Walk-in freezers and coolers are absolute necessities for any foodservice business, meant to be able to store large amounts of food for long periods of time. Of course, as the name suggests, the difference between a regular reach-in cooler or freezer is that–you guessed it–you can walk right in and take a look around! If you have ended up here, chances are you’re on the hunt for the best walk-in unit for your restaurant, hotel, or even your own home.
With something as universally versatile as a walk-in freezer or cooler, the range of sizes and uses runs a pretty wide gamut. Whether you are looking to store food for fellowship at your church or on the market for a walk-in for a five-star restaurant serving 100 people, we can point you in the right direction in choosing the correct size for your intended use!
Before jumping into the specs of walk-in coolers and freezers, we need to determine which type of walk-in we’re looking at: prefabricated or built-in?
What is the difference between a prefabricated walk-in and a built-in walk-in? Well, a prefabricated walk-in is one of the more versatile options, because they consist of premade modules that can be ordered and built exactly to your needs and to your liking. The sizes of the module depend on each manufacturer, but when building a walk-in with prefabricated modules, you can easily control the size.
Built-in walk-ins, however, are built specifically to your needs by specialists, not using the modular approach like prefab options. They can usually be built with design in mind in order to blend into whatever environment that it’s being built into, unlike a prefab walk-in. With built-ins, you can dictate exactly how big or small you want your walk-in to be, while with prefabs you can be limited to modules instead of precise and specific sizings.
Now, when considering the actual size you need for your specific use, there are a couple of pretty good rules of thumb: 1 cubic foot can store about 28 pounds of food, or ½ cubic foot of storage needed per meal served. With this in mind, we can calculate the necessary size based on your exact needs and specifications.
In order to break it down into a handy guide on the best walk-in size for your needs, we can first start with the types of food or service businesses and their average amount of food storage needed.
For the average fast-food restaurant, 90-120 square feet will do the trick. Since food at fast-food restaurants has such a high turnover rate, there isn’t much need for super large storage spaces. For a fast-food restaurant, one walk-in freezer can do the trick, so long as it falls within the 90-120 square foot range.
Now, let’s look at some more larger-scale foodservice establishments. For most dine-in restaurants, it might be necessary to have more than one walk-in or perhaps one very large one. For a small dine-in restaurant, you will need between 120-150 square feet of walk-in storage space. This can be done in one large built-in walk-in.
For a medium dine-in restaurant, 180-240 square feet is sufficient. This will equal one fairly large built-in walk-in, or perhaps two prefabs, depending on the space. For a larger dine-in restaurant, the average is between 240-400 square feet of storage space, which will more than likely result in two or more walk-ins being necessary.
For much larger-scale establishments, like schools with cafeterias or hospital complexes, you should expect to need about 400-600 square feet of walk-in space which are usually taken care of by installing three walk-ins. For even larger spaces, like big hotels or large-scale catering facilities, 600-900 square feet is standard, which can equal four, or perhaps more, walk-ins.
Taking care of your refrigeration needs might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re looking at possibly needing multiple walk-ins! There are lots of things to consider besides just the cooler or freezer, including things like ventilation, maintenance, and a huge planning and installation process! But don’t worry too much, because here at Tri-Point, we are fully equipt to help you every step of the way. We are prepared to help you decide on the perfect sized walk-in for your specifications, as well as help you map out every step of the walk all the way to the finish line.
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