If you own a restaurant or diner, chances are you will need some type of refrigeration unit to store your perishable cold foods. A commercial cooler is often seen as a walk-in model or a reach-in type. In addition, commercial coolers are available in various sizes, with or without a floor. Some have condensers mounted on top of the unit, while others have the condenser located at the bottom. Before you decide on a commercial cooler of some type, you should consider the following three questions so you will be certain to make the best choice:
1. A Walk-in Cooler Versus a Reach-In Model: Which Do You Prefer?
As the name suggests, a walk-in cooler allows the user to step inside of the unit for placement of items. A reach-in cooler will typically be somewhat smaller and much more narrow in width, with limited capacity for storing bulky items. If you plan on using your refrigeration unit for holding large crates of produce, meats, cans and the like, you may prefer the walk-in design. Keep in mind, you may have to keep a walk-in commercial cooler outside your building or in a receiving area, unless you have a wide open space inside your facility.
The reach-in refrigeration coolers are more compact and typically contain several shelves for storage. It is designed to be kept inside a building. The reach-in commercial cooler will typically cost considerably less than a walk-in model.
Reach-in coolers can be single-door or multi-door units. If you have a small food preparation area with limited pace, you might want to choose a single door reach-in unit. Most are equipped with steel doors, although you will also find reach-in models with glass doors. Glass door models are convenient, as you can see the contents without opening the door.
2. Will Your Walk-In Cooler Be Equipped With a Floor?
If you opt for the walk-in model, you will have to decide between one with or without an installed floor. First and foremost, your decision should be based on the allotted space you have. You'll need a bit more space for a cooler with a floor.
Next, you need to determine how much foot traffic your cooler will receive on a daily basis. The floor is the foundation of the cooler and needs to stand up to daily use. An aluminum floor may be adequate for moderate use, but if you plan on constant and heavy usage, consider a more durable material for the floor. This is especially important if you will be transporting food items by a hand truck, transport cart or rolling cart.
Reinforced floors may also be insulated, so you might want to keep that in mind as well. Insulated cooler floors are typically more energy efficient and will help keep perishable food items fresh. Finally, don't forget to consider the safety of your workers. If you choose a walk-in cooler with a floor, the surface should have treads to prevent the user from slipping or falling.
3. Should Your Reach-In Unit Have a Top-Mounted or Bottom-Mounted Condenser?
This aspect is often overlooked when choosing a commercial restaurant cooler, but it can make a difference. If you have decided on a reach in-model, you will have the option of top or bottom mounts for the condenser location. If you prefer a cooler that is easy to clean, the bottom-mounted condenser would most likely make a good choice. It will also receive less wear or strain on the components as the doors open an close, and temperatures tend to rise.
However, a top-mounted condenser is more suited for preventing warm air from entering the unit as doors open and close. It will also be less likely to develop a clog. Keep in mind, this design will be tougher to clean, as reaching the top of the condenser may require a ladder. Consider these aspects and your basic needs before deciding on the location of the condenser.