October 19, 2023 0 Comments

A Guide to Buying your First Refrigerated Van

Refrigerated vans are a must-have in various industries, including food and drink, pharmaceuticals and even floristry. They provide consistent and safe temperatures for the transport of goods and are integral to running a successful business. Available in various shapes and sizes, choosing the right refrigerated van for you and your business needs can be difficult. In this guide, we’ll discuss what to look out for and the considerations you need to make before buying your first refrigerated van. 

Why do you need a refrigerated van?

Before jumping into what vans are out there and what features you might want to include, it’s important to understand what purpose a refrigerated van would serve to you and your business. Refrigerated vans are ideal for businesses that need to safely and efficiently transport cargo at a controlled temperature, for example, perishable foods or medicine. Some of the most common industries that utilise refrigerated vans include:


If you believe your business would benefit from using refrigerated vans then you’re ready to move on to some key considerations for purchasing your refrigerated van.


What size refrigerated van do you need?

One of the first things to consider should be your cargo volume. How many goods are you transporting in one journey, and how big is the load? You need to consider whether the van’s dimensions are suitable for your business, as bigger vans will tend to be more expensive. If you are simply transporting small orders locally, a smaller refrigerated van may be more suitable, such as the Volkswagen Refrigerated Caddy van

For longer, cross-country trips with a heavier load, a larger van, such as the Mercedes Sprinter Luton Box van, may be more suitable due to its bigger interior and payload of 1060kg; double what the VW Caddy van holds. 

What temperature do you need for your refrigerated van?

The second key factor you need to consider is what temperature range you require for your refrigerated van. Different cargo and products will require various temperatures to maintain their freshness. For example:

  • Florists need to store cut flowers between 0 to -1°C before they will start to wilt and ultimately become unusable. 
  • Dairy products must be legally kept below 8°C during transportation in the UK.
  • Chilled food, such as poultry, meat, fruit and vegetables, must be legally kept below 8°C but ideally below 5°C.
  • Frozen food should be kept at -12°C, but best practice recommends -18°C.

When researching refrigerated vans, be sure to consider the temperature range available in each van and whether it is suitable enough for your cargo. At Cool Running Rental, many of our refrigerated vans offer a temperature range of +/- 25°C, which is ideal for a range of products and industries. 

Some refrigerated vans can simultaneously store goods at multiple temperatures, for example, the Vauxhall Jiffy van. This van is ideal for both hot and cold catering needs, with fitted fridges and heated areas, keeping your food at its optimal temperature.


What kind of refrigeration unit do you need?

Refrigerated vans typically have one of two refrigeration systems; direct and remote refrigeration. 

Direct refrigeration uses an integrated compressor that keeps your cargo cool directly but can take up a fair bit of space on the interior of the van. 

Remote refrigeration utilises an external unit, typically on the van’s roof. 

Again, you should determine what is the best option for you on the size and load capacity of your van. Smaller vans may benefit from remote refrigeration, whilst larger vans with more cargo might do better with a direct refrigeration unit. 

The refrigerated Mercedes Sprinter 314 van uses a GAH refrigeration unit, fitted with in-cab controls so you can monitor and adjust your temperature from the front seat. 

How much does a refrigerated van cost?

Perhaps the most important factor to consider is your budget. Buying a refrigerated van is an investment, and you need to not only consider the upfront cost but also the ongoing expenses such as fuel, maintenance and insurance. Will your business consistently generate enough profit to justify using a refrigerated van? 

A good option to start out with may be to consider renting or leasing a refrigerated van to gather a feel for whether it is the right option for your business. 

Renting or leasing can be a more cost-effective option to start with before committing to a purchase. At Cool Running Rental, all our vans come with a 24-hour support hotline, professional servicing, and flexible leasing. 

You may also want to consider buying second-hand. Lots of pre-owned refrigerated vans can be a more budget-friendly option to start out with, and with Cool Running Rental, you can be sure you are getting a fully serviced and maintained refrigerated van as they come directly from our rental fleet. Take a look at some of our second-hand refrigerated vans for sale.

For a more in-depth guide on the costs of refrigerated vans, read our blog How much does a refrigerated van cost?’.


Finally, some extra factors you may want to think about might involve considering the drop frequency of your deliveries. If you are making lots of short journeys with many drop-offs, you will be opening your van door for longer periods of time. This will affect the internal temperature of your products, so it may be best to choose a van capable of reaching colder temperatures than what you require. 

Depending on where you work, you may want to consider whether you are ULEZ compliant. In London, they have introduced an Ultra Low Emission Zone in a bid to help the environment, but this means older vans may be penalised. If you are travelling through London or other ULEZ zones, consider a newer van or an electric van.

Lastly, does your business have any unique requirements? Whether it’s thermal curtains or an overnight standby function, customising your refrigerated van can be beneficial to you and your business. 

At Cool Running Rental, we offer a wide range of refrigerated vans to meet all your transportation needs. We offer hire, lease and buying options, so get in touch today with our expert team for a free quote, and begin your refrigerated journey with us.