Walk-in refrigerators provide a large amount of space for food storage on-site, operating more efficiently than multiple reach-in coolers or freezers. These units also can serve as large auxiliary rooms for prepping ingredients.
Walk-ins are best suited for storing cold items that foodservice operators will use within a couple of days or to store bulk purchases. Holding temperatures range between 34 degrees F and 38 degrees F.
Operators can choose from various types of walk-ins. Custom-designed units can take almost any size or shape and offer a range of options. Quick-ship walk-ins come in preconfigured sizes in single and combination cooler and freezer models.
With some models, the condensing units and evaporator ship from the manufacturer, and all controls are packaged loose for the refrigeration contractor to mount in the field. In preassembled remote units, the factory mounts all controls. A contractor in the field will pipe and charge preassembled remote units.
Additionally, some walk-ins feature high-density rail panels. With this type, the panel perimeters are formed of polyurethane foam in a higher density than soft-nose panels for added protection around the edges.
Walk-ins with rack systems include rack refrigeration located on the building’s roof or at another location and evaporators inside the walk-in box. The rack feeds multiple compartments of one or multiple walk-ins. The same rack is typically used 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% savings over a single compressor unit.
Drop-in units, also called zero-roof line, 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.
Walk-in panels consist of an interior and exterior metal finish, also referred to as a skin, with the insulation material in between. Panels typically measure 1, 2 or 4 feet wide, and 7½, 8½ or 9½ feet high.
Panels typically join together through cam locks, which activate by using a hex key to turn the lock. The panels also feature tongue-and-groove construction and have gaskets attached. When activated, the cam lock brings the panels together for a secure fit that will hold in cold air.
Standard walk-in features include a condensate evaporator pan on indoor models as well as a crankcase heater, drain line heater, headmaster and weather hood on outdoor models. Standard panels are 4 inches thick, although some manufacturers will offer optional 5- or 6-inch thicknesses. Thicker panels aid in energy efficiency and are frequently used for external walk-in ceilings that need to support a heavy snow load.
Sliding, bi-parting and single doors are available in various configurations.