Refrigeration takes many forms in foodservice operations including walk-ins, reach-ins, and display cases.


A Guide to Undercounter Refrigerators

Undercounter refrigerators, or lowboys, are typically used in a kitchen’s prep area, bars and other spaces. Refrigeration systems must keep temperatures under 45 degrees F for beverages and under 40 degrees F for open food.

Types and Sizes

Undercounter refrigerators can have multiple configurations, including between one and four doors, drawers or slide tops.

Undercounter refrigerators are usually 24, 36, 48, 60 or 72 inches long, with depths ranging from 24 to 34 inches. The smallest footprint available usually measures 24 inches by 24 inches, although these units may have ventilation requirements that prohibit boxing in on the sides.

More specifically, a typical 1-door cooler has 24-inch-wide doors, a double-door cooler measures 48 inches wide, and units are available with doors that are 20 inches wide for narrow spaces. Low-profile models provide additional storage space between the countertop and top of the cooler. Operators often use pass-thru coolers in center islands as these units have doors on both sides for dual side access. Dual zone units have 2 temperature zones for storing different products, such as beer at 35 degrees F, white wine between 50 degrees F and 55 degrees F or red wine between 60 degrees F and 65 degrees F.

Undercounter refrigerators usually feature stainless-steel construction on the top and ends. The interior can be all aluminum, aluminum and ABS plastic or either plastic or aluminum with a stainless steel floor. Doors offer a choice of solid black, solid stainless, solid black with laminate, glass with black vinyl and field laminate, glass with stainless steel or glass with laminate over a black frame. These also may be finished with a custom wood overlay panel or frame. The back and base typically use galvanized steel construction, while handles are full-length, classic 6-inch chrome and black or tab types. These units also have 2-inch foamed-in-place insulation.

Standard features include two locking and two swivel casters to prevent the unit from rolling around inadvertently. Automatic evaporator fan motor delays on some units stop when the door opens to prevent condensation from developing by mixing cold interior air with ambient air temperature. Some units include a 30-second stay open door alarm. One-piece magnetic door gaskets typically come standard with these units. High-tech digital controls can be adjusted manually to reach the desired temperature setting. Cold air distribution

systems provide uniformly maintained temperature within the interior cavity. Top- and bottom-mount compressors are available.

Options depend on the model and may include a combination of drawers and doors, various size casters to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, a heavy-duty top for conducting prep work and a collar that enables stacking two units, one on top of the other. Door locks also are available. Full extension wine shelves allow wine bottles to lie flat and nest and pull out for easier access. Thermostatic controls for dual zone units allow separate temperatures to be set for two compartments. Leg kits can adjust the cooler’s height from 4 to 6 inches or from 6 to 7¼ inches.

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