Walk-in refrigeration units are pivotal for many restaurant kitchens. In fact, the large investment in purchasing your walk-in will probably be made up in the benefits you can reap with it’s functionality and efficiency! Knowing how to build your unit as well as understanding the how-tos behind its use can help ensure that you gain the most from your walk-in in both usability and longevity.
After you’ve chosen which walk-in suits your restaurant, the next step is construction! There are five steps to base your construction plans off of:
Insulation : The industry standard is r25 minimum, and the value should be printed on your insulation. Extruded Polystyrene and Foamed-In-Place Polyurethane insulations are the two types of insulation used for walk-in units. While just scraping by with the minimum may save you the cost in insulation in the beginning, you’ll certainly pay more for electricity due to efficiency issues, so it’s better to go ahead and make the purchase in insulation ONCE rather than paying too much over time because you didn’t want to invest in the beginning in the correct r value insulation.
Seal : You’ll need to seal everything both inside and outside of the unit to ensure that your unit is operating at maximum efficiency. This includes seams in the walls, joints between walls and ceiling and critically even between the floor and walls! Regularly check the gaskets on your door. Use sprayfoam or soft-foam pool toy floaties or the soft foam pipe insulation to insulate between the air conditioner cabinet and the walls. No matter how great your insulation is, it’s all for naught if your seals aren’t in top shape. Fiberglass coolers will fail within a season or two if not sealed properly, and your investment will have to be deconstructed due to mold and mildew - so seal it up right the first time BEFORE you turn your cooler on!
A/C Size : Units come in many different shapes and sizes, and the air conditioner that you hook up can differ as well. This sizing chart can help you determine your A/C needs:
Dimensions of the Walk-In Cooler
Size of Air-Conditioner
6' x 8'
8' x 8'
8' x 10'
8' x 12'
10' x 14'
Side vs Top Mounted : Choosing between top vs side mounted units can make a difference in space. For instance, top-mounted units have the evaporator taking up space in the cavity while side-mounted units take up valuable shelving space outside of the unit and will need a condenser drain. Choose which one fits best with your needs.
Space : Your unit will need room to breathe, so make sure that there’s nothing blocking the evaporator/condenser! Not allowing for space can cause your unit to overheat and efficiency to plummet, sending your walk-in to a premature demise.
Walk-in units are a large investment. The best part is that many self-contained units are already assembled and ready to go, if you have a way of installing them as a single piece in a restaurant that is in the process of being built. Analyze your goals and needs in order to find the right unit for you - or simply give me a call and let me do the hard work for you!
E Friedman Associates Inc
T: 800-555-0666 x 1975