Best commercial under counter fridges and freezers 2023: Buyer's guide

buyer's guides

What’s inside this buyer’s guide


  1. Introduction
  2. Under counter fridges and freezers
  3. Dual-temperature under counter fridges
  4. How to choose an under counter fridge or freezer
  5. Under counter fridge and freezer height
  6. Under counter fridges and freezer sizes
  7. Under counter fridges and freezer clearances
  8. Under counter fridge and freezer door and drawer types
  9. Other features to consider
  10. Benchtop and prep fridges and freezers
  11. Chef bases
  12. Best under counter fridges and freezers
  13. Used under counter fridges — worth considering?
  14. Frequently asked questions
  15. Under counter fridge and freezer glossary
  16. Keep your cash, use ours!




Finding the perfect commercial under counter fridge and freezer is like picking a partner for your kitchen — compact, dependable, and always keeping things cool with effortless grace.

These under-counter units save space in your kitchen and enhance efficiency.

Whether it’s preserving fresh ingredients or storing prepared delicacies, they offer essential storage and prudent resource management.

They are essential for all types of food service operations — cafes, bistros, restaurants, food trucks and even schools and aged care centres. 

However, with a vast sea of choices available, pinpointing the ideal commercial under counter freezer or fridge may seem challenging.

This guide covers everything you need to know to slice through the confusion and make the right choice.



Under counter fridges and freezers

Commercial undercounter fridges and freezers share a fundamental design, both serving to prolong the shelf-life of perishable goods.

The main distinction lies in their respective thermostat and cooling mechanisms, which set their individual temperature limits.

A commercial under counter fridge sustains a temperature roughly between 0.5°C and 4°C, an optimal range for preserving perishable foodstuffs such as meat, dairy, and produce.

Conversely, a commercial under counter freezer works at considerably lower temperatures, usually between -17°C and -23°C, facilitating the freezing of contents and extending their preservation period.

Nevertheless, these temperature ranges might fluctuate depending on the specific freezer model and the unique preservation needs of the food to be stored.



Dual temperature under counter fridges

These unique variants house both a cooling and freezing section within the same appliance, providing an efficient solution for compact spaces.

However, these models are not very common, and only a few brands manufacture them.

Separate segments for chilling and freezing within one machine allow for easy access to both categories of stored goods without necessitating individual appliances.

This proves to be an ideal choice for businesses operating in tight spaces or those needing versatile storage solutions.



How to choose an under counter fridge or freezer

When looking for the most suitable under counter refrigerator or freezer for your business, consider the following points to avoid post-purchase inconvenience, and ensure you obtain the best return on your investment.


Measure your space

Finding out the dimensions of the space where you want to install the commercial underbench fridge or freezer is a crucial step in ensuring that the model of your choice is a perfect fit.

Take into account the breadth, depth, and height of the spot where you plan to position your underbench refrigerator or freezer.

Pay attention to any potential hindrances, like pipes, switches, electrical outlets, or other fixtures, which could impact the installation.

Opt for an under counter refrigerator or freezer that comfortably fits within the dimensions you've measured.


Consider how you’ll use it

Will the undercounter refrigerator or freezer be used persistently in a high-traffic environment, or only during infrequent periods of high demand?

Is it intended as an additional cold storage space in your kitchen, or will it play a central role in your routine operations?

The answers to these questions will guide you in pinpointing the exact type of commercial underbench freezer or fridge you require, including the necessary capacity and temperature range.


Do your research

Once you've identified your needs, invest some time in exploring the available options.

Read through the manufacturer's specification sheet to discover the best choices suited to your needs.

Review details such as size specifications and clearance requirements, capacity, temperature range, energy efficiency, compressor type, door type, shelving options, and warranty before narrowing down to a specific model.


Under counter fridge and freezer height

In Canada, commercial underbench fridge and freezer units typically come in three distinct heights.

Depending on your specific needs and the space at your disposal, you can opt for any of these.



The standard height for under counter refrigerators or freezers, legs included, is 36 inches.

These appliances are slightly taller than standard countertops, which are typically 34 inches tall.


Countertop (disability friendly)

Countertop versions usually measure 34 inches in height, aligning with standard countertops.

They fit seamlessly with the countertop, providing a smooth counter surface.

This height is also suitable for those with disabilities.


Low profile

Low-profile under counter refrigerators and freezers stand approximately 32 inches high, making them perfect for placement beneath the counter.

These models allow the countertop space to be utilized fully without wasting any counter space for accommodating the appliance.



Under counter fridges and freezer sizes

Under counter fridge

Regardless of your kitchen's available space, there is a commercial underbench refrigerator or freezer designed to fit seamlessly.

They come in a range of widths to cater to the diverse requirements of commercial kitchens.

Under counter refrigerators and freezers can be as narrow as 20” – 24” and as wide as 72” or more.

The number of doors depends on the unit's width.

Here are some typical sizes:


Single door

Models with a width of 36 inches or less typically have one door.

These compact versions are suitable for low-volume food service establishments.


Two door

Double-door models usually measure between 36 and 72 inches in width.

They are common in commercial environments as they perfectly balance capacity and space.


Three door

Commercial under cabinet fridges and freezers with a width of 72 inches or more usually feature three doors.

These larger models are designed to meet the refrigerated storage demands of sizeable food services.

Remember, the size specifications vary depending on the brand and model.

Some manufacturers may also offer customization of sizes based on your needs.


Depths (shallow & deep)

Most Canadian commercial undercounter refrigerators have a depth of 24 to 30 inches, although this can vary from one manufacturer to another.

The depth can also depend on the width of the unit.

Smaller, single-door models typically have less depth than their larger, two or three-door counterparts.

Shallow units are more suitable for counters with limited depth, while deeper units offer more storage space.

Choose a model depth based on your available space.



Under counter fridges and freezer clearances

When installing an under cabinet fridge or freezer, ensuring adequate clearance is crucial for the smooth functioning of the unit.

These appliances are designed to fit neatly under a countertop, so adequate space for proper ventilation is essential.

Generally, you'll need a few inches of clearance on all sides of the refrigerator or freezer.

This space allows air to circulate, preventing the appliance from overheating. Ignoring the clearance requirements can stress the unit, potentially leading to unexpected malfunctions and unnecessary repairs.

Depending on the location of the air exhaust, undercounter refrigerators or freezers can be classified as side/rear breathing or front breathing.

During installation, you need to ensure that the unit can breathe without obstruction.


Side/rear breathing

In these units, the air exhaust is situated on the side or rear of the cabinet, but the air inlets may be located on the front, side, or rear.

These models necessitate additional clearance on the side or rear for proper ventilation.


Front breathing

In front breathing models, both the air exhaust and inlet are located at the front.

Consequently, they can function with less side clearance, making them more suitable for tight under counter spaces.

Before installation, always verify the manufacturer's specifications for clearance requirements.

With the appropriate clearance, your appliance will operate effectively for years and maintain your food at the optimal temperature.



Under counter fridge and freezer door and drawer types

Under counter Fridge

Commercial under cabinet fridges and freezers can feature various types of doors or drawers.

Each of these types offers its unique advantages and limitations.

Larger units with multiple doors may incorporate a mix of different door types or a combination of doors and drawers.

Choose a door style that best serves your needs.


Solid doors

Under counter fridges or freezers with solid doors are a common sight in commercial environments.

They help prevent heat loss and efficiently maintain precise temperatures without overtaxing the compressor.

Furthermore, they are typically more durable and easier to clean.

Solid door units are perfect for back-of-house applications.

However, they do not provide the convenience of checking the stored items without opening the door.


Glass doors

Glass doors offer visual appeal, and the contents can be easily viewed without opening the doors, although at the cost of energy efficiency.

Glass doors typically require a bit more effort to clean and maintain compared to solid doors.

They are ideally suited for front-of-house applications.



Instead of doors, a commercial underbench refrigerator or freezer might feature drawers.

Drawers facilitate organization and accessibility, as they pull out the content automatically with it when you pull out the drawer.

However, the drawer design may compromise some storage space and potentially be pricier.

Some manufacturers provide the option to customize the door style according to your preferences.



Other features to consider  

When you're on the hunt for the perfect commercial under counter fridge or freezer for your commercial kitchen, there are a few extra things you might want to keep in mind to make sure you find the best fit.

Forced-air vs static cooling

In the world of commercial fridges and freezers, there are two main players when it comes to the cooling mechanism - static and forced-air cooling systems.

While they both do the job of keeping things cold, they go about it in slightly different ways.


Static cooling

With static cooling, the process revolves around compressed air being pushed through the evaporator coils within the walls (and sometimes shelves) of the fridge or freezer.

This cools down the inner walls (or shelves), which in turn chills the air inside.

There might also be a small fan inside the unit for circulating the cool air.

This is known as a fan-assisted static-cooled system.

Static cooling saves energy and is a great choice for commercial fridges and freezers that don’t need to be opened all the time.


Forced air cooling

On the other hand, forced-air cooling systems use one or more fans to push cold air into the unit and pull warm air out.

They're really effective in cooling things down super quickly, making them perfect for busy commercial kitchens and food services where the fridge or freezer door is opened frequently.

On the downside, they use more energy, can cost a bit more, and might be more expensive to fix if something goes wrong.

So, think about where you will place the unit, what you'll be storing in it, how long you'll store it, and how often the door is expected to be opened before you decide which cooling style is best for you.


They are convenient to operate and deliver high control precision.


Temperature range

Generally, a restaurant undercounter fridge maintains a temperature between 2°C and 8°C, as anything colder could freeze your food, and anything warmer could spoil it.

For restaurant freezers, you're looking at a standard temperature range of -15°C to -28°C.

But, different brands might have their own temperature specifications, and these can vary between models.

Consider what you'll be storing in the unit to decide on the right temperature.

Fridges or freezers that let you adjust the temperature depending on the outside temperature or how much food you've got stored, give a bit more flexibility.

There are even dual-temperature industrial underbench fridges and freezers that have separate fridge and freezer compartments, each maintaining different temperatures within the same unit.


Automatic defrost

Nowadays, most commercial under cabinet fridges and freezers come with an automatic defrost system, but you might still come across some models with manual defrost.

In auto-defrost models, the interior coils are heated at regular intervals to stop frost from building up, ensuring optimal cooling.

But keep in mind, because there's a heating element in a cool space, the fridge will use more energy.

Manual defrost systems, on the other hand, don't have automatic heating elements.

You'll need to kickstart the defrosting process with a switch or button, usually located inside the unit.

How often you'll need to defrost the unit depends on how frequently you're opening the door, the humidity in your kitchen, and how much moisture is getting into the unit with the food.

Also, it may vary depending on the make and model.

But remember, if you forget to defrost a manual system right when needed, it can disrupt the cooling process and potentially ruin the stored food.

So for commercial kitchens, automatic defrosting is generally the better option. 



Digital temperature controller

A temperature controller, also known as a thermostat, controls the temperature inside the fridge or freezer by starting and stopping the compressor to adjust the temperature as desired by the user.

Commercial refrigerators can have either a mechanical temperature controller or a digital temperature controller. 

Mechanical temperature controllers are less expensive and more convenient to maintain, but they are not as efficient as their digital counterparts when it comes to keeping accurate temperatures.

They also have a short service life.

Digital temperature controllers, on the other hand, use circuit electronic technology to adjust the temperature.

They are convenient to operate and deliver high control precision.

But these are expensive, and repairing may cost more.


Energy rating

An energy-efficient under counter fridge or freezer may have a heftier price tag, but it can save you a pretty penny in energy costs over time and contribute to reducing harmful emissions.

In Canada, these appliances should be compliant with the Energy Efficiency Regulations under the Energy Efficiency Act.

Canadian regulations require commercial undercounter fridges and freezers to display an EnerGuide label (or an energy efficiency verification mark).

This allows a quick and easy understanding of the product’s energy efficiency.

The EnerGuide label rates the energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, allowing you to compare the energy usage between different models.

An Energy Star-certified commercial underbench fridge or freezer consumes 20% less energy on average, compared to the standard models.

So when you're looking for a new undercounter fridge or freezer, don't forget to check out the EnerGuide label and try to pick an Energy Star-certified model.

It could save you money in the long run and help you do your part for the environment too.


LED lighting

Adequate interior lighting is an indispensable feature for any commercial under counter refrigeration or freezing unit.

Without sufficient illumination, both organizing and identifying the stored items can be challenging.

Furthermore, inadequate lighting could lead to glass door models looking less appealing.

Older models of commercial refrigeration and freezing units often utilized incandescent or halogen bulbs for interior illumination.

However, newer models have shifted towards implementing Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) or LED-based lights.

CFL lights are energy-efficient and emit a cooler hue, which enhances the visual appeal of the food stored within, particularly beneficial for display units.

However, their downsides include sensitivity to extreme temperatures and moisture, leading to potentially shorter lifespans and diminished light output in colder environments.

On the contrary, LED lights flourish under these conditions.

They are notably energy-efficient, provide steady and bright light, and are known for their longevity.

Moreover, the intensity and colour of an LED can be customized, offering greater flexibility.


Self-closing doors/drawers

A particularly handy feature found in commercial refrigeration and freezing units is the inclusion of doors and drawers that automatically seal themselves shut.

This helps maintain the internal temperature, prevents the stored food from spoilage, and reduces energy wastage.

With these self-sealing doors and drawers, there's no need to fret over leaving the fridge or freezer open accidentally, as they close themselves automatically.

The doors of these refrigeration and freezing units are equipped with a sealing gasket with a magnetic strip.

This strip pulls the door back into a closed position, even with a slight push.

Some models are deliberately designed with a slight backward tilt to allow gravity to aid in the door closing.

Furthermore, certain commercial under counter refrigerators and freezers come with an alarm system that activates if the door is left open for an extended period.

In the case of self-sealing drawers, a spring mechanism is often employed to ensure swift closure.

This feature proves invaluable in bustling commercial kitchens where staff may forget to close the doors and drawers due to the high-paced environment.

It also plays a crucial role in self-service settings where numerous customers may utilize the equipment.


Noise level

Similar to other appliances, quieter operation is preferred for commercial under counter refrigerators and freezers.

Noise levels are measured in decibels, and lower decibel values indicate a quieter appliance.

In Canada, noise control is typically managed at the local level, with municipalities setting their own regulations.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) does have a general standard for noise emission of machinery used in commercial and light industrial settings, but it's not specific to refrigeration units.  

It's always a wise choice to invest in a model that operates quietly.

The sound emission from commercial refrigerators may increase during the initiation of the compressor or defrosting cycles.

However, modern models equipped with the latest technology tend to operate more quietly.

Opting for a less noisy fridge or freezer will undoubtedly contribute to a more pleasant environment for your employees and patrons.



Benchtop and prep fridges and freezers

Under counter Fridge

While they are similar to under counter fridges and freezers, these appliances are not designed to be placed under a counter.

Instead, they provide a flat, usable counter surface on top, combining refrigerated storage and preparation space in one compact unit.

Counter-top and prep units usually come equipped with a backsplash to shield the wall or surrounding area from food spatter.

Depending on the particular model, the backsplash could either be attached to the cabinet or be an integrated part of the unit's construction.

Some prep fridges also offer additional storage compartments on the countertop.

The top surface of these units can be utilized for a variety of tasks, such as chopping vegetables or preparing salads and other dishes.



Chef bases

The popularity of chef base refrigerators and freezers is on the rise in the food service industry, as they offer a convenient refrigerated storage solution close to the cooking line, enabling a more streamlined workflow for chefs.

These units combine an underbench fridge or freezer with a sturdy countertop that can support various countertop cooking appliances, such as griddles, fryers, or charbroilers.

The refrigerated base can house a variety of fresh or frozen ingredients, from meats to toppings and even ice cream, based on your requirements.

These units offer the convenience of having ingredients at arm's reach, reduce the need for frequent movement within the kitchen, and help make the most of your kitchen space.



Best under counter fridges and freezers



True Logo

True Refrigeration has been serving the commercial hospitality industry with award-winning refrigeration solutions for over 75 years.

Known for superior craftsmanship, energy efficiency, and robust construction, True's under counter fridges and freezers set industry standards.

They offer a variety of models with different specifications to suit diverse needs.

The brand’s patented Reverse Condensing Fan motor technology, coupled with high-quality insulation and shorter run times, reduces energy consumption while ensuring the coolest temperature. 

Notably popular are the TUC-27G-HC glass single-door model for its compact size and reliability, and the TUC-93D-2-HC for its ample storage and dual door-drawer zones.

True's commitment to high-quality materials, cutting-edge technology, and sustainable manufacturing has helped them build a legacy of exceptional performance in commercial refrigeration.



EFI Logo

EFI Sales Ltd., established in Canada, is a leading manufacturer and distributor of commercial refrigeration equipment, serving the industry since 1956.

The company has earned a reputation for delivering exceptional quality and customer-focused solutions, making them a go-to choice for many businesses.

Their range of under cabinet fridges and freezers offers outstanding durability, high efficiency, and innovative design.

Among their offerings, the CUDR1-27VC single-door refrigerator and FWDW2-27VC worktop freezer are particularly popular for their compact design, reliable performance, and energy efficiency.

The three-door, robust model CUDR3-72VC with heavy-duty compressor is a good fit for bigger restaurants.




Kelvinator Logo

Founded in the USA in the early 1900s, Kelvinator is a trusted global brand with an extensive line of commercial refrigeration solutions.

They also have an exclusive range of under counter bar fridges. Kelvinator's under counter fridges and freezers are celebrated for their durability, energy efficiency, and practical design, meeting the high demands of busy commercial kitchens.

A standout feature of their commercial refrigerators is the use of dynamic condensers that improve performance in high-temperature environments.

The models come with a built-in temperature gauge and heavy-duty cooling system to deliver maximum cooling, even in high-temperature, humid weather. 

Among their popular under counter models, the 72” 3-door under counter refrigerator KCHUC72R  and 48” under counter freezer with worktop KCHUCWT48F are lauded for their substantial storage space, temperature consistency, and ease of maintenance.

The compact glass door freezer KCHUCGD23F is a popular choice for cafes.



Ikon Logo

Ikon Refrigeration is a well-respected name in the commercial refrigeration sector, providing high-quality, reliable products for businesses of every size.

Ikon has quickly built a strong reputation for delivering innovative, energy-efficient cooling solutions.

Ikon's under counter fridges and freezers are particularly appreciated for their smart design, robust build quality, and use of advanced refrigeration technology, making them ideal for demanding commercial environments.

Among their popular commercial under cabinet fridge and freezer models, the compact Ikon IUC28F under counter freezer with electronic thermostat, digital LED temperature display and Ikon IUC61R under counter refrigerator stand out for their excellent temperature control and easy maintenance.



Atosa Logo

Atosa, a globally recognized commercial kitchen equipment producer headquartered in the USA, is dedicated to enhancing the efficiency of commercial kitchens.

The brand excels in crafting items of utmost quality and resilience.

Given the superior features and quality, their extensive refrigeration product lineup is competitively priced.

Atosa's under counter refrigerators and freezers are equipped with innovative features such as state-of-the-art digital temperature control systems, auto-defrost, and self-diagnostic capabilities, enhancing performance and minimizing downtime.

The ATOSA MBC24FG glass door freezer, boasting a 145-litre storage capacity and a temperature range of -22°C to -17°C, is a prime choice for smaller restaurants and cafes seeking a front-of-the-house model.

Additionally, the ATOSA EPF3422 underbench fridge with two stainless steel doors, offering a temperature range of -2°C to +8°C, is a favoured choice for both front and back-of-the-house operations.



Used under counter fridges and freezers — worth considering?

Spending thousands of dollars on a new commercial under counter fridge or freezer can put a strain on your budget and cash flow.

If you’d prefer not to invest a lot of money in a new fridge or freezer, a cheaper, pre-owned appliance might be the solution you’re looking for.

SilverChef’s range of ‘Certified Used’ commercial equipment is mostly ex-rental equipment sourced from businesses we know and trust.

The equipment is typically less than two-and-a-half years old, has been fully refurbished by us, and is backed by a three-month parts-and-labour warranty.

Considering the effective, or useful, life of a commercial under counter fridge or freezer is around 10-15 years (and even 20 years when properly maintained), you can be sure our Certified Used commercial under counter fridges and freezers have plenty of life left in it.

You can either buy or finance the ‘Certified Used’ (and clearance) equipment on our website. (We’re one of the few financiers, if not the only one, in Canada that funds second-hand commercial kitchen equipment).

Read more about ‘Certified Used’ equipment



Frequently asked questions


What is the best underbench commercial fridge?

Identifying a single underbench commercial fridge model as the 'best' is not feasible as it heavily depends on the specific needs of your establishment.

Numerous reputable global brands offer a wide range of commercial underbench fridges in Canada.

The best model for you will be determined by your individual needs and preferences.

This guide is designed to provide you with all the necessary information to make an informed decision.


Where can I find the best deal on under counter fridge in Canada?

If you're in search of the best deals on under counter fridges in Canada, you have a few options to explore.

Start by checking out large appliance stores for any ongoing sales or promotional offers on commercial refrigeration equipment.

Online marketplaces can be a good resource for finding used or refurbished fridges at a lower price point.

However, for a trustworthy and convenient option, consider browsing our selection of certified pre-owned commercial under counter fridges and freezers, where we guarantee competitive prices.


How much is an under counter freezer in Canada?

The price of an under counter freezer will vary according to the make, model and other specifications.

A single door freezer will set you back around $1000 to $3000 or more, depending on the brand and model.

The larger, double or triple-door models are typically priced over $5000.       



Under counter fridge and freezer glossary


This is the component in the refrigerator or freezer that facilitates the circulation of the refrigerant throughout the cooling system.


It extracts heat from the refrigerant vapour, causing it to condense back into a liquid state.


These are the wheels affixed to the base of the refrigerator or freezer, enabling it to be moved around with ease.

Commercial grade

This term signifies that the refrigerator or freezer is designed to endure intensive use within a commercial environment.

Door gasket

This is a rubber sealing component with a magnetic feature that outlines the door of the fridge or freezer, ensuring a tight closure that minimizes heat exchange.

Defrost cycle

This refers to the process of eliminating ice accumulation from the evaporator.


An element of the cooling system that facilitates the evaporation of the refrigerant, thereby extracting heat from within the refrigerator or freezer.


This part of the cooling system assists in the distribution of cold air within the freezer.


This is a substance utilized in fridges and freezers that continuously transitions between liquid and gas states, thereby maintaining the cooling effect within these appliances.



Keep your cash. Use ours!

We hope this guide has helped you better understand what you need to look for in commercial fridges and freezers, and how to choose the right model for your needs. If you want to know more, you can always reach out to the SilverChef team.

Hospitality equipment can be expensive, and paying for it outright can put pressure on your business’s cash flow.

Our finance solutions allow you to get the equipment you want now and to pay for it in small, regular amounts out of the revenue it generates for you.

Rent–Try–Buy® not only helps you maintain your cash flow, it gives you unrivalled flexibility to adapt your equipment to the changing needs of your business.

You can upgrade or buy the equipment at any time or, after 12 months, return or continue renting it.

If you decide to buy the equipment, we’ll give you back 60% of the net rent you paid in the first year and 20% of any rental payments thereafter — to put toward the purchase price.

Read more about Rent–Try–Buy.