An Undercounter Freezer Buyers' Guide
In order for your kitchen to provide speedy service, it's important to make sure your cooks have access to the products they need when they need them. Undercounter freezers can help you do just that by saving staff members trips between their work stations and the walk-in freezer. We'll help you choose the right freezer for your workflow.
Sizing Your Undercounter Freezer
The smallest one-section undercounter freezers each provide between 2 and 8 cubic feet of storage space, so they're suitable for serving individual kitchen work stations. Consider installing a one-door freezer near the deep fryer to hold a supply of your most popular items like french fries and chicken tenders. One-door undercounter freezers also make good solutions for holding packaged frozen treats like ice cream and other deserts, keeping those items separate from your raw products and ingredients.
Larger two- and three-section undercounter freezers offer as much as 21 cubic feet of interior space and can provide a frozen holding solution for one or more kitchen work stations. Consider equipping your kitchen with one of these freezers to supplement your larger reach-in freezer. If you only deal with smaller quantities of frozen food, one of these compact freezers may be the only frozen storage equipment you need.
Most undercounter freezers conform to the industry-standard 351⁄2-inch height that allows them to roll underneath 36-inch-high countertops. Six-inch casters are the norm, but low-profile casters are available as an option on many models to enable the unit to be rolled underneath lower-than-average countertops.
Features to Consider
While most are built with stainless steel exteriors, a few undercounter freezers come with black or white laminate exterior finishes. Freezers finished with laminate are well-suited for use in the front-of-house or anywhere else you might want them to discreetly blend in with their environment. Laminate is also easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth and requires no special cleaners for maintenance.
Undercounter freezers are most often built with aluminum interior walls and stainless steel floors. Lighter-duty aluminum provides an attractive, rust-proof finish, while steel holds up to the weight of products held in the freezer. Heavy-duty equipment is often built with all-stainless interiors that can hold up to the most demanding institutional applications. Budget-oriented freezers are built with ABS plastic interior liners.
Fluorescent and incandescent lights are the affordable standards for lighting freezer interiors, but LED lights require less energy and provide brighter illumination.
To conveniently hold both frozen and chilled food, choose a dual-temperature undercounter refrigerator freezer with one or more sections each for refrigeration and frozen goods.
Doors vs. Drawers
Doors are common components of undercounter freezers. Behind each door of applicable units, you'll typically find one or two shelves, which are handy for holding packaged goods and items in bulk. Some models have glass doors, making it possible to see what you have on hand without opening the door.
For storing individual portions of food, like frozen cuts of meat, consider choosing a freezer with drawers. Each drawer typically accommodates a full-size food pan or the equivalent number of fractional-sized pans. Drawers make it easy to hold and access individual portions of common ingredients.
As you're shopping for an undercounter freezer, you'll want to pay attention to the location of each model's condensing unit. Most undercounter freezers are front-breathing, meaning that both incoming cool air and outgoing warm air pass through the front of the equipment. This setup will let you install the freezer in tight spaces without additional clearance between walls and other equipment.
Other undercounter freezers are built with side- or rear-mounted condensing units. These setups may require that your equipment be installed with a few inches of clearance between it and nearby walls and equipment, so take those requirements into account when you choose the best model for your kitchen's needs.