Commercial Refrigerator Guide

Solid door, glass door, undercounter commercial refrigerators - what you need to know.

By Kinnek Community

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When purchasing a commercial refrigerator, you have to consider a variety of factors: floor space concerns, fridge capacity, fridge contents, initial costs and maintenance costs, ease of use, and any other specific needs.  Many minor considerations come into play that may not be obvious at first glance.  For example, if you are the owner of a small restaurant, and the kitchen is cramped and busy, then you may want to consider a commercial worktop fridge, which has food-grade surfaces so you can use the top surface for food preparation.
Also, keep in mind that suppliers very frequently have customized offerings that can be changed to better suit your needs.  For example, some suppliers may be able to add casters to their refrigerators to make them mobile, while other suppliers may be more limited in their custom offerings.  Because of this variation between suppliers, be clear about your specific needs before you approach suppliers.
The following represents a sample of fridges that happen to be fairly popular in today’s market:

Solid Door Refrigerators

Solid Door Refrigerator

Solid door refrigerators are very popular in restaurants and are typically highly energy efficient. They are usually constructed with stainless steel, and are useful for storing perishable ingredients and especially raw foods.  Many commercial kitchens use them to keep fresh, unprepared ingredients nearby for chefs. Units can have anywhere from 10 to over 60 cubic feet of storage, with their widths ranging from under 20 inches to over 80 inches.

Glass Door and Display Refrigerators

Glass Door Refrigerator

Glass door refrigerators and display merchandisers are often found in grocery stores for customers to easily identify and select their contents. They also help store owners recognize when particular items need to be restocked. Unlike solid, stainless steel door fridges, glass door fridges are typically stocked with prepared foods.  These refrigerator models will often have sliding doors instead of swinging ones to conserve space and avoid blocking aisles.

Undercounter and Worktop Refrigerators

Undercounter Refrigerator

Undercounter refrigerators save space in busy food service operations and are designed to fit under standard height countertops. These refrigerators are available in many door and drawer combinations. Businesses wishing to utilize the top surface for food preparation should consider worktop refrigerators instead, as they have food-grade surfaces.

Roll-in Refrigerators

Roll-in fridges have no shelves (empty) and the bottom of the fridge is flush with the floor.  This can come in handy for frequent freezing/cooling of baking racks, since the baking racks can be easily ‘rolled in’ and ‘rolled out’ of the fridge as necessary.  Using a roll-in fridge, you won’t have to manually transfer each sheet pan, which can save a lot of time and effort.  Roll-in fridges are popular in kitchens and bakeries where there is a need for large-scale cooling of baked goods.


Community Q&A Samples

Q: Should I get a refrigerator with a top or bottom mounted compressor?
A: Commercial refrigerators with top mounted compressors enable more storage and run cooler because warm air is vented upwards. Units with bottom-mounted compressors are easier to service and typically less expensive. From a space standpoint, a top mounted compressor may be better to many consumers, being that the products are easier to reach. Some top mounted compressors, however, need clearance at the top. This can cause you to lose storage space at the top as compared to a bottom-mounted unit (where you can keep storage right on top of the unit).
Q: Our health department requires our equipment to be mobile. Are there refrigeration units with casters?
A: Most refrigeration units come with options for casters for an additional cost (one thing to note is that roll-in and roll-thru refrigerators do not come with casters standard or as an option, so be careful not to buy these types of units if you need them mobile).  It’s also worth noting that some manufacturers provide refrigeration with casters as a standard option for no additional cost.
Q: This may be a dumb question, but do glass door refrigerators keep products as cool as solid door refrigerators?
A: It makes no real difference, but a good general rule of thumb is that it's better to keep prepared foods and display food items in glass door fridges, while keeping raw and kitchen food products in stainless steel door fridges.

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