Commercial fridge buying guide

Commercial fridge buying guide

Reliable and efficient commercial fridges are essential for all catering businesses, and taking care over the refrigeration options you choose will ensure you are able to keep your food fresh and delicious, your customers happy, and any waste to a minimum. You might only need one good general purpose fridge, or you might need several to deal with quite specific aspects to your foodservice operation, but whatever your requirements Catering Appliance Superstore can help you choose the right option with our commercial fridge buying guide.

 

Display or just storage?

When deciding what kind of fridge to purchase it is useful to first of all distinguish between display fridges intended for cold storage front of house, and general refrigeration suitable for back of house storage. There is a clear distinction between the two in most cases, and display fridges are generally more aesthetically pleasing and designed to showcase your product range as well as possible. They generally are also far more suitable for front of house service direct from the fridge itself, either self service or otherwise, often being more easily accessible and with better visibility of the food stored in the fridge.

For front of house storage, Catering Appliance Superstore provides countertop food display merchandisers, glass door display fridges, multideck displays, serve-over-counters, counter top prep and serveries. Within various other categories there may be options for front of house display as well, for example in our meat fridge category there are open tiered display cabinets perfect for butchers shops or farm shops.

The drawback to front of house display refrigeration is that often attractive design and ease of service has taken priority over efficiency and maximisation of capacity, which is far more important for refrigeration storage in a back of house environment, for example your commercial kitchen, larder or other food storage areas.

If you don't need to display the food, you certainly want a commercial refrigerator with a door as this is far more energy efficient than an open display unit, and unless it is important to see the food you don't need a glass door either, as this may add unnecessary cost. However, in some situations glass door fridges can be useful back of house - stock taking can be easier for instance.

 

Type of food and method of production

The menu or food range offered at your catering business will dictate the type of food and the amount you need to store in your commercial fridges, and this in turn will help narrow your options when it comes to choosing makes and models, but there is still more than one way to approach cold storage solutions in every business.

Catering Appliance Superstore offers specialist refrigeration by food type, for example commercial fish fridges and meat fridges. These food categories can be high risk and when stored in a general refrigeration unit they need to be kept completely separate from other food to avoid contamination, particularly in their raw state. For catering businesses who specialise in fish or meat or sell in high volume then a dedicated refrigerator is a wise choice. Specialist units will also ensure the optimimum refrigeration conditions for fish and meat, making for a better customer experience.

Not all restaurants, hotels or other catering operations can justify separate fridges for different food types, either due to cost or simply available space, and the general cold storage options provided by Catering Appliance Superstore are versatile enough to provide enough refrigeration space, and enough separation between food types, for any commercial kitchen configuration. Choose from countertop fridges, undercounter fridges, prep counters, prep counters with built in refrigerated salad storage above, and perhaps the most common general purpose cold storage solution, single and double door upright fridges.

The way food is prepared in your catering business can have as much of an impact on your choice of fridge as the food itself. For example, if everything is cooked to order you will likely need a higher proportion of refrigerated prep counters and undercounter fridges, ensuring that the raw ingredients are available as close as possible to the area of service (i.e the countertop under which they sit). Salad refrigeration compartments on top of the prep counter are a good idea and can really speed up service.

If your operation tends to prepare batches of food in advance then maximising the volume of storage with upright double doored fridges could make more sense, though these will likely be situated a little further away. Many businesses serving directly to customers will require a balanced mix of compact cold storage near the service area, and more voluminous fridges a little further away.

A good option for businesses with sufficient space is a cold room, a walk in unit with space for racking that can hold a huge amount of raw ingredients and prepared foods together (observing correct anti-contamination procedures of course). We can provide cold room solutions with a broad range of internal volumes to make the most of the space you have.

Please note that this buying guide, and the category to which it relates, deals predominantly with food cold storage. For bottle chillers, bottle bins and cellar storage for cold drinks, please see our back bar bottle coolers, well bottle coolers and cellar cooler pages.

 

Positioning

Before you make your purchase, particularly if fitting out a new kitchen or rearranging the cold storage you already have, we recommend drawing out a plan of your kitchen and ensuring the new layout makes sense operationally (considering some of the above points) and that everything will fit.

Make sure you measure your spaces if you're in any doubt at all about whether units will fit, and don't forget to allow sufficient clearance. Allow at least 2cm on all sides and above, but refer to the model you're selecting to see if there is any more specific information.

Allow for opening and closing of doors and passing behind the fridge when someone has the door open - ask yourself whether a sliding door fridge might be a better option if the location is a thoroughfare for service staff.

Finally, for single door commercial fridges, check for left vs right opening doors, or doors which can be adjusted to be either - something as simple as a door opening on the wrong side can became a headache for your catering team.

By Philip Wearmouth | Catering Appliance Superstore