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Solar-Powered Reefers: Ready for Prime Time

Traditional reefer trucks and trailers require a diesel unit to maintain the cold temperature within, even after several deliveries with doors opening and closing. That requires separate maintenance and extra cost, as well as extra emissions. However, modern advances in solar panels and battery units have converged to create an emissions-free solution.  

A reefer truck called Rayfrigeration has been tested in 2017 in California's San Joaquin Valley, according to its creator, eNow. It has a solar panel on the roof, enough to power the refrigeration unit without a diesel unit. This enables the truck to deliver fresh dairy products in the California summer heat just like a normal reefer truck. The batteries are charged overnight via regular utility grid. eNow estimates that operating costs are slashed up to 90%, and emissions slashed at least 86%. 

To top this in 2018, eNow, in cooperation with Volta of Holland, has created a 53-ft green reefer trailer by combining its own solar panels with Volta's battery pack for enough power to keep a whole trailer cold all day. Its power can also be topped off from utility grid while being loaded/unloaded. 

Having such a power backup solution also makes the trailer more reliable. Sometimes, when the trailer was shuffled to a corner of the yard, it can sit there until its battery ran down since nobody went by to restart the diesel engine to recharge the battery. This also means the GPS tracker signal is lost, and someone had to drive around the yard looking for it, then a service tech summoned to refuel and restart it. With a solar panel, such trailers are impossible to lose, since the battery would not run down, having absorbed power during the day. 

Both Carrier TransiCold and Thermo King, two of the largest transportation refrigeration vendors, have available solar panel backups that can be mounted on your reefer now that will keep the battery topped off, should you not go for the full replacement. 

Reefers are going green, and that will save you money. 

Here at Carolina International, we look out for your bottom line. Come back for more truck technology news and everything else your truck and your business needs. 


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