A commercial refrigerator is an essential piece of equipment for any small business owner operating within the food and beverage industry. Selecting the right commercial refrigeration system can make a significant difference in the success of your business, as it ensures food safety and maintains the quality of your products. This comprehensive guide aims to help you navigate the world of commercial refrigerators, offering expert advice on various types and models, as well as providing recommendations for the best units available in the market today.
Types of Commercial Refrigerators
There is a wide array of commercial refrigerators available, each designed to cater to specific business requirements. Let’s look at the different types and their best use cases.
These are the most common type of commercial refrigerators, also known as reach-in refrigerators. Upright refrigerators are designed to provide ample storage space while occupying a minimal footprint in commercial kitchens. With adjustable shelves and high-quality stainless steel construction, these refrigerators are built to withstand the demands of a busy foodservice establishment.
Best for: Restaurants, bars, cafes, and bakeries requiring efficient storage solutions for a variety of food items and beverages.
Undercounter refrigerators are compact units that fit seamlessly under countertops, providing easy access to frequently used ingredients. These refrigerators are ideal for commercial kitchens with limited space, as they allow chefs to work efficiently without having to walk to a separate refrigeration unit.
Best for: Restaurants, cafes, and bakeries with limited space but a need for quick access to chilled ingredients.
Designed to showcase products, merchandising refrigerators come in various styles, including glass door refrigerators and open-air models. These units help increase impulse sales by displaying items like beverages, snacks, and frozen treats in an attractive manner. Glass chillers, back bar coolers, and convenience store refrigerators fall under this category.
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Best for: Convenience stores, grocery stores, bars, and restaurants looking to boost sales through enticing product displays.
Combining refrigeration and workspaces, worktop refrigerators are perfect for businesses that require both storage and preparation areas. These versatile units offer easy access to chilled ingredients, along with a sturdy surface for food preparation.
Best for: Restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that require additional workspace and refrigeration in one unit.
Prep Table Refrigerators
These specialized refrigerators are designed to streamline food preparation processes, with built-in cutting boards and storage compartments for ingredients. Typically used in sandwich shops, pizzerias, and salad bars, prep table refrigerators keep ingredients fresh and accessible.
Best for: Businesses that require a dedicated space for assembling fresh dishes while maintaining ingredient freshness.
Our Top Picks and How We Chose Them:
For small businesses, particularly those in the food service industry, selecting the right commercial refrigerator is a decision of paramount importance. A commercial refrigerator does much more than just keep food and beverages cold; it’s a vital component of the business’s operational efficiency, food safety compliance, and overall service quality. These refrigerators must be reliable, energy-efficient, and suitable for the specific demands of the business, whether it’s a restaurant, café, or catering service. Here’s our criteria list for evaluating commercial refrigerators:
- Cooling Performance and Temperature Consistency (Rating: 9/10)
- Efficient and consistent cooling to preserve food quality.
- Precise temperature controls for different food types.
- Size and Capacity (Rating: 8/10)
- Adequate storage capacity for business needs.
- Space-efficient design for the available area.
- Energy Efficiency (Rating: 8/10)
- Energy-saving features to reduce operational costs.
- Compliance with energy standards (e.g., ENERGY STAR).
- Durability and Build Quality (Rating: 9/10)
- Sturdy construction for heavy-duty use.
- High-quality materials for longevity.
- Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance (Rating: 8/10)
- Accessible design for easy cleaning.
- Removable parts and simple maintenance requirements.
- Design and Layout (Rating: 7/10)
- Practical internal layout for easy access and organization.
- External design that complements the business’s aesthetic.
- Noise Level (Rating: 6/10)
- Quiet operation, especially important in open-layout spaces.
- Additional Features (Rating: 5/10)
- Extras like adjustable shelves, digital displays, or smart controls.
- Glass doors for display purposes, if relevant.
- Brand Reputation and Warranty (Rating: 7/10)
- Reliable brands with positive customer feedback.
- Warranty and service options for long-term assurance.
- Price and Value for Money (Rating: 6/10)
- Cost-effectiveness for the features and capacity provided.
- Consideration of long-term operational costs.
In our selection process for commercial refrigerators, we place a strong emphasis on these criteria to ensure that the options we recommend are well-suited to the rigorous and diverse needs of small businesses in the food and beverage sector.
PremiumLevella Glass Door Merchandiser Refrigerator
This versatile and efficient commercial display refrigerator is designed to meet the needs of small businesses. This 9.0 cu ft merchandiser features a thermostat and light switch conveniently placed inside the unit, a customizable lightbox for personal branding, and a bottom-mounted compressor housed behind an attractive grill cover. The locking door handle provides added security for your products, making it ideal for bars, restaurants, and cafes.
- Thermostat and light switch easily accessible for temperature and lighting adjustments
- Customizable lightbox for branding or personalized messages
- Spacious 9.0 cu ft capacity with adjustable shelves for diverse storage options
- Reinforced double-layer hollow glass door for maintaining ideal temperature and humidity levels
- Locking door handle for added security
- May be too large for smaller establishments
- No information on energy efficiency or power consumption
KoolMore 29″ Stainless Steel 1 Glass Door Commercial Reach-in Refrigerator
KoolMore’s 23 cu ft reach-in refrigerators offer external digital temperature control and display, auto defrost, and four casters for easy mobility. Designed to provide optimal cooling and organization for your restaurant kitchen, it’s both space-saving and spacious.
- High-quality stainless steel construction for durability and easy cleaning
- Glass door and LED lighting for convenient inventory management
- Spacious interior with three deep adjustable shelves for maximum storage
- External digital temperature control and display for precise monitoring
- Auto defrost feature for hassle-free maintenance
- Four casters for easy mobility and relocation
- Temperature range of 33-41°F
- Single door may not be suitable for larger commercial kitchens requiring more storage
- Stainless steel finish may not suit all aesthetic preferences
Arctic Air One Section Reach-in Refrigerator
Arctic Air’s 26-inch reach-in refrigerators are an efficient and affordable cold storage solution. It is equipped with an advanced electronic thermostat and a user-friendly external digital LED display for precise temperature control and easy monitoring. The interior is lined with bright white aluminum for enhanced illumination, while the stainless steel floor with coved corners simplifies cleaning by minimizing dirt and debris accumulation. Additionally, the AR23 features three adjustable, corrosion-resistant, epoxy-coated wire shelves to accommodate various storage needs.
- Accurate temperature control with an electronic thermostat
- Easy-to-read external digital LED display
- Enhanced interior illumination from bright white aluminum lining
- Simplified cleaning with coved corners on stainless steel floor
- Three adjustable, corrosion-resistant epoxy-coated wire shelves
- Limited to 23 cubic feet of interior space
- Self-contained capillary tube system may be unfamiliar to some users
Arctic Air 27″ Single Door Work Top Undercounter Refrigerator
This under-counter refrigerator from Arctic Air utilizes R600a refrigerant in its self-contained capillary tube system, ensuring rapid temperature recovery and efficient airflow. Built with stainless steel and featuring coved interior corners, this refrigerator is easy to clean and maintain. The electronic thermostat allows precise temperature adjustments between 33 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit, while the LED display offers convenient monitoring. Additionally, these under-counter refrigerators come with a single, self-closing door, a recessed handle, and a removable top panel for height reduction.
- Compact 6.5 cu. ft. interior space
- Easy-to-adjust electronic thermostat with LED display
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Removable magnetic gaskets for easy cleaning
- Adjustable wire shelf and coved ABS-lined floor
- Heavy-duty worktop surface
- Efficient temperature recovery with R600a refrigerant
- Limited storage capacity compared to larger models
- Only one adjustable wire shelf included
- May require additional height clearance for certain applications
WESTLAKE 48″ Refrigerator
This high-performance refrigerator is designed to cater to the needs of small businesses such as restaurants, bars, and shops. It boasts a powerful compressor, fan cooling system, and automatic defrost, providing efficient refrigeration with a temperature range of 33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The digital temperature control and LED display allow for easy temperature adjustments and monitoring. Made with stainless steel both inside and out, this refrigerator is durable, fingerprint-resistant, and easy to clean. The unit also features a generous 36 cu. ft. storage capacity, 90 lbs loading capacity per shelf, and convenient 4″ casters for mobility.
- Efficient cooling with a powerful compressor and fan cooling system
- Automatic defrost for hassle-free maintenance
- Stainless steel construction, both inside and out, for durability and easy cleaning
- Digital temperature control with LED display
- Spacious 36 cu. ft. storage capacity
- Easy mobility with 4″ casters
- Limited warranty coverage compared to some competitors
KoolMore Commercial Countertop Refrigerator
This sleek and compact commercial countertop refrigerator display case is perfect for small businesses aiming to increase impulse sales. This 5.6 cu. ft. display case features bright LED lighting and front curved glass that beautifully showcases your enticing goods. Designed for countertops or freestanding installation, it helps save valuable floor space in your bakery, café, or convenience store. With two adjustable chrome-plated, rust-resistant shelves, you can easily display a variety of desserts, pastries, and beverages. The digital temperature display and controls ensure that your products remain fresh and ready to sell, with a temperature range of 32 to 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Enhances product visibility with bright LED lighting and front curved glass
- Space-efficient countertop or freestanding installation
- Two adjustable, rust-resistant shelves for versatile display options
- Digital temperature display and controls for precise temperature management
- Durable construction with stainless steel and double-pane tempered glass
- Limited capacity of 5.6 cu. ft. compared to larger models
- May not be suitable for larger establishments with greater storage needs
- No mention of energy efficiency or power consumption
Lucky Kitchen Supply Stainless Steel Reach in Refrigerator
With a 49 cubic feet capacity, this side-by-side reach-in refrigerator by Lucky Kitchen Supply offers ample storage for your restaurant’s needs. Fitted with door locks, a digital controller, and pre-installed castors, it ensures convenience and security for your kitchen.
- Durable stainless steel construction for long-lasting performance
- Side-by-side double doors provide easy access to stored items
- Digital controller for precise temperature management
- Locks on both doors for added security
- Pre-installed castors for effortless transportation
- Three adjustable shelves, each holding up to 155 lbs
- Environmentally friendly refrigeration system with R-290 refrigerant
- Efficient operation with product temperature range of 32°F-38°F
- May require a large kitchen space due to its size
- Silver color may not suit all aesthetic preferences
kalifon Commercial Display Refrigerator Merchandiser
Discover the kalifon Commercial Display Refrigerator, a 23 cu.ft upright merchandiser featuring a single glass door and LED lighting. Equipped with a powerful Embraco compressor and Carel controller, this refrigerator offers premium quality, energy efficiency, and a user-friendly design, making it an ideal choice for small businesses.
- Energy-efficient Embraco compressor saves up to 40% energy
- Temperature range of 33°F-41°F for optimal food safety
- Easy access to condenser coil for cleaning and maintenance
- Durable stainless steel finish
- Two-glass-door design for clear product visibility
- Carel control system for precise temperature adjustment
- Casters with brakes for easy mobility and stability
- LED lighting for enhanced product presentation
- Door lock and key for added security
- ETL, DOE, and NSF certified
- May require significant floor space due to its dimensions
- Only two shelves included, limiting storage customization
- May produce noise
KITMA 2 Glass Door Commercial Reach-in Refrigerator
KITMA’s double-door reach-in refrigerators are an ideal choice for small businesses in need of a spacious cooling solution. This 49 cu.ft. refrigerator features 8 adjustable shelves for maximum storage, a stainless steel construction, and energy-efficient LED lighting, making it perfect for keeping your products cool and organized.
- Spacious 49 cu.ft capacity with 8 adjustable shelves
- High-quality stainless steel construction for durability
- LED lighting for enhanced visibility and energy efficiency
- Self-closing doors with lock and key for security
- Easy-to-use digital temperature control and auto-defrost timer
- Maintains temperatures between 33°F-40°F
- Freestanding installation for flexibility
- ETL and Energy Star certified for reliability and energy efficiency
- 5-year warranty on the compressor, 2 years on additional parts
- May require significant floor space due to its dimensions
- Only available in silver color, limiting design options
KoolMore 72″ Stainless Steel 3 Door Worktop Refrigerator
The Kool More Commercial Worktop Refrigerator is designed for restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, and all commercial kitchens. This sleek stainless steel refrigerator features three doors, generous worktop space, and easy-to-access recessed handles. With adjustable shelves, efficient temperature control, and mobility, it’s the perfect addition to any commercial kitchen.
- Durable 430 stainless steel construction
- Generous worktop space for added convenience
- Recessed handles and self-closing doors to ensure freshness
- Three adjustable, corrosion-resistant shelves with 90lbs capacity each
- Internal thermometer and external digital controls
- Smooth portability with 4 casters (2 front locking)
- ETL Listed for Safety and Sanitation; NSF ANSI 7 Standard for Commercial Refrigerators
- Auto defrost and fully insulated polyurethane insulation
- Efficient 1/5 HP compressor with R290 refrigerant
- 1-year parts and labor warranty; 5-year compressor warranty
- Larger footprint may not suit all kitchen layouts
- Only one color and finish option available
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal temperature range for a commercial refrigerator?
The ideal temperature range for a commercial refrigerator depends on the products being stored. Generally, perishable food items should be stored between 34°F and 40°F, while beverages can be stored at slightly higher temperatures.
How often should I clean and maintain my commercial refrigerator?
Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential for the performance and longevity of your refrigerator. Schedule a thorough cleaning at least once a month and conduct routine maintenance tasks, such as checking door seals and cleaning condenser coils, every three months.
What are the most common issues with commercial refrigerators and how can I prevent them?
Common issues with commercial refrigerators include temperature fluctuations, frost buildup, and compressor failures. To prevent these problems, regularly monitor temperature settings, clean and defrost the unit as needed, and ensure proper maintenance of the refrigeration system.
Are there any specific regulations I should be aware of when choosing a commercial refrigerator for my business?
Regulations regarding commercial refrigerators, commercial freezers, and other large appliances may vary depending on your location and the type of business you operate. Familiarize yourself with local health and safety codes, as well as any industry-specific guidelines, to ensure compliance.
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