Have you ever wondered how the best restaurants in town serve food prepared with fresh ingredients? Well, it is not magic 🙂 but it sure is the next best thing for a business owner; walk-in freezers and walk-in coolers. While they might not sound glamorous, believe us when we say that they are the heroes of the food industry.
So what makes them so essential to large businesses such as bars, caterers, and even florists? Walk-in freezers and coolers save the day and the year thanks to the sanitary storage capacity they offer for your food and beverage ingredients. Their controllable temperature allows you to keep your food fresh and save you money by preventing waste. So basically, one word comes to mind when walk-in freezers and coolers are mentioned: efficiency. With a suitable machine at your disposal, you will avoid wasting food due to weather and save a lot of energy and time.
The purpose of walk-in coolers is to keep your food cold and fresh without entirely freezing them. You cannot store everything in a freezer for various reasons: Products like dairy tend to change taste after they’re frozen, beverages such as wine should be ready to serve at the right temperature, floral shops wouldn’t want to freeze their precious flowers, and you cannot wait for your ingredients to defrost to cook considering that the time is of the essence for a big restaurant. So to make sure that your ingredients and beverages aren’t spoiled and you have access to them at a moment’s notice, you need a commercial walk-in cooler.
Walk-in Freezers are the backbones of many businesses. They are designed to store large quantities of food at the correct temperatures. Commercial walk-in freezers help restaurants and hotels to keep their perishable food, such as meat, for long periods. Professional cooking requires ready-to-use food at all times. As a business owner, you will want to make good use of everything you spend your money on. Plus, your chef will undoubtedly be thankful to have a walk-in freezer full of high-quality ingredients to prepare the best dishes for your customers.
What is The Difference Between a Walk-in Cooler and a Walk-in Freezer?
At first glance, walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers might seem the same. Still, despite being similar in logic, they serve different purposes, and you need both to have a smooth-running business.
First of all, they store different products; the florists can use coolers to keep their flowers fresh or to store beverages such as wine by pubs. They are also mainly used by restaurants to store the ingredients that will be used soon or ingredients that should not be frozen. On the other hand, freezers primarily focus on keeping perishable foods, mainly fish and meats of different kinds, for long periods.
Secondly, their temperature ranges differ. Freezers offer lower temperatures for your frozen food. While coolers are fit for daily use, and they ideally operate at 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Walk-in Cooler and Freezer Combination
You can always get a walk-in cooler and freezer combination if you need both machines but have relatively limited space. These models combine the features of a walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer to offer you the chance to store all of your products in the required temperatures.
Types of Walk-in Coolers and Freezers
There are three main types of walk-in units; remote, self-contained, and multiplex. Since freezers and coolers operate similarly, their models are the same, and you can find them in both machines.
Self-Contained Walk-in Cooler and Freezers
Self-contained walk-insare complete packages. As you can figure out from the name, the evaporator and the condenser are all in one unit. Self-contained walk-in cooler and freezer units are usually placed outside the buildings, making them outdoor walk-in coolers and freezers.
Remote Walk-in Cooler and Freezer
Remote walk-in cooler and freezer units have their condensers separately, and their evaporators are also packaged individually. These models are quite popular among business owners since they are usually built indoors. Indoor walk-in coolers are generally preferred by restaurant kitchens.
Multiplex Walk-in Coolers and Freezers
Multiplex model walk-ins are also built indoors. They are called “multiplex” because they come with more than one condensing unit and evaporator, dissimilar to other types of walk-in cooler and freezer units.
Walk-in coolers and freezers are also categorized based on their installation features, such as their placement and floors. It would help if you considered these aspects to choose the best walk-in for your business space.
Outdoor Walk-in Coolers and Freezers
As can be understood from the name, outdoor walk-in coolers and freezers are built outside your building. These units have many advantages; they don’t take up much-needed space indoors, and the ventilation is relatively easy since the air can be directly blown out. So, if you have limited space and a separate condenser would cause problems for you, then you should consider an outdoor walk-in unit.
Though outdoor walk-in coolers and freezers also have some disadvantages, they require additional security (for weather conditions and theft). Plus, you need to take a walk outside to access your products. While they are minor issues that can be solved, you might not want to spend time or money on outdoor equipment if you are running a big restaurant.
Indoor Walk-in Coolers and Freezers
Indoor walk-in coolers and freezers are installed inside of your facilities. If you don’t have space issues, indoor units are perfect for you. The advantages of indoor walk-in coolers and freezers are a lot; They are easy to clean. You can quickly access your products, and the cost is significantly less since you don’t need additional security precautions. Yet, unfortunately, they might raise the temperature of your kitchen since their condensers can’t directly blow the hot air outside. So, this might require you to spend more money on ac during summer.
Walk-in Coolers and Freezers With and Without Floors
You must consider flooring before making your decision. Walk-in coolers and freezers with floors come with built-in floors of their own and offer certain benefits to your business.
- Since they are insulated, they help you save a lot of energy. Especially if you are planning on buying an outdoor unit, a built-in floor will be the healthier and more logical option for saving energy.
- The even ground will ensure that you can easily carry carts in and out of the unit. When you have a big shipment coming, you wouldn’t want an uneven floor causing you problems while carrying the products inside after all.
- Walk-in coolers and freezers without floors are also an option. With these types of units, companies usually install foam or rubber screeds to maintain insulation. There are a variety of options out there regarding flooring, and you can choose whichever you like.
There are a couple more different types of walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers that you might want to consider;
Custom Walk-in Cooler
The word custom literally means designed for a specific purpose. You can get custom walk-in coolers and custom walk-in freezers perfectly tailored to your needs and desires. You can decide on almost everything from the size to the finishing and have the best unit for your business to thrive.
Portable walk-in coolers and freezers are mobile units, as the name suggests. They are mainly used by delivery businesses and restaurants transporting frozen foods. They are also used during big festivals or events to store things like ice cream. So, you could benefit from a portable walk-in cooler or a portable walk-in freezer if you transport products or if you have a business that works at big social events.
Quick Ship Walk-in Coolers and Freezers
Quick ship units are often overlooked, but the quick ship programs of manufacturers offer a lot of advantages to customers. Unlike the customized models, quick ship units are built using standardized panels and measurements. They are sent from the stock, so their fast arrival is bound to save you a lot of time. Instead of waiting around for a custom model, you can order a quick ship walk-in cooler or freezer and start your business as soon as possible.
Walk-in Refrigerators for Homes
Did you know that you could get a walk-in unit for your own kitchen? While the idea might sound absurd at first, there are now many walk-in coolers for regular kitchens on the market. Their extra storage room and beautiful design make them appealing to a broad audience. Many people are investing in walk-in units for their homes and opening the door to the future.
Many brands are offering different models of walk-in freezers and coolers for different budgets. You can find the right one for your business in a matter of seconds, thanks to the various options on the market. Here are some manufacturers you can look into before making your purchase;
Organizing Tips for Walk-in Freezers and Coolers
An organized walk-in is the key to efficiency. With the proper organization of your walk-in cooler and freezer, you can lengthen the shelf time of your products, save a lot of time, energy, and money. Here are some tips for you to consider to increase the advantages of your units.
- Use the first-in, first-out method. FIFO is a widespread method to ensure that the products that are bought first are also used first to prevent waste.
- Label your products and shelves. Labeling will help you figure out what is in the packages (some products look alike), when they were bought, and where certain products are within your walk-in. You can even use color codes to classify your ingredients.
- Make sure that your bottom shelves are 6 inches above the ground. Leaving a certain amount of space between your products and the floor will decrease the possibility of contamination.
- Store your meat on the bottom shelves. Meat might drip liquid, and you wouldn’t want to contaminate your other products since it could cause food poisoning and create health code violations.
- Don’t overstuff your walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers. Air needs to circulate for your unit to work properly. Make sure there is enough room for circulation.
Walk-in Coolers and Freezers Main Parts and Having the Right Accessories for Your Unit
Several main components make a walk-in unit, and each of them matters. To help you understand these components and get a general idea about the accessories you need, we’ve prepared a mini list. By paying attention to these details, you can make an informed choice regarding your purchase.
Doors are probably the most critical aspects of commercial walk-in coolers and freezers. They seal the cold air inside and ensure your unit is working efficiently. There are several options for you to choose from, such as slide doors, swing doors, and long glass doors.
Solid Insulation Walls
If your walk-in unit is not open to your customers, you should invest in solid insulation walls. They’ll maximize the benefits of your walk-in unit with their high insulation and minimize the amount of money you spend on energy.
Latches, Gaskets, and Hinges
Since doors are used repeatedly throughout the day, you must make sure that there are no damages. Latches, gaskets, and hinges can get worn out over time and stop sealing your unit, which is why they should be high quality in the first place. You should also clean and inspect them regularly.
If you have a walk-in cooler or freezer without a floor, you will need an exterior ramp to carry your products in and out of the unit.
Door curtains are accessories that will help you keep the temperature stable. Plus, you can get their size customized according to the measurements of your walk-in cooler and freezer.
Last but not least, you must pay close attention to the insulation of your walk-in freezers and coolers. Insulation is a vital element, and it cannot be overlooked. There are various options for insulation, and extruded insulation, aka XPS, is one of them. Extruded insulation offers many advantages with its rigid insulation features. It protects your unit against weather conditions and manages moisture levels. Making sure that you have high-quality insulation will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Safety Tips and Warranties
Warranty is a crucial aspect of any purchase, including walk-in coolers and freezers. Make sure to find out about the warranty conditions of the machine you are planning on buying. There are some companies which offer up to 50 years of warranty. After choosing a unit with good warranty conditions, you need to learn about safety. As it is with everything, safety comes first. Below you will find many tips to help you with your walk-in freezer and walk-in cooler.
- Check your thermometer upon receiving your shipment. Even though companies calibrate thermometers, you need to make sure that it is working accurately. An uncalibrated thermometer could cost you a lot of money and cause you to fail your health inspections.
- Make sure the floor is clean and dry. Spills left uncleaned could potentially lead to your employees slipping and injuring themselves.
- Have cold weather clothes nearby for your employees who need to work in the walk-in cooler or the freezer.
- Don’t exceed the maximum weight limit of your shelves. Overstuffing could cause your shelves to break and fall and cause a lot of physical and financial damage.
- Make sure safety releases on doors are intact and functioning. In the case of entrapment, people must have access to the safety release. This is a critical point, and negligence regarding safety releases on doors could result in death, so you must check them regularly.
- Overall, keep your unit clean to keep the bacteria and mold away from your food and employees.
- Check your products regularly to get rid of spoiled ones. Spoiled products can cause mold and lead to health code violations.
- Beware of the odor of your walk-in unit. An unpleasant odor is usually an indication of perished food and bacteria or spills that have not been cleaned yet.
Maintenance and Repair
It is crucial to keep the backbone of your business in top condition. Maintenance and repair are a significant part of this process, and there are many points you should pay attention to;
- Schedule for professional repair and maintenance. While you need to be a part of the process and take care of your unit, a professional’s eye will be beneficial every once in a while. Professionals can detect problems you might not notice and develop solutions that can save you a lot of money.
- Check your panels and seals regularly to make sure there are no air leaks. Air leaks can lead to icing in your walk-in freezer, which is a huge problem considering it might damage the products or the machine itself.
- Keep an eye out for diagnostic signs. By signs, we mean anything out of the ordinary that might indicate a problem with your walk-in freezer or walk-in cooler. As mentioned above, the odor is one of these signs alongside strange sounds and fluctuating temperature levels. If you notice any of these signs, give your maintenance service a call.
- Check the wires and electrical connections periodically to ensure there are no problems. If your power fails, you could face tremendous loss.
Keeping your Walk-in cooler and freezer clean is essential and easier than you might imagine. By following a few simple steps, you can create and maintain a clean, healthy environment for your products and avoid many problems.
- First of all, as you should with any electrical machine, unplug your unit.
- Inspect your products and get rid of the spoiled ones
- Empty the entire unit to clean it up properly
- Use lukewarm water and soap to clean up and try to avoid harsh cleaning products since some of them can harm your unit’s material.
- Sanitize your walk-in cooler and freezer with a disinfectant to eliminate any bacteria that might have built up over time.
- Clean the evaporator and the condenser. Build-up dust on these components could cause problems for you and even shorten the lifespan of your machine.
- Schedule for a professional clean-up. As it is with maintenance, a professional can help you on a better and more detailed level.
- Restock your walk-in freezer and cooler once again in an organized manner.
Converting a Walk-in Refrigeration Unit
Can You Convert a Walk-in Cooler to a Display Cooler?
Display coolers are in demand more than ever now. If you are running a store, you surely need a cooler to showcase your beverages. Instead of buying a separate display cooler, you might want to convert your walk-in cooler to one.
Yes, you read that right; it is possible to turn your regular commercial walk-in cooler into a display cooler. You need to alter a few features, such as doors and shelves. Still, it is easier than it seems.
Firstly, to make your products more accessible to your customers, you must get a long glass door and invest in shelves suited to a display cooler. You also must pay attention to lighting. A well-lit cooler will appeal to your customers and increase your profits. If you are not sure how to convert your walk-in cooler to a display cooler, you can always contact the relevant companies and get professional help. While you might have opinions, a professional will help you narrow them down and execute your plan flawlessly.
Can You Convert a Walk-in Freezer to a Cooler or a Walk-in Cooler to a Freezer?
The difference between the two units might seem very small, and you might think that you can convert one to another by simply changing the temperature. Well, it is not as easy as you might think. Walk-in freezer and cooler components such as compressors are built to work at specific temperatures.
If you turn up the temperature of a freezer, the compressor that was built specifically to work at low temperatures will malfunction. The same will happen for a walk-in cooler compressor too. It will simply have trouble working at a lower temperature than it was built for.
Starting with compressors, you will have to modify a lot of things to convert your unit. Considering the money and the energy you are required to spend on the process of conversion, it makes more sense to buy a brand-new unit perfectly tailored to your business needs.
Time to Buy a New Walk-in Coolers & Freezers?
The signs to look for!
Circling back to the beginning of this article: efficiency is the keyword for walk-in coolers and freezers. When a unit starts to become inefficient, it’s time to replace it. To understand if your walk-in is failing you, you could pay attention to a few details: doors, sounds, bills, and temperature.
- Even though walk-in unit doors are pretty strong over time, they are bound to get weaker. If a door starts to leak air, you will have problems such as icing and unstable temperature.
- If your bills are spiking up, there surely must be a reason. Your walk-in might be trying to compensate to balance out its temperature, thus using more energy than usual.
- Loud noises are never good signs. While you should call a maintenance service in case of weird sounds, if your machine is old and the sound is constant, you can consider it as a clear sign that it is time you replaced your unit.
How Much Does a Walk-in Cooler and Freezer Cost?
The cost of walk-in coolers and freezers ranges from 4000$ to 20.000$. The prices mainly depend on the size of the unit. Thanks to the many options on the market, you can find suitable equipment within your budget.
Now that you are done reading this article, you officially know everything there is to know about walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers :’). You can make your purchase safe in the knowledge that your choice will be the best one for your business.