Under-counter vs Walk-in Fridges: Which Option is Best

Efficient refrigeration and food preservation are key components inherent to the success of a commercial kitchen. However, there are various options to choose from, depending on the size of your operation, and the number of meals you serve daily. Here we explore the features and benefits under-counter fridges, and walk-in fridges to help you decide which is best suited for your restaurant’s particular needs.

Before Modern Refrigeration

Have you ever wondered what cooling techniques were used to preserve food before the advent of modern refrigeration?

Ancient methods of preservation included the freezing of food in lakes during cold months, keeping food cool in cellars, and soaking food in cold streams.

Early Egyptians stored food articles in earthen jars filled with water, while Ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Roman civilizations used snow and ice in storage pits for refrigeration.

In the late 1800s, cold pantries (similar to the modern walk-in fridge) emerged in some households, where foodstuffs were cooled in a room using large blocks of ice. But it was not until the mid-1920s when modern refrigerators became commonplace in homes.

While refrigeration technology has come a long way in a hundred years, the core purpose of a fridge remains the efficient preservation of food. Whether you require Bluetooth technology to notify the operator whenever the temperature drops below or exceeds its settings or quick access to products—the choice is yours. While they are designed for the same end goalkeeping food at safe temperatures—walk-ins and under-counters differ in their intended daily use.

Walk-in Refrigerators

Cold Room
Cold Room

Walk-in refrigerators (also known as cold rooms) are designed for storing large quantities of food product on easily accessible shelving for longer periods of time while being able to freely move inside the refrigeration unit. They are ideal for large turnover businesses that focus on stock rotation and preserving the integrity of their product for longer.

4 Benefits of Walk-in Refrigerators:

Capacity

Walk-in refrigerators have large storage capacities and can be customised to fit nearly any space, both indoors and outdoors, which is ideal for receiving stock. The size of the walk-in refrigerator you choose should be equivalent to the number of meals you serve daily. If you operate a restaurant, the typical size is about 0.14 square metres (42.48 l) storage required for each meal served on a daily basis.

Convenient

The open layout allows for easy organisation. Custom-shelving can be installed, creating a storage area for everything from bulk perishables to pre-prepared sauces, saving money on multiple deliveries.

Efficient

The cost to power a walk-in fridge is often much less than the combined cost to power several individual, standard-size refrigerators, as the internal components are designed to be much more efficient than multiple standard refrigerators. The even temperature control prevents cold air escaping the storage and therefore ensures that products are safely stored for longer periods, thereby minimising waste.

There are also several ways of reducing operating costs such as equipping the fridge with quality insulation, and conducting regular maintenance checks of gaskets and door sweeps, and replacing these when necessary.

Many models also have self-closing doors to help keep cold air inside and warm ambient air outside, as well as interior motion detectors to turn lights off and on, which further reduces power consumption.

Stock Rotation

The larger space of the walk-in fridge allows for greater efficiency in bulk stock management as products can be stored and rotated on a seasonal basis, reducing loss from deterioration and obsolescence.

Control

Stock within walk-in freezers is controlled to ensure the freezer isn’t opened too many times. The staff takes needed stock for that day and stores the food in a day-to-day freezer, which can be opened and closed without reducing the life of the food stored inside.

Under-counter Refrigerators

Reach-in refrigerators are designed to keep the interior cool even when the doors are opened repeatedly. This makes them ideal for storing products that need to be readily available.

Under-counter refrigeration shares the same purpose as reach-in refrigeration; however, its purpose is to do so in smaller areas while holding a smaller quantity of food products.

The biggest attraction of the under-counter fridge is that it is compact but still provides an intense, commercial-grade refrigeration power.

4 Benefits of Under-counter Refrigerators:

Space-Smart

Anyone who runs a restaurant or catering kitchen knows how valuable space is—especially during frantic service. Because these fridges can be installed under a counter, they are excellent space-savers, freeing up floor space in your kitchen for other required professional appliances.

Have a look at our 4 Door Underbar Fridge. This refrigerator can easily fit into any kitchen, ensuring your precious kitchen space doesn’t go to waste.

Extra Prep Area

Under-counter models are really a combination of a refrigerated prep table and a classic, commercial reach-in fridge. Whether installed under the counter or free-standing, the worktop of an under-counter fridge provides additional food preparation space, which is a major advantage in any busy commercial kitchen environment.

Quick Access

An under-counter fridge allows for quick access to goods in small areas and is ideal for storing products that are frequently used and re-refrigerated.

Efficient Stock Management

The limited capacity of the under-counter fridge allows the chef or kitchen manager to issue from the larger, bulk-storage walk-in fridge, and store only the required stock for daily service in the more compact unit. This aspect enables more efficient stock control and cost management.

Overfilled refrigerators often provide inconsistent cooling due to blocked air circulation, leading to overworked compressors, unsafe food conditions, wastage and ultimately, higher food costs.

If you require additional refrigeration in your kitchen, you will need to decide whether to invest in further reach-in refrigerators like the space-saving, compact, under-counter or take a leap to the large, bulk-storage, walk-in option. Although quite different, both will contribute significantly to a smoother kitchen operation and increased output.

Need Refrigeration in Your Industrial Kitchen?

Caterware Connection offers a variety of high-quality refrigeration options and has the needed experience to deliver, install, and repair both walk-in freezers and under-counter refrigerators in your kitchen.

Our technicians provide both annual and quarterly maintenance services for all our industrial kitchen equipment, get in touch.

Contact A Specialist

Caterware Connection

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No matter if you’re a café, a mine, a school or a large hotel, Caterware can help you from design to installation. Caterware will plan, equip, install, and maintain your professional kitchen.

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