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Citroen refridgerated van
Stay chilled: Somers Relay refrigerated van from Citroen’s Ready to Run range

Story: PETER McSEAN

Refrigerated vans are vital for many types of small business. But as someone with a small business, you don’t have the option of a large fleet of vans – where some are refrigerated and some not. Vans in small businesses need to multi-task. On top of that, a refrigerated van is pricier to acquire and run than an equivalent conventionally equipped van. So do you really need to have a refrigerated van full-time on your books?

  • Need a refrigerated van to try out a new business area? You can rent one for as little as a few hours

If the answer’s yes, you’ll know instantly. However, maybe you’re keen to expand the business into a new area that requires a refrigerated van but want to see how it goes before shelling out for one full-time. Or perhaps you can schedule all your refrigerated runs into tightly defined timeframes – say a few hours once or twice a week or one or two days per week.

In either case, renting a refrigerated van can prove a cost-effective option – especially if you cut a deal with the hire firm. Many hire firms are prepared to do special rates to get a guaranteed turnover from a new, regular, long-term customer.

You can rent a refrigerated van by the month, week, day or even hour. For some businesses, this as-needed approach makes good sense; for others, it won’t. Keep an open mind, do the sums and see if it’s cheaper – and more convenient – to rent instead of acquiring and running one full-time.

If you need a refrigerated van for just a few months a year – say, for taking your food business round the festival circuit – but not the whole year, a longer-term rental is almost certainly the way to go. The rental payments will give you a fixed cost to budget your business plan around and you’ll have none of the hassle or unpredictable costs of maintenance throughout the rest of the year. Rental periods of up to three months are commonly offered by reputable hire firms,

  • For frequent users, check out refrigerated boxes – you can move them between vans and they’re completely self-contained

There is another option if you need your van to carry refrigerated goods sometimes, but not others – or if you need to share refrigerated cargo duties between different vans. It’s a refrigerated box.

A refrigerated box is a self-contained insulated unit that includes the compressor and condenser within the box itself. Refrigerated boxes range typically from about 22 litres to 330 litres. They’re simple to install and easy to move between vans. You can be run them off a 12v or 24v supply, as well as a 100v or 240v source. Most of these units will chill to -24deg C and can be equipped to heat up to 40deg C.

They make a good choice for transporting smaller items, such as pharmaceuticals, medical samples and food products. In addition, it means you can carry mixed cargo – some refrigerated, some not. If your van needs to multi-task or you’re testing out a new market for your business, it’s a very cool way to do it.

So if your van refrigeration requirements are occasional, or you want to try out a new idea, you don’t strain your business van finances by jumping in with both feet. You can try these ideas first.

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