Refrigeration Equipment: The Walk In Cooler
As 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
Keeping 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.
Global Warming And Commercial Refrigeration
The Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB-32, was signed into law in September 2006 by Governor Schwarzenegger as the linch-pin of his strategy to provide the state with a comprehensive program of regulatory and market based mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the state of California. A broad base of California’s businesses were affected by the law on January 1, 2010 because of the impact the law has on specific commercial refrigeration gases that have been categorized as greenhouse gases.
The Stationary Equipment Refrigerant Management Program covers all non-residential, fixed commercial refrigeration equipment and requires the reduction of refrigerant emissions from commercial refrigeration with high global warming potential. In other words, AB-32 limits the use of chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons. While these substances were already regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the US Clean Air Act, the Refrigerant Management Program as it relates to commercial refrigeration expands their control within the state of California.
Commercial Refrigeration Compliance
Beginning January 1st, 2011 all organizations within the state of California that have commercial refrigeration systems that use more than 50 pounds of high global warming refrigerant substances must be in compliance with the restrictions imposed by AB-32 and the Refrigerant Management Program. For most small businesses that have commercial refrigeration or cooling systems this won’t be an issue, but for larger organizations like supermarkets, grocery stores, food processors, warehouses and other cold storage facilities, and manufacturers that use industrial process commercial refrigeration they will most likely be affected.
All facilities (large and small) will be required on January 1st, 2011 to initiate a leak detection, monitoring, and record keeping program for their commercial refrigeration systems. This means a continuous monitoring system must be in place that alerts the organization of a leak. The leak detection system can be a direct system that detects the presence of leaky commercial refrigeration systems or an indirect system that interprets measurements like temperature or pressure within the commercial refrigeration system. Both options require that the owner of the system contacts a certified technician when needed to fix the leak as soon as it is detected. As of January 1, 2011 all technicians involved in servicing facility equipment must be US EPA certified and must follow required service practices when determining root cause and fixing the leak in the commercial refrigeration.
Commercial Refrigeration Cost Savings Potential
Overall, the opportunity for controlling the emission of greenhouse gases from commercial refrigeration systems can present a cost saving opportunity to organizations that use them. It has been estimated that facilities that reduce their leakage of commercial refrigerants from 30% per year down to 10% can save approximately $2,200 per 1000 pounds of refrigerant per year. Additionally, the impact to the environment from this program will be a drastic reduction in the contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by California organizations that utilize commercial refrigeration systems.
To learn more about AB-32 and it’s impact on your commercial refrigeration system click here.
Contact Sacramento Refrigeration to learn more about AB-32 and your commercial refrigeration system or for any other service or installation requirements.
Commercial Refrigeration Walk-In Scheduled Maintenance
Most commercial refrigeration walk-ins seem indestructible, but you can extend their life by following the manufacturer’s safety tips and maintenance schedule. Walk-in coolers and freezers are made for storing larger quantities of food. If there is lots of in and out traffic in your commercial refrigeration walk-in then there are important maintenance procedures to follow.
Some Maintenance Tricks for Commercial Refrigeration
The door gaskets are usually made of rubber. So they can break down quicker and easier if they are not cleaned regularly and get caked with food or grease. This leads to leaks in the door seals which will result in the operating efficiency of your commercial refrigeration walk-in being reduced and your energy costs going up. Door seals can be easily cleaned to extend their life with baking soda and warm water. It’s suggested that you don’t use harsh chemical cleansers as this will dry out the rubber.
Door hinges for your commercial refrigeration walk-in can be rubbed with petroleum jelly to make sure they continue to work well. If these develop a build-up of grease or grime, then their operation will not remain smooth. This means they will begin to stick resulting in your doors not closing automatically and the cold air escaping. Again this will result in lower efficiency for your commercial refrigeration walk-in and higher energy costs.
Dirty coils on the refrigeration unit will also make the commercial refrigeration walk-in run less efficiently as the transfer of heat through the coils doesn’t occur as effectively as for clean coils. This makes the compressor work overtime to maintain the desired temperature of your perishable food items which means the service life of the compressor motor will be reduced. By frequently cleaning the dust and grime off of your commercial refrigeration coils you’ll reduce the time your compressor needs to run and thereby help your commercial refrigeration run more efficiently.
Cleanliness in Your Commercial Refrigeration Unit is Important
The floors of your commercial refrigeration walk-in should also be kept clean. This is for safety reasons as well as for health concerns. If there is lots of foot traffic in and out of the unit, food and other stored items can get dropped. If they are not cleaned out regularly they can build up causing trip hazards as well as slippery floors. Not only that, they could begin to rot and develop a bacteria issue. Walk-in floors should be damp-mopped, but never hosed out. Excessive water can get into the seals between the floor panels and damage the insulation. Without proper insulation, your commercial refrigeration will not run as efficiently as it could.
Proper maintenance of your commercial refrigeration walk-in can extend its service life and reduce the operating costs. Following a regular maintenance schedule will help you keep your commercial refrigeration operating properly and keep your operating costs down.
Commercial Refrigeration Basics
Whenever most of us think about refrigeration all we know about is the refrigerator we have in our home. We usually don’t consider the fact that the restaurants and grocery stores we patronize use commercial refrigeration to keep the food we buy from them preserved and fresh with commercial refrigeration. Commercial refrigeration differs from the cooling appliances we have in our homes mostly by size. There are other differences in commercial refrigeration such as the method by which the air is cooled. The choice for the restaurant owner or grocery store owner as to which type and size of commercial refrigeration they choose come down to the needs of their business.
Types Of Commercial Refrigeration
The first type of commercial refrigeration that we are going to discuss is blast chillers. There are a number of different types of blast chillers available for your commercial refrigeration needs, but the main purpose behind them is to get the food down to a low temperature as soon as possible. Most of commercial blast chillers available claim to be able to drop food from a temperature of about 70°F down to below 3°F within 90 minutes. For many restaurants and grocery stores that need to store food at certain temperatures to meet health code standards this is especially important. In the commercial refrigeration world, there are plenty of choices available for blast chillers. So make an informed decision by working with an experienced commercial refrigeration professional to evaluate your needs and choose the blast chiller that best them.
Other types of commercial refrigeration that you might need include display freezers and display refrigerators. These are typically the ones that you would find in a grocery store or perhaps a convenience store. They are great for displaying items while keeping them cool and allowing the customer to see what is on the inside without opening the doors. Some of commercial display refrigerators don’t have doors on the front to limit access. These can be found in a variety food stores and only allow access by employees behind the commercial refrigerator. Much like commercial blast chillers, display freezers and display refrigerators come in a wide variety of sizes. So depending on your needs you can find the one that works best for you.
What Type Of Commercial Refrigeration Is Right For Your Needs?
While there are many off the shelf and standalone units available for blast chillers and display refrigerators and freezers, you might be better suited talking to a commercial refrigeration professional about having your location fitted with something more custom. The upfront costs may be higher, but in the long run your total costs may be lower due to better operating efficiency. Speak to your commercial refrigeration professional about your specific case.
Contact us to discuss your commercial refrigeration equipment.