Buying Guide for a Walk-In Cooler

Commercial walk-in coolers provide storage and versatility in restaurants, warehouses, and convenience stores. There are many factors to be considered when shopping for a walk-in cooler and walk-in refrigerators. We offer this guide to answer many of the frequently asked questions we receive about walk-in refrigerators.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is it time for a new cooler?
  • What to consider buying a walk-in cooler?
  • What are the parts of a walk-in cooler?
  • Can walk-in coolers be outside?

We’ll help you decide on the unit you need with this guide to buying a walk-in cooler.

Prefabricated Cooler v. Built-In Cooler

Having the convenience of an on-site walk-in cooler brings versatility and convenience to day-to-day restaurant operations. One of the most important factors to consider is whether you are looking to purchase a prefabricated cooler, or a built-in cooler. What’s the difference between a prefabricated cooler and a built-in? Prefabricated coolers are:

  • Made-to-order walk-in refrigeration
  • Easy to move
  • Less expensive than built-ins
  • More versatile than built-ins
  • Available in limited sizes
  • Not as long-lasting as built-ins
  • Cheaper than built-ins Built-in coolers are:
  • Built for your space
  • More permanent than prefabs
  • Longer lasting than prefabs
  • Not easily altered to accommodate growth
  • More expensive than prefabricated coolers


What’s the Best Door for a Walk-in Cooler?

The door to your walk-in refrigerator seems like a no-brainer, but the door will the most frequently used part of your walk-in refrigerator.

Purchasing a cooler with high quality hinges and latches can help extend the life of your product; paired with well-fitting gaskets, for energy efficiency, your cooler is guaranteed to last.

It is also important to choose a walk-in cooler with the door oriented to best suit your space.


What Are the Parts of a Walk-in Cooler?

Walk-in coolers are primarily made up of four parts:

  1. Refrigeration system
  2. 2. Door
  3. 3. Floor
  4. 4. Panels


Refrigeration is vital but complex. When deciding on the best refrigeration system, a major factor is location -- will your refrigerator be inside or outside?


What Types of Refrigeration Systems Are There?

There are a variety of different refrigeration types: remote, pre-assembled remote, mount top and side mount.

Remote Refrigeration

  • Less expensive
  • Outside of the building; requires less ventilation
  • Charged with refrigerant on-site
  • Must be installed and assembled by a qualified technician

Pre-Assembled Remote Systems

  • Outside of the building; requires less ventilation
  • Pre-charged with refrigerant
  • Usually, already assembled
  • Must be installed and assembled by a qualified technician

Top-Mount Refrigeration

  • Self-contained; pre-assembled
  • Evaporator coil may hang down inside of walk-in cooler; some coils may be located on top of the box for more space on the interior
  • Discharges heat, adding strain on indoor HVAC systems
  • Must be installed by a qualified technician

Side-Mount Refrigeration

  • Mounted to side panel with bolts or brackets
  • Less interior shelf space due to interior evaporator coil
  • Great for spaces with low ceilings
  • Must be installed by a qualified technician




What Kind of Flooring Can a Walk-in Cooler Have?

Flooring for the cooler may add an additional cost. There are units sold with and without flooring. In more high traffic businesses a more durable floor may be necessity.

If your walk-in cooler will need to store heavy materials, or goods, a floorless model may be the best option for your business.  

Flooring is usually made of aluminum or concrete. Proper flooring can easily add to the lasting power of your walk-in.



Walk-In Cooler Panels

Panels can help cut energy costs, and increase e

nergy efficiency. Panels are normally made up of metal sheets, and insulation.

These panels come in different thicknesses; change in accordance to whether your cooler will hold fresh or frozen items; and materials vary, including steel and aluminum. These panels sometimes include patterns to look more professional, but also increase durability.  

Refrigeration and Energy Usage

Proper assembly and installation is important to ensure your walk-in refrigerator is energy efficient.

Shelving inside of the walk-in must be properly placed to encourage airflow, and prevent additional stress on the refrigeration system.

Walk-in coolers should be insta

lled on insulated floors to help decrease temperature transfer, and encourage more efficient operation.

Proper ventilation is necessity for any walk-in cooler. All sides must be away from walls and ceilings to encourage better ventilation.


Can a Cooler Be Kept Outdoors?

If you plan on using outdoor refrigeration, a space must be prepped and the equipment  must be outdoor ready.

Outdoor refrigeration often requires additional preparation as well as additional materials to ensure your cooler is weather proof and energy e


Will your refrigeration unit need to be winterized? Outside refrigeration may require an interior heat kit to keep stored goods from freezing when temperatures drop below freezing.


Is It Time for a New Cooler?

Here are some things to take into consideration when deciding if you need a new walk-in cooler:

  • Are you starting a new business or opening a new location?
  • Has there been a noticeable decrease in efficiency?
  • Is there any noticeable wear on the exterior of the cooler?
  • Is there condensation or frost building up on the cooler?
  • Are you in need of additional space?

No matter your business, there is a walk-in cooler to meet your needs and accommodate your space.

Properly researching and gaining a clear understanding of the cooler best suited for your space makes for a long-lasting purchase.

By making the mistake of purchasing a cooler not suited for your space, efficiency and life of the product can decline.