Dual Temperature Refrigeration Buyers' Guide
A dual-temperature refrigerator freezer is a great way to keep both frozen and refrigerated items stored in a single footprint. These may be used in conjunction with a larger cold storage area, such as a walk-in, or they may be used as the primary cold storage for low-volume operations.
The first thing to consider when purchasing a commercial refrigerator freezer combo is the size you can accommodate in your location. These units are available in full-size and undercounter sizes, as well as slim-design models to fit in kitchens with limited space.
Commercial refrigerator freezers are often rated by the manufacturer in cubic feet, but how that space is used is much more important. Dual-temperature refrigerator freezers will have as many as three sections. Most models allow you to choose which sections will be refrigerated and which will be frozen. Shelf space is a very important consideration when comparing these units. Take note of how many shelf positions are provided in each section and the size of the increments in which the shelves can be adjusted. If you will be mostly storing pans, your needs may be better served by pan slides in place of shelves, but ensure those are spaced out enough to allow all-important airflow between the levels.
When sizing your unit, always err on the size of too large if you are wavering between two sizes. Adequate air flow is necessary to cool items, and overfilling a refrigerator or freezer will strain the unit's compressor and may result in unsafe food temperatures.
The number of doors your commercial refrigerator freezer has is determined by how many sections the unit has. A one-section model will usually have two doors, with the freezer and refrigerated compartments stacked vertically. Two- and three-section units will have either one or two doors per section. One door per section allows you to see all of the contents easily, but two can help with conserving energy by limiting the cold air that escapes when a door is opened.
Doors are available in solid or glass construction. Solid doors provide better insulation, increasing energy efficiency. However, glass doors allow you to see what is inside before you open them, which can decrease the amount of time the doors are kept open when retrieving products. This can also save energy, especially if the doors are opened frequently.
Compressors are generally mounted in the top or bottom of dual-temperature refrigerator freezers. Bottom-mounted compressors are best for hot environments, as the heat will rise and prevent the compressor from having to work as hard. Top-mounted compressors are recommended for kitchens with high amounts of dust, such as bakeries or pizzerias that use a lot of flour, due to the possibility of bottom-mounted compressors clogging as the sediment settles to the floor. Bottom-mounted compressors may require more maintenance, but they are much easier to access than top-mounted compressors, so service and cleaning are easier to complete.
Remote compressor models are also available. The compressors on those models are located in another room or on the roof, away from the refrigeration unit. This can help keep heat and noise around the unit at a minimum and save on energy costs, but installation can be costly. For assistance purchasing a remote unit, please contact one of our helpful customer service representatives at 1-800-541-8683.
Some dual-temperature refrigerator freezers have special features to help your foodservice operation run more smoothly. Temperature recording can help ensure that food is kept at safe temperatures, and make HAACP record keeping simple. Self-closing doors ensure that as little cool air as possible is lost to the environment, and a stay-open feature will hold doors open when pushed out to a certain angle, which makes stocking easy.
Pass-through commercial refrigerator freezers have doors on both sides, which can allow kitchen staff to restock from the back while servers pull from the front. These units also offer the advantage of providing more access in large, busy kitchens. High-volume kitchens may benefit from a roll-in design, which allows full pan racks to roll in without having to be individually loaded, a time- and labor-saving design for kitchens that need to store pans in bulk.