Reach-in refrigerators are the foundation
of commercial kitchens. They help lower food cost by keeping ingredients
fresh and represent a significant investment by the operator. Whether you’re buying your first refrigerator
for a new restaurant or upgrading your current lineup, there are several options you need
to keep in mind when choosing the right reach-in. Most reach-in refrigerators feature interior
LED lights, adjustable shelves, and self-closing doors. Some brands offer dual-temperature models
that allow for both a freezer and refrigerator in the same footprint. While many reach-in refrigerators are equipped
with a capillary tube system for cooling, choosing a unit with an expansion valve enables
more frequent door opening and faster recovery times. Knowing how much refrigerated space your operation
will require is crucial when choosing a new reach-in. This means finding a balance between the unit’s
footprint and its storage capacity. A 1-section refrigerator has 12 to 34.3 cu. Ft. of storage, a 2-section has between 40
and 56 cu. Ft., and a 3-section unit has between 69 and
85 cu. Ft. of interior space. Now to select a door type: glass or solid. Glass doors help employees locate the product
they need before opening the door, cutting down on cold air loss. These doors feature double- or triple- pane
glass for insulation, though it is still less effective than the insulation of solid-door
units. Compressor location is an important consideration
to make sure the unit you select has the longest life possible in your operation. A top-mounted compressor offers more interior
space and vents warm air well above the cool zone, so the unit isn’t fighting itself
to keep products cool. This configuration is great for kitchens that
use large amounts of flour, as its high location decreases the likelihood of sucking up particulates
in the air. A bottom-mounted condenser is best in hot
kitchens, as it operates in the coolest part, and raises the lowest shelf to minimize stooping
while also freeing the top of the unit for storage. Let’s boil all of that down into 4 key steps
to take when shopping for a new reach-in refrigerator: First, estimate how much refrigerated storage
your operation requires to find a balance between available floor space and storage
demands. Second, choose whether a glass or solid door
is more appropriate for your intended application. Third, choose the compressor configuration. It may be best to go with a top-mounted unit
unless you have a particularly hot kitchen or need raised storage space. And fourth, when you’ve made these considerations
or if you’re feeling stuck in the process, call our customer care team at (800) 541-8683
or visit katom.com for help in selecting the reach-in refrigerator that’s perfect for
you.