When you operate a hospitality venue, your refrigerators are often the hardest working members of your crew.
Tucked in a corner or under a bench, commercial refrigerators operate 24/7 and play an integral role not only in the success of your venue but the health and safety of your customers.
As with many other pieces of kitchen equipment, there’s a wide range of options when it comes to buying a commercial refrigerator. You need to shop carefully to make sure you choose the best refrigerator brand for the job, and there are several things to consider.
With these things in mind, we’ve created a refrigerator buying guide to help you decide on the best commercial fridge that’s right for your kitchen.
While this refrigeration buying guide is detailed and extensive, once you're familiar with the different commercial refrigerator options, it’s still helpful to get advice from a professional who understands the hospitality industry and can assess your needs based on your venue size and customer numbers. This could be a commercial kitchen consultant or someone who’s supported other businesses knowledgeable in the industry who can help you decide what’s most suitable for your needs. They’ll help you choose the best refrigeration brand and model based on what’s available in Canada.
And of course, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at SilverChef if you have any questions about how to buy a commercial refrigerator for your cafe, restaurant, hotel, club, hospital, long-term care facility, school, or other venues.
Here’s what our commercial refrigerator buyer's guide covers:
- Main things to consider when buying a commercial refrigerator
- Types of commercial refrigerators
- Used commercial refrigerators versus new commercial refrigerators
- Some of the best commercial refrigerator brands
- Questions to ask when purchasing a commercial refrigerator
- Commercial refrigerator FAQ
- Commercial refrigerator terminology
An ENERGY STAR® certified commercial fridge or freezer uses 20% less energy, on average, than a standard model. Saving energy saves money and reduces your carbon footprint.
1. Main things to consider when buying a commercial refrigerator
Similar to size (see below), capacity refers to how much food your commercial refrigerator can hold. Commercial refrigerator capacity is referred to in cubic feet. Take a look at capacity when you’re deciding between models; you may find a few cubic feet of difference, and that could be helpful for your venue.
Look at shelf capacity and flexibility as well. Will your staff need lots of narrow shelves or just a few with room between them?
Commercial refrigerators typically don't come standard with door alarms, but they are an added option. The beep, beep, beep of an open commercial refrigerator door is irritating, but it can help your venue save money. You don't want a refrigerator's worth of food being thrown out because a door was left ajar overnight or the shock of an extra expensive electricity bill.
When purchasing a commercial refrigerator, the placement or hinges of your fridge doors need to be considered. Will the right- or left-hand opening make things inconvenient for your staff? Is a double-door commercial refrigerator the best option or do you have a narrow space that will only fit a single door?
Test the seal as well and talk to your vendor about the models that swing shut with the least amount of pressure. Sometimes you end up with a commercial refrigerator that never quite closes unless you apply firm pressure (although this will happen to most fridges over time as the seals wear out). For a double-door commercial refrigerator, check that you don’t have a problem where one door forces the other open when it closes.
Energy is important for two reasons. First, it’s expensive. Your commercial refrigerator operates 24/7, so the less energy it uses, the better.
Energy-efficient fridges use less power because they have good insulation panels, energy-efficient LED lighting, doors that seal tightly, and features that minimize temperature fluctuation.
Then there’s the environment. When it comes to energy efficiency, your commercial refrigerator must meet certain requirements. These have recently been revised by the Canadian government.
Here’s some quick information about the latest updates to energy requirements:
The biggest change to the requirements for commercial refrigeration relates to the type of refrigerant gas that’s used to cool a unit.
According to one Canadian Greenhouse Gas Report, although emission levels from commercial and industrial refrigeration have gone up since the 1990s, commercial refrigeration manufacturers are now moving to the safer, environmentally conscious R290 refrigerant. R290 refrigerant has been proven to reduce commercial refrigeration’s carbon footprint.
Many manufacturers have also upgraded or changed designs and components in their units to further this green/sustainability effort. High-efficiency compressors, fan motors, and LED lighting are all considered in the development and re-design of commercial refrigeration units to continue elevating the ENERGY STAR® profile of commercial refrigeration equipment and advance energy efficiency.
When purchasing a new commercial refrigerator, you might want to ask if the model you’re considering meets these new standards.
Food to store
Some sources say you should always store raw food in a stainless-steel door commercial refrigerator rather than a glass door commercial refrigerator. Speak to your vendor about their recommendations.
You’ll also need to consider the size of the food you’re storing. Will large pots be placed in the fridge between shifts? Are you working with big cuts of meat or grand-sized desserts, and will you have the flexibility to remove shelves or baskets to make room for these items?
Where the commercial refrigerator will be located and what it’s going to be used for (see Section 2 above for different types of refrigerators and their use and placement).
Insurance, warranty, repairs, and cost of parts
Your commercial refrigerator should be covered under your overall business insurance for incidents like theft or accidental damage. Make sure your commercial refrigerator is itemized on your policy so you can make a claim based on its true value.
A warranty on a new machine is essential. If you buy new, you will most likely have a 12-month warranty on parts but not on labour. Make sure you're clear on the warranty before you buy; if there isn't one, consider this a red flag.
When you buy, talk to your dealer about the servicing and repair schedule they recommend. At high volume, your commercial refrigerator is likely to need attention more often. When you buy your commercial fridge, speak to your dealer about service and continuous maintenance. Be sure to base it on the volume you intend to see coming through your venue.
Ideally, there will be a service and repair specialist nearby who you can call on in an emergency. If not, this could influence your decision about choosing the best refrigerator to buy. After all, how much income would you lose if your commercial refrigerator was out of action for a few hours, a day, or more?
And remember, when you buy a commercial refrigerator, the cost and availability of parts will factor into your ongoing expenses. A premium machine may have parts that are more expensive to replace, repair, or even source.
When you’re looking to buy a commercial refrigerator, consider if you will need to move it around. Some models come with wheels/castors that can be locked in place when you need them to stay still.
Another thing to note is that a refrigerator on castors is easier to clean behind and underneath. This is an important factor in keeping your kitchen clean.
Aim to keep your fridges away from direct sunlight, so the ambient temperature doesn't climb too high and force the refrigerator to work too hard.
For customer-facing commercial refrigerators, check that there will be room to open doors without hitting cabinetry.
Power outlets are another issue worth considering. If the outlet is directly behind the commercial refrigerator, you’ll have to pull the machine out to get to it. Hopefully, you can place your commercial refrigerator with the electrical outlet to the side or above the fridge for easier access.
Regularity of use
The model of a commercial refrigerator you choose may depend on how often you need to access the fridge. You don’t want your staff to encounter big, heavy lids regularly during their shift. If your commercial refrigerator is being visited repeatedly, a glass door might be a good option as it reduces the time staff spends with the door wide open while they search for the food they need. Just keep in mind that glass door fridges do cost more to run, so the savings may rule these out. One thing to note, you typically wouldn't want a glass door commercial refrigerator in the back of the house near the line as they're high use and tend to be opened and closed quickly by staff with hands, knees, etc., so they're much more likely to break.
Do you need to lock your fridge when everyone is leaving for the night? It’s a question worth asking before you decide on the best fridge brand. You may want a model that can have a lock installed, or comes with locks and keys included, or has a roll-down door that locks. These are usually found on display cases in cafeterias or other open areas.
You need refrigeration that matches your needs in terms of size. If you order a unit that’s too large, you’ll have wasted space, and you’ll be paying to operate fridge space you don’t need. It’s harder for a commercial refrigerator to stay cool when it’s empty because it has a greater volume of air to work on (this will make you feel better if you always have a commercial refrigerator that’s always stuffed full of food).
On the other hand, if you get a commercial fridge that’s too small, your staff will be frustrated. Everything will constantly be squashed onto the shelves and stacked awkwardly, wasting staff time.
The other issue with size is the way your fridge will fit into your kitchen. Before you order the best fridge for your operation, take some measurements to ensure the appliance won’t block thoroughfares, that it can be delivered and installed without too much difficulty, and that it isn’t too tall to fit in your kitchen. For commercial undercounter refrigerators, double-check that they’re the right height to sit under your countertops.
Before you decide on the best refrigerator for your needs, ask about the installation process and how it will be handled. The very first consideration should be whether it will fit through the doors of your venue. Are there steps to go up and down? Is there a door lintel you need to maneuver the fridge over? Are there corners you’ll have to go around or narrow hallways to navigate?
Your commercial refrigerator should be installed professionally to ensure it operates at its best. Double-check the voltage with an electrician to make sure you can supply enough power for the appliance.
Temperature control and display
If you're storing beer in your commercial bar fridge and have a reputation for serving them cold, you may wish to set the temperature closer to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.
Provincial Health Codes across Canada require raw or prepared foods to be held in a refrigerator under 4 degrees Celsius. You may want to vary this for a vegetable fridge to save herbs and vegetables from rapid deterioration.
A thermometer should give you an easy reference to the current temperature. Look for a digital display that has good visibility and can be controlled from outside the commercial refrigerator, so you don't have to open the door and reach in.
Also, take note of the maximum ambient temperature your fridge can withstand. In Canada, this is important for refrigerators that will be kept in very warm areas of an establishment or outdoor bars in the summer.
Usability and cleaning
Ensuring that your staff understands how to effectively and properly use the commercial refrigerator you purchase is key to keeping it working well and in top-notch condition on a long-term basis with fewer service challenges. Before you buy your commercial refrigerator, research how to clean it. The best refrigerator for your venue should be easy for a staff member to clean regularly with some simple training if required.
Consider the placement of the ventilation on your commercial refrigerator. Ideally, it shouldn’t be butted up too close to the wall. Speak to the vendor about the gaps you’ll need and check that you can accommodate them before you install your commercial refrigerator.
For an undercounter fridge, check where the ventilation is located (left-hand side, right-hand side, or front) and make sure you allow room for airflow.
Finally, think about how easy it will be to access the ventilation system so you can wipe it down regularly.
2. Types of commercial refrigerators
There are many types and models of commercial refrigerators. Here are some of the models you’ll come across when you’re shopping around for the best refrigerator for your venue.
Air Curtains and Display Cases
Air curtain refrigerators have a small curtain or stream of blown air. Display cases - also referred to as refrigerated display cabinets - can have open or closed fronts and be used for full or self-service. Product is typically loaded through the back of the display case style refrigerator, whereas it’s loaded into the front of an air curtain refrigerator.
Some refrigerated display cases don’t have doors making access even easier for customers. These are ideal for service stations, cafes, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
Display refrigerators are perfect for store-front displays. You can often customize them with graphics on the side and front of the units. They're also brightly lit, making them perfect for driving impulse buys.
Air curtains and display cases are also very customizable for both interior and exterior. They can be vinyl or powder coated to offer different colours or your company’s logo.
With air curtains and display cases, you'll have to ensure your products are neatly stocked and presented, so they’re appealing to your customers.
Commercial bar refrigerators come in many forms depending on your type of establishment, whether it's full service or self serve, if it's customer-facing or not, and the functionality you require for your product refrigeration.
A commercial upright refrigerator for customer access will likely be a glass door merchandiser. This will come with special lighting and glass fronts so customers can quickly get an idea of the drinks you have on offer.
Commercial underbar refrigerators are a specific height to fit under bars. They differ from undercounter refrigerators because they’re taller. They come in three different formats: glass door merchandisers, reach-in refrigerators with product slides to fit your beverages for easy access, and keg or beer refrigerators that hold kegs of beer (may or may not have a beer tap on top). These are compact refrigerators that keep alcoholic and other beverages cold and ready to serve. They are sometimes referred to as back bar coolers.
The best bar fridges or commercial upright refrigerators are quiet and cost-effective to run. Models are generally available in black, white, and stainless-steel finishes. You may be interested in finding a model with a customizable finish, however smooth and efficient operation should be a priority over looks depending on the type of operation you have.
Chef bases are refrigerated equipment stands. These come in refrigerated drawer styles and are much shorter than an undercounter refrigerator. The tops are significantly sturdier than any other type of refrigerator because they are made to accommodate another piece of equipment on top (e.g., countertop range or charbroiler). The tops can come in either flat or marine-edge designs.
Just like on a prep-table refrigerator, chef bases are made for foods that require refrigeration and will be used in the equipment that’s on top of the chef base.
A glass door merchandiser has a glass front so your customers can see what products are inside the refrigerator, and staff can see what they need without opening the door and causing the machine to lose cool air. These glass door merchandisers come with either sliding or swing doors.
You can choose a single, double, or triple glass door merchandiser depending on the amount of space you have available and the amount or type of product you need to keep in this type of refrigerator.
Glassdoor merchandisers are typically used in grocery and drug stores, cafeterias, and gas stations, as well as bars, restaurants, hotels, and similar venues. Service stations or cafeterias often have an entire wall of glass door merchandisers for beverages like soft drinks, juice, water, milk, and so on. But these don’t have to be the only products in glass door merchandisers. Some venues use glass door merchandisers for displaying sandwiches, pastries, and other single-use purchase food products.
A pass-through refrigerator is a design that can be added to many types of refrigerators. You may find it makes sense to have a pass-through fridge for a busy venue to keep it continually stocked. A pass-through commercial refrigerator can be accessed from the back as well as the front. Your team would stock products in the fridge from the back so that they can be accessed from the front without customers seeing the employees stocking the refrigerator. They come in a wide range of sizes with glass doors, solid doors, or split-door models.
Reach-in refrigerators are the most common type of refrigeration. Similar to the type of refrigerator you have at home, a reach-in is a stand-up refrigerator that can come in stainless steel or glass front models. They come in single, two, or three doors, configurations allowing you to choose the one that’s right for you depending on what you’re using them for and the amount of space you have available. There’s also a split-door configuration (top and bottom door split). Reach-in refrigerators also come in different temperature classes depending on what you plan to store inside.
The placement of the ventilation will vary depending on the brand and model. Advanced models may even have specific ways to control temperature and/or humidity, helping keep products fresher for longer.
Shelving in your reach-in fridge is adjustable, so you can move, add, or remove shelves to accommodate various sized items.
Refrigerated prep table
For easy access to cold ingredients, it makes sense to have refrigeration directly underneath your prep tables in the kitchen. A refrigerated prep table solves this challenge with one item.
Ingredients that need to be kept cold during service on the line are easily accessible with a refrigerated prep table. The added bonus is that there is a full reach-in size refrigerated cabinet available under the ingredients that are held cold on top. These cabinets come in either swing door, sliding door, or drawer designs. Refrigerated prep tables help chefs from having to continually walk across the kitchen during prep and service.
Refrigerated prep units have inserts to hold mise en place, or prepped ingredients with a lid that can open and close, and a cutting board work surface in front of that so you’re able to use your knife and do prep on it. It can also be removed and cleaned. These are ideal for sandwich, salad, dessert preparations, or anything in the kitchen that you need on hand or to put together for a specific finished product.
These units also come in a pizza-prep configuration with a significantly wider work surface to accommodate larger pieces of food (e.g., pizza dough) and can also be fitted with marble instead of a plastic cutting board as a traditional surface for pizza making.
A fridge like this would come in handy as a bar fridge for storing fruit and other cocktail garnishes.
You can also speak with your dealer about the options for fridge drawers instead of the traditional door and shelf setup. This is a growing trend as it offers more convenience and minimizes the need to constantly lean over and reach into the back of the refrigerated cabinet underneath the prep surface.
As the name suggests, an undercounter refrigerator is slightly shorter than counter height to fit underneath a counter. They also fit under a workstation or prep table, making them the best refrigerator and most useful in several types of venues. Undercounter refrigerators have the benefit of being compact, making them flexible to be used in a variety of areas and for a variety of purposes. Like many other refrigerators already mentioned, these come in either swing door, sliding door, or drawer formations.
A walk-in refrigerator – also referred to as a walk-in cooler - is a very large, refrigerated room that gives you ample space and easy access for storing several days’ worth of ingredients. This is very useful for storing in bulk when you receive your food deliveries. Before service, your team can select ingredients from the walk-in, do their prep, and then move only the food they need to whatever refrigeration they have in their service area.
Walk-in refrigerators come in a range of sizes and configurations, with or without floors. The ventilation units are either set on top of the walk-in refrigerator or outside of the facility on the roof (remote refrigeration). Walk-in refrigerators are also very customizable in terms of size and use.
A worktop refrigerator is a counter-height refrigerated cabinet. The top surface is sturdy enough to work on. It's designed to be used as counter space, and you can put cutting boards on it. Worktop refrigerators come in either swing door, sliding door, or drawer configurations. These are a great addition as they serve the dual purpose of being both refrigeration and workspace.
3. Used commercial refrigerators versus new refrigerators
It can make sense to save money, so a used commercial refrigerator is an option for your new venue's kitchen.
Browse SilverChef’s Certified Used range of equipment which is often less than 18 months old and comes with a warranty. Our Certified Used range can also be rented through our Rent-Try-Buy® finance product allowing you to see how the equipment fits with your business before deciding whether to purchase it.
4. Some of the best commercial refrigerator brands
If you’re looking to purchase the best refrigerator for your operation, you’ll need to go through a restaurant equipment dealer Here are some of the top brands and companies with products available in Canada, along with the types of commercial refrigerators they sell.
Note: Information on these brands/products come from the company’s website or published information. Lists of company products may change. Be sure to do your research on what to consider when purchasing a commercial refrigerator.
True Refrigeration has been around since 1945 and is the largest and most popular refrigeration manufacturer in North America. They also sell their products worldwide. True Refrigeration carries an extensive line of commercial refrigeration units, including traditional reach-ins, specification series, food prep tables, under counters, worktops, chef bases, glass door merchandisers, air curtains, display cases, and underbar refrigeration. Each category has numerous product lines to choose from. Their website features a virtual showroom exhibiting product layouts from various venues, including check-out lanes, bakeries, deli, cafés, and more. They also use hydrocarbon refrigerants, including R290 (HC), considered to be more eco-friendly (see Section 2, above).
Turbo Air (Distributed in Canada by Food Service Solutions) is the second-largest manufacturer in North American. Though not as popular in Canada as in the US, they’re gaining traction here. Food Service Solutions is a Canadian importer and national distributor of commercial foodservice equipment and has a unique sales pitch that would appeal to many foodservice industry venues: their kitchen solutions come from their team of chefs. Foodservice Solutions picked up the national distribution of Turbo Air in 2020 and has been working to make it as popular in Canada as it is in the US and abroad.
The M3 Series prep and undertable units have a self-cleaning condenser, digital temperature control, cold bunker system, stainless steel top with refrigeration pan rail, LED interior lighting, and fan control. These include salad/sandwich units in one, two, and three-sections. They also offer top-mount and one, two, and three-door refrigeration units, swing door merchandisers, two-door roll-ins, and under-counter refrigerator units.
Traulsen (Hobart) is the third-largest manufacturer in North America. Their refrigeration includes their own G-Series label focused on providing refrigeration for tight budgets running up to their largest units, the R & A Series built-to-order cabinets. Other models include glass door merchandisers, hinged and sliding glass door refrigerators, prep tables, and undercounter refrigerators, as well as equipment stands. They have more specialized products like wine and milk coolers. They also have a line of extra-wide and double-depth refrigerators.
Delfield (Garland) is the fourth largest manufacturer in North America. The company specializes in its Coolscapes™ worktables and reach-in refrigerators. Other products sold under this banner include salad top, mega top, worktop, undercounter, air curtain refrigerators, and a few specialized products. They also advertise the use of R290 refrigeration systems in their line of GreenGenius "energy-efficient, environmentally- friendly hydrocarbon refrigeration systems."
EFI Food Equipment and Sales is a family-owned Canadian company launched in 1956. Their proprietary lines include their Classic Chill Refrigeration and Versa Chill with undercounter and a variety of salad/sandwich, pizza, and megatop tables, back bar solid door coolers, and reach-in fridges. The merchandiser line has a glass door, countertop, and top and bottom mount glass door fridges. They also have cold showcases, deli, and countertop display cases.
Silver King is distributed by Celco in Canada and offers a wide range of refrigeration offerings, from chef bases and prep tables to specialty items like milk dispensers and fountainettes. These are perfect for hotels, institutions, banquets, convention centres, and any venue that need premium refrigeration products.
New Air by Distex has single and double merchandisers as well as a triple glass door refrigerator.
Eurodib provides one and two regular and glass door reach-in refrigerators with R290 hydrocarbon refrigerant.
Fagor is a leading European commercial refrigeration products manufacturer. They have a variety of reach-in refrigerators, swing door merchandisers, prep tables, worktops, under counters, bar, chef bases, and countertop refrigerated display cases. You can choose whether you want your model to include low-consumption refrigerants based on hydrocarbons (R-600a and R-290).
GBS Foodservice Equipment is Canadian-owned, established in 1974 as a manufacturer of rotisserie equipment for grocers in Ontario. Today they manufacture and distribute a range of commercial appliances for multiple industries. Their refrigeration line includes one, two, and three-door bottom-mounted, reach-in commercial refrigerators; one and two-door top mount refrigerators, undercounter and prep-table fridges, chef bases, bottom-mounted reach-in glass door refrigerators, and roll-in/roll-thru commercial refrigerators.
Habco is a Canadian manufacturer with a large presence in Northern Canadian Communities and work camps (oil, gas, pulp and paper, and mining) because of the easiness of repair in their patented Cassette® system. They pride themselves on energy-efficient systems with several innovations, including "low-emissivity glass - 33 per cent more energy-efficient than triple-pane glass” and LED lighting. They carry food prep refrigerators, one- and two-door reach-ins, and two-door glass display refrigerators.
Hoshizaki (Permul and RSL - Refrigerated Supply Limited, Western Canada) has a large selection of commercial refrigerators, including upright refrigerators, pass-thru and roll-in, and roll-thru undercounter, worktop, pizza prep, and sandwich prep fridges. They also have commercial refrigerators with single, two, and three sections. There are glass door merchandisers and display cases as well.
Master-Bilt & Norlake are owned by the same company but manufactured in different facilities. This company is primarily walk-in refrigeration but also has a line of refrigeration boxes.
Ikon (MVP) has a line of commercial refrigerators under their Kool-It brand. Offerings include top and bottom mount compressor refrigerators, undercounter, chef bases, display cases, glass door coolers, pizza and sandwich prep tables, and a mega top sandwich prep table.
Omcan has a different variety of commercial refrigerators, some different from their competitors, including their line of refrigerated showcases – sushi and a circular refrigerated display. They carry beer and wine fridges, beverage coolers, and a variety of glass door swing refrigerators under the Imbera banner. They also have reach-in refrigerators, prep tables, and undercounter refrigeration.
Tarrison has been around for over 30 years with facilities in the US and Canada. They have a wide variety of commercial refrigerators, from single, double, and triple solid and glass door uprights to combination door and drawer upright commercial refrigerators. There’s a variety of sliding and swinging glass door merchandisers, solid and glass door undercounter fridges, sandwich and pizzas prep tables, chef bases, solid and glass door back bar coolers, direct keg refrigerators, horizontal bottle coolers, sushi cases, and server and custom fabrication refrigeration. An interesting edition is their Convert-a-Temp line based on what they refer to as their “shift on the fly” technology, allowing users to turn a freezer into a refrigerator as needed.
Winco specializes in countertop refrigerated beverage display cases that can chill up to 100 standard 12 oz. cans. They use LED light strips and environmentally friendly R290 refrigerant.
Continental (Collis Group) was established in 1989 and is one of the top-selling, premiere brands in the USA. They carry both standard and designer product lines. Among their large selection, there are standard commercial refrigerators, undercounters, sandwich units with three types of tops, base models, pizza prep tables, milk coolers, bar keg, barback, bottle coolers, and reach-in and pass-thru models. The designer line includes roll-in and roll-thru and other options.
Beverage-Air (The Solutions Group) is one of the top-selling, premier brands in the US with extensive refrigeration offerings. Products include their Horizon Series top and bottom mount, and dual temperature reach-in refrigerators with a wide selection of door models. They also carry glass door and open-air merchandisers, worktops, food prep tables, under counters, chef bases, bar equipment, and deli cases.
5. Questions to ask when purchasing a commercial refrigerator
This refrigerator buyer’s guide will help you understand the different types of commercial refrigerators, recommended brands, and what terminology is involved, but it always helps to have advice from your peers in the industry. Before you purchase a used commercial fridge or new model, talk to people who run similar venues and ask them some of the following questions:
- Which commercial refrigerator model do you use and why?
- How often does your commercial refrigerator break down or need repairs?
- What do you find are the best commercial fridge brands?
- How easy is it to clean and maintain your refrigerator?
- Is the provider of your used commercial refrigerator or a new model of fridge reliable when you need their help?
- Do your chefs/cooks/staff find your refrigerator easy to use, accessible, etc.?
- If you purchased a new or used commercial refrigerator, why would you recommend going this route, and what was the experience like?
- What do you feel is a good price to pay for the type of commercial refrigerator you purchased and why?
- What would you consider a good price for this type of refrigerator?
Here are questions to ask your dealer or supplier about the best commercial refrigerator or best bar fridge for your business:
- What type of fridge or refrigerators would you recommend for my needs?
- Will this fridge suit my venue needs?
- Why do you recommend this refrigerator over others you or your competitors offer?
- What are the benefits of this commercial refrigerator?
- Where is it manufactured? (North American manufactured products tend to be higher quality and are easier to source parts or get service, but they do cost much more than their Asian import competitors’ product.)
- What warranty is included?
- How easy is it to get parts from the factory if they’re needed?
- What happens if I need an urgent commercial refrigerator repair?
- How much are hourly callout fees? What about on weekends?
6. Commercial refrigerator FAQ
Why is it suddenly warmer than usual inside my fridge?
A temperature change could be due to a faulty seal, lack of ventilation, a rise in ambient temperature, a dirty condenser coil, or the vent grill. Check the condition and cleanliness of these features and call your technician for more information.
The temperature of your refrigerator should be displayed either digitally or by a thermometer. Having the temperature displayed in an easy to access and read area is key to ensuring the refrigerator is running correctly and keeping your food at a safe temperature.
How much does a commercial refrigerator cost?
The cost of a commercial refrigerator depends on the model you need. You can find commercial refrigerators for as low as $1,200 for small units, whereas large-scale walk-in refrigerators can reach prices exceeding $20,000. Remember to consider the cost of operation as well as the purchase price.
What is the lifespan of a commercial refrigerator?
The general life expectancy of a commercial refrigerator is ten years. You may find you need to replace gaskets/seals within this time or that you can extend the life of the equipment if you stick to a maintenance schedule. When purchasing the best fridge for your needs, take into consideration how long the warranty lasts and what it covers. Parts, labour, and condenser are all considerations.
Why is my commercial refrigerator making more noise than usual?
There are a few things that cause your fridge to make noise.
It could just be a loose drain pan that’s making a rattling noise. Get close to the bottom of the fridge to check if this is where the sound is coming from.
Your fan could be starting to wear out, causing it to make more noise than usual.
Another issue could be the fan working overtime either because the refrigerator is in too warm a spot, the seal has worn out, or the condenser coil needs cleaning.
It may also simply be something you’re storing in the fridge that’s getting moved around by the fan.
What’s the best fridge brand for my Canadian venue?
The best fridge brand depends on the needs of your venue, where the fridge will be placed, and what it will be used for. Ideally, you should look for a reliable, energy-efficient model that will save you money related to energy costs. For more information ask a commercial refrigerator expert.
7. Commercial refrigerator terminology
You don’t have to be an expert in the inner workings of your commercial refrigerator, but it helps to have an idea of the parts that make the magic happen and the accessories you may come across when you have a commercial refrigerator on site.
Condenser coil: This is the metal part at the back of the commercial refrigerator or across the bottom. The condenser coil’s job is to cool and condense your refrigerant. Over time, these coils get covered in dust and dirt, making it harder for them to function correctly as they can’t release heat, so it's important to keep these clean.
Fan: The fans in your commercial refrigerator cool the compressor and force air through the coils. They help prevent your commercial refrigerator (and freezer) from frosting over and causing food to spoil. If your fans aren't functioning, the temperature in your commercial refrigerator will start to rise.
Low E Glass: This refers to a very thin coating that reflects heat by minimizing the amount of UV and infrared light that can pass into the commercial refrigerator. Choosing a glass door fridge in Canada with Low E glass will be more energy-efficient, so you can save on the cost of running it.
Refrigerant: According to Wikipedia: A refrigerant is a substance or mixture, usually a fluid, used in a heat pump and refrigeration cycle. In most cycles, it undergoes phase transitions from a liquid to a gas and back again.
In liquid form, the refrigerant travels around your commercial refrigerator absorbing the heat and cooling the air temperature.
Some refrigerants have been found harmful to the environment so before you decide on the best fridge brand for your needs, check the environmental impact of the refrigerant that’s used in the commercial refrigerator you’re looking at.
Seal/gasket: The seal on your commercial refrigerator ensures it closes without letting cold air out. If your commercial refrigerator door won't stay closed, the flexible strip that forms the seal may require a good cleaning or beginning to deteriorate.
If the fan is making a lot more noise than usual, your commercial refrigerator might be working extra hard. This could be because the seal isn’t working properly or has started to decay. The commercial refrigerator will try to accommodate the extra intake of warm air and, as a result, your energy bill will increase. If you feel the fan is starting to work harder than usual, it's probably time to have someone look at it to see if a repair is warranted.
Ventilation: Your commercial refrigerator has vents for warm air to escape. This ventilation requires a few centimeters of breathing room so it doesn’t become blocked. Your commercial refrigerator generates heat as it cools the contents and this needs somewhere for it to travel.
Thanks for reading this commercial refrigerator Buyer's Guide
This guide has hopefully helped you understand what to look for so you can narrow down your decision about what is the best commercial fryer for your venue.
If you'd like the advice and guidance of a professional, don't hesitate to reach out to the team at SilverChef. We have dedicated restaurant and cafe industry experts available to support you.
Prefer to dive straight in and start looking at Certified Used? Shop the range available at SilverChef. If you want to find out more about finance options rental payments on a commercial fryer, use our Rent-Try-Buy calculator.
This Buyer’s Guide was prepared using the expertise provided by Industry’s Best Consulting Canada, an independent consulting firm with over 25 years experience. Their team of professionals provides consulting services for every facet of the Foodservice and Hospitality Industry with a particular specialty in the choice and application of commercial restaurant equipment.