Commercial Restaurant Freezers

Commercial freezers are simple, familiar machines. They consist of a single or dual door, controls that are accessible outside the unit, evaporators and compressors for quick cooling, and insulation to keep contents frozen at the appropriate temperatures. While the food service industry accounts for more than 80 percent of freezer purchases, they are also needed in some retail outlets, schools, and research facilities.

Basic freezer components

Commercial freezers are available in different sizes and designs, but they all share many of the same components. Here are the most common elements of a commercial freezer:

  • Cabinet: Usually stainless steel, resistant to scratches and dents
  • Doors: Includes industrial grade hinges, lockable latches, and double gaskets for a tight seal
  • Floor: Made from aluminum and able to withstand loads of up to 600 pounds per sq ft
  • Refrigeration system: Maintains low pressure to preserve durability, prevent shut downs, and reduce the build up of heat
  • Compressors: Use industrial fans to provide continuous operations during high usage
  • Condenser: Allows high-pressure refrigerant gas to flow from the compressor
  • Evaporator: Changes liquid to gas, which allows the evaporator to absorb heat and encourage freezing
  • Insulation: Dense CFC-free insulation to protect stored goods from high temperatures and minimize noise and vibration of compressor
  • Access port: Allows you to plug generators or other back-up systems into your freezer
  • Wheels and anti-roll brakes: For easy movement of your freezer when you want, and solid locking when you don't
  • Control system: Easy to use digital displays and controls so you can keep track of the temperature and make sure it's correct
  • Alarm: Tamper-proof controls keep contents secure and provide audible alert when something is wrong
  • Locks: For keeping your expensive foods safe from tampering and theft.

Types of freezers

The two most common freezers for business use are chest freezers and upright freezers.

Chest freezers open from the top, and may include sliding baskets to easily store and remove the contents. They're designed to keep food frozen for long periods of time. Chest freezers help maximize storage space for large containers - they average about 24 cubic feet. They can feature glass tops for increased product visibility, and they are more energy efficient than upright freezers. However they do take up a lot of valuable floor space. And while they are designed to minimize frost build up, they aren't available with automatic defrost, so you'll have to manually defrost a chest freezer when necessary.

Upright freezers look like typical household refrigerators, and are best suited for short-term frozen items. They feature double-walled inner doors with magnetic latches to limit exposure to warm air when opened. You can purchase an upright freezer with an automatic defrost option, but expect to pay more for it. They typically include adjustable steel shelves and interior lighting. Upright freezers are available in various heights - from four to 20 feet high - and take up little floor space allowing you to have multiple units side by side if necessary.

Commercial freezer pricing

When selecting a freezer, it usually comes down to your personal preference, available floor space, and budget. Upright freezers are space savers, but chest freezers are more affordable. Your energy costs should also factor into your decision. Check the star rating on each unit to find out how much energy it consumes.

Expect to pay about $1,000 to $3,000 for a chest freezer, depending on the size and construction of the unit. You will also pay more for freezers that are equipped with energy-conserving components such as the evaporator, condenser, and defrost system. An upright freezer will cost around $2,000 to $5,000 with the higher end likely featuring automatic defrost.

Make sure you find out how reliable and durable a freezer is before making a purchase. You also want to make sure that the person you buy from offers a solid warranty for parts and labor as well as reliable customer service if you have questions.

Commercial freezer tips

  • Ring the alarm - If your freezer doesn't feature an alarm, consider adding one to an existing unit. You may pay a bit more up front but it pales in comparison to the money you could waste if your freezer contents spoil without warning.
  • Call for help - If you notice that your freezer's contents are unevenly frozen, contact your freezer supplier immediately. You may have a refrigerant leak or a problem with your compressor. This is why having a warranty is so important: compressors are expensive to replace and refrigerant leaks can't be fixed.

Buy only what you need. Choose a freezer that works for your business. If you select one that is larger than you need, you'll be wasting money on energy costs. The general rule of thumb that a freezer can handle two to three pounds of food for each cubic foot of capacity.

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