Bottle coolers do what they say on the tin. They keep your cans and bottles cool and your customers happy.
The most common variety are those which sit behind your bar. Well-lit with glass doors, they showcase your bottled beer, soft drink and mixer selections, in an eye-catching display which makes it that bit easier for your peak-time customers, under pressure to choose, to point straight at what they want.
Drinks coolers are a familiar feature of any pub or bar.
But, what is the real difference between a bar’s bottle cooler and one you might get at home? Could you save a buck by buying a mini fridge for your pub? Or could you get the luxury treatment by bringing a commercial cooler home?
Commercial Bottle Coolers Versus Domestic Drinks Fridge
Brushing aside the facts of manufacturer warranties – many of which do not cover the use of commercial bottle chillers in homes – and of delivery – as you are unlikely to be able to persuade a supplier of commercial bar fridges to deliver to your residential address – let’s look at how a commercial cooler compares to your average household mini-fridge.
If you’re intent on bringing a commercial cooler home, you better be thirsty. While the typical home mini fridge might aim to contain fifty or so cans and bottles (if that), a common commercial cooler could be holding hundreds at a time.
If you regularly drink a pub’s worth of pop, it may be worthwhile lugging a huge business-size fridge into your home – if not, you’d likely end up cooling a whole lot of empty space most of the time.
Commercial bottle coolers, particularly those designed for display, prioritise neatness. Messes are unappealing and having the bottles lined up in neat rows makes it easier for the customer to pick out their desired drink.
Not only that, the rigid layout of a commercial cooler has a practical reason behind it: bottled beverages need a bit of breathing room if they’re all going to reach the perfect serving temperature – so, a commercial cooler’s rigid rack structure keeps the bottles spaced out just right.
At home, you don’t need that structure. You’re unlikely to be so worried about having the bottles cooled just right and you’ll hopefully know what you’ve got in your fridge already, without needing the contents arranged with mathematical precision.
The disorder of a mini-fridge would be bad for business; the structure of a commercial cooler could be seen as over-doing it in a home setting.
While your home drinks-fridge may live happily in the corner of your kitchen and never suffer a scratch, the same is not true for commercial coolers in a pub or bar.
Commercial coolers get opened roughly, slammed shut and bumped into all the time. So, the best of the bunch are designed to be as sturdy as
possible. They are meant to be reliable and resistant to damage – they are manufactured to withstand tough pub and bar environments.
That sturdiness often makes commercial coolers heavy and expensive relative to your home mini-fridge. And nobody needs their home fridge to be either of those when they just want to be able to grab a can to kick back with on a quiet night in.
While at home you might open and close your fridge every once in a while to grab a drink, a fridge behind a bar will be opened and closed repeatedly, every few minutes – and might barely close at peak times.
So, commercial coolers are designed with heavy duty components powerful enough to maintain the fridge’s temperature even when the doors are rarely shut. And many also have additional features, such as self-closing doors, extra-effective seals and energy efficient lighting, to make the bar staff’s job that bit easier.
With these components and features, commercial coolers are designed to effectively maintain the same temperature no matter what. They are not meant to be turned off.
Each time you do shut ‘em down, and each time their masses of storage space return to room temperature, you ensure that the next time you turn them on their components will have to work harder to re-cool the fridge. If you turn them off-and-on again too often, those components will wear out and become less and less efficient.
While a commercial cooler is perfectly designed for the consistency of a business operation where it is in constant use, a home mini-fridge is better able to cope with the turbulent life of a domestic drinks cooler. You don’t have to worry about turning your domestic drinks chiller off whenever your drinks budget shrinks and your fridge runs dry.
While the whirr of a commercial bar fridge might be drowned out in a busy pub or bar by the sounds of music and the crowd talking, these machines are far from silent. The sound comes from those powerful components – the fans and vents which keep the fridge’s contents cool no matter what.
While the trade-off is worthwhile for a business looking to store large amounts of product in an appealing arrangement, if you re-located a commercial cooler to your own kitchen, it wouldn’t be long before that cooler would be kicked to the kerb and replaced with a much quieter, much homelier, domestic drinks cooler.
Your commercial bottle cooler’s powerful fans and vents will also attract much more dust than your average household fridge. So, on top of the standard cleaning (giving the shelves a good once over every once in a while), commercial cooler owners need to clear dust and debris out of those components once or twice a month. Not a bad job for pub or bar staff on shift – not a great way to spend your weekend off work, however.
The answer to the question
Can You Use A Commercial Bottle Cooler at Home?
Is a short and simple No, it isn’t recommended.
But, asking that question can reveal how well tailored commercial coolers are to their place behind the public bar. Efficient, spacious and hard-wearing, they are designed to make it easier for your customers to see what's available and boost sales.
They are an essential fixture which any pub or bar owner will need to invest in. Before you make a purchase for your business, find out more about what a drinks fridge could do for you, with our Comprehensive Bottle Cooler Buying Guide. Then, when you are ready, take another step into the world of commercial bottle coolers and browse the wide range on offer. Don’t bottle it, invest in yours today.