From large institutional cafeteria settings, to small mom and pop restaurants, reach in refrigerators and freezers can both improve the quality and speed of service, as well as help you save money. Because your reach in refrigerator or freezer will be the most heavily used piece of equipment in your kitchen, it is important to find the proper configuration of door type, compressor, and size to perfectly fit your needs.
Reach In Refrigeration In Your Business - The Flow
If space allows, it is a good idea to organize your cold storage traffic flow into gradually smaller units as
you work closer to the hottest part of your kitchen, the production line. Because it draws on ambient air,
the smaller, one door reach in won't have to work as hard as larger 2 or 3 door model to stay cool in this
hot work area.
Walk In Coolers & Freezers
Located outside / at receiving area.
Store crates of bulk ingredients, produce, poultry, meat, fish, etc...
Receive deliveries directly into walk in = less traffic in kitchen
Located next to final production line / at cooking area.
Store portions of prepared meats, produce, plate garnishes you plan to use that day
Restock from 2 or 3 door reach in as needed
Quick access = faster service = happier customers
Bottom Mounted Compressors vs. Top Mounted Compressors
Because the reach in's compressor draws in ambient air to regulate internal temperatures, the warmer the incoming air, the harder the compressor must work. As warm air naturally rises and cold air descends, top and bottom mounted compressors each function better in certain environments.
Bottom Mounted Compressor:
Pulls in cooler air, making it ideal for hot environments.
Occupies some storage space, but bottom shelves are higher, and easier
Compressor can become clogged with dust, flour, or grease from floor.
Top Mounted Compressor:
Pulls in warmer air, making it better for cooler environments
Less accessible for cleaning and service, but does not take up storage space.
Compressor less likely to clog than bottom mounted compressors.
When choosing the type of doors you want on your reach in, be sure to consider the location of entrances, doorways, and other equipment, as well as how wide the aisles are in your kitchen. Here are four types of reach in refrigerator and freezer doors, and some key points to consider before making your decision.
Swing Doors often have a stay open feature which makes loading and unloading inventory easier. However, swing doors can block traffic flows in kitchens with limited space.
Half Doors are a variation on traditional swing doors where the door is split into two sections. Because you're only opening one section at a time, half doors help conserve energy and promote more consistent internal temperatures. However, like traditional swing doors they can block traffic flows.
Sliding Doors are great for locations with limited space / narrow aisles. However, only one door can be opened at a time.
Pass Thru reach in refrigeration units have both front and rear doors. They are normally located between kitchen prep areas and server stations. This allows kitchen staff to prepare, plate, and store cold items, like desserts, for wait staff to pull and serve as needed. Pass thru units are available in various configurations of full and half door types, with combinations of glass and solid door materials.
Both solid doors and glass doors have beneficial points, and some draw-backs that you will need to consider before choosing the best reach in refrigeration unit for your business.
Easier to clean than glass.
More insulation than glass.
Gain energy efficiency but lose product visibility.
Can see contents before opening door.
Less insulation than solid door.
Gain product visibility but lose energy efficiency.
Other Features to Consider
Gaskets form the airtight seal around your refrigerator's door that keeps cold air locked inside. Some reach in refrigerators feature an easily removable door gasket, to expedite cleaning and sanitizing.
Many newer models of reach in refrigerators and freezers are equipped with a digital thermostat. Because digital thermostats provide more accurate readouts, and make it easier to monitor and adjust temperatures, they normally lead to lower service costs and fewer maintenence calls.
Specification Line vs. Standard Duty
While all commercial refrigerators and freezers are designed with the demands of the busy food service operation in mind, Specification Line reach in refrigerators and freezers represent a manufacturer's top-of-the-line offerings. A "Spec Line" product usually boasts more sophisticated temperature controllers, a wider variety of exterior and interior options, and other upgrades in design and construction features compared to a "standard duty" model. These models are often specified by consultants for institutional design projects.
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