Walk-in Cooler & Freezer Online Buying Guide

Walk-in coolers and freezers are a very custom product. Standard sizes are available in the industry but they assume some standard specifications. Walk-ins are not a one-size fits all item like other foodservice equipment. If you are shopping for walk-ins online, make sure to review the specifications used in sizing that walk-in. Where the walk-in is located geographically as well as if it will be installed indoors or outdoors makes a difference in the required equipment needed to run your walk-in effectively.

U.S. Cooler indoor walk-in cooler without a floor.

Here are some important things to consider before purchasing a walk-in cooler or freezer online.

  • Indoor or Outdoor: Indoor and outdoor walk-in coolers and freezers are manufactured differently. Outdoor models require additional weatherproof items on the walk-in. If your walk-in will be located outdoors, it will require some type of weather ceiling strips or a rain roof to protect the panels from the elements. If refrigeration units will be located outdoors, they require a weather cover as well as all-weather controls.  An Indoor walk-in will not work properly outdoors without additional equipment. Indoor and outdoor refrigeration units are sized differently. Look closely at the description to make sure it will fit your location needs.
  • Floor or No Floor:  Whether or not you’ll need an insulated floor depends on where your walk-in unit will be installed.  Walk-in freezers almost always require an insulated floor unless you have an insulated concrete floor already in place with thermal breaks. Walk-in coolers do not always require a floor, but it depends on where the walk-in will be installed. For cooler units installed indoors on a bare concrete slab, a floor is not essential. In new construction, if you plan on carrying heavy loads in and out of your walk-in cooler, it is recommended to construct an insulated concrete pad with thermal breaks. This will help stop condensation from forming on your concrete floor. For a walk-in to be placed above-grade level such as over a basement or on a second story floor, an insulated floor is required.
  • Holding Product: What you are storing in your walk-in makes a difference in what refrigeration unit is needed. For coolers, many models are sized assuming product entering the cooler will be 55°F and the cooler will be holding at 35°F. For freezers, many models are sized assuming product entering the freezer will be entering at 20°F and holding at -10°F. Models vary, so make sure to check the specifications on how it was sized.  If product is entering or holding at different temperatures than what the refrigeration is sized for, the refrigeration will be sized incorrectly causing it to not work properly.
  • Airflow around the Walk-in: When planning your space, remember that there should be at least 2” around the exterior of the walk-in for airflow. Without the proper airflow around walk-in cooler or freezer panels, panels could sweat or cause condensation.
  • Refrigeration Systems: There are two main types of refrigeration systems used on walk-in coolers and freezers.
    • The “pre-assembled-remote” refrigeration is a split system with the coil inside the cooler/freezer and the condensing unit either outdoors or near the walk-in. Most often on remote refrigeration systems the condensing unit is installed outside of the building. Remote refrigeration units require a licensed refrigeration contractor to install and run lines. For refrigeration warranty purposes all refrigeration must be installed by a licensed refrigeration contractor.
    • The “self-contained” refrigeration system contains the coil and condensing unit all in one that is installed on the ceiling or on/in the walls of the walk-in. Typically, a hole is pre-cut in the ceiling panel or wall panel and the unit drops in. This unit is usually ready to be installed, however a licensed refrigeration contractor must start up unit.
  • Geographic Location: The geographic location where the walk-in will be installed makes a difference. Walk-ins that are located in warmer or colder climates require to be sized accordingly. Walk-ins being shipped to warmer climates, higher elevations or with warm product entering temperatures may need a custom quotation and may not work with a “package” available online. Make sure to check the ambient temperature in the specifications to ensure the refrigeration is sized properly and will suit your climate.
  • Delivery: Due to the large product size, walk-in cooler and freezer panels are shipped on pallets and banded together for protection. A forklift will be needed to unload the unit or the unit can be unpacked and unloaded panel by panel off the pallet while it is still on the truck. Two or three people will need to be available to receive delivery if this choice is chosen. You may be charged a surcharge if it takes too long to unload the truck. Many trucks do not have a large enough lift gate for the size of pallets being delivered, therefor this option may not be available for you. It is recommended to have a fork-lift onsite at the time of delivery. It is a good idea to contact the shipping company to make an appointment for delivery to ensure the delivery process goes smoothly. Residential deliveries and limited access locations may incur sur-charges from the shipping company.

Floral Storage & Display Coolers

Finally, spring is here! This means warmer weather, longer daylight hours, budding trees, and blooming flowers. And there is no better way to keep flowers fresh than with a U.S. Cooler Floral Cooler.

Floral coolers are essential to the flower industry when it comes to extending the longevity of freshly picked and arranged flowers. A U.S. Cooler Floral Cooler keeps flowers as fresh as the day they were harvested, longer than traditional commercial refrigerators.

Our floral coolers are made with the same premium quality materials as our other walk-in coolers and freezers. We can make floral storage and display coolers for florists, grocery floral departments, convenience stores and even for more nontraditional vendors like; hospitals, airports and for the small business owner. Our floral coolers are completely customizable which allows us to quickly produce any shape/size of cooler to best fit your specific needs.

U.S. Cooler’s Floral Coolers feature Low Air Velocity Refrigeration that holds the temperature constant while not damaging products with big gusts of air. Fluctuation in temperature and humidity can cause the stored flowers to wilt as they are exposed to frequent environmental changes. Extreme cold can also be more damaging to flowers than long exposure to room temperature due to frost damage. Our coolers are made with high performance insulation to keep the cool in so there is no need to excessively overchill your flowers. The influx of air is regulated and consistent, which allows for the proper storage of delicate plants and flowers.

Any size, shape or configuration, U.S. Cooler can provide you with a display cooler that will beautifully showcase your floral masterpieces. Our floral storage and display coolers are a great investment for your business and will perform for many years to come.

Floral cooler features:

  • High Performance Insulation
  • Custom Sizes & Options
  • Heated Glass Doors with LED Lighting
  • Interior & Exterior Metals
  • Low Air Velocity Refrigeration*
  • Sliding Doors

Call 800.521.2665 to be connected to a dealer near you or fill out this short form to get a floral walk-in or display refrigerator quote.

*Optional humidification may be necessary.

Click on thumbnail to see full sized images.

The Effects of Ambient Temperature on Refrigeration Load Sizing

The key to determining the proper refrigeration load requirement for any box  rests on two general items:

  1. Product load or internal heat load. This would include incoming temperature of product being stored, heat of respiration of product being stored, any change of state of the product (freezing), and any heat given off by lights, motors, people, etc.
  2. External load. This would include any air infiltration load, radiant load through walls, ceiling, floors, etc.

Ambient temperature or ambient temperature difference from external box temperature to internal box temperature can have a significant impact on the load required.

On walk-in coolers for example, the difference in wall and infiltration loads from an 80°F ambient to a 90°F ambient is approximately 18-20%. From an 80°F ambient to a 100°F ambient that difference increases as much as 30%. See table 1.

Table 1

Data from Russell’s Engineering Manual

Table 2

Data from Russell’s Engineering Manual

In all cases, the refrigeration technician should use proper sizing tools such as the Russell Engineering manual RU-ENG-0313A to determine the proper load requirements.

Source: HTPG Tech Note February 2019

An Increase in Manufacturing Efficiency Reduces Production Lead Time

Year after year our manufacturing production has been challenged with the demand to keep up with the increase in sales. Last year was particularly “challenging” with no true slow-down in the demand for custom walk-in coolers and freezers.

U.S. Cooler has a continuous goal of improving efficiency and reducing waste; making us as lean as we can possibly be. Several positive impacts in the past year have taken place in our facilities to make U.S. Cooler even more efficient. Our manufacturing facility has recently added over 16% more production capability. By automating more processes, adding new equipment and adding managers to focus on efficiency, U.S. Cooler has been able to decrease our production lead time on custom orders to approximately three to four weeks. Naturally, our lead time can fluctuate depending on the market but we are hopeful that U.S. Cooler will be able to sustain this lead time on custom orders.

New Vert-Ergo™ Handle a Success

Have you ever wondered, why residential refrigerator handles are vertical and walk-in cooler/freezer handles are horizontal? Maybe you haven’t, but we have. We have witnessed the struggle of restaurant employees opening their walk-in cooler door several times with an awkward, uncomfortable reach with their hand gripping down. So we thought, why can’t walk-ins be designed with a more comfortable handle? This lead to the design of the Vert-Ergo™ walk-in cooler/freezer handle.

In April, U.S. Cooler launched the release of the Vert-Ergo handle for walk-in coolers and freezers. The Vert-Ergo handle is the industry’s first vertically positioned walk-in cooler or freezer handle. The vertical handle design places your hand further from the hinges on the door, which in turn, makes a substantial decrease in the effort required to open the door. When users grip the Vert-Ergo handle, they use a more natural, vertical grip allowing the use of powerful muscles in the forearm and upper arm. The round handle allows for a full grip making it more comfortable to use.

With over 200 Vert-Ergo handles in the field, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the usage of the vertical handle. The simplistic yet strong design looks a bit different than the horizontal handle, but users enjoy the ergonomic benefits.

U.S. Cooler’s new Vert-Ergo handle is built to exact standards with a quality you can see and feel. It is available with an externally mounted lock or as a standalone handle. A padlock can be added as an additional locking mechanism. The handle is mounted with a glow-in-the-dark safety release located inside the walk-in. The Vert-Ergo handle can be mounted on either a right hand or left hand opening door.

The Importance of Refrigeration Gaskets

Refrigeration gaskets are a very important part of your walk-in cooler or freezer’s performance. Under-performing gaskets could cost your business hundreds or thousands of dollars in energy bills. Gaskets are responsible for sealing your walk-in door and panels to stop any air infiltration. When your walk-in door is closed, the gasket keeps the cold air from escaping and more importantly warm air from entering your walk-in. When gaskets are not working properly, your refrigeration unit will have to work harder to keep its cold temperature – which in-turn generates higher energy bills and wear and tear on your equipment.

 
There are two different gaskets on your walk-in door that are both vital to your walk-in’s performance.
– The magnetic gasket is the thicker gasket attached to the door and helps to seal and keep the door closed.
– The wiper gasket is the thin single-dart gasket that helps seal the door to stop any outside air infiltration. Wiper gasket is located on the door and on the frame.

Magnetic Gasket and Wiper Gasket on U.S. Cooler door.

Periodically check door gaskets and door sweeps for wear and tear. Keep your gaskets performing longer by cleaning and removing any food, dirt, or debris build-up. It is suggested to include wiping down your gaskets during your daily cleaning routine.

 
Signs that your gaskets may need to be replaced:
– Step inside your walk-in and check for any light coming from around your door. If light comes through you know there is an opening in the gasket.
– Physically check to see if gaskets are ripped or torn.
– If your walk-in cooler gasket isn’t working properly, you may see sweating between the door and door jam. On a walk-in freezer, there may be ice or ice build-up.

 
When replacing your gasket, make sure to purchase the correct gasket for your brand of walk-in. Walk-in brands use different styles of gasket.