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A Commercial Reach In Refrigerator Buying And Maintenance Guide


By Greg McGuire

Commercial reach in refrigerators are generally used in restaurants for short term food and ingredient storage, as opposed to large walk-ins that store bulk items long term.

The commercial reach in refrigerators available through eTundra.com are built for heavy duty use and have a more powerful compressor than residential refrigerators. More horsepower means a refrigerator's storage space cools quickly and stays cold despite constant door opening. This is vital for food safety, and NFS regulations require commercial kitchens to store food products at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bottom vs. Top Mounted Compressors

The compressor is the engine of a commercial reach in refrigerator. Keeping this engine working effectively and efficiently requires a combination of maintenance and environment. Some compressors work better in certain environments than others, and purchasing the right unit for the job and location you have in mind is an important decision.

Commercial reach-in refrigerators are made with either a top or bottom mounted compressor. Top mounted and bottom mounted compressors have advantages and disadvantages, and it's important to make your purchasing decision based on where and how you plan to use the refrigerator.

Bottom mounted reach ins:

  • Are more efficient in hot environments because the compressor is on the floor, where it is cooler
  • Feature an ergonomic storage space with more accessible shelving than top mounted units
  • Should not be used where lots of flour (like a bakery) or dust is present as the compressor will clog easily

Top mounted reach ins:

  • Have better compressor airflow than a bottom mounted unit, making them more efficient. However, this only applies in a cooler environment
  • Perform better in dusty environments or where a lot of flour is present (like a bakery)

Size and Insulation

Commercial reach in refrigerators come in three configurations: one door, two door, and three door. Doors can also be halved for more compartmentalized storage. When considering what size reach in refrigerator is right for your commercial kitchen, keep in mind that the larger the unit, the more energy it will consume.

Of course, energy usage must be weighed against the amount of storage space you need. Probably the most efficient way to organize your refrigerated storage space is in gradually smaller units the closer you get to the hottest part of the kitchen: the production line.

Start with a walk in for bulk storage, then a two or three door reach in refrigerator stocked with daily or weekly supplies, and finish with a one door reach in refrigerator nearest the line for quick and easy access by kitchen staff.

All commercial reach in refrigerators have thick insulation to maximize efficiency and cool air holding power. Stainless steel interiors are more expensive than aluminum or galvanized ones, but are stain and rust resistant, can withstand heavy use, and are much easier to clean and sanitize.

Commercial Reach In Refrigerator Maintenance

Commercial reach in refrigerators are designed for heavy duty use and should perform at a high level for many years. However, a few very simple preventive maintenance tasks will help ensure that your reach in refrigerator is working effectively and efficiently.

  • Keep the compressor and coils clean.
  • Make sure the compressor fan has good airflow. A partially blocked or very dirty compressor fan must work harder to cool the refrigerant in your reach in, shortening it's life
  • Replace worn door gaskets. All commercial reach ins have thick self-sealing gaskets on their doors to make sure cold air can't escape from the unit. Over time, these gaskets wear out and lose their effectiveness. A good indication your door gaskets need replacing is the constant presence of frost on shelves and food products.




Greg McGuire is a regular contributor to The Back Burner, a restaurant news, trends, and marketing blog. He also works for eTundra.com, a company specializing in restaurant equipment, supplies, and equipment parts.





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