What to Consider When Purchasing A Commercial Refrigerator

What to Consider When Purchasing Your Commercial Refrigerator

A dependable commercial refrigerator is the mainstay of any foodservice business. A commercial refrigerator is where all your perishable goods will be stored and, just like at home, it will be the center of attention in your commercial kitchen. In addition, health codes mandate that foods that will not be consumed or sold right away must be refrigerated, so, without a reliable commercial refrigerator for your business, you might as well close up shop and go home. So, what are the important things to look for when purchasing a commercial refrigerator?

Commercial Refrigerator Size

There are several factors that will help you determine the size of the commercial refrigerator you will need to purchase. These include: the size and type of foodservice business you own, the amount of kitchen space allotted for this item, your refrigerated goods delivery schedule, and the amount of perishable goods you use in food prep.

Commercial refrigeration units come with one, two and three doors, with the number of doors determining the width of the refrigerator. Therefore you will need to know the exact measurements of your commercial kitchen space, adding some inches around for ventilation, to determine the refrigerator size you will be able to accommodate. You will then need to determine if that size is adequate for your needs. Make sure you are prepared with accurate knowledge of your weekly inventory, your refrigerator usage requirements, and last but not least, your budget. For example, if you receive daily deliveries of perishable goods such as fish for your seafood restaurant, or milk for smoothies, items that must be cooked or used immediately, you won't need as much refrigeration storage space as a restaurant that gets weekly deliveries and stores more food prior to usage.


Ideally, your commercial refrigerator will be easy for your food service staff to access, and be easy to organize according to your specific food preparation needs. Depending on the size of your kitchen space and storage requirements, you may find that you need a walk-in refrigerator that could be placed in the back of your restaurant. Additionally, casters placed beneath heavy commercial refrigerators can increase their accessibility by making them more mobile.

Compressor Placement

The compressor is the most important part of the refrigerator - the part that keeps it cold. In commercial refrigerators you can find units with the compressor located either on the top or the bottom of the unit.


In a top-mount unit, the compressor and condensing unit are on the top of the appliance, giving you more interior storage space, and keeping the area around the refrigerator cooler. Because these components are on the top of the refrigerator, they have better compressor airflow which results in higher energy efficiency in cool environments. They also allow under-the-unit cleaning and are often chosen for kitchens that tend to have a dusty environment, such as a bakery. A disadvantage of this type of compressor is that the refrigerator cavity will be lower down, meaning more bending and stooping will be required in order to reach refrigerated items by the kitchen staff.

Bottom Mount

In a bottom-mount unit, the compressor and condensing unit are located at the bottom of the appliance. This usually means that the refrigerator cavity will be smaller than the cavity of a top-mount refrigerator. However, the storage space in these units are usually more ergonomically-friendly and more accessible than in top-mount units. Since the compressor rests near the floor, these commercial refrigerators are more efficient for hot environments because the compressor is kept cooler since it is closer to the ground. However, bottom-mount refrigerators are a poor choice for dusty environments, such as bakeries, as the dust and other particles can clog the compressor, requiring constant care and maintenance.

Energy Efficiency

A commercial refrigerator uses quite a lot of energy that can easily run up your utility bill. Refrigerators that are built to be energy efficient can save you a lot of money in the long run. Therefore it is a good idea to look for a refrigerator with the Energy Star rating. Energy Star is a governmental agency that rates commercial refrigerators on their energy efficiency. With an Energy Star rated refrigerator you will be getting a unit that was constructed to reduce energy costs up to 30 percent!

New vs. Used Commercial Refrigerators

While it may be tempting to purchase a used commercial refrigerator, buying a new one offers you the newest and most current in commercial refrigerator technologies, along with all the warranties and service plans you need to keep your refrigerator in perfect working order. As with any used item, you never know what you are getting until you get it home. A used commercial refrigerator, unlike some other types of used restaurant equipment, can have many more costly mishaps, the most expensive and likely one being the compressor burning out. Replacing this can easily cost $1000, and that's an easy down payment on a brand new unit. Visit TigerChef and find out how easy it is to finance a new commercial refrigerator for your restaurant.

Commercial Refrigerator Types

Now that you know what your needs are and what to look for in a commercial refrigerator, there are quite a few different types of units to choose from on the market. The most popular include:

Reach in Refrigerators are a lot like your residential refrigerator, only larger, stronger, and tougher so they can withstand constant use. They come with either one, two or three doors and have either a top-mount or bottom mount compressor.

• Pass-Thru Refrigerators are similar to reach-ins but the doors open on either side, allowing it to be placed between the kitchen and server stations. These are perfect for hgh volume establishments that want to speed up their workflow. Staff can prepare refrigerated foods that can be left in the refrigerator, such as salads, desserts, sandwiches and more, until they are ready to be served.

Roll-in Refrigerators can accommodate various sizes and quantities of sheet pans. They can be found in bakeries and other foodservice businesses that prepare large amounts of food in advance as they enable these sheet pans to be taken from the refrigeration unit directly to the oven for baking or cooking.

Glass Door Merchandising Refrigerators used in supermarkets, delis, cafeterias, and convenience stores and more, are used for front of the house applications. They are suitable for take-out areas where the self-service paradigm enables customers to have a clear view of what is inside so they can help themselves to whatever they need. They are also beneficial for impulse-buying, storing cold beverages, and other grab-and-go items.

Undercounter Refrigerators look and operate very much like reach-in refrigerators but they are much shorter and fit in smaller spaces, typically under the counter. They store fewer items and are especially suited for food trucks; as a second refrigerator that stores products that are used most frequently; or in smaller commercial kitchens with limited space.

• Walk in Coolers allow you to walk in and store large quantities of perishable foods. They can be found in larger commercial kitchens that require lots of cold storage space. They can be set up with shelving systems, or they can store bulk and boxed items on the floor. They can be installed in the back of the house, or even outside the restaurant, if inside space is limited.

Bar Refrigeration: Bars have their own unique refrigeration requirements, These include back bar coolers, beer dispensers, bottle coolers, wine refrigerators, glass frosters and more, that are have the specifications needed to fit into any bar area for easy accessibility.

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