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Solid Door Refrigeration Buying Guide

< All Buying Guides.

When starting a new business that involves food and fresh produce you will undoubtedly need to purchase some commercial refrigeration. This area can seem quite overwhelming with so many different models, sizes, specifications and temperature ranges etc. Making sure that you make the right decision the first time may be a daunting task but will save you money in the future.

Commercial refrigeration can be very pricy and although your budget may be tight, don’t scrimp on your choice to save a few pounds. Your purchase will be what keeps your stock delicious and fresh and the old saying, ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been more true than when applying it to this area. By breaking down the fundamentals of commercial refrigeration and in particular, solid door refrigerators and comparing them with your personal business needs and requirements, the choice you have to make should hopefully become a lot clearer.

Upright solid door chillers are able to keep any perishable items out of the food danger zone and will also maintain the integrity of dishes that have already been prepared but still require storage. Designed to store items as oppose to display, solid door units effectively contain chilled air and increase efficiency. The wide selection of sizes, styles and configurations means that the perfect piece of equipment for your business is available on the market.

Key features;

  • Insulated interiors and tough durable exteriors keep foods chilled and safe from bacterial growth.
  • The majority of solid door chillers are designed to maintain consistent temperatures of somewhere between 0˚C and 12˚C for standard refrigeration needs including dairy. If you are storing fresh meat you will require a specialised fridge with a cooler temperature, the range beginning from -2˚C.
  • Interior shape and design is specially designed to allow easier cleaning and therefore improved food safety.
  • Manufacturing materials will meet if not exceed health laws and regulations.
  • Strong industrial grade mechanical components are able to cope with the rigorous pressures of a commercial kitchen improving longevity and performance.

Areas to consider;

  • The first area to consider must be the size you require in relation to the space you have available and the capacity you need. If you only have a small amount of stock that requires refrigeration but have a large space to place refrigeration equipment, there is no point in purchasing an unnecessarily oversized unit. The volume of custom and your level of trade will determine how much produce you should stock which will ultimately determine the size of refrigeration equipment you require. Capacities range from 190 litres/6.7 cubic foot to 1730 litres/61.1 cubic foot. Always measure external dimensions and compare with each refrigerator model to guarantee that you can accommodate the unit.
  • Solid door refrigerators have the choice of single or double doors each with increasing capacity. Single door units have the choice of the handle being placed on either the left or the right. This decision may come down to the layout of your kitchen and reducing any obstacles or whether the majority of users are right or left handed. Double door products will often have handles situated in the centre. While larger capacity is offered they do cost more to purchase and will have higher running costs due to the size. Triple door units obviously offer maximum capacity and are ideal for larger kitchens.
  • Also take into account elements of your kitchen such as ceiling height and air circulation. If you have low ceilings, undermounted chillers are more suitable. The mechanical components are situated at the base of the unit where air flow is increased and the hot kitchen atmosphere is generally cooler. Cleaning and maintenance is also made easier with the compressor etc. being simple to access.
  • Commercial refrigeration manufacturers all have a range that includes some form of solid door chiller so whether you have a preference of brand or are open to all offers the perfect piece will be available. Each manufacturer has a unique set of core beliefs. Whilst some appear as entry level products others have increased features, enhanced efficiency, ultimate performance and superb longevity.
  • The number of shelves in each unit will vary. The size of the refrigeration will dictate the number of shelves that are present, obviously the larger the equipment the more tiers are available. The majority of manufacturers will feature adjustable shelves allowing the user to fully personalise the interior design to complement their storage requirements.

Additional extras;

  • Choice of exterior. Most refrigerators will be sold with a standard aluminium exterior however stainless steel or vinyl options are becoming increasingly popular variants. These latter two materials are worth consideration as they are easier to clean and are often thought to be more durable. The choice of stainless steel, aluminium or white exteriors are generally available.
  • Castors. Certain models will feature castors, either positioned at the rear or as a full set, to increase mobility of equipment meaning that hygiene and cleaning around that area is made substantially easier. There will be no more lugging of heavy equipment or reaching behind units to ensure a thorough clean; simply rolling out the refrigeration will leave adequate space to clean and sanitise effectively. If you have exceptionally large and heavy pieces of equipment, castors will guarantee that no one gets injured whilst attempting to move the unit.
  • Storage shelves or pan slides. Some businesses may only require their refrigeration to store sheets of prepared items. If this is the case for your business, pan slides in place of storage shelves will allow smoother and easier access.

So you have considered the types of refrigeration and which is best suited to your business, the size which you require and any available options that there may be to personalise your purchase and make it perfect for your needs. Although you may have selected your seemingly perfect piece already there are some extra elements that should also be given some thought before you make your final purchase.

Weight and accessibility

When ordering your refrigeration equipment you will need to stipulate the level of accessibility to your premises and also whether there are any steps that must be scaled to deliver your purchase. The weight of a single unit can be huge so prior thought and planning as to the safest way to deliver and place the item should always be given.

Maintenance

Integral ventilation is vital for the compressor to work efficiently. The compressor could almost be described as the heart of the machine and unless this component is taken care of, the machine will fail. Vents should remain clear and free of blockages and the internal workings should be wiped regularly to reduce any build-up of dust or dirt.

Warranty

The warranty available will depend on the manufacturer and will usually range from a parts only cover to a full warranty that covers parts and labour costs. The duration of this cover may vary, usually over either a one or two year period. Before placing your order always check which elements you are covered for and the overall duration of the warranty.

Ask advice

If you are still unsure as to which solid door cooler is best suited to your requirements you should always seek further advice. Do you have friends in the same field? Listen to what they have to say however bear in mind that their equipment will be tailored to their individual business needs and may not be suitable for yours. Alternatively you could ask the advice of an impartial supplier. The FFD team are trained to listen to your requirements and provide valid suggestions that best suit your criteria, giving honest and unbiased feedback.

By understanding the basic elements of commercial refrigeration in relation to the unique needs and requirements of your business and with careful consideration of the products available on the market you will be sure to make the perfect decision the first time around.