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One of the most commonly used appliances in a professional kitchen is a commercial fridge. As such, it needs to have enough power to operate in hot conditions while also remaining reliable even when the doors are constantly being opened. Commercial refrigerators are often stocked with hundreds of pounds of stock, so you don’t want it to go to waste.

Your food service operation may need only one general purpose fridge, or you may need a few to deal with some specific aspects of your business. This guide will help you understand the differences between the various types of chillers and refrigerators available, as well as their benefits.

What is a commercial fridge?

Compared to domestic models, commercial fridges are able to withstand their doors being opened hundreds of times a day without an impact on performance or temperature. The temperature is precise so you are able to meet regulations and guidelines for food storage.

What to consider before buying a commercial fridge

Before you start looking for your new fridge, make sure you know what you need. Don’t risk picking out an appliance that doesn’t work for your business, and create a list of requirements before shopping.

  • Capacity – make sure your fridge has enough space for what you need for your busiest service. If you get one that’s too small, you’ll be wasting food, but if you get one that’s too big, you’ll be wasting valuable space in the kitchen.
  • Size – make sure your new fridge will fit in the space you have, and is also able to fit through your restaurant doors on delivery.
  • Positioning – the fridge placement needs to make sense, with enough room to open drawers and doors. Consider the flow of your kitchen and how it will be used.
  • Climate class – this is the highest ambient temperature the fridge can efficiently operate at. You’ll probably need Class 4 or Class 5.
  • Efficiency – if the fridge is more efficient, it will be cheaper to run.

Types of commercial fridges

Upright fridges

These are freestanding units that are usually slim and tall, and are the most common type of commercial fridge. Due to their compact width, they have a small footprint whilst still having a large capacity. Most of these will be GN compatible, so you can transfer trays directly from the fridge to your oven.

Upright fridges can be positioned close to food prep areas to offer easy access.

Counter fridges

Counter fridges are designed to provide undercounter storage as well as worktop prep space. They are usually made from stainless steel to give a solid countertop where other appliances can be placed. You can choose between drawers, doors or a combination of both.

They come in a variety of sizes so are suitable for both small and large commercial kitchens.

Prep counter fridges

These combine the flexibility of undercounter storage with a useful worktop that can be used for chilled or ambient food. These are commonly found in quick service restaurants, where it’s important to have ingredients in one place.

Chef base fridges

These are around knee height and provide chilled storage whilst giving a base to your other kitchen equipment. They are more flexible than using a stand are are sturdy enough to hold equipment like convection ovens, chargrills and griddles. Chef base fridges usually can be set to either chilled or frozen.

Under counter fridges

These provide quick access to ingredients without obstructing space. They are placed under your counter and are commonly found in front of house areas. They are small, so are a lot more efficient to run and operate quietly.

Other types of commercial fridge

  • Countertop fridges – these are commonly seen in sandwich or pizza shops, used for quick service or self service.
  • Display fridges – designed for front of house to display your chilled stock
  • Blast chillers – these quickly bring down the temperature of foods to follow food safety guidelines
  • Cold rooms – these are the largest piece of refrigeration available, designed to hold a large amount of stock.

Commercial Fridge FAQ

What temperature should a commercial fridge be?

It is a legal requirement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that cold food must be kept at 8˚C or below. It is good practice to set your fridge to 5˚C so you know the food is cold enough. Remember to check this regularly on your thermostat.

What is refrigerant?

Refrigerant is the gas or fluid used for the refrigeration cycle. This is usually not to important to the buying decision in a commercial kitchen, however some types are more eco-friendly than others.

What’s the difference between commercial and domestic fridges?

Commercial fridges are designed for more frequent use and have more powerful compressors, sturdier construction and are often fan assisted.

Are commercial refrigerators energy efficient?

Not all commercial refrigerators are energy efficient. Look out for models that have high-efficiency compressors and condenser fan motors to reduce energy consumption, so you fridge does not have to work as hard to stay cool. 

How long does a commercial refrigerator last?

On average, your commercial fridge should last around 10 years. High quality models that have had proper care and maintenance can last up to 15 or 20. 

How often should a commercial fridge be cleaned?

You should be cleaning the inside of your commercial refrigerator once or twice a week at a minimum. Your condenser and drain lines should be cleaned every six months. 

Ready to purchase or rent?

Our range of commercial fridges will ensure that your business can cope with customer demand, with a range of sizes and capacities to choose from. Contact us for more information, or view our range below.

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