Industrial refrigerators are built to provide storage services in commercial environments. They are important pieces of equipment and big purchases for foodservice businesses. Your capacity needs, the functioning and accessibility of the machine, brands, and dealers you can shop from, maintenance and cleaning requirements, installation and delivery policies, and the extent of your budget are the 7 key considerations before purchasing an industrial refrigerator.
Industrial refrigerators come in various shapes and sizes to fit into different settings and offer multiple functions to their users. As they form the backbone of many businesses, making sure you make the right choices for your needs and circumstances is important.
Types of Industrial Refrigerators
There are 5 types of industrial refrigerators you can purchase. They offer distinct advantages, and you can get several to meet different needs.
- Reach-in refrigerators are the most classic form of a fridge. They are usually smaller in capacity to be easily usable and accessible. You can simply reach into these models to grab what you need. They are perfect for in-kitchen use and storing more commonly and frequently used items.
- Walk-in refrigerators are the biggest in terms of capacity, and they are mostly utilized for long-term storage. If you buy products in bulk, you will need a walk-in unit to safely store all your ingredients. These models require a large separate space for installment and need special care in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
- Undercounter refrigerators are great for storing beverages and things you might want to serve or use frequently. They are good for small kitchens since they can be placed under the counter and occupy less space. They are accessible and can increase efficiency in the kitchen.
- Refrigerated merchandisers are commonly used in supermarkets, hospitals, and cafes. They are often equipped with glass doors so the user can browse the unit’s interior. They can store and serve beverages, snacks, and similar products a customer might want.
- Prep table refrigerators are a smart solution to tremendously ease the chef’s job. A prep table is an area where certain meals will be prepped, and having refrigerated sections in this unit can help you compartmentalize your operations and ensure that your chef has access to fresh ingredients at all times. While the refrigerated drawers of a prep table might not be massive, they are perfect for keeping moderate amounts of products fresh until needed.
7 Considerations for Industrial Refrigerators
To make an informed decision before purchasing industrial refrigerators, consider these 7 key factors: Capacity, energy efficiency, maintenance, accessibility, budget, brand, and installation.
1. Capacity and Size
You need to consider your capacity needs and spacial circumstances before purchasing. Assessing the following considerations about capacity and size help you choose your coolers.
- Assess your storage needs. All refrigeration units will come in various sizes and are meant to serve different capacity needs. Ensure you have the necessary units if you run a big establishment.
- Measure how much space you can dedicate to an industrial refrigerator. Industrial refrigerators are quite big and need space to function properly. A walk-in unit may require a separate room, while a reach-in can be easily accommodated in a regular kitchen. Make sure you have enough room for the model you wish to install and arrange your kitchen layout according to your equipment placements.
- Don’t overlook optimal sizing for efficiency. A common mistake people make when buying an industrial refrigerator is purchasing and overloading a small unit. Overloading can interfere with the functioning of your fridge and eventually cause it to break down. Assess your capacity expectations clearly to ensure the efficient functioning of your equipment.
- Pay attention to accessibility. It is just as important as the type and model of your industrial refrigerator. If you have disabled individuals within your staff, you can look into ADA-compliant refrigerators, and depending on the size of your establishment, you might be required by law to invest in ada-compliant equipment.
- Consider how you plan to organize your storage space. Storage encompasses more than industrial refrigerators alone. You need to allocate space for storage cabinets and freezers and ensure you know where to store each product you buy.
2. Temperature Control and Energy Efficiency
- Knowing an industrial refrigerator’s temperature range and consistency is important to assess its efficiency and reliability. The temperature range of a good industrial fridge should be between 36°F-45°F. Especially if you purchase a second-hand unit, ensure that temperature settings consistently work within the normal ranges. Any inconsistencies and sudden temperature drops could endanger the stored products’ health.
- Energy efficiency ratings of industrial refrigerators give you a good idea about how much you will spend or save on energy bills in the upcoming months. Energy Star refrigerators save energy and reduce costs while helping the planet.
- Compressor and refrigerant are technical terms most buyers might need to become more familiar with. Refrigerant is the cooling fluid used in the refrigerator’s cooling cycle to create and maintain the required temperatures, while the compressor is the mechanical component that makes the cooling process possible. These two points are important for your equipment’s environmental impact and longevity.
Most refrigerants have been proven harmful to the ozone layer and are being phased out of use. Make sure to opt for eco-friendly refrigerant options to protect the planet.
As for compressors, they often come in two main categories based on their placement: top-mounted and bottom-mounted. Top-mounted models are good for dryer environments and are less likely to be filled with sediments and dust. Bottom-mounted models are usually preferred for their lower prices and capacity, but they might require maintenance more often since they are close to the ground.
- Insulation quality and thickness in industrial refrigerators are measured with R-value. Especially in walk-in units, the walls’ thickness and the coating’s quality influence the machine’s overall capabilities and reliability. The R-value should be 25 or over to get the best results from your unit.
3. Maintenance and Cleaning
Maintenance and cleaning are the keys to the longevity of your industrial refrigerator. Knowing the needs of your machine and what to do in case of an emergency can save you a lot of unnecessary stress.
- Look into the maintenance requirements of your unit. Each industrial refrigerator has different needs. Some models require more frequent maintenance based on size, compressor placement, and the products it stores, while others require less. Routine care and maintenance can optimize the machine’s functioning.
- Cleaning and sanitation procedures have special nuances you should know about when cleaning an industrial refrigerator. Industrial refrigerators are used to store great quantities of food. The cleaning products you use should be safe for kitchen use, and sanitation should be done periodically. Beware of mold formation, spills, and remnants of food.
- Required downtime for maintenance and cleaning will define how much you will need to shut down the machine for cleaning and maintenance. Commercial settings buy products in bulk and need consistently cooled environments for proper storage. If the downtime is too long, that might endanger your products and run the risk of spoiling most of them, so the downtime should be as short as possible. Ensuring immediate care and an alternate space for storing items can protect your investments from going to waste.
- The machine’s seller or manufacturer provides warranty and service options. A good warranty document and a reliable service line ensure you have help when needed, but it is also crucial to understand your commercial kitchen equipment warranties to get the most out of them. Also, a reputable service line is vital as well in case of an emergency.
4. Accessibility and Ergonomics
Good accessibility and ergonomics of an industrial refrigerator will ensure that you and your staff easily use the equipment. While these details might not seem like top priority overlooking these considerations will impact your daily operations negatively.
- Ease of use for employees enables you to have a seamless workflow in your kitchen.
- Accessibility for cleaning and maintenance ensures that the staff can regularly and thoroughly clean and maintain the equipment. For instance, removable shelves and parts can ease the process by allowing movement within the unit and ensuring that every component and section of the machine is available to care.
- Convenient placement of the industrial refrigerator to optimize the workflow in your kitchen is easier than it might seem. A kitchen will need several refrigerating units, depending on its size. If you have a moderate to big kitchen, you can dedicate a space at the back for a walk-in and place a reach-in refrigerator in the kitchen for ease of use. You can also benefit from undercounter units and refrigerated prep tables to minimize food traffic in the kitchen and provide the staff with fresh ingredients in their dedicated spaces.
- Noise and vibration are natural side effects of industrial refrigerators. Due to the significant amounts of energy they spend, they can get noisy, which might increase over time as the machine ages. You can opt for quieter models to keep these harmful conditions to a minimum and provide a more comfortable space for you and your staff to work.
5. Budget Considerations
Industrial refrigerators are expensive purchases but are much-needed investments in commercial settings.
- The initial purchase cost is the buyer’s first encounter with the equipment. With industrial refrigerators, this cost might appear quite high at first, but it is important to remember that they are long-term investments for the smooth running of your business. While you shouldn’t shy away from spending money on these units, there are ways to reduce the impact of this purchase on your overall budget. You could opt for equipment financing, lease, or rent equipment first to try them out or get a loan.
- Operating costs are considerations for your long-term budgeting. Industrial refrigerators are full-time machines you cannot shut down and can consume a lot of energy. To reduce operating costs for the future, you can invest in Energy Star models. Energy Star models spend significantly less energy, and this will reflect on your bills.
- Lifespan and depreciation are among the most important points to consider before purchasing. Industrial equipment can be costly. Do your research well to ensure that the equipment you invest in has longevity. If your equipment has a long lifespan and a good reputation, it will also avoid depreciation. You’ll get the most out of your investment and can resell the equipment if you wish to go for a different model or a change.
6. Brand and Dealer Considerations
Brands and dealers are two steps you have when making an equipment purchase. Brands will define the quality of the machine and manufacturer warranty, while the dealer will determine the quality of the service you will get in the process.
- Reputation and reviews prove a brand’s or dealer’s worth. There are many options, and having the opinions of fellow customers is an asset. Do your research and look into the customer reviews before choosing.
- Customer service and support can be crucial in dire times. Ensure that the customer service has a good reputation and offers support in your location.
- The availability of replacement parts and service providers can depend on your location and the model of your refrigerator. Getting a rare or old model will make it harder for you to find replacement parts. Even if parts are available for your industrial refrigerator, service might not be available in your region if you live in a remote location or away from the main service provider. You can look into the extent of their service areas or shop from a local dealer to increase your chances of getting help.
- Product warranty and satisfaction guarantees can differ based on brand and dealer. A good warranty and guarantee will help you with breakdowns, systemic failures, missing pieces, and similar problems.
7. Installation and Delivery
The buyer cannot carry out installation and delivery in cases of commercial purchases. An industrial refrigerator is a big piece of equipment and must be professionally installed to avoid problems. Look into the installation and delivery policies of your provider.
- Installation requirements should be taken seriously. If equipment is not installed properly, it might not function as it should, and any complications resulting from a wrong installment might endanger the validity of your warranty.
- Delivery should be handled delicately and quickly. A swift delivery will help you get your doors open quicker.
- Compliance with local regulations and codes for installment should be followed when placing an industrial refrigerator in the kitchen. Most regulations will be regarding the placement of the unit with other pieces of equipment and the distance it should have from the ceiling, wall, and ground.
In conclusion, when it comes to purchasing industrial refrigerators, making informed decisions is paramount. By carefully considering the 7 key factors – capacity and size, temperature control and energy efficiency, maintenance, and cleaning, accessibility and ergonomics, budget considerations, brand and dealer considerations, as well as installation and delivery – you can ensure that you invest wisely in a high-quality and reliable industrial refrigerator that perfectly aligns with your business needs, and experience the long-term benefits of this efficient and dependable investment in your foodservice establishment.