Getting the Right Type of Freezer for Your Operation
Commercial freezers are available in a variety of types and configurations, so you can store and access frozen foods in the way that will best work for your operation. Learning about each type of freezer can help you make the best decision and get a freezer that will meet all of your operation’s needs.
Undercounter and Worktop Freezers
Undercounter and worktop freezers are the smallest types of commercial freezers available. These are normally kept near the food prep area for easy access to things that are needed most often while cooking. An undercounter freezer goes, as its name suggests, under a counter. One- and two-door options are available, as well as some with drawers instead of doors, which are designed to hold food in fractional pans. Most are on casters so that they can be easily moved when needed. Worktop freezers are similar in size, but offer a reinforced, flat top surface that can be used for food prep and similar tasks. If you will need quick access to frozen items while cooking or serving, an undercounter or worktop freezer is perfect for providing it without taking up too much room.
Chest freezers are short and wide, opening from the top. Traditional chest freezers have one or two hinged lids on the top. These are good for storing food items that are packaged to stack well, and may serve you well for items you order in bulk, if you cannot have a walk-in freezer for long term storage. These are also great for use in medical or scientific laboratories for storing medicine, vaccines, or biological matter.
Reach-in freezers are upright freezers with doors that swing outward for full and easy access to the interior of the cabinet. They are available in one-door sizes as small as 27 inches wide, up to three-door sizes as large as 98 inches wide. This variety of sizes makes them appealing to operations that need to make the most of limited floor space. The doors can be solid, for improved insulation, or glass, for better visibility. Reach-in freezers are also available in a pass-through configuration, for when you need to transfer frozen items from one area to another, such as from the prep area to the cook line. The reach-in freezer also gives you storage options, including shelves, tray slides, or even a roll-in box for full-sized pan racks. Nearly every kitchen will need a reach-in freezer, even if they also have undercounter or walk-in freezers; a reach-in can reduce how often you have to make trips to a walk-in, and give you extra storage space that an undercounter freezer cannot offer.
Walk-in freezers are the largest commercial freezer type available, in addition to being the most customizable. These freezers are meant to allow bulk storage, which can save you money in delivery costs. Walk-in freezers allow you to customize how you want your shelves or slides set up, and the freezer itself can even be customized to fit the space you have available. However, they are not meant to freeze foods from room temperature; the food going into a walk-in freezer should already be frozen, as these freezers do not have the capacity for quick temperature pull-downs. Using them that way can result in unsafe food temperatures for too long if food is put in warm. It can also drive your utility bills up and shorten the life of the unit, since the refrigeration system will have to work longer and harder to bring down the temperature. These freezers are also not meant to be opened constantly throughout the day, so they work best when paired with another, smaller freezer that can be used as a "working box" to store most of the food you'll use throughout a day. Walk-in freezers must be planned carefully to take advantage of the space you have available; too small and you will lose valuable storage space, too large and you can end up paying to refrigerate open space that is too small for shelves, but more space than you need to maneuver in.
Ice Cream Freezer
Ice cream freezers are available in two main styles; one allows customers to dip their own ice cream, and the other displays the ice cream to your customers while allowing you to open it to dip it out from the other side. The ice cream display cases feature a flat or curved pane of glass on the customer’s side, allowing them to see the available choices. The back side opens up to allow employees to scoop the ice cream. The slide-top style of ice cream freezer allows customers to see into the chest, then open it and scoop their own ice cream. This style of freezer is often on casters to allow you to move it easily to new display locations or for cleaning.
Ice merchandisers are made to display bags of ice to customers for purchase. Many of these are made to withstand outdoor conditions for stores who wish to have their ice outside, and also include solid doors with locking options to prevent thievery while the store is closed. The indoor merchandisers usually have glass doors and interior LED lighting to display ice to customers. They have either one or two doors, and can hold up to 118 8-pound bags of ice.
Display freezers are a type of reach-in freezer that are made for customers to open, with glass doors that either swing out or slide open. The glass doors allow customers to see the products inside, reducing the amount of time the door are open, which can lower energy costs. Some display freezer include a signage area that you can use to customize the freezer for your store. Most are lit internally, either by fluorescent or LED lighting to help display the products inside.
Blast chillers are meant to quickly bring foods down to freezing temperatures, to then be moved to another freezer for storage, such as a walk-in. These can help you meet regulations and avoid food lingering in the ‘danger zone’ where bacteria grows best. Blast chillers range in size from small undercounter models to large roll-in floor models. The volume of food you will need to chill at once will determine the size chiller you need. Most blast chillers are only meant to store food as long as it takes to get it down to storage temperatures, but some have a holding feature that allow them to be stored until you are able to remove them.
- What Should I Consider When Buying a Commercial Freezer? Wisegeek. Accessed August 2015.