Food wells consist of wet and dry units. The wet style utilizes water, has an insert pan to hold food and requires plumbing hookups and draining capabilities.

Both wet and dry drop-in wells may present certain challenges. Wet food wells are not as mobile since the plumbing needs to be disconnected in order to move the unit. The biggest complaint with dry wells is that some menu items may dry out quicker, affecting the food quality. However, recently, a number of manufacturers have developed dry food wells with updated technology to address this problem. Although this equipment costs more, it provides added versatility.

Choose from hot, cold, integrated and soup/sauce type drop-in wells, depending on the applications. For hot food, drop-in wells are available in either electric or gas versions that use water baths or waterless wells for keeping menu items at desired temperatures.

With cold drop-in wells, operators can choose from mechanically cooled models, forced-air units that push air on top of product and a newer technology that cools wells using refrigeration lines. For those looking for an economical and simplified version, cold wells that utilize ice pans are an option. Most models have a 3-inch recess as required for NSF 7 listing, are fully insulated and include copper coil refrigeration.

While the majority of these units have compressors underneath, operators looking to save space and reduce noise should consider drop-in wells with remote compressors.

Integrated drop-in wells accommodate a variety of meals, such as hot entrees and sides, in addition to lighter cold items, like fruits and parfaits. Specify integrated counter merchandisers with either slightly recessed sheet pan merchandising or vertical drop-in cold and hot configurations for online applications.

Operators can choose from various configurations, with the most common wells holding 12-inch by 20-inch stainless pans. For added versatility, incorporate adapter plates as accessories so drop-in wells can accommodate a combination of 1/3-, 1/6- or ½-size pans.

For added temperature consistency, hot and cold convertible food wells provide independent temperature controls per well. Some units are available with various tilts and angles that meet NSF guidelines.

With newer technology, wattage can vary dramatically.