Options & Accessories for Commercial Refrigeration & Freezers
Having the right accessories is crucial in getting the most out of your refrigeration, no matter what kind of refrigeration you have. From casters to flanged legs designed to keep your commercial refrigerator standing in an earthquake, from stainless steel exteriors to sliding glass doors, it helps to know your options before you start customizing.
Of course, not every commercial cooler manufacturer is going to have the same standard and optional equipment. Some manufacturers prefer ABS interiors, while others stick with stainless or aluminum. Some prefer to ship all their cabinets with casters, while others provide legs with all their units. Despite those differences, there are some accessories for reach-in commercial refrigeration that you really should consider before you buy any cabinet.
Commercial Refrigerator Support Options
At the literal bottom of every buying decision for a commercial cooler is figuring out which type of supports your cabinet will stand on. Most manufacturers will offer you an option of legs and wheels, with wheels generally being the standard across the industry. That’s because wheels make it easier to access your cabinet for cleaning – both the unit itself and beneath it – and service. There are rare occasions when legs may be preferable, though. For instance, if your unit will be used onboard a ship or in an area where some brave thief may try to wheel it away, you’ll probably want to opt for stable legs. Additionally, some reach-in commercial refrigeration makers offer a flanged leg that helps the weight of the cabinet shift more safely during an earthquake, hopefully preventing the unit from toppling over.
Top Mounts vs. Bottom Mounts, Self-Contained vs. Remote
To prolong the life of your unit, you will need to choose the right condenser, which is the heart of the refrigeration system. You have to decide whether you want those works in the unit itself, which is called a self-contained system, or in another, perhaps more convenient location, a set-up appropriately called remote. While we go into this commercial refrigeration dilemma in another piece, we’ll sum it up by saying most cases will call for self-contained. However, if you have a large number of commercial refrigerators to run in one area or for some reason self-contained systems aren’t feasible for your facility, you can talk to a salesperson or food service equipment expert about the remote option.
If you’re in the more than 90 percent of buyers who will benefit from a self-contained unit, you need to choose where that cooling machinery will be located in the commercial cooler, with options for top and bottom. This is another of the commercial refrigeration accessories we’ve covered in another article in more detail, but we want to make sure we cover the basics here to give you a complete picture. Bottom-mounted units are great for the cooking line, where heat and potentially grease-carrying vapors will rise. Top mounts are preferable in dry storage areas, since they’re away from ingredient spills and other condenser-clogging catastrophes.
Ins & Outs of Commercial Refrigerator Door Options
There are a number of choices when it comes to how you access a commercial freezer or refrigerator. For some units, including single-section reach-in refrigeration, you can choose whether your doors hinge on the left or right, allowing you to maximize your space. While most manufacturers offer self-closing doors, some also have an option for doors that will prop open, making it easier to load the refrigerator or get items out of it.
Most of the choices you’ll face in this area are related to the design of the doors. For an upright refrigerator, you’re likely to have an option of having full or split doors, which provide one or two access points, respectively, per section. Full doors are standard, while split doors allow you to open only the area you need to access, minimizing heat infiltration into the cabinet.
Additionally, you can choose glass or solid doors, with most reach-in commercial refrigeration manufacturers providing options that allow mixing, with some solid doors and some glass. Solid doors are likely to be at least slightly more energy efficient, while glass doors offer users a view of the cabinet’s contents when they’re closed, reducing how long the doors have to be open when you're searching for a particular product.
Finally in this category, you’ll want to decide whether you want those doors on hinges or a slide. Hinged doors are standard and are useful in most applications because they offer full access to the entire cabinet interior. Sliding doors can be very useful in cramped kitchens that may not have room for aisles wide enough to accommodate swinging doors.
Options for the Interior of the Cabinet are Crucial
When it comes to ensuring you get the best unit for your application, perhaps none of the commercial refrigeration accessories are more important than the ones inside the unit. That’s where you have choices that make sure the commercial cooler you choose can best serve your particular storage needs.
For most food service operations, the shelves that come standard on most models are likely to be the best fit because they are versatile and maximize the cold storage space. However, there are facilities that could benefit from changing the interior. Many manufacturers offer an option for pan slides, which allow full-size sheet pans to be quickly stored and removed. Those are great for bakeries, event facilities, caterers, and other business that need to hold cold foods in large batches. Additionally, some producers of reach-in commercial refrigeration offer baskets inside, which are great for storing things like produce that might not be a good fit on shelves. Those are also good in a commercial freezer, offering space for upright storage of bags of food or frozen novelties.
Choosing the Right Thermometer
The last option we’ll cover here concerns what type of thermometer your unit has. While analog was the default for years, digital is becoming more prevalent and is even the standard on many commercial refrigerator and commercial freezer models. While analog thermometers are usually the most cost-effective choice, there are benefits to a digital read-out.
Unfortunately, not everyone can read analog thermometers very well. Whether you have an employee who just isn’t good at determining where the arrow is pointing or one who is too short to get a good view of the dial at the top of an upright refrigerator, their readings may not be completely accurate. Digital thermometers generally offer larger numbers than analog, which also makes them easier to read for those with eyesight problems. Second, digital thermometers save you time by allowing you to see the interior temperature of your commercial refrigerators at a glance, even from across the room.