows for an even flow of cold air to constantly circulate around the freight.


Disadvantages of Reefer Shipping?

While the market is hot at the moment, the availability of reefer units is ice cold.

This decrease in supply and demand along with the reduction of qualified/CDL licensed drivers has caused reefer shipment prices to skyrocket. In addition to the increase in cost, scheduling perishable goods on shipper’s schedules is also not the easiest task.

Route planning for LTL shipments is another challenge of the typical reefer shipment. Reefers containers vary in size, but since the majority of them are for transporting a large volume of freight at once, LTL shipping is just more affordable for most shippers.

For example, if a manufacturer has 10 pallets of frozen food products that have to be shipped to 5 different customers that live in three different states, the shipment will most likely be sent to an LTL depot. Needless to say, this is not exactly efficient and it ends up increasing the delivery time for cold storage products.


What is a Fridge Box?

Unlike a reefer, a fridge box is an individual box that holds and transports a smaller quantity of freight. In fact, most fridge boxes are designed to hold up to a total of two pallets of product. Fridge boxes maintain the desired temperature after being loaded onto dry-goods trailers for transport. But unlike a reefer container, a fridge box comes equipped with AC equipment. This may include coils, blowers and a thermostat that generally ranges from 50 degrees down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of relying on the circulation of cold air, fridge boxes generate their own cold air.

These containers typically feature advanced seal technology and equipment to maintain a certain temperature. Usually, this temperature is within one degree for up to five days.

Fridge boxes are much easier to maintain and offers shippers more flexibility for moving small amounts of temperature-sensitive products. Fridge boxes are great for smaller items such as electronics, medications, or other small perishable products.

Furthermore, one of the biggest benefits of fridge boxes is their portability.

Final Thoughts

Struggling to overcome the hurdles of temperature-controlled shipping? Still not sure which type of cold transport to use?

Reach out to our team today and let us help you find the solution that works best for you!