Operating a commercial food establishment of any kind is not easy and comes with obvious costs. Not only do you have to find and purchase the right equipment for your business but also, you have to make sure that the equipment does not deplete your funds through operating costs.
Commercial refrigerators, for example, work hard all year round. More so during the summer months. Subjected to constant use, with frequent opening and closing of doors, commercial fridges have to work harder than domestic counterparts.
Considering the pressure put on refrigeration units to perform and the kind of money you stand to spend on energy alone, it is important to take every action to prevent excessive energy consumption which would in turn cost you more money.
Manufacturers do their part by introducing durable refrigeration components, using quality manufacturing materials, creating advanced control systems to optimise energy consumption, including efficient lighting and improving insulation. After all, all commercial refrigeration is subjected to stringent testing to make sure it’s up to the job.
While massive advances have been made and continue to be made, it’s vital that, if you truly want to achieve maximum efficiency, the user must do their part.
Things to do to Ensure Optimum Efficiency
Clean your Unit Regularly
Cleaning your refrigeration system not only allows it to meet commercial health and hygiene standards, but it also enables the unit to use less energy. When cleaning is done regularly it can have a massive impact on efficiency.
As well as cleaning interior and exterior surfaces, components of the fridge such as vents, condenser and filter should also be cleaned to free them of dust and debris. You can vacuum the condenser and coils to remove accumulated dust and debris which clog air intake and labour your commercial fridge. This prevents the motor from working overtime. Clean and check the seals too, to prevent escape of cold air.
An added advantage for cleaning your refrigeration system is that it also extends the lifetime the unit.
The positioning of your fridge will affect how much energy it uses. For example, placing your unit somewhere hot in a commercial kitchen as opposed in a cooler place is counterproductive. Increasing the room temperature by 1°C leads to an increase of energy consumption by up to 6%. Therefore, find a cool location for your fridge.
If you need cold storage in your kitchen look for models with a higher climate class of 4 or above. This shows that they are tested to work in maximum ambient conditions of 30°C or above with 55%RH or greater.
It is also important to place your fridge in an easily accessible location. This significantly reduces the time taken to access stock which, in turn, reduces the amount of time the door is kept open.
Make Sure it’s Being Used Properly
Your fridge can only work as well as it is being used. This is why you need to make sure that it is being used properly.
Don’t set temperatures too high or too low. Follow manufacturer guidelines in the accompanying manual to find that sweet spot where optimum efficiency can be achieved combined with creating appropriate temperatures for your stock.
Minimise the time that the door is left open to reduce energy consumption. A simple opening of the refrigerator and placing of a container on the rack accounts for up to 23.2% of the overall load. However, considering that commercial kitchens are usually busy, keeping the door closed to save energy in a busy kitchen will be hard to accomplish.
Additionally, only use equipment for the purpose it was meant and designed for. This includes using proper food placement procedures when stocking your fridge for example never place hot foods inside the fridge. This only makes the unit work harder to cool the contents.
Maintain the Ideal Airflow
Check airflow around the exterior and interior of the unit. Do not stack other equipment around the fridge in a way that inhibits airflow.
Ideally, your refrigeration should be placed in a well ventilated area with approximately 5cm air gap around it. This ensures that there is minimal humidity which could also increase the load of your unit during the opening and closing of the door.
Do not overfill your fridge as this prevents proper circulation of cold air within the cabinet thus increasing energy consumption as the motor has to work harder to hold low temperatures.
Regularly Service and Maintain all Commercial Refrigeration
It is important to ensure that the unit is well maintained at all times. While regular cleaning can be carried out in house, it is vital that you have a qualified engineer to attend site and service equipment approximately once or twice a year. Simple maintenance procedures however such as replacement of door gaskets can be carried out by staff members.
There are other measures that can be taken to ensure that equipment always operates at optimum efficiency. Replace worn out parts when necessary to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently in order to get the most out of your investment.