Selecting the Right Walk-In Cooler or Freezer for Your Business

Knowing the key features of a walk-in cooler or freezer is a must when selecting the right one.

In this blog, we will discuss the key factors you’ll need to know before purchasing. The types, applications, key components of a walk-in cooler or freezer, and how to maintain its cleanliness.

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When Buying a Walk-In Freezer, Consider These Important Factors:

 

1.    Identify What you are Going to Store.

Keep in mind that a cooler and a freezer have different ranges of temperature. A cooler’s temperature ranges from 32° F to 38° F while a freezer’s temperature ranges from -10°F to -20°F. Fruits, vegetables, or any food that doesn’t require freezing is suitable for coolers while meat and ice cream are for freezers.

Fruits and Vegetables walk in cooler

 

2.    Determine your Product’s Volume.

Walk-in coolers or freezers have varying sizes. The most common are 6′ x 6′, 6′ x 8′, 8′ x 8′, and 8′ x 10’. Base your choice on the frequency of the delivery of products so that you will have enough inventory to last until the next delivery. You may also choose to customize the size based on your preference while keeping in mind that an estimated 28 lbs. of food can be stored in 1 cubic foot of space.

Food Inventory

 

3. Quality and Energy Efficiency

Choose a walk-in that is energy efficient or has less energy consumption. The main goal is to conserve energy without compromising your product safety. To prevent heat transfer, always choose high-quality insulation panels. This will serve as a protection from the outside to minimize energy loss. Also, consider choosing the right size for your business, the bigger the walk-in cooler or freezer the higher energy consumption is. To avoid accidentally leaving the door open during busy hours, a self-closing door should be installed. This will prevent the air from leaking.

 

4. Keep in Mind Where the Unit will be Placed.

One of the most important things to consider is the accessibility of your walk-in cooler or freezer. We all know that during peak hours, the foot traffic is high so the walk-in should be located in a place where it will not impede the speed. Overheating is also one of the problems you may encounter, so always ensure that there is sufficient space inside and outside the walk-in for proper ventilation.

 

5. User-Friendly and Durable

Choose a unit that can withstand everyday usage. Training of employees is equally important to ensure that your unit will last longer. Creating work instructions or manuals will be a big help for your unit to function properly for a long time.

 

6. Budget, Warranty, and Support System.

Walk-ins are expensive products that are essential to business. Before purchasing, determine your budget. Choose a manufacturer that has a decent warranty and customer support while checking if the amount is within your budget.

Warranty and customer support

 

 

Types of Walk-In Freezers:

There are a lot of types of walk-in freezers. Here are some common examples.

 

Walk-in Freezer-Self-Contained Type:

This type of walk-in has a built-in compressor, condenser, and evaporator in one unit. Since the self-contained unit has built-in functional components, you can easily plug and play after purchasing. It is recommended to place this unit outside the establishment.

 

 Walk-in Freezer Remote Type:

This unit is mostly found inside the establishment. The condenser and evaporator of this unit were built separately.

 

Walk-in Freezers Multiplex Type:

Multiplex walk-in has multiple condensing and evaporator units. This is also recommended to be installed inside the building or establishments.

 

 Outdoor Walk-in Freezer:

These types of walk-ins are designed for outdoor use. This is perfect if you have limited space inside your establishment.

outdoor walk-in freezer

 

Indoor Walk-in Freezer:

This unit is created for indoor use. This type of walk-in is ideal for businesses that require easy access to food or products stored inside the unit.

 

Walk-in Freezers with Built-in Flooring and Without

Choosing the best flooring may vary depending on your needs. Each of them has an advantage of its own. Built-in flooring is easy to install, and energy efficient since it is insulated. On the other hand, without flooring or custom flooring is good if you are planning to use heavy equipment inside your unit.

 

 Customized Walk-in freezer:

You can customize your unit according to your needs and preferences.

 

 Portable Walk-in freezer:

This type of walk-in freezer is transferable. This unit is designed to transport perishable items from one place to another. This provides a short-term cold storage solution to prevent your goods from spoiling.

 

Prefabricated Walk-in freezer:

Prefabricated units are modular, they are easy to expand and move. This is helpful for businesses that have growing needs. Though limited in design, prefabricated units are also customizable. Their standard sizes are 6′ x 6′, 6′ x 8′, 8′ x 8’, and 8′ x 10′.

 

Built-in Walk-in Freezer:

Built-in walk-ins allow the user to customize it to their needs and specifications. This makes built-ins suitable for any type of business. They can manufacture it in any way to fit the customer’s requirements. In custom-built units, you can install different types of refrigeration systems.

 

 

Application of Walk-in Freezer:

 

Restaurant and Catering Services:

This equipment is often found in restaurant and catering kitchens to store ingredients that require refrigeration or freezing. This will ensure that restaurant owners can operate smoothly without worrying about running out of stock!

 

Supermarkets and Grocery Store:

This is also popularly used by supermarkets and grocery stores to keep their frozen goods, vegetables, and fruits fresh.

Supermarkets and grocery walk-in cooler

 

Food Processing Industries:

To comply with food safety standards, food processing industries use walk-in coolers or freezers to store their raw materials and finished products.

food processing walk-in cooler or freezers

 

Hospitals, Laboratories, and Pharmacies:

Most hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, and even research facilities use walk-ins to store their medication and vaccines.

pharmacies walk-in cooler

 

As a Food Truck:

Delivery trucks used mainly for frozen goods use walk-in freezers to prevent the products from melting even in hot weather, thus preserving their quality and condition.

Delivery Truck walk in cooler

 

Outdoor Events or Parties:

Walk-in coolers or freezers are useful when conducting outdoor events, especially for keeping large amounts of food from spoiling.

 

 

Key Components of a Walk-In Freezer:

 

1.    Insulated Panels:

One of the components of a walk-in freezer or cooler is its insulated panels.  These help in maintaining the temperature inside by providing insulation while preventing heat from entering.

Insulated panels

 

Here are the most popular choices for insulated panels.

 

a.     Polyurethane

        Polyurethane panels resist heat in greater value. What does this mean? It means that your refrigeration system will not have to work harder to keep the inside of your walk-in cold. It is also resistant to fire.

 

b.    Extruded Polystyrene, and

        Polystyrene is cheaper and lighter when compared to Polyurethane but has lower heat resistance. To make up for its deficiency, its thickness should be increased to match up with Polyurethane.

 

c.     Expanded Polystyrene

        For those who are looking for a cheaper alternative to extruded polystyrene, expanded polystyrene is cheaper and lighter. The only downside is that offers less insulation.

 

2.    Flooring:

What you need in your business is the most important factor to consider in choosing flooring for your walk-in. Some units already have built-in flooring while some do not. Identify if your walk-in is only for foot traffic or heavy-duty use. For light foot traffic, aluminum flooring is sufficient but if you are using pallet trucks, opt for reinforced flooring.

Walk-in Cooler Flooring

 

3.    Walk-in Cooler or Freezer Doors

The door is the part of the walk-in that is used the most. Its size and type vary depending on the needs of the business Hinged doors or swing doors are the most common due to their simplicity. However, if you have a limited space, a sliding door is the right one for you. They are available in manual or automatic options. Roll-up doors and high-speed doors are ideal for businesses with high traffic. This will minimize temperature loss and enhance workflow efficiency.

 

4. Refrigeration System

The refrigeration system plays the most important role in every walk-in cooler or freezer. These components are designed to help the walk-in freezer meet the specific needs of your business.

Refrigeration system

 

There are types of refrigeration units you might want to consider.

 

a. Remote Systems

When comparing costs, this is the cheapest system to purchase but provides advantages such as the possibility of installation outside. Due to this, the heat generated by the condensing unit is expelled outside, thus, lessening the burden of the air conditioning systems. These systems consist of a condenser or a condensing unit, a cooler, and additional parts like expansion valves, a dryer, a thermostat, and many more. The only drawback is that remote systems need a licensed refrigeration installer which may increase the costs depending on his hourly rate and the parts they used to install.

 

b. Pre-assembled Remote Systems

This is almost the same as a remote system. The difference is that in this kind of system, the parts are already installed. The parts are the condenser and the unit cooler connected by copper pipes that already have refrigeration gas. Same as the remote system, you will also need to hire a licensed technician to install it.

 

c. Saddle Mount Systems

These systems are also pre-assembled. While pre-assembled remote systems are installed either on the condensing unit or the cooler, saddle mount systems are pre-assembled on a bracket that will be installed or mounted on a wall. The advantage of this type of system is that it does not affect the placement of storage materials such as shelves because all the components are hung on the wall panel. Like other systems, you will also need a licensed technician to install it.

 

d. Penthouse Refrigeration Systems

If you are considering this type of system, keep in mind that you need a space that is a little higher than normal. It should be higher to avoid overheating because, unlike the others, this system does not put the unit cooler inside. The condensing unit is placed on top together with the evaporator coil so it can absorb the air inside and cool it in return. To some, it may seem that this system is pricier at first but if we consider things such as assembly and space, it has its advantages. It does not take up space which then will increase the number of products you can install. And, same with the others, you will need to hire a licensed technician to install this.

 

5. Exterior Finishes

While what is on the inside of the walk-in freezer is essential, what is on the outside is also equally important. You need to ensure that the exterior of your walk-in will last a long time and will withstand constant usage. Galvalume, Galvanized Steel, Painted Galvanized Steel, Aluminum, and Stainless Steel are the most commonly chosen finishes for walk-in freezers and coolers. But what are the differences between these?

Walk-in freezer Exterior finish

  1. Galvalume Steel– Made of different elements such as zinc, aluminum, and silicon. Its high durability and resistance to rust are its greatest advantage.
  2. Galvanized steel – Strong but susceptible to corrosion and rust especially if exposed to moisture.
  3. Painted Galvanized Steel– The paint can be customized to what you want while increasing its resistance to corrosion at the same time.
  4. Aluminum – The weakest out of the five and the most susceptible to corrosion, but cheaper.
  5. Stainless steel – This has the highest durability. It is also the strongest and toughest material; therefore it is the most expensive. It is also the finish which is the least susceptible to corrosion.

 

 

Handy Checklist for Walk-In Freezer:

At this point, you can now identify the various parts, types, and components that make up a walk-in freezer or cooler but still, the decision lies on you. It is your responsibility to find what suits your business. The following are some of the things that you may need to check before purchasing.

 

  1. Freezer or Refrigerator?

Determine what type of food are you going to store on your walk-in. Are you going to use the walk-in as a freezer or as a refrigerator? You should keep in mind that the temperature used in a freezer is lower compared to a refrigerator and the refrigeration system will differ between the two.

 

  1. Location – Indoor or Outdoor?

Most businesses opt for indoor walk-ins even though walk-ins are designed to either be indoors or outdoors. If you want your walk-in to be set up outdoors, you need to consider a few other things since it will be subjected to the outside weather conditions. To protect your walk-in from rain, it should be installed in a place with a rain roof. In places where freezing weather occurs, additional things like covers and heaters are essential for your walk-in to still function properly.

Indoor and Outdoor Walk-in Cooler

 

  1. Size – How much food are you going to store now and how much food are you going to store in the succeeding years?

The basic rule is that for every cubic foot of space, it can store around 12.5 kilograms of food. You should not only decide based on what you need right now but decide based on the projections on how much food you are going to store in the succeeding years as your business starts to flourish.

 

  1. Available Space

Before ordering a walk-in, check the area where it will be installed. Ensuring that you have enough space will make the installation process smooth. Make sure to always leave extra space on all sides and the top of the cooler for proper ventilation.

 

  1. Delivery and Installation

Operation delays are unavoidable especially when delivery and installation of a walk-in occurs. Plan ahead by waiting for a period when business is slow or when you are closed for the day or the week.

 

  1. Warranty

Since most of the units are expensive, it can be costly to buy a new one for replacement. Always make sure to read and review the warrant given by the manufacturer such as the duration of protection for the physical units and their parts.

Warranty

 

 

Maintenance, Cleaning, and Sanitation Tips

In any kind of business that uses walk-in coolers and freezers, it is a costly but very important investment. The longer you can use it equates to more profits. Here are some tips on how to maintain the efficient usage of your walk-ins.

 

  1. Always close the door when you are not using the walk-in. It should only open when you enter and exit so do not keep the door open by blocking it with boxes.

 

  1. Create a periodic schedule for cleaning especially the condensing and cooling unit. If you have chosen the outdoor type, the cleaning frequency should be greater because it is exposed to natural elements. Garbage and outside plants should be placed away from the unit.

Cleaning Condensing Unit

  1. Check that the fan motors and blades are clean and free from dirt for it to run at its optimal speed.

 

  1. Do not store things on top of the walk-in no matter how light it is. It may affect or damage the top part or ceiling.

 

  1. During preventive maintenance, lubricate the door hinges so they can properly close and open. Check also the rubber gaskets for cracks and replace them if necessary.

 

  1. Lights produce heat. So, make sure that when you exit the walk-in the lights are off to not affect the temperature inside.

 

         7. Only use soap and water for cleaning. Chemicals are not advisable because some may damage the surfaces.

use soap and water for cleaning walk-in cooler

  1. Mop the floors of the walk-in to remove substances that can attract ants and other insects. Mold and bacteria will grow if the proper cleaning procedures are not followed.

 

  1. If you accidentally spill liquid inside, immediately wipe and mop it. If not, it may freeze and cause safety hazards.

 

  1. Use Storage bins to separate food and products that differ from one another. It will also prevent contaminating the food.

 

  1. Clean and wipe on a daily basis. Create a routine and make sure it is followed by all staff. This prevents the build-up of dirt and bacteria that may contaminate the food and result in diseases.

Clean and wipe

 

  1. Always use proper protective equipment when maintaining, sanitizing, and cleaning your walk-in.

 

 

Conclusion:

Purchasing a walk-in freezer or cooler is not an easy task. You need to make a lot of considerations and check for several factors before making a purchase. Always remember to ask questions from the supplier and contractor since this is a costly investment. Weigh all the options carefully and assess the advantages and disadvantages to determine what is the ideal walk-in for your business.

 

 

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