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Home CALL 01509 230811 Headshot of Alan Tilley, Planning Engineer at Jackson Coachworks

Alan Tilley

Planning Engineer

5 or 3 Element Panel

All our bodies are built as standard with 5 element panels, because we strongly believe the finished body is much better for it. Many people, however, are not aware of the differences between the two, or even which their vehicle is made of.

Simply put, 3 element panels have just the 3 parts - the insulation and a layer of laminate on either side. 5 element panels have 5 parts - the insulation, a layer of plywood on either side, and a layer of laminate on top of the plywood on both sides.

5 Element Panel

3 Element Panel

Layer of plywood

Laminate on top of the plywood

Laminate directly onto the insulation

The main advantages of 5 element panels are:


The layers of plywood in a 5 element panel makes them vastly stronger then 3 element panels.

The easiest way to demonstrate this is to hit both with a hammer (i.e. a similar impact to that which it may receive if a vehicle collides with an object). The hammer will barely mark the 5 element panel, but do much more damage to the 3 element panel.

Accidents are unavoidable, but this extra strength will greatly reduce the amount of damage incurred, therefore reducing the lifetime costs of the vehicle by reducing necessary repairs.


The layer of plywood also means that the laminate on the outside is finished much more smoothly. If you look down the side of a vehicle, a 5 element panel will have a smooth aesthetically pleasing finish, whereas the 3 element panel will have ridges where the joins in the insulation are.

This becomes even more evident when the vehicle is pulled down to low temperatures. The temperature differential between the inside of the vehicle and the outside ambient causes distortion, pulling the laminate inwards and making the ridges where the joins in the insulation are even more prominent.

Thermal Performance

Having another two layers also has the effect of greatly improving the thermal performance of a body.

The body will hold temperature much better than a body of 3 element panels, in turn meaning the refrigeration unit does not have to work as hard. This will reduce the fuel costs of running the unit, and reduce the potential for breakdowns.

Everything we do when building refrigerated bodies is focused around making sure we are producing the very best available in all aspects, including strength, appearance and durability. It is for these reasons we always specify 5 element panels as standard, as without them the same high quality cannot be achieved.

However, all our bodies are 100% built to your requirements, and so if you specifically would like us to use 3 element panels for your vehicle, we are happy to do so. Please just let us know if this is the case.

5 Element Panels for Rerigerated Box Bodies 3 Element Panels for Rerigerated Box Bodies

“For us, using 5 element panels is an obvious choice. We are determined to build the very best body available, and this is part of it.

The simple truth is that they make a much stronger and efficient body than anything else available.”