Floral Coolers Buyers' Guide
Keeping cut flowers cool can help maintain their appearance for longer, so floral coolers are a necessary piece of equipment for florists and floral departments in supermarkets and other retail stores. Floral coolers are a type of glass door merchandiser specially made to accommodate cut flowers and arrangements, keeping them vibrant, appealing, and prominently on display.
Floral vs. Foodservice Coolers
When shopping for floral supplies, it is important to be sure that the coolers you are looking at are in fact floral coolers. While the differences between a floral cooler and foodservice refrigerator are not evident on the surface, they can be the difference between brightly-colored and brown and brittle flowers.
The first big difference between the two cooler types is in the temperatures they're designed to hold. Most foodservice refrigerators are adjustable between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but delicate flowers cannot withstand fluctuating temperatures, even within a range as small as five degrees. Floral coolers are made with oversized and balanced refrigeration systems to help maintain an even temperature, even when the doors are opened to retrieve products. Most flowers, not including tropical plants and some bulb flowers, do best between 33 and 35 degrees F.1 A foodservice refrigerator may hold temperature below or above that range, which can shorten your product's lifespan.
Another important difference between the two cooler types is their respective air flow patterns. While foodservice refrigerators focus on large fans to fully circulate the air inside the cooler, floral refrigerators are designed to take the internal humidity into consideration. Flowers do best in 80 to 90 percent humidity, a level that cannot be maintained in a box with high-velocity airflow. However, air must still circulate to ensure even temperatures. To achieve this, floral refrigerators make use of baffles to carefully direct air flow in a manner to keep the temperature around 35 degrees F without drying out the flowers. Additionally, all exposed parts must be protected against the humidity to prevent corrosion, as is the case with the epoxy-coated evaporators in True coolers. These coatings also make these models very easy to clean, to prevent bacteria and fungus spores from building up and shortening the lives of your flowers.2
Please note that, due to health codes and high humidity levels, floral coolers are not safe for food storage.
Floral coolers are available in widths ranging from 25 to 78 inches, with one to three sections. When considering which size cooler will work best for you, keep in mind not only how much space you have to dedicate to the cooler, but how many flowers you will need to store at once. Floral arrangements can take up a lot of space, and you want to be sure you have room to store all you will need without overfilling the space, which could result in crushed flowers. However, you also do not want to buy a unit that is far too large, as that can end up costing you much more than necessary in energy costs.
When considering floral cooler sizes, also make note of how many shelves come standard with each section and what increments those shelves can be adjusted in. Flower and arrangement heights will play a large role in dictating how many shelves you can make use of, but making sure you have the right number to customize the cooler to the specifications you need can help you get the best use out of your space.
Once you have decided on a size, you can move on to selecting the right type of doors, as the size of the unit can play a role in which doors you will be able to choose from. Single-section coolers can only have hinged doors, while coolers with two or more sections can have hinged or sliding doors. Either door type can be self-closing, which can be very convenient and in some cases can even save your product.
Swinging doors are the most common type and are often a more economical initial purchase than sliding doors. However, sliding doors can sometimes be opened only partway to get to products, while a swinging door will almost always need to be opened all the way to retrieve products. That can lead to more cool air loss and force the compressor to work harder to quickly recover temperatures. Swing-out doors also take up more space when opened, so keep that in mind if your cooler will be placed behind a counter or in a narrow walkway.
As you shop for the floral supplies to help make your business venture a success, it can pay to look for special features that can improve the merchandising or holding of your products. Floral coolers have several of these features for you to keep in mind as you compare available models. If going green and saving energy is important to you, there are floral coolers available that use low-emissivity glass. There are also ENERGY STAR floral coolers available, which are certified by the EPA as meeting their stringent energy-efficiency guidelines.
In order to help you best merchandise your products, most floral coolers have interior lighting. LED lights are offered by some companies, resulting in a brighter appearance while also being more energy efficient. Some models have glass sides on all four sides to allow for 360-degree merchandising. Others offer a mirrored rear wall on the interior of the cabinet. Locking doors are also available to help you protect your product. Some models offer lighted sign panels, so you can use pre-made or custom signage to market your flowers.
1. What is the Floral Fridge Temperature for Flowers? Florists' Review. Accessed November 2015.
2. A Guide to Cut Flower Care and Handling How to Open a Flower Shop. Accessed November 2015.