The great thing about reach-in refrigerators and freezers is there are so many access and door types to fit your operation. The following section will break down the possible options and what their advantages are.
Reach-ins are available in both solid door and glass door models. Solid door reach-in refrigerators are easier to clean than glass and offer better insulation. Glass door refrigerators are great when you need easy visual access to product. Being able to see the product before you open the door means less time holding the door open to find what you need, thus keeping your cold air in.
Glass Door Refrigerator vs. Glass Door Merchandiser – There IS a Difference!
It’s important to note that glass door reach-in refrigerators do NOT have the same functionalities as a glass door merchandiser. Yes, glass door merchandisers are cheaper, but they are only rated to safely hold non-potentially-hazardous pre-packaged goods, including bottles and cans. Not only that, but they are designed solely for the front of the house, as they are intended for use in areas where the ambient temperature does not go above 75°F. Glass door reach-ins are designed for the back of the house, just like standard reach-ins.
This is simple. Reach-in refrigerators and freezers will have either a full-size door or half-size doors. Half door refrigerators compartmentalize your products, so if you need to reach something on the top right shelf, you only need to open the top right door, rather than with a full-size door, where the entire side is exposed when opened. This helps regulate internal temperatures more consistently and conserve energy. Full height door units offer more storage space than half height models, as they don’t have the separation in the middle of each section of the unit.
Most reach-in units will feature a swing door. Swing doors have the advantage of being able to stay open while you load and unload product. The only drawback is that swing doors can sometime block the flow of traffic in narrow spaces in the kitchen. There are a few units that offer a sliding door option, which is a perfect option if you don’t have a lot of space for a door. However, sliding doors are self-closing, which can make loading and unloading tricky if your hands are full.
The standard reach-in has a direct access type: you reach-in from one side, grab your product, and go. However, there are other access types available which are great options to consider. The first one is Pass Thru refrigerators and freezers. Pass thru models are designed to go between the back and the front of the house. These units offer access from both the front and the back, so kitchen staff can load product from the back, as servers grab product out from the front and serve as needed. There are also Roll-in refrigerators that have no shelves—rather, they are a cavity designed to fit a roll-in rack filled with product. This is great for prep work, as you can load everything on a rack, and store at once in the refrigerator.
You will see reach-in units in one, two, and three door models. You will see one door refrigerators in an average cubic foot capacity of 23 cubic ft. Two door refrigerators are 46 or 49 cubic ft. depending on the model, and three door units are around 72 cubic ft. These are nominal capacities for the industry, so check with your Product Consultant for actual capacities on the unit you’re looking at or look at the spec sheet on the product page. Larger units will provide more storage space, but they also consume more energy and floor space, so don’t overbuy! Width varies on reach-ins, but you should ALWAYS make sure to measure your space before making any buying decision—including door frames and corners. Don’t buy a unit that won’t fit through your door!
Making sure your reach-in meets health and safety codes and requirements is critical to avoiding trouble down the line. Models such as Victory Refrigeration’s UltraSpec line feature built-in temperature monitoring technology that meets HACCP compliances and meets NAFEM’s data protocol for safety.
Spec Series vs. Standard
As you search for a reach-in, you may see models branded as “Spec Series” or “Spec-Line.” Spec Series refers to a manufacturer’s top-of-the-line series. These will carry a premium in cost but will have more sophisticated features and upgrades compared to a standard model.