Coldtainer portable refrigerated and heated containers are a cost effective alternative to a customized refrigerated van conversion or dedicated refrigerated boxed truck.

A wide range of industries in the supply chain rely on refrigerated vehicles for their business operations. Refrigerated vehicles are a critical solution to ensure the right temperature during transport and maintaining the safety, integrity and regulatory compliance of temperature sensitive goods. Investing capital to acquire a dedicated refrigerated boxed vehicle or a customized refrigerated van conversion depends on a number of financial and operational factors.
There are now cost effective alternatives to refrigerated vans that use dry commercial vehicles with autonomous portable refrigerated or heated containers in various configurations to create single or multiple temperature zones. These industrial-grade portable units reduce the need for dedicated refrigerated fleet vehicles, and allow flexibility during spikes and lulls in market activity.

Refrigerated van conversions

Depending on your business and delivery requirements, upfitting a van with a refrigerated conversion kit creates a robust and dedicated refrigerated transport vehicle.

These vehicles offer excellent refrigerated transport performance but have a high upfront expense and require regular maintenance to ensure delivery uptime.

Once the make, model and size of the van has been determined, adding the refrigerated van conversion is the next step. It requires the installation of an insulated van liner that is custom fit for the cargo area. The liner covers the roof, walls and doors and includes a sealed and durable floor treatment.

Mounted into the roof of the van is an external direct drive refrigeration unit that comes with an internal evaporator. Selecting the right reefer unit depends on the type of cargo that is being transported and the required temperature set-point that must be maintained to safely transport the goods. Other important considerations are the external climate (including temperature fluctuations) and the number of door openings in a delivery day which all influence the performance of the reefer unit.

Refrigerated van conversions come in 4 types depending on the intended use:

Insulated van conversion: for transporting non-perishable goods using basic levels of insulation (approx. 50mm thick) in the cargo area that provides minimal temperature control from external and internal temperature variances.

Chiller van conversion: using a slightly thicker insulation, the liner is combined with a roof mounted refrigeration unit and evaporator maintains temperatures between 0°C and -8°C (depending on the reefer unit specifications).

Semi-freezer van conversion: similar to the chiller van, the semi-freezer van uses thicker wall installation and a higher BTU rated reefer unit that can maintain temperatures down to -15°C.

Full-freezer van conversion: these vans utilize the thickest van liners (approx. 100mm thick) including insulated side and rear doors, insulated roofs and specially treated floors with a reefer unit that can pull-down temperatures to -20ºC and even -29ºC if required.

The lead-time needed to order, design and build a complete refrigerated van conversion can range depending on equipment availability. Economic challenges and supply chain delays can further compromise the delivery time of these solutions and subsequently impact fleet operations and revenue.

Coldtainer refrigerated and heated portable containers

Coldtainer’s refrigerated and heated self-contained insulated containers offer several advantages over dedicated refrigerated van conversions. Portable, easy to load and ready to work, they make an attractive alternative.

Lower Capital Cost with immediate benefits

Ranging in cargo capacities of 22litres up to 915litres, a Coldtainer solution can cost 1.5x to 2x less than a refrigerated van conversion (including liner and reefer unit*). Easy to use and ready to be added to your delivery fleet, Coldtainer portable containers are perfect for mobile or van delivery operations and provide all the benefits of precise temperature control.

Reduced maintenance requirements

Refrigerated van conversions with liners and reefer units require ongoing scheduled maintenance to ensure proper uptime and performance. Coldtainer portable containers are self contained systems that are ruggedized and designed to deliver peak performance in a 24/7 operation. Using rotational molding technology, these units are constructed from food-grade and UV resistant, double walled polyethylene and polyurethane foam insulation. Built with inner rounded corners and no joining seams, these portable containers offer HACCP-level cleaning to ensure regulatory food and pharmaceutical transport standards.

Unlimited configurations across any vehicle

From seasonal market fluctuations, peaks and lulls in service, unexpected vehicle damage and regular maintenance, Coldtainers can be easily moved in and out of any delivery vehicle in the fleet as required. Commercial cargo vans which are intended for multiple uses are the perfect pairing with Coldtainers as they offer flexibility when business requirements change. And since Coldtainers plug directly into a vehicles’ 12V electrical system or run autonomous using an onboard rechargeable battery, there is no need to tamper with the integrity of the vehicle’s electrical system. During extended overlay or storage downtime, Coldtainers can be plugged directly into a 120V A/C shore power and remain operational either in the warehouse or at the destination.

Create instant multi-temperature delivery vehicles

Depending on the mix of cargo and the thermal sensitivity of the goods being transported, these portable containers can be combined in a single vehicle to offer a range of temperatures that instantly creates a multi temperature delivery solution. Choose from heated (up to +65°C and even +85°C); dry, ambient (+30°C down to +0°C); cool (0°C down to -21°C); frozen (down to -30°C). Capable of emitting low amounts of heat in the cargo area, Coldtainers can also be quickly setup inside refrigerated trucks and transport trailers to create dynamic multi-temp zones without the added expense of thermal partitions or dual evaporators.
*Cost based on a van conversion liner for a 130” wheel base with a 14,400 BTU reefer unit.


Developing solutions that improve air quality, reduce noise pollution and decongest urban areas is top of mind and larger cities are mandating these environmental policies for urban delivery. Maintaining such requirements require additional consideration when using traditional refrigerated truck and van solutions. Not to mention the lead time to build these dedicated vehicles and the ongoing costs needed to operate and maintain them puts pressure on the bottom line. While they perform well, they offer limited flexibility to re-configure the cargo area according to changing load and operational requirements.

Designed to handle virtually any industry and any operational requirement, Coldtainer portable refrigerated and heated containers are eco friendly and are easy to load and unload. Using 12V vehicle power, autonomous onboard rechargeable batteries or 120V A/C shore power, they can be stacked, rearranged and moved around as needed. Coldtainers are the ideal solution to add to an existing delivery fleet, and the perfect solution for electric delivery trucks, vans or small personal vehicles.