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.
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.
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.
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.
Both solid doors and glass doors have beneficial points, and some draw-backs that you will want to consider.
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 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.
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.
Beyond the actual features of the refrigerator or freezer you plan to purchase, you also need to consider where and how you will install the unit. The first step is getting the unit into your building, and although smaller units may fit through doorways with no problem, it is especially important to measure door frames and hallways when installing a larger 3 door unit as they often won't fit through a standard doorway.
Additionally, make sure the room where you are installing the unit is well ventilated. Most manufacturer's specification sheets or manuals will lay out any clearance guidelines for the back and sides of the unit. Not adhering to these guidelines can result in inefficient operation and service calls. You should also avoid installing units in exceptionally humid or dusty areas because these conditions can cause the unit to rust or the condenser coil to malfunction.
Once you have the unit in a well-ventilated room, install it on a level surface away from heat and moisture-generating equipment. Operating a reach-in in high ambient temperatures may cause the unit to breakdown, and in many cases, it will void the warranty.
As far as electrical concerns during installation, a reach-in refrigerator or freezer should be supplied by the right voltage according to the manufacturer's literature, and it should have its own dedicated electrical circuit. Refer to your equipment manual for best practices and any special considerations for your particular unit.