Choosing Your Walk-in Condenser Location
Walk-in coolers and freezers are an essential piece of equipment in many foodservice operations because they can be used to store everything from bulk ingredients and prepared foods to kegs. It's important to ensure you purchase a unit that has been sized correctly for the space you have available, but to get the most out of your walk-in, you'll need to outfit your unit with the right components and accessories. If you're purchasing a self-contained walk-in, that includes selecting the location for the condenser that best suits your needs: the ceiling or the wall.
When to Choose a Ceiling-mounted Condenser
Walk-ins with ceiling-mounted condensers are the most common, so the majority of the units you have to choose from will have this design. Because the condenser is bolted onto the top of the unit, it is harder for unauthorized people to reach and might be better safeguarded against potential tampering, which can be beneficial if the walk-in is installed outdoors.
When purchasing a walk-in with a ceiling-mounted condenser, make sure to note whether the refrigeration system sits flush with the interior of the unit. If the condenser does not sit flush with the ceiling, it may hang down several inches or even a couple of feet into the cold storage area. You'll need to take this into account when planning the design of your walk-in's shelving and storage, since the condenser requires clearance on the interior, as well.
If the walk-in is installed indoors, you'll also need to make sure the room is tall enough not only to accommodate the unit itself but to accommodate the walk-in refrigeration system that is on top of it. The condenser requires enough clearance to provide adequate air circulation for its fans, as well as sufficient space for the system to be accessed when it needs to be serviced. This is usually at least a couple feet of space above the top of the condensing unit. Walk-ins with ceiling-mounted condensers measuring 6 feet 7 inches tall generally cannot be installed in rooms with ceiling heights of less than 9 feet, and a ceiling height of at least 10 feet is generally recommended for walk-ins with ceiling-mounted condensers measuring between 7 feet 4 inches tall and 7 feet 7 inches tall.
When to Choose a Wall-mounted Condenser
If the room where your walk-in will be installed does not have a sufficient ceiling height to provide the recommended amount of clearance for the top-mounted condenser, you should look at purchasing a walk-in with a wall-mounted system instead. This is generally the best option for basement installations and other smaller rooms. Similar to the wall-mounted systems, the main drawback to this type of walk-in is that shelving cannot be placed in front of the condenser, which is likely to limit the amount of available storage space.