Product Knowledge Guide: Walk-In Refrigeration

Walk-ins make it easier for foodservice operators to store large amounts of food items on-site and can be more efficient than multiple reach-in coolers or freezers. These units also can serve as large auxiliary rooms for prepping ingredients.

iStock 000026980014 LargeFoodservice operators can choose from several types of walk-ins. Custom designed walk-ins can be configured in practically any size or shape and with a variety of other options. Quick ship walk-ins come in preconfigured sizes in single and combination models.

Factory preassembled walk-ins offer the maximum convenience. These models ship from the factory ready to set in place. They only require electricity at the site where the operator will place the unit.

Additionally, operators can choose walk-ins featuring high-density rail panels. These units feature panel perimeters formed of polyurethane foam in a higher density than soft-nose panels and provide additional protection around the edges.

The refrigeration units that walk-ins use fall into three segments. Standard-built refrigeration includes condensing units and evaporators shipped from the manufacturer with all of the controls loosely packaged for mounting in the field. In preassembled remote units, the manufacturer mounts the controls in the factory. A refrigeration contractor needs to pipe and charge these units in the field. Quick-connect systems come with all controls mounted and charged refrigeration lines that installation teams quickly couple together in the field. Higher-end preassembled walk-ins include premium condensing units with fused disconnects. These units still need a refrigeration contractor to pipe and charge them.

Rack systems include a rack refrigeration unit on the building’s roof or other location and evaporators inside the walk-in box. The rack feeds multiple compartments of one or more walk-in units. Typically, building owners will use the same rack to power other refrigeration items in the building as well. Parallel rack systems feature a wide range of compressor types. Parallel units match refrigeration capacity to the actual load, which amounts to more than a 20 percent savings over a single compressor unit.

Drop-in units, also called zero-roof line units, have the condensing unit and evaporator built into one piece and dropped into a pre-cut hole in either the ceiling or wall panel. Although this type does not take up any space inside the walk-in, it cannot cool large spaces.

Condensing units can usually be configured with hermetic, semi-hermetic or scroll compressors in a number of horsepower ranges.

Walk-in panels consist of an interior and exterior metal finish, or “skin,” with the insulation material in between. There are several construction methods and types of panels, but the most efficient is foamed-in-place polyurethane. With this method, panels typically lay flat in a horizontal press, and polyurethane foam is injected into the cavity between the skins. The foam permanently adheres to metal panels, adding strength and reliability.

Panels are typically assembled by means of cam locks, which are activated by using a hex key to turn the lock. The panels also feature tongue and groove construction and have gaskets attached. When the cam locks are activated, it brings the panels together for a secure fit that will hold in cold air. Cam lock construction is versatile in that it makes it easy to disassemble the walk-in in case of future relocation or expansion.

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