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Using Commercial Refrigeration at Home

Commercial refrigerators are sometimes preferred by homeowners because of their sleek, stainless steel appearance, glass front door, and large capacity. Although commercial refrigeration provides an aesthetic benefit there are obstacles to be aware when purchasing a commercial item for home use.

Top Considerations for Residential Use of Commercial Refrigeration

Commercial refrigeration is built to be involved in day to day operation in foodservice operation and as such the units are not designed to be as energy efficient or small profile as standard residential refrigeration equipment. Commercial refrigeration is significantly louder than regular residential refrigerators and freezers. They will also put off significantly more heat, which will contribute to higher air conditioning bills.

Other factors such as your homeowner's insurance policy, county regulations, size of the unit will effect the success of using a commercial refrigerator to use in your residence.

Aesthetics of Commercial Refrigeration

Once those concerns are addressed, we suggest measuring the area you plan to use the commercial refrigerator. Measuring height, width, and available depth will help you narrow down your choices. Commercial units are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations - reach-in, walk-in, chef base (also known as undercounter), worktop, display, prep and more. We recommend knowing which type of unit you need before moving further.

Most commercial refrigeration is either a cooler or a freezer. There are a few commercial cooler freezer combination units which may be better suited for a residential application.

Types of Units

  • Reach-In coolers and freezers are units design for access with a door but not large enough for a person to walk into.
  • Walk-In refrigeration consists of large units that are custom made to fit area available and create a cool room or may utilize many merchandising units side by side to create isles (similar to grocery store freezer section).
  • Ice cream freezers are available in chest, merchandiser (glass door), cabinet, or prep/worktop types.
  • Chef base coolers are commonly refrigerator drawer units. These can be ideal for kitchen islands or to reduce the vertical line of a residential kitchen.
  • Worktop units have a table or cabinet surface on the top to provide a work area. They may also have a hinged lid on the top to access prepped food.
  • Undercounter and worktop refrigerators and freezers can be converted into a kegerators or draft beer dispensing units.
  • Back bar bottle coolers have doors on top of the refrigeration box. These are commonly used in bars and for convenient access to beer or ready-made items.

Feature Selection

  • Single, Double, and Triple Door models are available. Commercial refrigeration doors do generally have recessed handles and can be reversed to best meet your kitchen needs. The heavy duty gaskets, that seal the door to the body of the refrigerator, may give resistance that residential refrigerators do not due to their increased strength and longevity. Remember the commercial units are designed to be opened frequently during the day and must maintain proper food storage temperatures at all times.
  • Solid doors are constructed of stainless steel, split stainless (the door is split along length or width to give access to that section of the box), or white stainless steel. There are also glass door refrigerators, which will generally be labelled as merchandisers.
  • Dual temperature units or combos offer the flexibility of being a two-section cooler, a two-section freezer, or a single side cooler and a single side freezer. We recommend these as best for residential usage.
  • Commercial refrigeration boxes come in a variety of interior materials; commonly found types include stainless steel, aluminium, or white painted steel. These surfaces are relatively easy to clean.
  • Most units have coated wire racking to improve longevity of interior shelving. Some have uncoated racking. Both types of shelving are easily removable for cleaning.

Price: Residential vs. Commercial

The cost of a dedicated commercial cooler or freezer is generally higher than stainless steel residential refrigeration. However, commercial back bar coolers and kegerators, with two or more towers, are usually less expensive than a bar cooler manufactured for the residential market. Summit does sell a home kegerator that is less than most commercial brands the same size.

Perlick Residential and Summit, manufacture high-end residential appliances that look similar to commercial brands, but are less expensive and better suited for residential use.

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