The Ultimate Refrigerated Prep Counter Buying Guide
13 days ago..

Last updated: 2019-10-07 12:53:16

 

Commercial preparation counters are an integral part of any commercial kitchen or catering operation. Forming the hub of operations, this is where ingredients are prepped and, in some cases packed or plated up. Choosing suitable equipment is vital to ensure smooth kitchen operations that can make your chefs job easier while ensuring your customers enjoy quality food and timely service.

This handy guide aims to highlight all important areas for consideration before investing in a food prep counter to help you make the right buying choices.

Table of Contents

What Is a Preparation Counter?
What Are the Benefits of a Commercial Prep Counter?
Choose your Configuration
Doors or Drawers?
Refrigeration Mounting
Positioning and Placement of your Refrigerated Counter
Which Work Surface?
Temperature Ranges and Storage
Size and Capacity
Cooling and Defrost Types
Additional Features and Added Extras
What Power Supply Do I Need?
Which Is the Best Refrigerant Gas?
Brand and Price
Choosing Your Warranty
Correct Cleaning and Maintenance
Optimising Efficiency
Ask Advice

 

What Is a Preparation Counter?

An essential bit of kit in any commercial kitchen, preparation counters are known under many guises. Whether searching for food prep counters, catering prep stations or refrigerated prep counters, all comprise of a work surface on which you can prepare foods and plate up dishes etc. combined with refrigerated storage to hold ingredients or prepared foods – both vital elements to the efficient running of every professional catering operation. Strong, durable and versatile, kitchen prep counters can meet the functional needs of and withstand the pressures of every demanding catering environment.

Interlevin TF03 Prep Counter Interlevin TF03 Prep Counter

What Are the Benefits of a Commercial Prep Counter?

Kitchen food preparation counters offer multiple benefits to busy catering operations and are a core investment for any business. As standard, you can expect:

Green tickVital work area combined with refrigerated storage.

 

Green tickTotal convenience and increased organisation of ingredients encouraging operational efficiency.

 

Green tickStreamlined food preparation, rapid service and ultimately happy customers.

 

Green tickVersatility, combining multiple equipment functions in a single footprint.

 

Green tickThere’s plenty of sizes and configurations to meet the demands of any sized business.

 

Green tickFresh ingredients are stocked close to hand, within easy reach during service, minimising the time spent on repeated trips to and from other food storage areas.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Positioned at the heart of the action, there’s plenty going on around a chef counter. No matter how busy you are, once any stock has been opened or removed from storage, it must be transferred to a suitable storage container, labelled accordingly and put back in the fridge. Never leave food out for convenience, ease or quickness.

Choose your Configuration

All kitchens are different: whether in size, the type of dishes being prepped, the ingredients used or preferred methods and processes. To reflect this, commercial food preparation counters are available in a wide choice of designs and layouts. Choosing the right design is critical to fully utilising the potential benefits. So, which configuration would best suit your requirements?

Standard Prep Counters

The classic form of prep station, these standard counters have a simple stainless steel design with full width and depth flat work surface. Storage cabinets are typically refrigerated, however, freezer prep counters are also available for those that require sub-zero temperatures. Refrigeration systems in both standard fridge prep counters and freezer alternatives are typically positioned

Interlevin ESL1365 Compact Prep Counter Interlevin ESL1365 Compact Prep Counter

on either the right or left of the storage area. There will also, often be varying depths to choose from, with standard, slimline or deep models on offer.

Compact Prep Counters

Ideal for kitchens that want to maximise space, compact prep counters can generally be identified by the undermounted refrigeration system. By locating the motor units below the cabinet, the overall width of the unit can be reduced whilst still retaining ample work area and large capacity storage.

Low Height Prep Counters

As the name suggests, these counters typically stand less than 650mm in height. This feature can be beneficial in a number of situations from accessibility for wheelchair users to supporting countertop equipment. The lower height of the counter means that when other units are positioned on top, they are raised to and sit at the perfect working height. Refrigeration systems in low height prep counters generally sit either to the right or left of the storage cabinets, increasing the potential area of the work counter.

Prep Counters with Drawers

While cabinet storage is often seen as the norm in regards to preparation counters, this doesn’t suit every business. Drawer options are available for kitchens that prefer alternative storage methods. Still delivering ample work surface, prep counters with drawers can help with the organisation of stock whilst creating a cold well that effectively holds temperatures and achieves consistency even when drawers are repeatedly opened and closed.

Inomak PN99CR Glass Door Prep Counter Inomak PN99CR Glass Door Prep Counter

Glass Door Prep Counters

Working on exactly the same principle as standard models, glass door prep counters deliver the storage and work space required in a busy kitchen with the added benefit that contents are clearly visible for quick and easy location of specific stock – especially useful during busy services.

Gastronorm Prep Counters

Featuring a raised top positioned at the rear of the work surface and designed to hold GN containers, gastronorm prep counters deliver ultimate organisation for your most used ingredients. When multiple foods are continuously needed, this feature allows prepped goods to be conveniently sorted and stored at arms-length. Featuring a stainless steel hinged lid, pans can be covered when not in use yet still remain primed, ready and easily accessible when required. The raised top unit is often refrigerated to maintain the freshness of ingredients. Also including refrigerated cabinet storage below the work area, everything you need during service is close to hand.

Pizza Prep Counters

Pizza prep counters are generally recognised by their granite work top and gastronorm compatibility. The gastronorm well is typically refrigerated and will either sit in a raised top at the rear of the counter or in a recessed well. The GN pans can hold a range of fresh pizza toppings including sauces, cheeses, meats and chopped vegetables, allowing you to quickly and efficiently put together perfect pizzas on demand. Pans will generally have a cover, lid or guard to protect toppings when not needed, maintaining freshness and containing cold air for increased efficiency. Cabinet storage is still available beneath the work area, suitable for holding GN replenishments and any other essentials required for speedy service.

True TSSU-36-8 Saladette Counter True TSSU-36-8 Saladette Counter

Saladette Counters

Although similar to gastronorm counters, saladette counters often hold GN pans in recessed wells that sit within the actual work surface itself. Generally, units will have a larger GN capacity and a smaller work area for chopping salad ingredients. With a solid lid to cover ingredients when not required, foods retain their freshness and cold temperatures can be contained for improved efficiency. Salad prep counters feature standard storage cabinets below the working area where replacement ingredients and sauces etc. can be stored within easy reach at the point of preparation.

Glass Display Prep Counters

Food prep stations are often considered to be back of house, kitchen equipment however this isn’t always the case. Glass display prep counters are perfect for customer facing areas such as in sandwich shops. Designed with a cold well or top sitting on the counter, these units are gastronorm compatible, meaning that individual ingredients can be organised and stored in optimum condition, ready for service whilst being clearly displayed to customers to advertise what’s on offer. Featuring a transparent hygiene guard, foods remain visible yet protected. Including a stainless steel work surface on which to prepare dishes, ingredients remain within easy reach while the customer is able to witness the entire preparation process. Standard cabinet refrigeration gives ample space to store replenishment stock.

Pass-Through Prep Counters

Infrico BMGN1960PDC Pass Through Prep Counter Infrico BMGN1960PDC Pass Through Prep Counter

Suitable for central positioning in kitchens, pass through prep counters such as the Infrico BMGN1960PDC allow access to counter space and under storage from either side of the unit. This increases the versatility of the equipment and means that multiple staff can operate from the same work station.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: If you want to transform an existing standard fridge counter, countertop refrigeration topping units are available that can be added to plain countertops to create a gastronorm or saladette style layout.

 

Doors or Drawers?

The best storage format for your kitchen will ultimately be based on personal preference. Some people simply find that they can achieve better organisation with cabinets rather than drawers and vice versa. Here we weigh up the benefits of each.

Cabinet Storage with Doors

  • Available with the choice of one door through to five door layouts suitable for all size kitchens and required capacities.
  • Cabinets are generally gastronorm compatible allowing multiple items to be moved in one action. Always check the accepted GN size in relation to your needs.
  • Available with solid doors or glass doors for easy location of contents.
  • Hinged doors give clear, unobstructed access.

Drawer Storage

  • Available in a full range of sizes and capacities from a compact two drawer layout right through to a large eight drawer capacity.
  • Drawers often have gastronorm compatibility which allows for bulk movement of dishes with minimum fuss. Check that the GN compatibility e.g. 1/1, 2/1 etc. is in line with your requirements.
  • Often considered more efficient, drawers create a cold well effect which, when the drawer is opened, retains the cold air. This works on the principle that cold air sinks, remaining within the drawer.
Foster LL2/4H Prep Counter with Drawers Foster LL2/4H Prep Counter with Drawers

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Always consider accessibility when deciding between doors or drawers. Obviously, open cabinets and drawers will require extra room – this added depth must be taken into account when assessing the available space and the intended site.

 

Refrigeration Mounting

Refrigeration systems (or the motor unit) can be positioned in a number of locations within the design of a catering preparation counter. The most appropriate position will often be dependent on the total space available for the placement of the equipment and the intended site where the equipment will sit.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: At a glance, the position of the motor can be distinguished by the placement of the visible vents.

 

So where can the refrigeration system be positioned and how do you know which is the right option for your business set-up?

Side Mounted

Green tick Good accessibility for maintenance

Side mounted refrigeration

Green tick Full-depth storage in base cabinets
Green tick Increased prep counter area
Green tick Good airflow

 

Positioned either to the right or left of the main storage cabinets or drawers, side mounted equipment will result in reduced width storage capacity but an increased work surface area. As the motor sits at the side of the counter, the design allows for full depth storage bases.

Counters with side mounted motors are quite versatile and easy to maintain thanks to the components being easy to access from the front of the unit during cleaning and maintenance. As the vents are located at the front of the equipment that is naturally open and unobstructed, there will always be sufficient airflow.

Under Mounted

Green tick Good accessibility for maintenance  

Under mounted

Green tick Reduced width ideal for kitchens working to size restrictions
Green tick Less strain placed on refrigeration components thanks to drawing in of cooler air
Green tick All the features of a prep counter in a compact footprint

 

The motor is positioned at the bottom of the unit beneath the storage cabinets or drawers to reduce the overall width of the unit. You still benefit from all of the storage and worktop features of a standard preparation counter but in a compact footprint for more efficient use of kitchen space.

Under mounted refrigeration draws in cooler air from lower down in the kitchen. This means there’s less strain on the components as they work to pull down temperatures. The low positioning of the refrigeration system also makes access for cleaning, maintenance and service easy.

Rear Mounted

Rear mounted refrigeration systems are available from Foster in the form of the FPS range of prep counters. Promising maximum storage space in a compact footprint, components are easily accessible for servicing and maintenance. As the motor is positioned at the back of the unit it is vital than ample airflow is permitted to ensure optimum refrigeration.

Positioning and Placement of your Refrigerated Counter

Considering the intended placement of your refrigerated counter is critical to determining the performance and efficiency you can expect from your equipment. Typically purchased for use in the kitchen where the main food preparation occurs, there are a number of factors that must be addressed to make sure you invest in the right unit.

Airflow

Allow good airflow around the exterior of counter, generally at least 50mm. Pay attention to the placement and mounting of the refrigeration system (or motor). It is vital that this area remains unobstructed with ample flow of air over the components. Good airflow will deliver better performance, improved efficiency, more consistent temperatures and put less strain on the motor (potentially maximising the lifespan of the unit).

Airflow around food prep counter

 

Access

Clear access is vital, both for approaching and working at the counter (whether from one side or two) and for opening the cabinet doors or drawers. Make sure you have ample space to work once the equipment is in place.

Climate

The ambient temperatures of the intended site should be a major factor when choosing your prep station. Refrigeration will generally have a climate class which signifies the maximum ambient temperature and humidity at which it is capable of performing efficiently. If you have a relatively cool food prep area away from cooking appliances or you are looking to equip a customer facing area, you may be able to use units with climate class 3. When you intend placement within the heart of the kitchen where temperatures are high you must choose a unit with climate class 4 or 5. Read more about climate class here.

Which Work Surface?

 

Stainless steel worktop

Granite worktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

As already referenced previously when talking about configurations, fridge prep counters will either feature a full width and depth work surface or a reduced area combined with gastronorm pan compatibility.

While typically constructed using high grade, food safe stainless steel, a good all-rounder in a commercial setting and reinforced to withstand the pressures of chopping, slicing and dicing, other materials are available. Pizza counters, for example, will generally have a granite surface which remains cool and prevents dough from sticking.

The layout and construction material that best suits your business will depend on the intended use and the amount of prep space you need.

Temperature Ranges and Storage

The first decision is quite a simple one. Do you need a fridge or freezer counter? Once that decision is made you will need to address the actual temperature range required for the products you intend to store. The temperature and manner in which you store your foods will ultimately determine the quality, freshness and indeed safety of ingredients so it’s vital to opt for a counter suitable for the task in hand.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Temperature displays will show the temperature that the unit is set to. We recommend using a fridge thermometer for added peace of mind to monitor the actual operating temperature within the cabinet. Observing correct storage temperatures is vital. Any uncovered food venturing over 5°C enters the food danger zone where bacteria is more likely to multiply causing serious food safety issues.

Here’s an ‘at a glance’ guide to the temperature ranges you can expect and what you should be looking at, for different types of food.

Type of Counter Temperature range for general food storage Specific products
Refrigerated -2 up to 10 and all variants in between Meat  -2 to +2
Freezer -10 to -22 although generally -17

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Use the temperature filters on each category page to narrow your search and find products suitable for meat, such as the Foster EP1/4M refrigerated prep counter.

 

Where meat is concerned it’s ideal to designate separate storage areas specifically for this purpose. If you’re planning on storing a variety of chilled foods, including meats, be sure to store the fresh meat at the lowest level in the cabinet to prevent the risk of juices falling on and contaminating other foods.

Size and Capacity

Measuring tapeKitchen preparation counters are a popular way of combining functionality and convenience with optimum use of the available floor space. Choosing a size to fit seems as simple as measuring the intended placement area however there are other areas to think about.

Our top 5 tips to choosing the best prep counter

  1. Carefully measure the space you have available. Once you’re sure you’ve got the exact dimensions – measure again. If you order the wrong size in error, cancelling your order or sending it back will come at a cost.
  2. Think about access. Counters can be bulky items so always measure doorways, access points and any tricky corners or turns you will encounter on the way to the final destination. Remember that large units won’t bend around corners! If there are access issues, slimline options such as the Blizzard HBC2SL are available.
  3. The capacity will reflect the size of the unit. As much as kitchen fridge counters can provide high volume storage in a relatively compact footprint you just won’t find a model that can give you an 800 litre capacity within a 700mm2 floor area. Be realistic in the capacity you can expect within the intended space.
  4. Shopping by litres capacity? Most units will specify potential storage in litres. This can range anywhere from 184 to 875 litres. Make sure you choose wisely.
  5. Shopping by GN capacity? Consider the size of the gastronorm pans you use. Make sure that the counter is compatible with your needs whether that be 1/1 or 2/1 etc. Also think about the total number of shelves that each cabinet can hold compared to the actual number of shelves supplied as standard with each model.

Cooling and Defrost Types

Cooling and defrost functions are a natural part of the refrigeration process. The cooling type refers to the method used to create the cold temperatures while the defrost type determines how the unit deals with any build-up of frost. All cooling types are automatic and will excel in different scenarios. The type of defrost you choose will depend on the amount of time and elbow grease you can set aside for cleaning and maintenance.

Ice flake defrosting with dripCooling Types

The majority of equipment will use either fan assisted, ventilated or static cooling types.

Fan assisted systems utilise a fan to evenly distribute and force cold air around the storage cavity.

Ventilated cooling uses a fin type evaporator for efficient circulation of cold air.

Static cooling relies on cold air naturally making its way around the fridge section. This can result in an uneven, inconsistent temperature distribution.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Static cooling is the best option for chilling open products as fan-assisted and ventilated systems may cause contents to dry out. Fan assisted and ventilated cooling methods will deliver better air circulation and more uniform cooling.

 

Defrost Types

Despite the term ‘defrost’ generally being associated with freezers, it is also a feature on fridge equipment. Any refrigeration system that drops temperatures has the potential to experience some level of frost build-up, albeit more likely in regards to freezers than fridges. Defrost types will typically be either manual, automatic or off-cycle. To read more in-depth take a look at our Understanding Types of Defrost article.

Additional Features and Added Extras

As long as a catering counter has a durable work surface and some form of refrigerated storage, it will do the job that it is designed to do however, additional features and added extras can give your unit that little edge and make use a lot more convenient.

Digital control and temperature display - The vast majority of units use digital controls and temperature displays. These features give greater accuracy and make setting conditions easier.Hot and cold temperature thermometers

Self-closing doors - During busy services when cabinets and drawers are repeatedly in use, being frequently opened and closed to retrieve or load ingredients, a self- closing feature is a blessing. Minimising the escape of cold air to improve efficiency, you’ll never have to worry about accidentally leaving fridges and freezers open again.

Replaceable door gaskets - Gaskets are the components that create a tight seal when doors are shut. If the seal is damaged cold air can escape resulting in a drop in performance and an increase in energy usage. Choosing a model with replaceable door gaskets not only guarantees that optimum efficiency can be achieved and more importantly maintained but also that effective cleaning of door seals can be carried out – notoriously recognised as an area where dirt can build-up.

Locks - If security is a concern, choosing a model with locks is critical. This feature can offer protection during out of hours periods when prep areas are unattended.

CastorsSplash back/upstand - The majority of units are typically positioned against walls and so splash backs and upstands might be a beneficial design feature. These stainless steel guards can protect walls from any food splashes and help to create a more hygienic work area.

Legs, rollers or castors – This feature really comes into play when related to the size of the equipment. While legs provide stability, they don’t make movement of the unit easy and so are probably best suited to smaller more compact counters. Models with legs may also feature rollers to help combat this issue. Castors are recommended when looking for larger items. They will facilitate easy movement during both the initial positioning and during cleaning and maintenance. Castors will often be lockable to create a stable surface from which to work and prevent movement during use.

Basic equipment may not offer any added extras however as you move further up through the price brackets you will discover desirable features that you may find of use.

What Power Supply Do I Need?Standard 3 pin 13 A plug

Commercial preparation counters, regardless of size, use a single phase power connection via a standard 3 pin plug. This means that all premises can accommodate and are set up for the required power supply, positioning is convenient and installation simple with no need for the services of a qualified electrician.

Which Is the Best Refrigerant Gas?

All refrigeration requires a refrigerant gas in order to adequately complete the refrigeration process. With many different types of gas available, it can be difficult to know which is best or more importantly which is the most environmentally friendly with the lowest carbon footprint according to current guidelines and F-Gas Regulations.

Ideally, try to locate products that use R290 or R600a refrigerants. These are known as hydrocarbons (or HC’s) and have a low global warming potential (GWP). GWP is a score used to determine how much heat the gas traps in the atmosphere.  They are an environmentally friendly solution to refrigeration needs and are completely in line with F-Gas Regulations. One area to note is that HC’s are flammable and as such require servicing and maintenance to be carried out by F-Gas certified engineers.

You will also see many units using R134a, R404a and R452a, the latter being closely related performance-wise to R404a. These refrigerants are known as hydrofluorocarbons or HFC’s and have a higher GWP.Earth in a hand

So, which is best?

Obviously, due to the lower GWP potential of HC’s and the fact that they are approved under the F-Gas Regulations, R290 and R600a gases are the preferred option. This is also compounded by the fact that equipment using HFC’s is being phased out with the final projection of 2020 being the deadline when the use of HFC’s will be banned from use in all new equipment. Existing equipment will still be eligible for service throughout the lifetime of the unit however any new purchases will be with a HC refrigerant.

Certain manufacturers such as True, have already implemented this change and offer only HC’s as standard. Other brands may still be using HFC’s however are currently in the process of phasing out and replacing these gases with approved HC’s. Manufacturers including Foster, may offer a choice of refrigerant gas at present, either R134a HFC or R290 HC at no extra cost. This option will cease to be offered when the gas deadline hits. Where a choice is available, we always recommend choosing HC gases.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Using hydrocarbon refrigerants can reduce energy consumption by up to 15%* Source: Foster Refrigerator

 

Brand and Price

Preparation counter brands

Brand and price are closely related areas. Different brands will generally target different levels of the market: some aimed at those shopping on a budget, others in the mid-range and those that offer top of the range equipment. All are capable of dealing with the task in hand however are differentiated by the build quality, performance, efficiency and the features included as standard. The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been truer.

The Foster Xtra range is the perfect choice for businesses that want renowned Foster build quality but on a budget. Promising UK manufacture using the same high-quality materials and construction format but without the extra features, Foster have ensured that their products are accessible by everyone.

Leasing and Finance Options

Whether kitting out a new venture or replacing existing equipment, buying commercial refrigeration can be pricy. Some businesses may not have the ready funds to make this purchase, others might prefer to free up their cash flow. Luckily there are options available which mean that you don’t have to buy outright and upfront.

Leasing options are ideal for businesses that want to spread the total cost into easy monthly repayments over a period that suits them, whilst using the equipment. Alternatively, if investing in Foster, they offer a 0% interest free credit option to help you get the right unit for your business. Read more about commercial leasing and Foster credit here.

Choosing Your WarrantyFull warranty ribbon

All commercial refrigeration can run into problems throughout its lifespan whether that’s down to manufacturer electromechanical issues or user error. While your warranty cover can’t help in the case of incorrect usage or lack of cleaning and service it will prove vital should a manufacturer problem arise. The length and type of warranty you choose at the point of purchase will determine the level of support you can expect to receive if something goes wrong.

All equipment will come with some level of warranty. This may be on a parts only or full parts and labour basis, the length of cover varying from manufacturer to manufacturer. Commercial warranties will typically range from one to five years (courtesy of True).

While some manufacturers have a fixed standard warranty, there are many that will helpfully offer a choice. Interlevin provides a comprehensive set of options with two years parts only as standard with the possibility of extending this coverage to an additional one or two years labour warranty.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Always pay close attention to the warranty included as standard and any options that are available. We recommend getting the highest, most comprehensive level of warranty possible. While this may incur an additional charge at the point of purchase, it will more than pay for itself should any issues arise throughout the unit’s lifetime.

 

Commercial warranties can not be purchased retrospectively, so make this a core consideration at the initial stage when choosing the best equipment for your business.

To read more about levels of cover, take a look at our Commercial Warranties page.

Correct Cleaning and Maintenance

Preparation counters, as with all commercial refrigeration and catering equipment require massive hygiene and food safety considerations. The very nature of the equipment, holding large volumes of ingredients combined with a food preparation area, means that it is vital to observe high standards.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Treat your refrigerated counter as you would any other piece of refrigeration. Label contents and employ stock rotation. Observe regular cleaning both internally and externally and keep up with regular servicing and maintenance. Create a simple checklist of cleaning procedures to help you and your staff keep track and keep detailed records of all maintenance reports.

Checklist

  • During in-house cleaning regimes, all interior and exterior surfaces should be addressed including removing shelves and trays, where present, for individual cleaning. Don’t forget to also pay attention to runners and tray slides.
  • Be sure to tend to the refrigeration components themselves, including vents, keeping all areas free of dust and debris. This can help, not only with performance and efficiency but also the expected lifespan of the equipment.
  • During cleaning processes carry out routine checks including the condition of door seals and operating temperature consistency. Ineffective seals can result in poor efficiency, with the refrigeration systems needing to work harder to perform sufficiently. This, in turn, reduces the expected lifespan of the unit. Inconsistent temperatures will not only compromise your stock but may also be the first sign of a potentially more serious underlying problem.
  • All equipment should be routinely serviced by a qualified engineer, think of it as an MOT for your refrigeration. Always follow manufacturer guidelines, however, we recommend at least 1-2 times per year. This ensures performance and efficiency but will also potentially extend the lifetime of the equipment.

Did You Know? Foster recently uncovered the longest-serving refrigeration unit after appealing to all customers during a search to mark the companies 50-year anniversary. Having been regularly serviced and cleaned without fail, the fridge is still going strong after 42 years of service.

Design Features to Make Cleaning Easy

When buying a prep counter lookout for any design features that can make cleaning and maintenance easier.

This may include:

  • Rounded internal corners which can eliminate inaccessible nooks and crannies where food debris could potentially build-up, harbouring bacteria.
  • Replaceable door gaskets.
  • Check the position of the refrigeration system with regards to accessibility.
  • Castors can also make cleaning the surrounding area such as underneath and round the back, easier.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: Keep your prep station clean and well organised. This makes food prep easier and more efficient plus guarantees increased food hygiene and safety.

 

Optimising Efficiency

Addressing efficiency is the main priority for many businesses in these times when environmental concerns and rising energy costs are rife. When searching for the best food preparation counter, you should also look for design features that can enhance efficiency.Example MEPS label

Insulation

Insulation promotes thermal efficiency and ensures that cold temperatures can be held for longer even when cabinets are frequently accessed.

Build quality

The quality of the construction materials and indeed the quality of the construction itself is vital to efficiency. Mid-range and premium brands will naturally offer greater efficiency thanks to better overall quality.

Refrigeration components

While budget equipment will do the job, mid-range and premium equipment will utilise increasingly more durable and hardwearing refrigeration components. These will not only ‘pull down’ temperatures with ease, ensuring that cabinets quickly get back down to temperature after the doors are opened but will also reduce the strain of the workload for improved longevity.

Minimum Energy Performance Standards

Minimum Energy Performance Standards or MEPS for short are aimed at giving a clear representation of the energy efficiency of a product within specified operating conditions. While this isn’t mandatory on all equipment, we try to offer this information where possible to make sure you have as much information as possible before making a purchase. Read more about MEPS here.

Other things to look out for

  • Look out for replaceable door gaskets. When seals are damaged, cold air can escape causing a drop in performance and an increase in energy usage, plus more strain on the motor.
  • Does the equipment you are looking at feature on the Energy Technology List (ETL)? If it does you may be able to benefit from the Carbon Trust’s ECA Scheme.
  • Carry out your own research about the brand you’re looking at. Did you know for example that True use extra large evaporators with oversized, epoxy coated factory balanced refrigeration, complete with large fan blades to guarantee optimum performance and equipment longevity. Did you also know that Foster’s range of refrigeration is manufactured in the UK using parts solely sourced in the country to minimise their carbon footprint? 98% of Foster’s equipment is recyclable as well as being featuring a number of design and technological features to optimise energy efficiency. The +stayclear condenser helps to maintain clean refrigeration systems and assists with hygiene management. This condenser also promotes lower energy usage.

 

Yellow light bulbTop Tip: It’s not just about the design of the counter: there are things you can do to enhance efficiency. Internal airflow is just as important as that externally around the equipment. Cramming in products will result in uneven cooling and inconsistent results as well as making the refrigeration work harder than necessary.

 

Ask Advice

Making the right decision when buying commercial refrigeration is critical to your business. Do you know other people within the same industry? Ask what works for them. If asking others in the business recognise that their recommendations are based on their unique business demands and may not be suitable for your business.

We recommend asking the advice of an impartial expert. Our team at FFD are fully trained with years of experience and are more than happy to help you pinpoint the right piece of equipment to help your business achieve success. Get in touch today and make the right decision when buying a new food prep counter.

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