Reflective Reefers

In the transportation sector, sustainable practices are not only beneficial for the environment but also for the bottom line of businesses. Fuel efficiency, carbon emissions reduction, and lower maintenance costs are areas of focus for fleet operators globally. One innovation in the quest for sustainable practices is the introduction of reflective reefer trailers. Reefers, or refrigerated trailers, traditionally come with a standard roof, but new advancements include a reflective coating designed to reduce heat absorption, thus lowering the energy consumption of the refrigeration unit.

Reflective Reefs: An Overview

Reflective reefer trailers, or "cool roofs," involve the application of a reflective coating on the roof of the reefer trailer. The reflective surface helps to deflect solar heat, thereby reducing the heat load on the refrigeration unit. Consequently, the unit uses less energy to maintain the temperature inside the trailer, leading to decreased fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Sustainability Implications

The primary sustainability benefit of reflective reefer trailers lies in their potential to significantly reduce energy use and associated emissions. Studies show that the application of a reflective coating can decrease the temperature of a trailer roof by up to 30%, resulting in up to a 15% reduction in refrigeration unit fuel consumption. This reduction in fuel use translates into a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, assisting in the fight against climate change.

Moreover, reflective reefer trailers can mitigate urban heat island effects, as they do not absorb as much heat as traditional roofs and therefore contribute less to local warming.

Total Cost of Ownership

The TCO for reflective reefer trailers includes the initial investment in the reflective coating, maintenance costs, and operational savings from reduced energy consumption. While the upfront cost of a reflective reefer can be higher than a traditional one due to the price of the reflective coating, the reduced energy usage can lead to significant savings in the long run.

With less energy required for the refrigeration unit, fuel consumption decreases, leading to lower ongoing operational costs. Additionally, as the refrigeration unit has to work less hard, wear and tear on the unit could potentially be reduced, resulting in lower maintenance and repair costs.

In a recent study, it was found that reflective reefer trailers could achieve a payback period of around three years, making them a financially viable choice for fleet operators looking to reduce their TCO.


Reflective reefer trailers represent a significant step towards sustainability and cost efficiency in commercial fleet operations. While the initial cost is higher than that of traditional reefers, the potential savings in energy and maintenance, along with the environmental benefits, make reflective reefer trailers a promising choice for the future of refrigerated transportation.

Further research is recommended, particularly in the long-term performance and durability of the reflective coating. This will aid fleet operators in making more informed decisions and contribute to the ongoing development and refinement of this innovative technology.

Updated: 2023-06-20