Choosing Walk-In Refrigerators and Freezers: A Buying Guide
Beloved by businesses of all kinds from ice creameries to flower shops, walk-ins are a necessary part of daily life, keeping perishables fresh, chilly, and accessible on the premises. They come in many sizes and configurations, so it can be tough to choose the right one for your business. So without further ado, here is everything you ever wanted to know about commercial walk-in refrigerators and freezers but were afraid to ask.
What are the different kinds of walk-in refrigerators and freezers?
There are 3 kinds: refrigerators, freezers, and hybrids. You can put a walk-in and its condenser pretty much anywhere, so whether you need it inside or outside of your facility, you’re covered. Walk-ins work with existing flooring as well as pre-fabricated flooring. Note that if you do purchase a walk-in for outdoor use, you’ll need a compressor cover, crank case heater, fan cycle control, and roof-sealing kit.
What kind of refrigeration system do I need?
A walk-in’s refrigeration system is made up of a condenser (on the outside of the walk-in) and an evaporator (on the inside of the walk-in). Both your condenser and your evaporator should have high-efficiency EISA-compliant motors. There are 3 types of refrigeration systems:
1. Remote systems have an evaporator inside the facility and a condenser outside. These must be professionally installed.
2. Standard top-mount systems rest on top of the walk-in unit, and have all parts pre-installed. The evaporator hangs in the inside of the unit.
3. Side-mount systems are same as standard top-mount systems, but are located on the side of the unit. These are better for facilities with lower ceilings.
What kind of material should I choose for the exterior of my walk-in cooler or freezer?
You have 4 options when it comes to choosing a walk-in cooler or freezer’s exterior material.
1. Galvalume is made from steel that is coated with a mixture of aluminum and galvanizing material that gives it 12 times the corrosion resistance of galvanized material.
2. G90 galvanized, the least expensive type of material for walk-ins, is both dent- and corrosion-resistant. It should be noted that G90 galvanized can develop “white rust” due to improper handling or the use of corrosive cleaners; and that, without pre-existing quarry tile, G90 galvanized floors are not NSF-approved.
3. Aluminum is also corrosion-resistant (except when salt spray is applied). However, aluminum can dent very easily, so diamond tread plates are sometimes added, along with stuccoed walls and ceiling.
4. Stainless steel is the strongest, most corrosion-resistant, and highest-priced option. Stainless steel is available as brushed or polished in appearance.
What kinds of insulation are there for walk-in refrigerators and freezers?
There are 2 types of insulation for walk-in refrigerators and freezers.
1. Extruded polystyrene has a high initial R-value (a unit used to measure thermal resistance) and retains about 47% of its R-value over the insulation’s life.
2. Polyurethane has a high initial R-value and retains around 19% of that value over the insulation’s life.
What walk-in refrigerator or freezer sizing should I choose for my business?
1 cubic foot of storage holds about 28 pounds of food. However, when choosing a walk-in size, you also should account for expected future growth.
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