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What you need to know before purchasing a Walk-In Freezer or Cooler

What you need to know before purchasing a Walk-In Freezer or Cooler

Before investing in a Walk-In Freezer or Cooler, here is what you should know. Foodservice suites with large operations that need enough space for fridges and freezers could profit from purchasing a walk-in refrigerator. These big coolers can chill and preserve meals of all kinds, both cooked and raw. The walk-in refrigerators vary from 15’x15 units to hundreds of thousands of square feet sizeable, supplying ample room for food storage

Proper research before investing in a walk-in refrigerator/freezer is important due to its size and the costs that come with deliverance, installment, maintenance, and energy supply. Using our buying guidelines can assist you in selecting the best model for your business – exploring different types of walk-ins available, attributes to take into account when choosing, and certain factors instrumental in picking an ultimate model.

Types of Walk-in Refrigerators and Freezers

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  1. Constructed Walk-Ins

Walk-ins consisting of insulated walls and structural tiling for the walls and floors are custom-made to match your specific demands. Many brands offer a range of sizes to fit your walk-in perfectly into your kitchen space. Although there is an expensive initial cost, it is often worth it in the long run due to its usefulness. The only drawback is that these kinds of walk-ins cannot be easily changed or moved around once they have been put in place.

  1. Prefabricated Walk-Ins

Prefabricated walk-ins contain urethane panels with built-in refrigeration appliances, ranging from 5’x5′ plus an extra foot to multiple stories outside warehouses. Any storage area can become cooler by providing insulation panels with a foamed material and necessary fridge components. They are sometimes assembled at factories or on-site with no expense for installation like constructed varieties – electrical wiring needs to be connected by an electrician!Integrated models are more robust when compared to individual ones and offer more range in terms of size. Nonetheless, many models do have the opportunity for expansion if additional freezer space is desired. Assembling, relocating, or increasing prefab coolers results in less interruption than similar changes to a prebuilt cabinet.

What is the Anatomy of a Walk-In?

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  1. Insulation Type

The walk-in fridge or freezer structure is comprehensively isolated from top to bottom, preserving the chilly inside air steadiness and conserving your merchandise chilly, clean, and safe. Various insulation materials are used for walk-ins according to their R-value, which estimates how much heat flow the material can swindle. Those with greater R-values provide better protection from heat flow.

  • Foamed-In-Place Polyurethane

This particular kind of insulation is sprayed onto two metallic panels forming the walls and ceiling of walk-in models. It has an R-value rating of R8 per square inch, making it the most efficient insulation among current products on the market. It also has high fire and moisture resistance and a melting temperature of 700 degrees F, providing unbeatable tightness for cold air inside the walk-in.

  • Extruded Polystyrene (XEPS)

XEPS is a form of polyurethane that has an estimated R-value from 2 to 5, which falls short in comparison to foamed-in-place polyurethane’s capacity; thus, requiring more energy supply from compressors to operate adequately refrigerators made this way may be more affordable at first but will eventually cost more due to lower efficiency over time. Most panels are typically constructed with typical measurements such as 1 2, 3 & 4′ wide with heights near 7 1/2, 8 1/2′, and 9 1/2′ and call for not less than 8″ of XEPS to reach foamed infills R-value rating.

  • Laminated Panels

This method uses polyurethane slabs fixed on metal paneled interiors. However, this could degrade soon – or even worse, cause deformation – because of detached plys when exposed to air or heat after some time.

  1. Flooring

Local laws may indicate how your walk-in refrigerator or freezer should be constructed. However, the most effective solution would be to put a sealed floor made of grout and quarry tile on top of an uninsulated concrete slab and finish with an energy break. Concrete alone is not a great insulation material; it requires insulation to stay below 37 degrees F.

Due to the lower costs, it might appear tempting to buy an incomplete walk-in and install it over the floor you already placed. But, in terms of utility usage, this could result in considerable expenses. When investing in a walk-in freezer, having insulated flooring is critical as the extremely low temperatures associated with the unit might destroy the flooring; setting up an insulated surface can aid you in decreasing your energy bills by approximately 15%.

If you intend for your walk-in to possess heavy shelves and carts, it’s important to include reinforced or structural floors to take care of the extra weight. If the walk-in features panels for its floors, you may want to install ramps so that access works well when attempting to get refrigerated goods. To prevent water from seeping into small crevices and holding out insects and vermin, particularly outside, it is essential to guarantee that sufficient insulation under the concrete is established before any walking material is placed atop.

A choice would be laying commercial vinyl flooring within the internal part of your walk-in; however, make certain all edges and corners are shaped according to NSF requirements. It’s worth achieving this on a standard-level outfield, so those seams will likely be nicely secure, and there will never be any hot air coming into the unit via gaps around doorways, etc. If the ground is inclined or otherwise not even, then poor alignment & leaking air flow may occur, reducing efficiency levels within the device.

Insulating one’s floors can offer essential protection when positioning one’s Walk-In chillier & deep freeze either inside the basement or perhaps enclosed veranda, then elevated– like inside trailers as well as decks– as needed.

  1. The gathering has come to an end

  • Galvalume

Galvalume combines iron, galvanization, and an aluminum coating mostly used for walk-ins due to its superior quality against rust and corrosion compared to regular galvanized steel. It typically weighs 26 gauge minimum, offering the highest level of durability and protection from dent damage compared to aluminum.

  • Galvanized steel

Unlike galvalume, galvanized steel is not as solid and has a heightened corrosion risk when exposed to water. It needs at least G90 for walk-in refrigerators and freezers, which can resist dent damage better than aluminum. Generally, its size averages 26 gauge for ceilings and walls with 16-20 gauges on the floors. Quarry tiles are recommended on the ground if you go with this option.

  • Painted Galvanized

Possibly more expensive than galvalume but featuring a paint layer that guards against rusting, painted galvanized is the best choice if you’re looking to customize your unit with different colors while maintaining robustness and endurance versus corrosion attacks.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum might be less resistant to corroding than other metals. Yet, it’s still commonly employed as it increases strength through greater size, which often ranges between 40mm to 60mm thick on walls and ceilings, while floor measurements can reach from 100mm up to 120mm thick. Additional traits of this material are the 1-1/4 inch diamond tread plate for enhanced hardiness around high-traffic areas.

  • Stainless Steel

Steel offers robustness and a minimum corrosion rate, making it suitable even in heavily used common areas, although it is one of the costlier options.

       4. Assembly

  • Pre-assembled

This walk-in model is typically delivered to its destination by a gooseneck truck. The object’s size will influence how it will be extracted from the vehicle, with crane lifts, forklifts, or boom lifts typically employed. Remember that installing a pre-assembled unit can cause major disruption to your business – so it’s best to put one in during periods of low activity or when you are constructing the company.

Likewise, assess the hallways and doorways of your building to guarantee that the pre-assembled walk-in unit can fit through them comfortably. In cases where doors aren’t expansive enough, opt for smaller versions instead – or place it outside if possible.

  • Assembled on-site

Although more expensive than pre-assembly, sometimes assembling on-site is essential – especially when large units must pass through tight entryway points. This assembly is ideal for restaurants needing extra space for refrigerated goods.

  1. Refrigeration System

Walk-ins can be supplied with split systems as well as self-contained refrigeration systems.

  • Split System

Split systems are external refrigeration systems in which the condensing unit is mounted on the walk-in-box roof or in a different room exterior to the building, typically on the roof. It keeps heat out of the interior, thus avoiding overheating in the kitchen area. Prefabricated walk-ins usually arrive ready for assembly, while those created on-site may include remotes. These are ideal options for places with limited ceiling space.

In most cases, these walk-in units do not come pre-assembled and require an expert, followed by pumping them with freon for a startup. An important point to remember is to get protective coverings for outdoor condensers to prevent them from freezing in cold temperatures.

  • Self-Contained System

Self-contained systems have all essential components preinstalled – refrigeration lines, elements, and drainage system. Side and top-mounted self-contained models feature evaporator coils attached inside sidewalls or ceilings, consuming some storage space accordingly.

Drop-ins provide an elegant solution, including a single frame containing both compressor and condenser, along with precharged refrigerant lines connecting these two parts fixed atop a walk-in box. Evaporator coil setup prevents an ungainly hanging–down construction, thus preserving plenty of interior room while at the same time enabling increased energy efficiency ratings compared to the traditional side or top mount units and drops in installation simplicity need considerably less effort from expert technicians than regular side mount devices installed within same parameters can not boast off even if they take up a slightly smaller portion of indoor space size wise because professional wiring is still needed here.”

A drop–inch equipment will require extra variable size room – about 2’x3″ plus some breathing margins around edges – to guarantee proper ventilation en route towards operating optimality levels, whereas classic side mount capsules themselves also occupy a certain amount of internal storage area regardless; however, it pales against what their more modern peers embody.

  1. Door

Convex Hinged Door versus Flush Door (both left and right-hand opening)

The entrance to any walk-in is likely the most used and often mistreated part of the building. It needs to enable personnel access while preventing warm air from escaping inside. Therefore, a door for this structure must withstand hard daily use.

Ideally, the door should be made of stainless steel with a front and back plate that absorbs striking pressure. This will stop it from denting, chipping, or scratching. The kitchen also offers additional kick plates with purchase.

A strong frame plus robust hinges and locks ascertain max durability. Unfastened hinges can lead to gaps that allow warm air to come in, thus influencing energy efficiency negatively. Furthermore, fitting seals prevent cold air from leaking, as these should fit tightly around the frame. Look for models with door releases on the inside, allowing hands-free operation.

Doors that open outward between 24 – 34 inches come in either left or right-hand variants, while sliding doors are also provided for walk-ins.

Think about getting a self-closing model, so the door remains shut even when people are busy working away. If preferred, there is even an option of purchasing a small window to get a peek inside your unit. For extra security, opt for models with deadbolt locks and key handles fitted as standard features.

  1. A/C Size

The variety of designs and sizes available, as well as ACs used for them, is considerable. The following sizing guide can aid in choosing the suitable air conditioner for your needs:

Selecting the right Walk-In Refrigerator or Freezer for your requirements

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  1. Variety of items in the store

When choosing a walk-in refrigerator, you must know what food items you will store. Normal refrigerators can manage temperatures ranging from 35deg F to 41deg F and keep these goods cool; they cannot, however, freeze any raw meats or goods that need to remain frozen, which makes a freezer more suitable. A walk-in freezer resembles a fridge, except the panels are thicker and contain more powerful systems that keep very low temperatures.

It is best practice to create sections within the walk-in, allowing distinct zones for pre-cooked and raw foods to avoid contamination. Place at least one specific thermometer in the milder part of the refrigerator to monitor air temperature; shelves should then be set above 6 inches off the ground for easy cleaning purposes.

  1. Capacity

Reach-ins are often smaller than walk-in freezers and refrigerators. Small units, known as step-in models, generally contain up to 15 cubic feet of space. Meanwhile, customizable walk-ins can be as huge as an impressive 400,000 square feet. You may decide the size you need by looking at the quantity of food that needs storing. Generally speaking, each square foot in storage can hold about 28 lbs of solid edibles. So, if you want to keep 50 lbs of chicken secure, then around 1.8 cu. feet is necessary for your pantry.

Remember that only some of the interior space is open for use due to factors like aisle space, shelf arranging, ventilation, and rack organization – remember to include this when deciding on size! If you intend to carry bulky items with a cart or trolley, ensure that there’s a minimum 40-inch aisle allocated – this rough sum provides maximum utilization of 60%–70% of internal area.

  1. Installation

When obtaining a walk-in refrigerator or freezer, preparing for the disruption it may cause during setup is essential. Running a business can be hindered significantly when the installation happens, so it is important to plan carefully around this time to minimize any potential issues with customers. The smartest selection would be to organize the setup during periods when your business operations are absent.

  • Indoor Installation

If you’re considering a walk-in to be set up inside, be aware that it will require significant space. It can be problematic if modifying an existing business, as the available area could be limited. Furthermore, self-contained models necessitate considerable energy to run the cooling system, which could strain the HVAC system and make the workspace uncomfortable for staff and customers. If your business is in a hot and humid environment, there might be better options than this one.

  • Outdoor Installation

A walk-in located outside only uses up some of the interior space. It is also faster to install if carried out outdoors, meaning there is less need to puzzle over what to do with your current area. Another extra advantage of an outdoor model, as opposed to an indoor one, is that they do not emit heat into the structure – making food deliveries straightforward as personnel can take the items directly from receiving to walking in areas.

Still, there are several issues to consider when creating an external structure. Since it needs to stand up against fluctuations in wind, sun, and rain, plus occasionally playful animals, a robust design must be exercised, along with having a roofing material that guides rainwater away from entering into walking zones within the unit. Furthermore, obtaining a winterizing kit would be essential to continue running appropriately throughout the winter by providing a cover for the compressor plus an inside heater, enabling temperatures of more than 32 degrees Fahrenheit – avoiding any elements from freezing over winter months.

It would also be wise to contact local safety and health admins concerning any additional policies regarding maintenance for open-air walk-ins – certain cities may demand certain components for systems running in hot and damp conditions.

  1. Ventilation

A sufficient quantity of air circulation around the device is essential for self-contained walk-ins. If there is an absence of ventilation, there will be no area where hot air can get away from the unit; consequently, the compressor has to draw in more hot air and expend more effort.

The atmosphere’s temperature encompassing the compressor should not go beyond 80deg F. Leave a gap of 8″ to 10″ between the rear, top, and sides of your unit at least. It will guarantee that the compressor gets enough oxygen. If the internal temperature is too high and it’s impossible to provide proper ventilation, transferring the compressor outside could be an option.

  1. User-Friendliness:

Installing a walk-in fridge or freezer can be a major expense, and you’ll want your kitchen staff to make the most of it. Ideally, such devices should be simple and quick to get running. A user-friendly temperature gauge should also be available to assess the inside temperatures regularly. The device’s entrance should also open smoothly and with minimal effort to save time in food preparation due to a recalcitrant door that lags while closing or opening.

  1. Energy Usage

Walk-ins can use considerable energy, particularly if they need to be structured or managed properly. Generally speaking, smaller 5′ x 6 walk-ins have an air compressor of half horsepower to keep the temperature in the box close to 35 degrees F (or less). If it is being used as a freezer, a larger HP compressor must ensure that the temperature inside doesn’t surpass 10 degrees F. Usually, these compressors need 115/60/1 power supply. Bigger systems may require 208/220V/1 and 3 phases for successful functioning.

It is beneficial to pick models with high-density insulation created from foamed-in-place polyurethane to enable improved efficiency. Additionally, the floors, ceilings, and walls need proper insulation, and thermal breaks underneath each wall should be present to avoid any air leakage. Appropriately assigning the shelves and racks are likewise essential for ensuring correct airflow.

LED lighting is recommended for walk-ins needing energy usage reduction; LEDs consume just about 90% less energy than incandescent lamps and produce far less heat than fluorescent bulbs. Furthermore, they remain cool while achieving their full brightness – also, they don’t contain mercury, so they’re deemed safe close to food items.

Ultimately, regular maintenance is mandatory – creating an annual cleaning plan that your staff can comply with will ensure that the walk-in space and its settings are always in perfect condition. Cleaning out residue and exchanging gaskets when necessary will help maintain reliable door functioning; condenser coils should also be free from dust accumulation which might block them up, leading to added strain on the unit.

  1. Maintenance Requirements:

The stainless-steel outer structure is the strongest and most convenient to take care of. On the other hand, aluminum’s outer shell is economical, but it can be more prone to create dents and not as simple to clean. Galvalume-covered sheet metal could be an alternate option since it has more resilience than aluminum and comprises a rust-resistant coating (enamel coatings may be accessible, too, yet not usually). Locating a condenser/compressor unit should be done in an available space, and combining remotes can lead to easier operation and servicing. To fend off any requirement for servicing on walk-in refrigeration systems, ensuring enough ventilation & airflow pockets should always be considered, along with routine cleaning of the condenser coils carried out by an accredited practitioner.

  1. Accessories

  • Strip Curtains

Portions of transparent or shaded PVC can be hung above the door, another successful deterrent from bugs and heat while maintaining the chilliness indoors. Particularly useful when frequent entries are needed for moving supplies in larger amounts monthly or weekly.

  • SAC System for Air Circulation

A setup that introduces external air when the inside of the walk-in cooler is warmer compared to the outside could be utilized to assist a compressor. An alternate option is an air pressure relief valve designed to reduce vacuum influence once warmer air is admitted into a walk-in and fills up when the door is shut, which makes it hard for personnel to open it.

  • Ramps

Rolling carts are made accessible and practical inside walk-ins due to the incorporation of ramps.

  • Shelves

To arrange refrigerated goods in an orderly fashion, go with epoxy-covered shelves offering extra durability as opposed to corrosion or water damage. They must be kept at least 6″ off the ground.

  • Thermometers

Thermometers allow you to keep track of the internal temp in your room. To ensure temperatures are even and safe, installing multiple thermometers around the interior might be beneficial.

An alternate choice is using a data logger. This device stores humidity and temperature data during walk-in times and organizes it into a spreadsheet that can be accessed online or downloaded onto a computer and then sent to a health inspector for review. It is a reliable way of logging the walk-in interval data instead of trying to manually log it with more probability of mistakes by staff members.

  • Alarm Systems

More advanced models of walk-in freezers and refrigerators may come with alarms that alert you if something is off. For example, if the door stays open too long, an alarm will signal it’s time to close it again. Also, another alarm will sound off if it detects an abrupt rise in temperature. Top-tier models even have options to give message notifications via text or phone when something goes wrong.

  • Non-Skid Tape

Since walk-in units often have slippery floors, the non-skid tape can remedy this issue and avoid any slips by employees.