One-Section Reach-In Freezers Buyers' Guide

4 Questions to Find the Perfect One-Section Reach-In Freezer

A one-section reach-in freezer, also called a commercial upright freezer, can add frozen storage to your commercial kitchen without compromising much floor space. Answer the following questions to help you determine which reach-in freezer will be the best fit for your foodservice operation.

1. What Will be Stored in the Freezer?

Knowing what will be stored in your commercial freezer can help you determine what size unit and storage type you will need. One-section reach-in freezers range in size from 12 to 34 cubic feet. If you have the floor space for it, always estimate high when sizing. Trying to fit too much food in a small freezer can restrict the airflow and overwork the compressor, reducing its energy efficiency and shortening its life.

Also be aware of how each reach-in freezer allows you to store your food. Most units come standard with three shelves. These shelves may be solid or wire, and are adjustable in certain increments that vary by brand. If you will be storing a lot of pans, you may benefit more from pan slides than shelves, which is an available option on most models.

2. Which Type of Compressor will Work Best in Your Kitchen?

Commercial upright freezers will have the compressor mounted on the top or bottom. A third option that is less-often used for freezers of this size is remote refrigeration, where the compressor is located outside of the kitchen, usually outdoors. Having the right configuration can ensure your freezer will have a long life and is as energy-efficient as possible.

Top-mounted compressors are best used in cool kitchens or storage rooms, well away from cooking equipment, as hot air will rise and make the unit have to work harder, and grease-laden vapors can clog the system. One-section commercial freezers with top-mounted compressors have more cold storage space, as the compressor being on top near the fan eliminates the need for lines running through the back of the cabinet. This type of compressor usually needs less service, but when it does, its inconvenient location can result in higher service costs.

One-section reach-in freezers with a bottom-mounted compressor are a good choice for hot kitchens or installation locations near cooking equipment. However, this freezer type should be avoided in kitchens that use a lot of flour, such as pizzerias and bakeries, as the flour can be drawn into the compressor as it settles toward the floor, clogging the equipment and requiring service. This compressor type may require service more often than a top-mounted compressor, but its convenient location makes service and maintenance much easier. As an added bonus, bottom-mounted compressors raise the bottom of the freezer cabinet, meaning you can reach the items on the bottom shelf without stooping.

3. Which Door Configuration will Improve Your Kitchen's Workflow?

There are several decisions to make when it comes to the door options you have for a commercial freezer. The first thing you will need to decide on is whether you'll benefit more from solid or glass doors. Solid doors provide better insulation, while glass allows you to see the products inside before you open the door, resulting in less time with the door open. How often the door will be opened will determine which option will be most energy efficient for your kitchen.

The next choice you will have is between a full door and half doors, also called Dutch doors. Full doors allow you to see everything in the section at once, but Dutch doors have the benefit of limiting how much cold air escapes each time one door is opened.

Freezer doors sometimes have extra features, such as being self-closing or having a stay-open feature when pushed open to a certain degree. They may also have field-reversible hinges, which means they can be configured to open to the right or the left. These features come standard on some models, while others have them available through special orders.

All of these options are also available for the doors on pass-through models, which have doors on the front and back, allowing the unit to be stocked from the back while product is pulled from the front.

4. Will Your Kitchen Benefit from Special Features?

Many one-section commercial upright freezers have special features that can be of great benefit to some kitchens. Door locks can help keep products safe, and a digital thermostat on the outside of the freezer can ensure the food inside is being kept at safe temperatures while making HACCP record keeping easy. An auto defrost cycle, which comes standard on some models, can decrease the maintenance needed to keep your freezer in optimal working order.

If your freezer will be a working box, used to store frequently-needed items and opened often, you may want to consider a model with an expansion valve refrigeration system. These models have greater control over the flow of refrigerant, meaning temperatures recover faster even when the door is opened frequently. For greater energy efficiency, look for freezer models that feature the blue ENERGY STAR logo.