Commercial Upright Refrigerator and Freezer Buying Guide

Every kitchen, no matter the size, requires one or more cold storage units. Your refrigeration will be the most heavily used piece of equipment in your kitchen, so you want to pick the best unit(s) to match your needs. A proper refrigeration lineup can save you money, improve the quality of your service, and improve the speed of your service.

The good news is you have plenty of choices to customize your refrigeration. From bottom mount compressor 2-section glass door upright, to top mount 3-section sliding glass door reach-ins, to single door pass-thru refrigerators and more.

If space allows, it is a good idea to organize your cold storage traffic flow into gradually smaller units as you work closer to the hottest part of your kitchen, the production line. Because it draws on ambient air, the smaller, one door upright won't have to work as hard as larger 2 or 3 door model to stay cool in this hot work area.

In this guide, we’ll answer these questions:

  1. What are the commercial refrigeration types? And where should each type go in your kitchen?
  2. What’s the difference between a top mount compressor and bottom mount compressor?
  3. What are the different door types and styles?
  4. What other features should you consider?


1 Door Upright Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers

A Single door unit works best in the cooking area and can store the prepared foods you will need for that day. Having one of these in your final production line allows for quick access, faster service, and happier customers. Restock from your walk-in weekly and from your multi-door unit weekly or as needed.







2 or 3 Door Upright Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers

A Multi-door unit can easily store prepared items in bulk. Position one inside your kitchen in the prep area. All of the prepared food you might need throughout the week can be stored in one of these, which reduces the number of trips you need to take to the walk in.




    Compressor Location

    For reach-in refrigerators and freezers, you want to consider the ambient air temperature of the space. The compressor’s job is to draw in ambient air to regulate internal temperatures. The warmer the incoming air is, the harder the compressor works. Because warm air rises and cold air descends, bottom mounted compressors and top mounted compressors function better in different environments.

    Bottom Mounted Compressor

    Bottom mounted compressors are ideal in hot environments since they pull in cooler air. While the compressor occupies a little storage space, it does create a “no-stoop” bottom shelf. The bottom shelf is a little higher and easier to reach. The biggest downfall with this compressor type is that it can clog with dust or grease from the floor.

    Top Mounted Compressor

    Top-mounted compressors are ideal for cool environments since they pull in warmer air. The compressor doesn’t take up any storage space. It is less likely to clog, but it is harder to access for routine cleaning and maintenance.

    Door Type

    When choosing the type of doors you want on your fridges/freezers, be sure to consider the location of entrances, doorways, and other equipment, as well as how wide the aisles are in your kitchen. Here are four types of reach in refrigerator and freezer doors, and some key points to consider before making your decision.


    Swing Doors units typically come standard with stay open features to make loading and unloading easier. However, they can block traffic flows if you have limited space.





    Sliding Doors units are great for limited space areas, but not best in a super busy environment. Only one door can be opened at a time.




    Half Doors units are swing doors with each door split in half. Because you only open one half-section at a time, these units help to conserve energy and promote more consistent internal temperatures. Like a full-length swing door, they can block traffic flow, though.




    Pass Thru units have both front and rear doors. They are available in various configurations of full and half door types with solid or glass doors.units have both front and rear doors. They are available in various configurations of full and half door types with solid or glass doors.



    Door Material

    Both solid doors and glass doors have beneficial points and each has different features you might want to consider.

    Solid Door

    • Easier to clean than glass.
    • More insulation than glass.
    • Gain energy efficiency but lose product visibility.

    Glass Door

    • Can see contents before the opening door; employees less likely to stand with the door open until they find what they were looking for.
    • Less insulation than a solid door.
    • Gain product visibility but lose energy efficiency.

    Other Features to Consider


    Removable Gaskets This is designed to form an air-tight seal that serves as a barrier between the cool air inside the appliance and the warmer external environment. The seal functions as a temperature control, regulating the refrigerator's internal conditions and helping to keep food fresh.



    Digital Thermostats: Many newer models of reach in refrigerators and freezers are equipped with a digital thermostat. Because digital thermostats provide more accurate readouts and make it easier to monitor and adjust temperatures, they normally lead to lower service costs and fewer maintenance calls.




    Tropical Rated Fridges -  These are made especially for outdoor tropical areas in Australia. These fridges are purported to run a bit colder than the normal ones. That means the subtropical ones come close when it comes to coldness.





    Beyond the actual features of the refrigerator or freezer, you plan to purchase, you also need to consider where and how you will install the unit. The first step is getting the unit into your building, and although smaller units may fit through doorways with no problem, it is especially important to measure door frames and hallways when installing a larger 3 door unit as they often won't fit through a standard doorway.

    Additionally, make sure the room where you are installing the unit is well ventilated. Most manufacturer's specification sheets or manuals will lay out any clear guidelines for the back and sides of the unit. Not adhering to these guidelines can result in inefficient operation and service calls. You should also avoid installing units in exceptionally humid or dusty areas because these conditions can cause the unit to rust or the condenser coil to malfunction.

    Once you have the unit in a well-ventilated room, install it on a level surface away from heat and moisture-generating equipment. Operating a reach-in in high ambient temperatures may cause the unit to break down, and in many cases, it will void the warranty.

    As far as electrical concerns during installation, a reach-in refrigerator or freezer should be supplied by the right voltage according to the manufacturer's literature, and it should have its own dedicated electrical circuit. Refer to your equipment manual for best practices and any special considerations for your particular unit


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