Restaurant Equipment & Supply

How to Choose the Right Commercial Refrigeration

Aug 12, 2014 8:55:00 AM

How to Choose the Right Commercial Refrigeration

Selecting the correct refrigeration for your operation may seem to be a relatively straightforward process, however, there are often options and accessories that can get overlooked.  These additional choices could help you make a more effective refrigeration purchase. Here we will take a closer look at some of these options and see where they could be most beneficial.

Reach-In Refrigeration

The standard T-series reach-in from True Manufacturing includes the following:

  • Exterior: stainless steel front and door, aluminum sides and back
  • Interior: white aluminum top and sides, stainless steel floor
  • Dial thermometer

However, for an increase of roughly 5% in cost, you can purchase a TS-series model with these upgrades:

  • Exterior: stainless steel sides
  • Interior: stainless steel top and sides
  • Digital thermometer

The benefits of these additional features can mean a longer life and more accurate temperature control, allowing you to recoup the 5% up-front cost relatively easily over time. While these features are often clearly depicted, the nominal cost difference is sometimes not as prominent, causing many customers to overlook the option to purchase a higher quality unit.

Another configuration that can be sometimes missed when purchasing reach-in refrigeration is the option to buy two undercounter units, one freezer and one refrigerator, and a stacking collar, and stack them to make a very economically priced dual zone unit.

Keeping in mind the possibility of glass doors, dual zones, pan racks and additional shelves will help you truly put your reach-in to work for you.  Everyone’s needs are different so exploring the options before making your selection may reveal some surprising ways to best utilize your reach-in equipment.

Chef Bases

There are two things to consider when buying a chef base.  The most important is to determine how much refrigerated storage you need. However, the other variable is to decide what equipment will sit on top of the chef base and how much total width you will need to accommodate these units. 

In the case where you need more width for equipment than you do refrigerated storage, a chef base with an extended top may be the best option.  Extended top chef bases can give you the correct amount of space for your cooking equipment line up, without the hassle of trying to evenly align an equipment stand next to a chef base. The extended top units may also be more economical than purchasing an additional equipment stand to handle the cooking equipment overflow.  Keeping your cooking equipment as close together as possible will also help you save money by maximizing the space under your exhaust hood.

Salad/Sandwich Units

No matter the type of restaurant you own, it always seems like kitchen space is at a premium.  While salad/sandwich units help maximize this valuable space by putting many ingredients at your fingertips, you can go even further by choosing a unit with a pan configuration that utilizes every square inch.  Standard salad/sandwich units fit 2 sixth size pans front to back.  Therefore, in a 36”L unit, you can fit 8 pans.  In order to accommodate 12 pans you need to move up to a 48”L table. However, if you opt for a Mega-Top style prep table, you can fit 3 pans front to back, allowing you to fit 12 pans in only 36” of space.  Keep in mind that Mega-Top units are usually about 4” deeper than standard units, so if depth is an issue, you will want to avoid this choice.

Salad/sandwich units are also available with extended counter space on the right hand side to accommodate a cash register, wrapping station or other prep equipment.  This option gives you a work space with refrigerated storage underneath.  There are also units available with drawers or drawer/door combinations, and even double sided units to increase the amount of prep line access to ingredients.

Deli/Bakery Display Cases

 One thing is for sure, bakery and deli display cases offer an eye-catching way to showcase your foods.  They are great for impulse buys and to display premium products.  Because a deli case can be a substantial investment, you will want to make sure that you consider exactly how the unit will be used before making your final purchase.

 If you are going to utilize the space on top for a cash register or work station, you will want to choose a counter height (42”H) unit.  On the other hand, if you prefer to display many tiers of product in the case, then a standard height (50”H) unit will be better suited for that application.  It is also important to consider whether you want the case to function as a “grab and go” piece where customers can access the product from front doors. However, if you want access to be restricted to employees to help protect against contamination or theft, a model with only rear doors is the best choice. Deli cases are also available in single or double duty.  Single duty cases have only one refrigerated area in the display zone.  Double duty cases have a secondary refrigerated storage area at the lower rear of the unit for additional or overflow product. 

When selecting a case for baked goods you have the option of refrigerated or non-refrigerated units.  There are also  dual-zone cases to help you maximize space by combining dry display and refrigerated display areas into one unit.  Many cases also offer the choice of sliding or swinging doors.  When deciding on the door type it is important to consider how much space is available behind the unit and how you will need to load product.

Taking the time to consider some of these options will hopefully help you make the best refrigeration choice possible. If you are looking for back bar refrigeration, this article discusses the varieties of underbar units and their applications. Also, in an upcoming post we will provide a guide for selecting the right glass door merchandiser.

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