Walk-In Coolers Buying Guide

Walk-In Coolers are an essential piece of equipment for larger commercial kitchens. In essence, a walk-in cooler is a very large refrigerator that is large enough to walk into (also called a vault). Perfect for storing ingredients that need to be kept cold, walk-in refrigeration has ample room and the ability to walk in to it means that you can store even the bulkiest items and organize everything at the optimal temperature. Prior to entering the foodservice industry, I’m pretty sure you’ve never had a reason to think about or research the ins and outs of walk-in coolers. Keep in mind, that when using a walk-in cooler, food temperature will not drop as quickly as it would in a blast chiller. For example, Nor-Lake walk-in coolers and freezers will hold food temperatures at +35°F., -10°F., -20°F.

This commercial walk-in cooler buying guide includes a brief questionnaire that will assist you in selecting the right equipment for your needs.

What are you using the walk-in cooler for?

Selecting the right walk-in depends on what you will be using it for. Here are a few examples:

  • For beer or beverages…. You want a cooler unit that will hold beverages at a lower temperature than food items.
  • For food… The walk-in cooler must be able to hold the food at 38-40 degrees.

How cold should my walk-in cooler be?

  • Walk-in refrigerators are perfect for storing crisp lettuce, mayonnaise, meats, and other foods that needs to be stored between 28 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Walk-in freezers will keep meats, seafood, desserts and more icy cold by holding at below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Should I choose an inside or outside walk-in unit?

A walk-in cooler can be placed inside or outside.

  • Indoor Walk-In Cooler – If the unit will be inside, select the coolest place in your establishment to set it up.
  • Outdoor Walk-In Cooler – It is important to decide where you will be placing the walk-In, as an outdoor box, will have a protective covering to protect from the elements.

Does the walk-in coolers compressor location matter?

  • Self-Contained Compressor – A compressor located on top or side of the cooler will need 6 inches of clearance from the top of the compressor to function properly and not burn out the compressor.
  • Remote Compressor – This compressor type sits on the roof of your building, basement, or the ground and a pre-charged tubing is used to push cold air through it.

Is my floor strong enough for a walk-in cooler?

Can your current floor hold a 1250+ pound walk-in cooler as well as the items inside of it without damaging the floor? If not, then you will need to have the floor reinforced. For example, if you will be using the walk-in as a keg cooler, it’s a good idea to reinforce the floors anyways due to the weight of the kegs getting wheeled across the floor, loaded, and unloaded multiple times each day.

  • If you are using the walk-in cooler to store produce, you may not need a reinforced floor.
  • You will always need a reinforced floor for a walk-in freezer unless the concrete floor is already insulated.

What do I need to know before buying a walk-in cooler?

Knowing a few configurations before calling us will help us to better assist you in selecting the right walk-in unit for your establishment.

  • What are your dimensions including height?
  • What is the door specification and how many doors will you need? A standard door is 34″ x 76″
  • Where do you want the door hinges?
  • Where will the refrigeration be… remote, side, top, or self-contained?
  • Will you need 208/220 or 115 voltages; single or 3-phase?