All-Electric Should Mean “All Electric” Even in Refrigerated Applications

As electric trucks gain traction in the marketplace, their utilization will largely be driven by application. The pick-up and delivery (P&D) segment, which features predictable routes and returns to its base at the end of each day for charging, makes a lot of sense for electric trucks. What doesn’t make a lot of sense, is spec’ing an electric truck for P&D, and equipping it with a diesel-powered refrigeration unit, as many do in food and beverage distribution.

Great Dane recognized the need for an all-electric solution and is poised to take advantage of this new trend by expanding the offering of its all-electric refrigeration system, the Johnson AE Series. The Johnson AE system utilizes cold plate technology and battery power to provide consistent BTU capacity for most refrigerated applications, all without the need to burn diesel to refrigerate.

While cold plate technology isn’t new, the refrigeration engineering team in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has developed a number of solutions to some of the old pains associated with using cold plates like temperature controls and temperature recovery.

The new Johnson AE system comes standard-equipped with a programmable logic control (PLC) module that enables the entire system to run more efficiently, using less energy. The system has a new set of fans that are more powerful than previous cold plate systems. The fan system provides the correct BTU capacity for the specific application and it allows for air circulation through the plates for fast recovery after a stop. If the truck body requires temperature, a battery-powered system can also activate the fan system when the truck is at a scheduled delivery stop or when the truck engine is off. Think of it like your refrigerator at home – it only runs when it’s needed. So cross “temperature control” off your list of cold plate concerns.

When it comes to potential cold plate freezing, the Johnson AE Series is one step ahead of the issue thanks to its automatic defrost system that cleans the plate every time the system is plugged in at a power station. Cleaning the plates is imperative for keeping a cold plate system operating efficiently. If the cold plates are not defrosted, the condensation will make them less efficient. In the past, cold plates were cleaned with water or with a gas sequential system, and older defrost systems were based on a timer when the truck was plugged in, which would reset the auto defrost system when the truck was unplugged and repositioned. With the new PLC, the Johnson AE system controls the defrost cycle with built-in intelligence that limits the number of times the system defrosts. It only activates the auto defrost when the system and plates require it.

An additional benefit of the Johnson AE system is that the unit runs completely independent of the chassis power. For trucks that are equipped with alternative fuels like gas or electric power, the Johnson AE system will not tax any of the chassis power.

The Johnson AE refrigeration system is currently available on all of Great Dane’s Johnson Series composite truck bodies: The Johnson C-Series, R-Series and S-Series. Plans are in the works to include this all-electric refrigerated solution in other refrigerated truck bodies like the Alpine. For those interested in exploring the benefits of all-electric refrigeration, please contact the Great Dane Truck Body team at 1-800-922-8360 Ext. 2.


All-electric refrigeration

The Johnson AE refrigeration system is offered throughout the entire lineup of Johnson refrigerated truck bodies – from the maximum payload powerhouse C-Series to the thermally efficient R-Series and the compact, temperature-controlled S-Series.

The C-Series bodies are built to protect and insulate. The composite truck body’s interiors and exteriors employ white fiberglass that is durable and corrosion-resistant. Its high-pressure foam insulation system produces panels with the highest thermal performance rating in the industry.

The R-Series’ low ground-to-floor height helps reduce injuries and lets drivers quickly identify products at ground level. It offers a choice of two, three, four or five doors per side with multi-temperature capabilities. A roof-mounted condensing unit optimizes freezer space.

The S-Series packs a productive punch into the smallest fiberglass composite, temperature-controlled truck body Great Dane offers. This 8-foot long insulated body with a rear access door is engineered to fit in a 3/4-ton or 1-ton pickup truck, depending on the cargo requirements. A perfect option for shorter delivery routes, it’s designed for medium and frozen product applications.