Probably the most overlooked requirement, despite its importance, is the compressor and cooling components. Where the compressor is located on the unit affects it's life span and performance, and in the long term can make or break the bank. There are two general locations where the compressor unit will be installed, either the top or the bottom. There are pros and cons to each location. Let's start with what's good about each one.
Benefits of a Top Mounted Compressor
- Heat doesn't rise into the unit when the door is open.
- The condenser, compressor, and evaporator are all together, which generally means there's more storage space in the unit.
- Stored items are more ealily visible and reachable.
- The condensor fan will pull less dirt and debri, as it is further from the floor.
Benefits of a Bottom Mounted Compressor
- The condenser operates near the floor, where temperatures are cooler.
- Servicing and cleaning the compressor is easier.
- Components are away from grease laden steam, which can clog up parts.
- Bottom shelves are higher up, making them easier to reach.
As you can probably already tell, some of the benefits of one type are clearly disadvantages of the other. Thought to make sure we have all of our bases covered, it is worth looking at some of the disadvatages of each type.
Disadvantages of a Top Mounted Compressor
- Require additional clearance above, reducing possible storage space.
- Can be more difficult, and consequently more expensive, to service and clean.
- Generally have to work harder to keep the unit cool, as temperatures can be hotter closer to the ceiling than the floor.
- If located near cooking appliances, can sustain more damage to the components from steam and grease.
Disadvantages of a Bottom Mounted Compressor
- More dirt and debri are likely to clog the condenser fan and radiator.
- Production costs are higher, as more insulation is required to separate the rising heat from the bottom of the cabinet and larger motors are required to transport freon between the top and bottom components.
- Heat from the fans will rise into the cabinet when doors open, which means more work to keep it cooler.
So what are the most important things to consider when choosing where the working components are located? If your commercial refrigerator or freezer will be located near cooking equipment, then you're better off with a bottom mounted unit since there will be less steam and temperatures near the floor will be considerably cooler. Almost all other locations will be better suited for a top mounted refrigerator. Just keep in mind that accessing the bottom shelves may be harder on your back, depending on what you're storing.
Glass Door or Solid Door?
In some cases the choice might be obvious, but in others it might not be. If you're using the unit for customers, you would obviously want a glass door refrigerator or freezer. Not only does this allow the customers to see what you have, but it will also help reduce your energy needs, and lower the electric bill, as the door won't need to be open as long every time someone reaches in to get something.
On the other hand, a solid door refrigerator will be better insulated, again helping to lower your electric bill. When the cooler is being used by employees, it is often better to have a solid door. However, if you'll be storing a variety of items and will be accessing it often, you may be better off with a glass door. With the glass door, you'll be more aware of where things are in the unit and won't need to keep the door open as long. It can also help improve the speed in which items can be located, and in turn the speed at which your customers can be served.
Swing or Slide
Should you get a cooler with swinging doors, or sliding doors? If you'd like to have a solid door unit, then your choice will be limited. Sliding doors are going to be made of glass, so your only option would be for a swing out door. If space is a concern, then you may want to forgoe the benefits of a solid door and choose a sliding door. If a swing out door limits trafic through an isle, then a sliding door will be your best choice.
One could argue that on new equipment, a machine is only as good as it's warranty. Fortunatly, much of the construction of a refrigerator isn't that complex. Door and wall technology haven't advanced that much in the last 50 years! The operational components are what you really need to pay attention to, and the compressor is what you should focus on. Tubing, radiators, and even fans aren't that complicated in comparison. The compressor undergoes most of the stress, unless you're not keeping the fans clean. We wouldn't recommend anything less than a five year warranty on a compressor.
So what's the best choice for a commercial reach in refrigerator or freezer? Like all things in life, it depends on the circumstances. I'm guessing you probably didn't know there were so many things to consider when choosing a reach in cooler. Andy's Equipment has over a century of combined experience, let us help you make the decision. We're not only experts on reach in coolers, but every type of restaurant equipment. Give us a call and let us put our experience to work for you.