Refrigerated vehicles are great for transporting goods that need to be kept at a certain temperature. Most people only encounter refrigeration at home in their kitchens, so they may not know how refrigerated vehicles work. Like household fridges, refrigeration vehicles make use of an insulated airtight compartment and a condenser system to remove any remaining heat on the inside of the van.
As the van will be outside and has a heat generating engine at the front, insulation is absolutely essential to a successful vehicle and the insulation used is often of a higher quality and much thicker than that used in household fridges. It’s generally made of extremely high-density polymer foam that contains billions of miniscule air bubbles to stop heat from entering the vehicle.
The apparatus used in this process has three main elements to lower the temperature of the van, potentially below freezing:
The condenser is a network of thin pipes containing coolant fluid, designed to absorb heat in an efficient way. It absorbs heat inside the system ad it runs through the pipe system. As the coolant heats up in the system, it turns to a gas.
The compressor & Evaporator
When this gas reaches the other end of the pipe network the compressor compresses it to an extremely high pressure. The evaporator then pushes air from outside through the high-pressure gas. This turns the coolant gas back into a liquid by cooling the gas, and diffuses the heat into the atmosphere.
One of the main differences between fridges and fridge vans is that rather than having a connection to mains electricity, vans use a direct drive mechanism that powers the refrigeration compartment through power generated by the engine.
Despite this, if the van is expected to be stationary for long periods of time such as vans used for on-site catering, they can make use of a separate generator. If you’re hiring a fridge van for delivery, however, a typical fridge van is a lot more efficient.