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


Walk-In Refrigeration Specifying Considerations

Walk-in refrigeration is popular for operations that require a large space for cold food storage. Although they are generally simple pieces of equipment, foodservice operators should consider a number of factors when purchasing a walk-in cooler. 

Start with determining what products the foodservice operation will store in the walk-in unit. Depending on an item’s density and temperature, it may take longer to pull down to the correct temperature, and a larger refrigeration system may be necessary. In addition, hot product creates excessive steam in cold environments, producing moisture and changing the dynamics inside the walk-in.

Walk-ins use either single- or three-phase electrical power, but larger units may require a dedicated circuit and more amps.

To figure out the necessary capacity, operators should keep in mind that 1 cubic foot of open storage area accommodates approximately 28 pounds of solid food.

Operators can choose from panel thicknesses that range from 2 inches to 8 inches.

Doors are an important consideration since they receive most of the day-to-day abuse. If frequently opened and closed, a heavy-duty door may be necessary. Automatic closing devices, like cam-lift hinges and a positive door closer, ensure the door is not accidentally left open. If it’s necessary to see what’s inside the walk-in, specify a view window. Kickplates on the door and inside the walk-in help prevent damage, too. Strip curtains can help keep out unwanted outside air during high-volume use.

To determine the appropriate type of flooring, assess the weight and frequency of traffic. If heavy items will reside inside the unit, a reinforced or structural floor may be necessary.

If the walk-in will have floor panels, interior or exterior floor ramps can provide easier access.

Maximum use of storage space is another consideration. Polyurethane panels, because of their greater efficiency, can be much thinner and still meet R-factor requirements. To qualify for foodservice use, there must be between 3½ and 5½ inches of insulation, with 4 inches being optimal in most conditions.

White interior finishes can create a brighter environment and make the walk-in’s contents more visible.

Operations that provide vendors full access to walk-ins may want to employ a security code option. With these systems, vendors receive specific codes that unlock walk-in doors for deliveries. Code records are automatically recorded, which helps deter theft.

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