HVAC & Commercial Refrigeration Blog

Food Service Equipment | The Walk In Cooler

Refrigeration Equipment: The Walk In Cooler

walk in cooler food service equipmentAs food service equipment goes, the walk in cooler is probably one of the most important pieces of refrigeration equipment a restaurant owner will invest in.  As previously discussed, the right walk in cooler can drastically impact a restaurant’s bottom line.  If the walk in cooler is too big, then the restaurant is keeping too much air cold.  If this vital piece of refrigeration equipment is too small, then profits will be eroded by spoiled perishable items, and the restaurant owner’s food service equipment could be putting them out of business.  So the walk in cooler is a very important piece of food service equipment.

Walk In Cooler Features

There are several features which can lend themselves to a walk in cooler operating efficiently.  Quality door designs are very important for this piece of refrigeration equipment to operate effectively and have lasting durability.  Rigid, reinforced door frames and heavy duty hinges provide maximum durability of your walk in cooler.  During busy times, there will be plenty of in and out traffic with the door to your refrigeration equipment being opened and closed repeatedly.  Poorly constructed doors or low quality hinges will drastically reduce the long term durability of your walk in cooler and require you to service this piece of food service equipment far too often.

Inside door releases are also a must for any walk in cooler.  This is a safety feature that prevents food service employees from getting stuck inside the refrigerator or freezer.  It is almost always part of any refrigeration equipment manufacturer’s standard features, but it’s a good idea to make sure it’s included with your walk in cooler when you have it installed.

Other important features for this piece of refrigeration equipment include an alarm system if the temperature in the walk in cooler is fluctuating widely.  Oftentimes this can be the result of the door to your refrigeration equipment being left open accidentally, but there could also be a mechanical problem with the compressor or another part of your refrigerator or freezer could be malfunctioning.  An alarm system will notify you of any issues before your valuable food service inventory items spoil.

Walk In Cooler Maintenance Requirements

walk in cooler refrigeration equipmentKeeping the air flowing smoothly and keeping condenser coils cleaned is vital to proper operation of any piece of refrigeration equipment.  This means proper ventilation, regularly cleaning filters, and regular check-ups with a certified technician.  From time to time the refrigerant will need to be replaced, and per state regulations this can only be done by a refrigeration equipment technician who is certified.  When regular maintenance of your walk in cooler is not performed your are increasing the odds of it breaking down prematurely.  Almost always, your walk in cooler will break down on the hottest day of the year when your establishment is busy and you need your food service equipment the most.  To add insult to injury it will probably happen on a Saturday night when all of the refrigeration equipment technicians are unavailable.

What Type Of Walk In Cooler Is Best For You?

A variety of walk in cooler options are available in addition to the size.  For instance, they may be prefabricated by a refrigeration equipment company or they may be free standing.  Almost always restaurants that have large perishable goods needs will have their walk in cooler prefabricated, but there is also the chance that they put this piece of food service equipment outside if their size requirements are too big to fit inside.  A very large walk in cooler may have different floors, but for smaller versions shelving units are almost always a necessity for ease of access.  Also the condenser for your refrigeration equipment can be in-place or remote depending on your needs.

Whatever type of walk in cooler you decide upon for your refrigeration equipment, it will be important to remember to service this vital piece of food service equipment to protect your investment in the equipment and the valuable inventory it holds.

The Walk In Fridge

A Critical Piece Of Restaurant Equipment

As restaurant equipment goes, the walk in fridge is probably the most critical piece of equipment needed.  For storage of perishable walk in fridgeitems that create profit for restaurants the walk in fridge is unbeatable.  When this piece of equipment goes down, either due to improper commercial refrigeration service or power outage, the potential for loss to the restaurant is significant.  When considering filling your establishment with restaurant equipment the decision an owner makes on the walk in fridge could be the most important one.

Types of Walk In Fridge

When laying out your floor plan with the various types of equipment, the type and size of walk in fridge you choose will be very important.  You can choose a custom-built walk in fridge, but this will cost more money and may lead to your budget being exceeded.  A better option for your needs might be a stand-alone, prefabricated walk in fridge.  Most prefabricated equipment is naturally going to be less costly as they are produced in volume by the walk in fridge manufacturer.

The Size of Your Walk In Fridge

walk in fridgeThe size of your walk in fridge unit is going to be a a very important choice too.  Naturally there are a variety of sizes and configurations for a walk in fridge.  In fact, there is probably more options for this piece of equipment than any other.  Most experts agree that if your cold storage requirements exceed 80 cubic feet, or if you serve more than 250 meals per day, then you are going to need to add a walk in fridge to your list of required equipment.  The type of food you serve in your eating establishment will also impact your choice of a walk in fridge.

If you’ve decided that a walk in fridge is necessary, then a good rule of thumb for picking out this piece of equipment is to plan 1 to 1.5 cubic feet of storage space for each meal you serve on any given day.  Adding shelves to your walk in fridge will help you use the space economically, but make sure the shelves don’t go too high as this could create dangerous situations for your restaurant employees.

If you plan on adding a walk in fridge to your list of restaurant equipment, contact a commercial refrigeration expert who can help you decide on the right configuration for your needs.

The Importance Of Commercial Refrigeration Service

Commercial Refrigeration Service

commercial refrigeration serviceBeing a restauranteur or retail grocer, you probably understand how important commercial refrigeration is to your business.  Commercial refrigeration equipment would include any free standing or built-in unit(s) that provide cold storage for your company’s perishable goods.  Commercial refrigeration includes both refrigerators and freezers which are available in a wide variety of configurations including walk-ins, reach-ins, and commercial refrigeration display cases.

Why Is Commercial Refrigeration Service So Important?

Because perishable goods are an important part of the revenue and profits for your company, it is important to keep your commercial refrigeration operating properly through scheduled commercial refrigeration service.  You know what happens when your commercial refrigeration breaks down suddenly.  You are scrambling to find some way to get it running again before thousands of dollars of product goes bad and can’t be sold to customers.  Of course you can rely on emergency commercial refrigeration service, but this is much more costly than scheduled maintenance and the availability of emergency commercial refrigeration service when you need it most is a big unknown.

The other reason you need to keep your refrigeration equipment in top operating condition through regular commercial refrigeration service is because of the energy costs related to operating it.  For most restaurants and small grocers, the energy costs related to operating their commercial refrigeration equipment make up a large part of their overhead.  When your equipment is operating inefficiently due to lack of proper commercial refrigeration service, then your energy costs can go up significantly.

The Peace Of Mind Provided By Commercial Refrigeration Service

commercial refrigeration serviceProperly maintained commercial refrigeration equipment provides peace of mind to restaurant owners and retail grocers.  Quite a bit of your working capital is invested in the perishable goods that regular commercial refrigeration service helps keep at the proper temperature.  When you rely on emergency commercial refrigeration service, then you are playing a risky game of chance which could cost you thousands.

Being incredibly user friendly due to the variety of sizes and types, commercial refrigeration units offer safe food storage options when commercial refrigeration service is done on a regular basis.  Your refrigeration equipment was a large investment for you when you started your company, so when you take care of it like you would a fancy car or custom built home with regular commercial refrigeration service it provides you with a reliable solution for your cold storage needs.

Whether your refrigeration equipment is new or old, a good commercial refrigeration service company can provide you the maintenance needed to keep it in top working order.

Section 608 Of The Clean Air Act

Refrigeration And Air Conditioning Service

The ozone layer protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.  So protecting it is vital, and proper refrigeration and air conditioning service is a vital part of this protection.  Many synthetic chemicals commonly used as refrigerants refrigeration and air conditioning servicedestroy the ozone layer if they are improperly released during refrigeration and air conditioning service.  These chemicals include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).  In fact, it is believe that release of these chemicals during poorly managed refrigeration and air conditioning service contributed to the “ozone hole” that now exists over the South Pole.

Additionally, many of these same ozone depleting substances (ODS) are believed to be greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.  So when they are irresponsibly released during shoddy refrigeration and air conditioning service there is a double hit to the environment.  These are the main reasons behind section 608 of The Clean Air Act which specifically prohibits the release of CFCs, HCFCs, their blends, and substitute refrigerants during refrigeration and air conditioning service.

Section 608 of The Clean Air Act has the following regulatory requirements:

  • Technician Certification-technicians performing refrigeration and air conditioning service must meet EPA certification criteria by passing an EPA approved exam.

  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Requirements-technicians must evacuate equipment to established vacuum levels during service and disposal of refrigerants.

  • Refrigerant Recovery and Recycling Equipment-equipment used during service must be certified by EPA approved testing.

  • Refrigerant Leaks-there are specific EPA standards that are enforced for leak repair during refrigeration and air conditioning service.

  • Refrigerant Sales Restrictions-sale of ODS refrigerants is restricted to certified technicians.

  • Major Record Keeping Requirements-all parties involved in refrigeration and air conditioning service must maintain records documenting dates, refrigerant charge amounts, and related service information.  This includes technicians, equipment owners, and operators of large refrigeration and air conditioning service and equipment sales companies.

  • Safe Disposal Requirements-when refrigeration and air conditioning equipment is taken out of service the final person in the disposal chain must ensure that all refrigerants have been removed from the equipment prior to disposal.

In support of Section 608 of The Clean Air Act the EPA is performing random inspections, responding to tips, and pursuing potential violations.  They are authorized to assess fines of up to $37,500 per day for any violation of these regulations.

It is vital that proper refrigeration and air conditioning service is performed on your equipment not only to protect the environment but also to avoid potentially costly fines.

A Costly Matter

Heating And Cooling Efficiently

heating and coolingAs much as half of the energy in homes and commercial environments goes to heating and cooling the structure.  When perishable items or food items requiring to be held at temperature are involved then the heating and cooling costs go up even more.  So making smart decisions on your heating and cooling equipment is vital to keep overhead down.  Take these steps to maintain your heating and cooling equipment in proper working order and prevent unnecessary costs.

Change Filters In Heating and Cooling Equipment Regularly

Check filters in heating and cooling equipment monthly.  It’s especially vital to check filters in your heating and cooling equipment during heavy use months when they can cost you the most money.  Dirty filters can slow down the air flow in the heating and cooling equipment and make it run less efficiently.  A clean filter will also prevent the build up of dust or other particulates in the heating and cooling equipment which can lead to costly repairs down the road.

Perform Regular Maintenance On Your Equipment

Just like keeping your car in tip top running condition, heating and cooling equipment requires regular maintenance.  Performing regular maintenance will keep your heating and cooling equipment running efficiently and help prevent unscheduled, emergency repairs when you need the equipment to be working the most.

Install Programmable Thermostats In Your Heating And Cooling Equipment

Rather than manually setting the thermostat as needed, a programmable thermostat will allow you to schedule the settings on your heating and cooling equipment.  This will prevent overheating and under heating when you are away from the equipment.  While a programmable thermostat may cost more on the front end, it will provide you long terms savings for operating your heating and cooling equipment.

Seal The Ducts On Your Heating And Cooling Equipment

Ducting that moves air between your heating and cooling equipment can be huge energy wasters if they have leaks.  By sealing and insulating your ducts, you can save as much as 20% on your energy costs.  First seal the ducts for your heating and cooling equipment and then insulate the ducting .

Ask A Professional To Provide You An Energy Audit

Replacing hold heating and cooling equipment may seem expensive on the front end, but if it is not running efficiently due to wear and tear the smart move might be to spend money on replacing it.  A heating and cooling professional will be able to tell you where you’re losing money and how to improve your system.  While fixing existing heating and cooling equipment might be possible you might be better off in the long run with new equipment.

Call Sacramento Refrigeration for a FREE audit of your heating and cooling systems.  As professionals in the heating and cooling business we can tell you where your losing money and provide the best options for saving you money.