• 11 Tips for Purchasing a Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

    May 23rd, 2013

    It’s important to carefully select your walk-in because it’s a major purchase that will have a lasting effect on the operation of your business. Before diving headlong into this purchase, here are a few items to consider before making this decision.

    1. Storage Space – If you’re running a restaurant, you will need approximately 1.5 cubic feet of storage space for every meal you serve per day. Read this article for a more in-depth sizing formula. It’s better to have too much storage space than not enough. However, your walk-in shouldn’t be exorbitantly large because your monthly operating cost generally increases as its size increases.
    2. Location of Box – Whether you’re going to locate your walk-in indoors or outdoors, make sure you have adequate space to accommodate the box. Outdoor walk-ins will require a rainroof, refrigeration hood and a drip cap for over the door (if the door doesn’t open from within the building). Assess the floor to make sure it’s suitable for load-bearing. If you have a concrete floor, a walk-in cooler can be placed on it. If the walk-in is going on a wood frame floor, it will require floor panels. A walk-in freezer always requires an insulated floor.
    3. walkin remote refrigeration

      A walk-in with remote refrigeration.

      Refrigeration System – Confirm that you are getting a refrigeration system that is sized correctly for your walk-in. If your system is underpowered it will run often and wear out quickly. If your system is overpowered it will not cycle enough to effectively remove humidity from the box and may cause icing. There are different types of refrigeration systems with different purposes and benefits. For example, remote refrigeration can be located outdoors when your walk-in is located indoors. This is beneficial because you’re not adding heat or noise to the room where the walk-in operates. It’s also important to know the voltage requirements for your building (single or 3 phase power). In general, commercial buildings will use 3 phase power and residential will use single phase. Learn more about the different types of refrigeration for walk-ins. Read the rest of this entry »

  • DOE EISA Compliance Clarification

    March 21st, 2013

    We have received some clarification from the Department of Energy in response to our last blog “The Risk of Selling Non-Compliant Walk-ins”.  The information in context was correct but there was a misunderstanding as to whether Walk-in Cooler manufacturers on the DOE website were compliant.  It was our assumption that all manufacturers that registered on the website are EISA compliant, but this is not necessarily the case.  Also, there may be some manufacturers that are EISA compliant and have tried to register on the DOE website but are not listed as of yet.  Please check with the manufacturer and verify if they are EISA compliant.  Below is the response that we received from the Department of Energy:

    Under current law, only manufacturers of component parts of walk-in coolers and freezers must certify their products with DOE.  In this certification, manufacturers of these components must state that their equipment is manufactured in accordance with the requirements found in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) and subsequent DOE regulations found at 10 C.F.R Part 431, Subpart R.  DOE specifically requires that the manufacturers of panels, doors and refrigeration systems certify with DOE that their equipment complies with the applicable statute and regulations.  The certification requirements for walk-in cooler and freezer components are fully described in 10 C.F.R. §§ 429.12 and 429.53.

    Once DOE receives a certification submission from a component manufacturer, it will be processed and the information will be posted on the DOE website at: http://www.regulations.doe.gov/certification-data/.  It typically takes two weeks from the time a submission is made before it appears on the website.  Because of this delay, it is possible that manufacturers of walk-in cooler and freezer components could have submitted their certification to DOE and not yet appear on the DOE website.  Products are listed on the DOE website by brand rather than manufacturer.  Because of these facts, the list of manufacturers that US Coolers has provided in their email does not accurately reflect the manufacturers who have certified that their equipment complies with the law. Read the rest of this entry »

  • The Risk of Selling Non-Compliant Walk-ins

    March 13th, 2013

    U.S. lawSince EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) was put into effect in 2009, there have been several regulations imposed on the walk-in cooler and freezer industry. Some of the requirements that are specified in EISA include prescriptive R-values, EC motors for refrigeration units and spring loaded hinges.  Manufacturers must register with the DOE stating they are compliant with all EISA regulations.

    The DOE (Department of Energy), the government agency that regulates EISA, requires walk-in cooler manufacturers to be compliant with all EISA regulations. Some manufacturers may have a statement on their quote or website stating they are compliant, yet DOE only considers the manufacturers registered with the DOE and listed on their Certification List compliant.

    Hefty fines have been levied for non compliant walk-in cooler/freezer manufacturers. It is our understanding the DOE may levy fines to dealers and end users who purchase walk-ins that are not EISA compliant.

    Several manufacturers are certified with the DOE however; there are some that are not. It is important to make sure you are purchasing EISA compliant walk-ins to avoid any penalties or fines that could be imposed on you. A list of all compliant walk-in manufacturers is below or can be found on the DOE website. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Maintaining Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

    March 8th, 2013

    Whether you run a restaurant, convenience store or a supermarket, your walk-in is an important investment. It should be taken care of to ensure many years of efficient usage. Here are tips from walk-in manufacturer U.S. Cooler for maintaining your walk-in cooler or freezer.

    How to keep your walk-in operating efficiently:

    • torn gasket

      Torn gaskets can let warm air infiltrate the box.

      Close the door when not in use. Do not block or prop the door open for extended periods of time. Make sure it is closed at all times except when entering and exiting the walk-in.

    • Periodically (minimum of twice a year) clean the evaporator and condensing coil. If located outside, the coils should be cleaned more often.
    • Make sure fan motors are running at optimum speed.
    • Clean fan blades to reduce drag.
    • On outside condensing units, maintain clear and adequate airflow. For example, do not allow trash or weeds to accumulate around the walk-in.
    • Make sure there is nothing stacked around the coil to restrict airflow.
    • Occasionally have service technician check all electrical connections to make sure they are good and tight. Loose wires could cause high amperage, which will cause your unit to use more energy.
    • Check for damage or decay in the insulation on suction lines between condensing unit and evaporator coil. Replace as needed.
    • Hinges should be lubricated once a year to ensure the closes properly. (Some hinges utilize self-lubricating nylon cams, so this will not be necessary if that is the case.)
    • Make sure the lights are off when exiting the walk-in. Lights produce heat, which will cause your unit to run more to hold its optimal temperature. Make sure your walk-in has a switch with a pilot light so you can tell if the light is on without opening the door.
    • Do not pile anything on top of the walk-in. This could cause damage to the ceiling panels.
    • Check the door sweep for tears and make sure it is sealing properly against the threshold.
    • Periodically, check gaskets between panels to make sure they are not cracked or weathered. If so, check with your local health codes for the correct procedure to follow as far as repair and replacement. Read the rest of this entry »
  • The Brew Cave on NBC’s Take It All

    January 3rd, 2013

    U.S. Cooler’s Brew Cave had the wonderful privilege to be featured as a prize on a number of high profile game shows in December, one of them being “Take It All”.

    On December 10th, the Brew Cave was a round 1 prize on the premiere of NBC’s weeklong event Take It All. Take It All, hosted by Howie Mandel, is a “yankee swap” style game show in which contestants can take an opponent’s prize or get an unknown prize from the “dream screen”. Here is NBC’s stream of the full Take It All episode.brew cave take it all

    The Brew Cave is a walk-in kegerator for the consumer market that features a LED lit glass door, 4” thick insulation, an external tap and storage space for over 30 cases of beer and 6 kegs. Follow Brew Cave on Facebook or Twitter.

  • The Health Inspector and Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

    December 19th, 2012

    In recent years, health inspections have properly transitioned away from “floors, walls and ceilings” and are now focused on the factors which can cause food borne illness. So how about your walk-in cooler or freezer? What will your inspector most closely examine?

    organized refrigerator

    Keeping food organized and properly labeled is very important.

    Let me share with you a few key areas:

    1. Most importantly, are the units holding foods at the required temperatures? Temperature control is essential to limit the growth of disease causing bacteria.
    2. Is there sufficient lighting? This is important for the purposes of cleaning, product identification, rotating stock, etc.
    3. Is food up off the floor and on shelving? Floors are, for obvious reasons, always considered a dirty surface. If product is on the floor, and then placed on working surfaces such as work tables or cutting boards, then that is an opportunity for cross contamination. Read the rest of this entry »
  • Replacing Your Hinges and Latches

    December 18th, 2012

    When replacing hinges and latches for walk-in refrigerators it is important to get an exact or comparable replacement part. The back of the part will stamped with a series of numbers and letters called a mold number. The back may also read “flush” or have the offset size (e.g. 1-3/4″). It is important to have that number on the back to ensure you get the proper replacement. Additionally, having the serial number of your walk-in (often located in the door jamb on the hinge side or in a corner inside panel) can be a huge help if you’re ordering the replacement part from the walk-in manufacturer or your parts supplier.

    hinge with serial number

    Call the walk-in manufacturer or get the mold number off the back of the part.

    Hinges

    Walk-in cooler and freezer hinges are either flush or offset. The easiest way to determine which style you have is to place your hand on the outside wall of the walk-in and slide it towards the door. If the door stops your hand from moving across the door, then you have an offset door. If your hand slides across the door, it is flush.

    Determine the offset measurement by measuring from the wall surface to the door surface. The offset measurement combined with the mold number on the back will ensure you receive the correct hinge.door offset Read the rest of this entry »

  • Reduce Energy Costs in Your Walk-in

    November 26th, 2012

    Whether you own a restaurant, bar or convenience store, your walk-in cooler or freezer is likely one of the largest line items in your energy usage. If you’re looking to reduce your overhead it is imperative you do all you can to optimize your walk-in for maximum energy efficiency. In this article we’ll cover everything from maintaining your refrigeration system to energy saving accessories.

    Maintain your Walk-in

    door with icing

    Investigate icing around your door immediately

    Check your door sweep, door and panel gaskets for any rips, cracks or icing and replace if necessary.  Icing around the door could indicate a failure of the gasket, heater wire, or the door closer. Lubricate hinges twice a year to keep them closing smoothly. Make sure your walk-in is organized and covered items are clearly labeled to reduce the amount of time spent searching for ingredients.

    Maintain your Refrigeration

    Every six months, visually inspect your unit for corrosion, electrical issues, leaks or improper fan operation. Clean the evaporator coil and blades. Make sure the drainage system is clear of any debris. Ensure airflow to the unit is unobstructed.

    There are many more steps to take to make sure your refrigeration unit is running efficiently. Visit this page for more refrigeration maintenance tips.

    Upgrade Your Refrigeration System

    New Department of Energy standards went into effect in 2009. If your walk-in was manufactured before 2009, your refrigeration unit is likely less efficient than newer energy act compliant units. Read the rest of this entry »