The Ultimate Guide To Refrigerated Shipping Containers

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Refrigerated shipping containers (or ‘reefers’) have been in use since the late 1970s and have changed how the world looks at cold freighting. As one of the key reasons why we’re able to ship frozen goods across the globe, there are several reasons why refrigerated shipping containers are integral to the commercial world. 

As an ode to the fantastic benefits of reefers, this blog will outline how refrigerated shipping containers operate. We will also explore their presence in the world and why a person or company would require one. After this article, you’ll understand what makes these robust chilly boxes so important. 

How Does A Refrigerated Shipping Container Work?

The most obvious question is, “how does this container stay cool?” While the shipping container sits on a vessel, it’s typically run on shore power. The shore power charges the generators, which then supply energy to the container and keep the interior cold. Furthermore, shore power refers to the electrical energy supplied from the shore to a vessel at birth. A reefer transported by truck or train will have an external power source. 

Each refrigerated container has a “T-floor”, promoting airflow under the cargo. Here, the air is chilled and then returned to the main area via vents and cools the room. There is also warm air present at the top of the container, which is similarly returned to the main site room for a period of cooling. 

How Do You Optimally Pack A Refrigerated Shipping Container 

It’s essential to properly load a refrigerated container, not just for maximising space but also for functional purposes. Free space or openings in the container can lead to “chimneys” or short cycles in the entire airflow. 

Heat-treated plywood covering is necessary if cargo pallets cannot fill the entire floor. While typical shipping containers do not need to be held to such high standards, reefers require efficient storing due to the coolant imbalances. 

This flow of air and gas can be beneficial to sensitive items like fruit and vegetables. The air current can transport carbon dioxide and ethylene, reducing the probability of spoiled produce. 

What Are Refrigerated Shipping Containers Made From? 

As one would imagine, refrigerated containers are not a simple metal box like the conventional shipping container. Some of the components of the reefer even include heating elements as a means of maintaining the cool temperature within. Some of these integral parts include: 

  1. Fans – for air circulation.
  2. Air Vent – ensuring that fresh air enters and the interior air is expelled.
  3. Control Console – electronically control the climate of the inside of the container.
  4. Unit Evaporator – Reducing excess moisture, which may involve heating the container.
  5. Condenser – Extracting cool air from the top and discharging it under the container’s floor.

Why Would A Company Need A Refrigerated Shipping Container? 

As briefly mentioned above, refrigerated containers are reserved for contents that require a cool environment. There are endless items throughout the world that require a specifically cooler climate for transport. Some of these include: 

  • Fruit & Vegetables 
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Medicine 
  • Plants
  • General perishables

The above products are integral exports for a country like New Zealand. They contribute millions of dollars to the economy and require flawless shipment to ensure safe delivery. As a result, refrigerated shipping containers are functional structures that have become an integral part of the country’s strength. 


At ContainerCo, we have several 20 ft shipping containers for sale in NZ that can be delivered to your desired location. Depending on the purpose of the container, you can also hire for the short or long term. However, purchasing the container can offer a more permanent solution to your needs. We have 40 ft, 20 ft and 10 ft shipping containers for sale NZ-wide. 

We also undertake container modifications in NZ for site office creation, break rooms and bathrooms and various other portable buildings. Dangerous goods, refrigerated shipping containers, and accessible containers with a side door offering full side access. Open-top containers can also be purchased through ContainerCo. 

Our containers range from 10 ft, 20 ft and 40 ft containers for sale. We have containers for sale in Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, Wellington, Waikato and NZ-wide. Or try hiring containers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, and NZ-wide. Buy containers that are entirely suited to your individual needs. 

Contact us on 0508 732 873 or request a free online quote today!

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