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Is it Cheaper to Convert an Old Refrigerator Van or Buy a New Refrigerator Van?

Joe Dickman | August 1st, 2022

Suppose you own a young transportation company that requires refrigerated vans. In that case, you’re probably trying to gauge the cost of a new refrigerated van and wondering whether it would be cheaper to convert an old van into a refrigerated one. If it is more affordable, will it allow you to provide the same quality of service as a new one? The answer to the first question is certainly yes for the short term, but the answer to the second question is debatable.

If you’re trying to convert an old van, you have to decide if you will install a new or used refrigeration system. A used refrigeration system will cost less in the short term, but it may mean you have to repair it more often. A new refrigeration system will be pricier, but you can expect it to last longer. Ultimately, you will get what you pay for. In addition to the refrigeration system, you will need your van to be insulated, which is a separate cost.

Depending on the unit you purchase and the service provider you choose to install it, the cost of converting an old van could run anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000. Depending on the size of the van, the cost of buying a new reefer van can range between $30,000 to $60,000. While that seems to be a significant amount of money you can save on your upfront cost of starting your business, buying a new refrigerated van could be an invaluable investment.

First, having a good reputation when you start your business is essential. The last thing you want to deal with is losing a shipment and having an unsatisfied client because your used refrigeration system broke down in transit just a few weeks after you bought it. Or your used unit may be having problems, in general, getting the temperature exactly right. Word of mouth or a bad review of such a mishap could sink your business, and you may not be able to recover. Buying a new refrigerated van is the best way to ensure that you provide a reliable delivery service that keeps the items you’re shipping at the exact temperature they need to be. Buying a new van also means you can customize it to suit the specific cargo you transport. The manufacturer you buy from should be able to work with you to build out certain temperature zones.

Buying a new vehicle will also help your operating budget regarding repair costs. Repairing a refrigerated unit isn’t cheap, so trying to convert an old van could be more expensive in the long run than buying a new one. More often than not, new vans will also be more fuel-efficient than old ones, saving you money on fuel.

Emerald Transportation Solutions will help you build the perfect brand new refrigerated van for your business at the most affordable price if you’re looking for reefer vans for sale. We have refrigerated vans for sale that will last for years to come, so you can focus on serving your customers. Give our team a call today so we can find the right van for you.

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What does under DOT mean?

Questions regarding DOT requirements come up often. 10,000 lbs GVW (gross vehicle weight) and over are commercial vehicles that fall under the Department of Transportation regulatory requirements.

What is the difference between GVW and payload?

GVW or Gross Vehicle Weight is the entire weight of the vehicle including the payload. The payload weight represents the amount of cargo you are hauling.

What is a self-powered unit and a vehicle-powered unit?

A self-powered unit has its own fuel source and will run independent of the truck. This is the heaviest and most expensive option. While vehicle-powered units run off the engine via a compressor mounted on the engine. These are less expensive and lighter in weight but you must run the truck or plug the electric standby into shore power.

What does K-factor mean and why is that important?

K-factor is a term that stands for the overall insulating value of the container (truck body). Quite simply the lower the K-factor the better the truck body will be able to maintain a given temperature and require less energy to do so.

How much lighter is a Poly Van vs a US spec body?

Poly Van bodies are very light. On average we estimate we are 75-150 lbs per foot lighter than a traditional sheet and post foamed in place body. These weight savings translates to less fuel burn and less CO2 emissions, along with added payload, the most important benefit.

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