When it comes to cargo transportation, freight shippers need to make the right choice between a dry van and a reefer trailer. Although both are necessary for the effective transportation of goods, their differences can significantly impact the cargo’s safety and quality. We will examine the variations between reefers and dry vans to help you choose the best shipment option.

What’s a Dry Van

In the vast environment of the transportation industry, dry vans are unique vehicles that stand out. A dry van is an enclosed trailer to protect cargo from external elements. These vans are frequently used to transport a wide range of goods, from electronics to textiles, and they offer a safe environment for goods that don’t need controlled temperatures.

Advantages of Using a Dry Van

One of the primary advantages of a dry vehicle is the security it provides. The enclosed container shields goods from external elements, theft, and damage during transportation. Additionally, dry vans are adaptable and can hold a wide range of goods, making them a preferred choice for many shippers.

Disadvantages Dry Van Usage

Dry vans do have certain limitations, though. They are not suited for transporting perishable goods because they do not have temperature control. If your cargo is sensitive to temperature variations or needs a particular climate, a dry van might not be the best option.

What is a Reefer?

Reefers are at the other extreme of the spectrum. Reefers have a cooling system for refrigerated trucks or trailers that permits perfect temperature control during transportation. These are necessary when delivering perishable items like medicine and food.

Advantages of Using a Reefer

Reefers shine when transporting goods that must be kept in a controlled environment. Perishable items are kept fresh and undamaged by maintaining specific temperatures. This opens the opportunity for companies with strict temperature needs to enter new markets.

Disadvantages to Reefer Usage

Reefers have advantages, but there is a cost. Compared to dry vans, they are less versatile due to their specialized design and more expensive operating costs due to their complex temperature control systems.

Comparing Dry Vans to Reefer Trucks/Trailers

The features and designs of dry vans and reefers differ clearly. Reefers place a higher priority on controlling temperatures than dry vans do on providing a safe closure. The type of goods and their requirements for transportation will determine which option is best.

Reefer vs Dry Van Weight

In the logistics of transportation, weight concerns are crucial. The selected trailer’s weight affects fuel efficiency and could be determined in shipments subject to stringent weight limitations.

To make sure the vehicle is suitable for the cargo you intend to transport, compare the weight capacities of reefer trailers and dry vans. Cargo capacity for dry vans is up to 45,000 pounds.

Reefer trailers are made to be as strong and light as possible, so you can carry the maximum amount of cold chain cargo without going over the federal GVWR, which is 80,000 pounds with two axles or 90,000 pounds with a third axle.

The GVWR is not only determined by the weight of the trailer. This combined weight includes:

  • The truck
  • The driver
  • Private property
  • fuel for trucks
  • Reefer fuel
  • The product within the trailer

Comparing Reefer and Dry Van Sizes

Not only is weight important, but the trailer’s dimensions also matter. To ensure that the chosen trailer can hold the cargo and to organize transportation efficiently, it is essential to be aware of the size limitations.

Dimensions of a Standard Reefer Trailer

  • The lengths of reefer trailers are between 48 to 53 feet.
  • The outside width of a reefer is 8 feet and 6 inches.
  • 8 feet and 1.5 inches is the interior width of a reefer.
  • The external height of the fifth wheel is 46.5 inches, or 13 feet and 6 inches.
  • The interior height is approximately 8 feet and 7 inches, and the door height is 9 feet and 2 inches.

The most standard dry van dimensions are:

  • Trailers measuring 53′ x 8’6 ′′ x 8’6 ′′ that can hold 26 pallets.
  • Trailers measuring 48′ x 8’5 ′′ x 13’6 ′′ can hold 24 pallets.
  • 28′ x 8′ x 9′ can carry 14 pallets and 22,500 pounds.
  • Box trucks can carry up to 10,000 pounds of cargo, and dimensions 24 feet x 8 feet x 6 feet.

Reefer vs Dry Van Prices

When making decisions, cost is an important factor. The additional costs related to controlling temperatures result in generally higher rates when using a reefer. For shippers that are cost-concerned, it is imperative to understand the implications. As of October 2022, dry van linehaul costs ranged from $1.75 to $2.00 per mile, while reefer van costs ranged from $2.00 to $2.25 per mile, according to DAT Freight & Analytics.

Can a Dry Van Be Used as a Reefer?

Even though they specialize in temperature-sensitive cargo, reefers can be used for non-perishable items. It’s essential to consider whether the extra features match the needs of the cargo because this could not be the most cost-effective choice.

Choosing Between Dry Van and Reefer: What’s Best?

The ultimate decision between a dry van and a reefer depends on several variables, such as the nature of the cargo, the need for transportation, and financial limitations. By looking at these factors, you may make the best decision to guarantee the safe and effective delivery of your goods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a dry van carry perishable goods?

No, perishable items cannot be transported in dry vans. Temperature control is an essential feature that dry vans lack. They are, therefore, unable to keep the specific conditions required to keep perishable items fresh. Non-perishable items that don’t need to be transported in a controlled atmosphere are more suitable for these vans.

Why are reefers more expensive to operate?

Dry vans are typically less expensive than reefers, refrigerated trucks, or trailers. Reefer-equipped specialized cooling systems are the main cause of this increased operating cost. With advanced technology, they are maintaining and regulating precise temperatures for perishable cargo, increasing fuel consumption and overall operating expenses. Reefers are necessary for transporting goods delivered at precise temperatures, but their additional complexity increases operating costs.

Are there size restrictions for dry vans and reefers?

Shippers must consider the size limitations for both dry vans and reefers. The chosen trailer’s dimensions are essential for effective transportation planning. Shippers must understand and adhere to the specific size limitations for reefers and dry vans because exceeding these limits can lead to logistical issues.

Can a reefer be used for non-perishable cargo?

Although they might not be the most cost-effective choice, reefers can be used for non-perishable cargo. Reefers are perfect for carrying perishable items because their main purpose is maintaining a certain temperature. If your cargo does not need temperature control, choosing a reefer can result in unnecessary expenses. In such cases, a dry van lacking specialized cooling systems may be a more economical and practical choice.

What factors should I consider when choosing between a reefer and a dry van?

There are a few things to consider when choosing between a dry van and a reefer. First and foremost, assess the cargo’s nature. A reefer is probably the best option if it is perishable and needs exact temperature control. Consider the transportation needs, the journey’s conditions, and the distance. Budgetary restrictions are important because the operational costs of reefers are typically greater. Evaluate how sensitive the cargo is to temperature changes and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each choice to help you make an informed decision that best suits your unique transportation needs.