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Choosing a Commercial Cooler/Freezer Compressor

Choosing a Commercial Cooler/Freezer Compressor

Commercial coolers and freezers are essential to any restaurant kitchen. From top- to bottom-mounted units. there are a variety of options that factor into choosing which unit is right for your needs. While these options basically boil down to the location of the compressor, there are a world of indirect differences between the two that can separate the right unit for you from the wrong unit. If you’re new to the game, here are a few tips to choosing the right cooler or freezer compressor for your commercial kitchen.

Top-mount and bottom-mount units are identified based on their compressor locations. The compressor is the part of your cooler or freezer that adds the heat of compression to the refrigerant vapor so it can lose its heat to the cooling medium, condense into a high pressure liquid and go through the expansion orifice to become a low pressure vapor. The compressor also acts as a pump to circulate the refrigerant through the system. With that being said, the location of said compressor can introduce a host of factors that can impact your unit as well as your kitchen.

Top Mounted Units:

With top-mounted units, the compressor, evaporator, and condenser are all located above the cavity. This brings with it a host of advantages and disadvantages that make it an ideal unit for dry storage areas or in areas where the floor may become dusty.


  • The condenser fan draws from air at the top of the room rather than the floor, reducing the risk of the coils becoming clogged with dust.

  • Expelled heat from the condenser rises above the unit rather than into the cavity. Less insulation is needed, freeing up valuable space.

  • Top shelves are lower, making them easier and safer to reach.


  • Grease-laden steam from cooking lines can get drawn into the condenser, so it’s not a unit you’ll want to place in the working areas of the kitchen.

  • With the cooler at the hottest part of the room, it becomes less efficient.

  • Harder to clean the coils because they’re above the unit.

Bottom Mounted Units:

Bottom-mounted units separate the compressor from the evaporator and condenser, placing the intake below the cavity and the evaporator above. With air drawing from the lowest point of the unit, it’s best that these are located in hotter working areas and near cooking lines.


  • Temperatures near the floor can be 15 degrees cooler, making the condenser work less hard to cool the unit.

  • The condenser is easily within reach for cleaning and maintenance.

  • Grease-laden steam rises above the compressor, reducing the possibility of gumming up the system.


  • Dust and debris can be drawn in from the floor, making it a poor option for areas where dry ingredients may be spilled.

  • More insulation is needed because heat from the compressor may rise into the cavity.

  • Refrigerant lines must be run through the cabinet from the compressor to the evaporator, taking up precious space.

Basically, selecting a unit boils down to the design of your kitchen as well as your needs. Give me a call if you’re unsure, and I’ll help you pick the right unit for you !