Guide to Refrigeration: What, Why & Which Do You Need?


What is Commercial Refrigeration?

A commercial refrigerator is a free-standing piece of equipment that provides cold storage for a commercial kitchen or dining facility.

Commercial refrigeration includes both refrigerators and freezers, which are available in a wide variety of configurations, from reach-in coolers to walk-in freezers.

How Do You Know if You Need Commercial Refrigeration?

Commercial refrigerators and freezers offer safe food storage options, regardless of whether you need a reach-in, an undercounter unit or a full-size walk-in. These units are incredibly user-friendly.

  • Store cold items as soon as you receive them in the back of the house.
  • Keep produce fresh, crisp and cold longer.
  • Maintain the integrity of prepared foods longer.
  • Keep perishable items out of the food danger zone.
  • Commercial refrigeration is available in a variety of sizes, types and configurations so you can install the perfect unit no matter what space you have available.

What are the Different Types of Commercial Refrigeration?

All refrigeration units have certain things in common. This includes the ability to keep foods chilled and safe, with an insulated interior and durable, stainless steel exterior. All refrigerators involve ventilation for the compressor, which may be located on the top, the bottom or the side of the unit.

Refrigerators are designed to maintain temperatures between 34°F and 40°F, while commercial freezers must stay between -10°F and 0°F.

Below is a list of common types of commercial refrigerators and freezers.

Reach-in Refrigerators and Freezers

Reach-in refrigerators and freezers are upright cold storage units perfect for back of the house operations. Both solid door reach-in units and glass door reach-in units are available in full-length or “Dutch-style” half-doors. Reach-in units may have multiple sections, and their storage capacity is determined by cubic feet.

Walk-in Refrigerators and Freezers

Walk-in refrigerators and freezers are useful for restaurants that require large amounts of cold storage space in the back of the house or even outside the restaurant. Operators often set up commercial shelving systems inside their walk-in units for optimal organization. Commercial walk-in refrigerators and freezers are great for boxed or bulk items, alcohol or juices. Some have their own floors while others are installed on an existing floor.

Refrigerated Prep Tables

These refrigerators are designed for use on the cook line or preparation area in the commercial kitchen. The two major versions of these products are sandwich/salad tables and pizza prep tables. Cold storage wells called cold rails keep food pans of ingredients cold and fresh. Doors or drawers below provide traditional storage for pans of prepared food, dressings or sauces.
The biggest difference between a refrigerated sandwich/salad prep table and pizza prep table is the depth of the cutting board. The cutting board is deeper on a pizza prep table to accommodate for the wide diameter of the pizza. These units are traditionally 36 inches high since they are designed as worktops.

Undercounter Refrigerators

Undercounter refrigerator and freezers look and function like upright reach-in units, but they are generally much shorter–only about 33 to 34 inches tall. These units fit in smaller spaces in the commercial kitchen and typically store fewer products for use on an as-needed basis.

Refrigerated Merchandisers

Merchandising units, or display refrigerators, are designed to display products with glass doors or an open front. Merchandisers are designed to provide cold storage while maintaining a great looking display. These units provide the opportunity for quick sales of perishable goods in grocery stores and self-serve or take-out merchandising areas for bakeries and restaurants.

Bar Refrigeration

There are many types of refrigeration under this category, including back bar refrigerators, keg coolers, plate chillers and more. Bar refrigeration is often designed with a stainless steel or black vinyl exterior for a streamlined look and feel in the undercounter bar area.


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