Reach In Refrigeration

Buying Guide

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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 of Material

Avantco CFD-3RR

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.
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2 or 3 Door Reach In Refrigerators and Freezers

  • Located inside / at prep area.
  • Store prepared items in bulk, like pans of seasoned meat, fish, or produce, and packages of sauces and dressings, for use throughout the week.
  • Restock from walk in cooler or freezer weekly or as needed.
  • Less trips to the walk in = faster prep times.
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Single Door Reach In Refrigerators and Freezers

  • 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 walk in cooler or freezer weekly or as needed.
  • Restock from 2 or 3 door reach in as needed.
  • Quick access = faster service = happier customers

Compressor Location

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 to reach.
  • 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.

Door Type

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
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
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
Sliding Doors are great for locations with limited space / narrow aisles. However, only one door can be opened at a time.
Pass Thru
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.

Door Material

Both solid doors and glass doors have beneficial points, and some draw-backs that you will want to consider.

Solid Door

  • Easier to clean than glass.
  • More insulation than glass.
  • Gain energy efficiency but lose product visibility.

Glass Door

  • Can see contents before opening door; employees less likely to stand with door open until they find what they were looking for.
  • Less insulation than solid door.
  • Gain product visibility but lose energy efficiency.

Other Features to Consider

Removable gasket

Removable Gaskets: 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.


digital thermostat

Digital Thermostats: 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 maintenance calls.


Standard versus spec line

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.