Airflow management in reefer containers and trailers – It may not seem like something that an average person would think about. Airflow in a refrigerated container versus that in a traditional container is not something that an average person would think about. But if you are moving fresh produce or other refrigerated products, it is a very important subject.
There is a huge difference in refrigerated (reefer) trailers and containers. The air flow moves differently in each of these containers, and it makes a difference in how well the cargo is preserved. Poor air flow circulation can cause the product to be partially or entirely ruined before it arrives at its destination.
Airflow Management in Trailers vs. Containers
Airflow in a reefer trailer is pushed in through the top of the trailer and circulated from the back of the trailer to the front. Along the way, the air becomes warmer because of the distance it has to travel before being recycled through the refrigeration unit again. This means that much of the product at the front of the trailer is being held at a warmer temperature than that at the back. This can lead to product loss and contamination.
Airflow in a reefer container is handled much differently. The cold air is pumped into the container from the bottom of the unit. This is done because of the way the floors are made in the container. Known as a “T” floor, the air flows more evenly through the container and remains cooler throughout the recycling process. This results in the product being kept in a more stable and safer temperature environment.
Reefer trailers do not use the T floor in their units because of the additional weight this adds. Trailers are restricted by weight limits, and reefer trailer manufacturers would prefer more space in their trailers than more weight. So, the top airflow system is used.
Peace of Mind with Containers
If you are concerned with the safety and quality of your cold storage units, you may wish to convert to cold storage or reefer containers instead of using trailers. The containers will protect the product more effectively and reduce overall spoilage.
Portables 360 offers two different types of reefer containers. Each container is capable of easily maintaining a temperature of -20 degrees to 70 degrees. This allows companies to transport a wide variety of products using the same containers. Investing in refrigerated containers is a very cost-effective way to transport your product safely while reducing loss.
It is important to keep refrigerated containers clean, especially when storing fresh or perishable materials. Similar to how our refrigerators and air conditioners get extra attention during spring cleaning, regular cleaning of refrigerated containers is essential to keep them in good shape.
Reefer containers are similar to refrigerators and AC units at home, so much so that they need love and care to operate efficiently. As the change of weather brings pollen, dirt, dust, and the start of humid warm air, regular cleaning is key to reducing the potential for mechanical issues down the road.
When considering how to start cleaning your refrigerated unit, Portables360 likes to break it down into two parts – the exterior and interior. The guide below will review how our units can be efficiently cleaned so they can run smoothly and use less energy, saving you time and money.
Cleaning the Exterior of a Refrigerated Container
The exposed components can be divided into three sections:
For Portables360 units, the compressor is not a major or time-consuming concern because the majority of the ones in our fleet are scroll compressors. These energy-efficient and quiet compressors are hermetically sealed, making it difficult for the weather and ambient conditions to impact the unit.
2. Compressor Fan
This is the large fan behind the grates on the outside of the container. Over time the fan, fins, and bearings get dirty and/or wear. A dirty fan (and components) can cause a louder fan operation, strain the motor, and speed up wear on the bearings.
3. Condensor Coils
The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, turning it into a hot, high-pressure gas. This gas leaves the compressor and flows into the condenser coils.
This is where the refrigerant releases much of the heat. As it cools, the refrigerant changes from a hot gas to a hot liquid. The condenser fan pulls outside air through the coils’ metal fins helping cool the refrigerant gases.
As air passes through the coils over time, the dust, pollen, debris, leaves, etc. will accumulate and clog the coil and fins.
Clogged coils will not only put excessive wear on the fans, but the reduced airflow limits the refrigeration units’ efficiency. Moreover, it could cause the system to overheat and shut down.
Cleaning the Compressor, Compressor Fan, and Condensor Coils
Cleaning the three components is simple: simply turn the unit off using the power button (Thermo King units) or I/O toggle switch (Carrier). Once the unit is powered off, you can remove the metal plates using a Phillips head screwdriver or socket wrench. You can also clean without removing the plates.
Next, with the unit turned off, take a low-pressure hose (i.e. garden hose) and rinse the fan and the coils until the water runs clear. You can flow the water upward through the fins or down/outward from the fan blades. Make sure to fully rinse as many rows as your water can access.
Finally, replace the metal plates/grate and turn the machine back on.
Once the unit is back on, we always recommend forcing it into a manual defrost. This will activate the heater on the evaporator coils, and melt any accumulated ice. This cycle can run from 5-to-20 minutes and will automatically return to the normal operating cycle.
Cleaning the Interior of a Refrigerated Container
The reefer units are equipped with two massive evaporator fans hidden behind the inside back panel of the unit. Most people don’t realize how much air enters the unit every time the doors are opened. When on, these fans are circulating and pulling return air from the box and doorway when the doors are open.
While we always recommend powering down while entering/exiting the unit, we know that’s not always feasible. To limit the air exchange as much as possible and Portables360 installs vinyl curtains at the doors. Meanwhile, the air entering the unit is “wet” air that typically cycles directly to the evaporator fans and freezes on the evaporator coils.
Regular defrosting cycles help to reduce the ice coating on these coils. Similar to the dirt on the condenser coils, ice on the evaporator coils will both limit airflow and make it difficult for the unit to drop and/or maintain low temperatures.
Separate from the defrost cycles, we always recommend customers consider the occasional full-box defrost. To do this, you have to remove all cargo, set the temperature to 70°F, and operate the unit for 24 hours. This will melt any accumulated ice on the coils and/or ice that settled on the ground in front of the supply vent.
We also recommend checking the drain holes inside the box. Every box is equipped with 4 drain holes at each of the interior corners. The finite screen and/or float balls frequently get clogged and limit the amount of water expelled from the interior.
There are many ways to clean the drain holes, such as:
- Compressed air
- Pressurized water
- Simply pulling the drain gizmo from the hole and rinsing it
Portables360’s fleet is the youngest in the marketplace, therefore requiring less ongoing maintenance than any other leased unit. That said, seasonal cleaning is about taking steps to ensure your unit is energy efficient and removes any debris or contaminants inside the unit that may damage your future cargos.
Contact Portables360 to find an easy-to-maintain container for your storage needs!
Portable storage containers have found many uses in recent years. In addition to shipping goods, these containers have been used to construct homes and hotels, build offices, create emergency shelters, and generate grow areas for specialty plants and foods.
Portable storage containers have become workshops and garages, on-site offices, and even training facilities for fire and rescue workers. It is truly amazing what can be done with a shipping container.
However, when you get back to basics, these shipping containers are made for just that – shipping goods. Many people have found that a portable container makes the perfect space for shipping their personal or business belongings over long distances.
Portable containers are weatherproof, solidly built, and some even have refrigeration if you need to keep your goods at a certain temperature during transport. Knowing how to pack a storage container is important. Regardless of how sturdy these containers are, for the best protection of your items, you should:
Pack the Heaviest Items in the Middle
To keep your container balanced while it is being picked up and set down, it is always better to pack your heaviest items in the middle of the container. Make sure that you secure them to the container so that they do not shift when the container is being moved.
Pack all of your other belongings around the heavy items until the container is full. Make sure that you have space to open and close the door. You should always secure boxes and other items with bungee cords or stops, even if they are lightweight. Adjustable straps are excellent for keeping items from shifting during travel.
If you are packing a refrigerated container, you will want to make sure that the airflow is not interrupted in the container. The air conditioning works by circulating the cold air throughout the trailer. Usually this is accomplished through vents in the flooring. Make sure that all of your vents are open and that nothing is blocking the hoses running the system. This will help protect your items from temperature damage.
If you are traveling over long distances, or through areas where there will be weather changes from your current temperatures, make sure that your items are protected from the weather change. Unless you have already insulated the shipping container, there is a risk that the container could become very hot or very cold when you are moving to a different climate. Items like electronics, vinyl records, DVDs or CDs can all be negatively impacted by temperature changes. If the items you have packed in the container will be harmed by severe temperature changes, you need to take precautions.
The final thing to remember when you pack a storage container is to put all the light or breakable items at the top of boxes or bins. Moving can be difficult for delicate items. Take your time and ensure you have protected and secured everything as well as possible.
Restaurants that are experiencing growth may find that they need extra refrigeration space. This could present a problem for restaurants located in a building that they lease or at a location with limited renovation space. Additionally, many restaurants do not want to close their location for renovations or risk moving to a lower traffic location. There are even some new shipping container restaurants opening in the hottest locations worldwide.
So, what do you do? You cannot afford to stunt the growth of your business, but you also cannot grow without enough refrigeration space.
The answer: Use refrigeration trailers for walk-in coolers at your restaurant.
The Benefits of Refrigeration Trailers for Restaurants
A shortage of cold storage space can be solved by creating a shipping container walk-in cooler for your business. You can purchase a refrigerated shipping container and have it converted into a cold storage space for your company with little investment or time. These containers can be placed anywhere on your property and will maintain your food products at desired temperatures with ease.
Portables360 offers refrigeration trailers for restaurants in two different sizes so that you can always have the room you need for your company. Portables360 can even customize your trailers so that you have two different temperatures in the same unit which will allow you to store different food products in one area.
Using a shipping container walk-in cooler is also very convenient for your business. The container can be placed anywhere on the property and is safe and secure. These containers are airtight and you will not have to worry about anyone or anything entering the container when the door is shut.
These shipping containers can be used as a temporary cold storage solution, or you can make them into a permanent fixture for your property. Portables360 offers leasing options as well as purchase options on all of their refrigerated containers.
Customize your Walk-In Freezer Container
The beauty of this type of cold storage solution is that these containers can be customized to meet your needs. Shelving, lighting, and other specialty changes can be made to the container so that it fulfills all of your needs. Even if you are only looking for a temporary cold storage solution, you can change these containers to provide you with exactly what you need in storage space.
All of our containers have been designed for even consistent cooling via Airflow Management. Any containers that do not implement this technology will be very cold in one area and warmer at the opposite end. This can lead to product spoilage or contamination. Our refrigerated containers have been designed to push the cooled air evenly through the container so that all areas maintain the same temperature.
If you need to expand your cold storage space, even on a temporary basis, contact Portables360 to find the right refrigerated container to meet your needs.
Everyone understands that certain products need to be kept at a cooler temperature while they are being transported. Ice cream, for instance, cannot travel in a shipping container that is not held at 32 degrees or colder. Produce, some beers and wine, and meat all must be transported under controlled temperatures.
Businesses use refrigerated shipping containers to move their product safely and at the right temperature. But how does a refrigerated shipping trailer work? The system is quite simple and only consists of three major components.
How a Refrigerated Shipping Trailer Operates
The first thing that you must understand is that any refrigeration unit works on a closed system. Having a closed system is essential for maintaining temperature control. The system must be sealed for it to work properly since part of the refrigeration process includes the use of gas.
The cooling unit on a refrigerated shipping trailer contains three major components: The condenser, the compressor, and the evaporator.
The compressor is a small engine that powers the refrigeration unit. The job of the compressor is to take in the refrigerant and compress it into a liquid. While the refrigerant is being compressed into a liquid, the heat is being released. This is one of the reasons that you will feel the heat coming off of the compressor while it is working.
The condenser is the next component of the system. The condenser receives the liquid from the compressor and then cools it by running it through the tubing and cooling it with a fan. This part of the cooling system works very similarly to a car radiator.
The final component of the cooling unit is the evaporator. The evaporator receives the cooled liquid and causes it to evaporate so that it can cool the designated area. The cooling unit on these trailers works similar to the cooling units on your homes.
Cooling a trailer is basically that simple. Refrigerated shipping trailers take other precautions as well to make sure that the cooling system works properly and manages to keep all the product at the same temperature.
Insulation and Airflow
A refrigerated shipping trailer is insulated in a way that when the trailer is cooled, it can maintain the right temperature. Additionally, many of these trailers are specially designed so that the cool air flows throughout the trailer at all times and not just blowing at one end. If the cool air is not circulated through the unit, some of the product may be affected.
If you need to transport or store goods at a controlled temperature, a refrigerated trailer will be your best choice. These containers are perfect for transporting products as well as for using as stand-alone cold storage units for restaurants, stores, and personal hobbies like homebrewing.