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Refrigeration Buying Guide


Obviously every commercial kitchen needs suitable refrigeration equipment to keep fresh food fresh and to store chilled food as well as prepared food before cooking or to be reheated later on.  Choosing the right type of refrigeration is essential and there are different types to take into consideration from light duty to heavy duty units. 

Light and Medium Duty Refrigeration

For coffee shops, pubs, bars, cafes and small restaurants where there are not many heat producing appliances then a light duty refrigerator (+32 Deg C/60% humidity) is perfectly suitable as they have the legal temperature requirements for raw meat and are used for cooked meat, cooked fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables.  Most light duty refrigerators are made out of ABS with steel or just ABS.  For slightly larger cafes, pubs, bars and mid-size restaurants a medium duty unit is suitable, these are made out of stainless steel and are more robust than ABS appliances.

Heavy Duty Refrigeration

For larger scale catering, busy restaurants and hotels, a heavy duty refrigerator (+43 Deg C/85% humidity) is essential and these come with a ventilated “fully blown” cooling system.  They are made out of stainless steel or aluminium inside and stainless steel on the outside so they are exceptionally strong and durable.  Heavy duty refrigerators are especially constructed to cope with large and busy kitchens which have many heat producing appliances.  They are set to provide a lower temperature and recover their low temperature very quickly during use.  Heavy duty refrigerators are perfect for all chilled products including raw meat and fish.

Stainless Steel Grades

Commercial refrigerators made out of stainless steel use two grades, 304 and 430 and both are extremely strong because they resist corrosion and these grades are less likely to rust.  When cleaning out refrigeration it is important not to use corrosive cleaners or do it in high humidity conditions to prevent damage.

There are many different units to consider from refrigerator cabinets to under counter products, refrigerator counter top and refrigerated displays.

Refrigerator Cabinets

Frost free, these cabinets come in a variety of sizes depending on your requirements for example, single door, double door, compact, slim-line and even those specially designed for meat only.  Additionally, there are refrigerators with roller shutters which are practical and stylish options.

Points to Remember:

  • Look for low running costs and reliability.
  • Look for highly visible temperature displays.
  • Look for frost free.
  • Look for the right number of shelves for your needs.
  • Seek out quality door locks.
  • Check for manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Choose removable shelves.
  • Think about easy-clean.
  • Check your size of space to make sure you have the right capacity.

Refrigerator Counters & Under-Counter Refrigerators

A counter refrigerator is placed in line with your kitchen counters; while it is shallower than an upright refrigerator it is generally wider and usually very efficient in using space.  Counter refrigerators come with 1 to 4 doors and there are also simple drawer versions.  There are also small counter-top options available too.  Made out of strong, durable and rust-free stainless steel, counter refrigerators are useful as work stations too because they are generally set at the same height as kitchen worktops.  Many of the products on the Alliance website also come with smart granite tops suitable for working on, not only are these convenient but they also add to the aesthetic good looks.

There are also many under-counter fridges which are useful additional chilled storage and are generally compact versions of refrigerator counters.  Choose from doors with shelves inside or fridges with drawers only

Points to Remember:

  • Look for fan assisted cooling.
  • Look for automatic defrosting.
  • Look for adjustable shelves.
  • Look for high Grade materials (e.g. stainless steel).
  • Look for manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Look for good temperature range.
  • Look for energy efficiency.

Refrigerated Displays and Thermowells

Used to display prepared food for example cakes and desserts, pre-packed sandwiches, soft drinks etc. refrigerated displays sit in restaurants and cafes so customers can view food.  They are also used on buffets and in some shops too.   Refrigerated displays are manufactured to maintain food and drink at optimum storage temperature while allowing easy access to waiters, waitresses, shop keepers and members of the public.  There are many different looks and sizes to refrigerated displays from rectangular to curved, fully visible to part visible, fully open and self-service cabinets too.  If you are using these for buffet purposes, there are salad bar options and thermowells which have hollow tubes closed off on one end and are used to measure temperature so it is absolutely accurate.

Points to Remember:

  • Look for easy access.
  • Look for non-slip feet.
  • Look for good temperature range.
  • If used on buffets, look for good illumination.
  • Look for hygienic “sneeze” screens for buffet use.
  • Look for energy efficiency (double-glazing is excellent for cost-saving).

For further information on refrigeration appliances visit eefrigeration equipment in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Blast Chillers

Blast chillers are excellent appliances for commercial kitchens because they are designed to reduce the temperature of warm or hot food fast and have numerous benefits.  Blast chilling reduces cooked food from +70 Deg C to +3 Deg C in just 90 minutes safely and this is in line with the FSA rules. They reduce food waste, food preparation time and additionally, they are very energy efficient.  Blast chillers also improve food shelf life.  Once food is cooked, it starts collecting bacteria as soon as it begins cooling down so to prevent deterioration use a blast chiller.  Used in the right way, a blast chiller will retain all your prepared dishes taste, texture, appearance, nutrients and vitamins.  Blast chillers also prevent food shrinkage, reduce dehydration and prevent moisture loss.  For restauranteurs a blast chiller is essential as it helps you to offer a wider choice of menu to your customers, cope with busy periods and plan ahead.  Depending on your needs there are plenty of options on the Alliance website from 10kg capacity to 50kg, free-standing to under counter and couter-top.

Blast Chiller Advantages:

  • Reduction of food deterioration.
  • Improved shelf life.
  • Retains food quality, flavour, colour, taste and texture.
  • Energy efficient.
  • Reduces waste.
  • Helps with food preparation.

Freezer Cabinets

Every commercial kitchen needs high quality freezer appliances in order to keep your meat, fish, poultry and other products safely stored long-term until needed.  It is important to choose a unit that is big enough to store as much as you need but obviously it must fit in your designated space.  Additionally, it should be efficient and able to cope with extreme temperature.  Freezer cabinets are upright and are convenient and easy to access as they generally have shelves or drawers.  As they are upright they are an economic way of using up space because they use higher areas.  Available in a variety of configurations, you will find single door, double door, glass and solid door options on the Alliance website.

Points to Remember:

  • Look for energy efficiency.
  • Look for low maintenance appliances which are easy to clean.
  • Look for adjustable shelving.
  • Look for door locks.
  • Look for LED lights inside.

Freezer Counters

Choose from freezer counters and under counter freezers which are excellent if space is limited.  Many come with preparation areas on top in stainless steel or granite so really make optimum use of the kitchen space.  Products are easily accessed from drawers or shelves inside the freezer.  Under counter options slot underneath existing work surfaces and often these are excellent secondary freezer units.

Chest Freezers

These freezer types are much larger than upright freezers and open from the top.  They are ideal choices for small kitchens or to be used in separate storage areas.  These freezers work well when stacking large quantities of food for example, frozen desserts such as ice cream or pre-packed meat.  Many chest freezers are perfect to use as an extra work top too.  Choose from 295 litre capacity up to 490 litre capacity on the Alliance website.

Points to Remember:

  • Look for fast-freeze options.
  • Look for integrated locks.
  • Look for digital temperature display.
  • Look for adjustable thermostats.
  • Look for temperature warning lights.
  • Look for manufacturer’s warranty.

For further information on freezers visit refrigeration equipment in the Catering Sppliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Ice Machines

Ice is important for restaurants and commercial kitchens and there are plenty of options.  Choose from modular ice machines which are designed to sit on top of an ice machine bin and produce very large output.  There are also under-counter ice machines, ideal for small cafes, bars and restaurants that don’t use huge amounts of ice.  They snuggly fit under most counters and produce a good output of ice per day.  Finally, there are countertop ice makers which are small but ideal if your output is minimal.  Additionally, there are different compressor types to consider such as air cooled which is very cost effective and energy efficient, water cooled which is good for areas with poor circulation or limited space and finally remote cooled where the condenser is mounted outside making this a quieter option but it is more costly to install.

Points to Remember:

  • Think about your ice capacity and requirements.
  • Consider the time of year, in the summer ice will need to be readily available so when making your purchase think ahead!
  • Consider the space in your kitchen to make sure you have room for the machine, bin and filter plus you need sufficient flow of air for maximum production.
  • You need a cold water supply, floor drain and a water shut-off valve to install an ice machine.
  • Think about the ice you want to produce; cube ice, nugget ice and flake ice to make sure your chosen machine delivers what you need. Ice crushers are also available to purchase.

For further information on ice machines visit refrigeration equipment in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

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