New Vert-Ergo™ Handle a Success

Have you ever wondered, why residential refrigerator handles are vertical and walk-in cooler/freezer handles are horizontal? Maybe you haven’t, but we have. We have witnessed the struggle of restaurant employees opening their walk-in cooler door several times with an awkward, uncomfortable reach with their hand gripping down. So we thought, why can’t walk-ins be designed with a more comfortable handle? This lead to the design of the Vert-Ergo™ walk-in cooler/freezer handle.

In April, U.S. Cooler launched the release of the Vert-Ergo handle for walk-in coolers and freezers. The Vert-Ergo handle is the industry’s first vertically positioned walk-in cooler or freezer handle. The vertical handle design places your hand further from the hinges on the door, which in turn, makes a substantial decrease in the effort required to open the door. When users grip the Vert-Ergo handle, they use a more natural, vertical grip allowing the use of powerful muscles in the forearm and upper arm. The round handle allows for a full grip making it more comfortable to use.

With over 200 Vert-Ergo handles in the field, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the usage of the vertical handle. The simplistic yet strong design looks a bit different than the horizontal handle, but users enjoy the ergonomic benefits.

U.S. Cooler’s new Vert-Ergo handle is built to exact standards with a quality you can see and feel. It is available with an externally mounted lock or as a standalone handle. A padlock can be added as an additional locking mechanism. The handle is mounted with a glow-in-the-dark safety release located inside the walk-in. The Vert-Ergo handle can be mounted on either a right hand or left hand opening door.

Walk-in Cooler and Freezer Online Buying Guide

Walk-in coolers and freezers are a very custom product. Standard sizes are available in the industry but they assume some standard specifications. Walk-ins are not a one-size fits all item like other foodservice equipment. If you are shopping for walk-ins online, make sure to review the specifications used in sizing that walk-in. Where the walk-in is located geographically as well as if it will be installed indoors or outdoors makes a difference in the required equipment needed to run your walk-in effectively.

U.S. Cooler indoor walk-in cooler without a floor.

Here are some important things to consider before purchasing a walk-in cooler or freezer online.

  • Indoor or Outdoor: Indoor and outdoor walk-in coolers and freezers are manufactured differently. Outdoor models require additional weatherproof items on the walk-in. If your walk-in will be located outdoors, it will require some type of weather ceiling strips or a rain roof to protect the panels from the elements. If refrigeration units will be located outdoors, they require a weather cover as well as all-weather controls.  An Indoor walk-in will not work properly outdoors without additional equipment. Indoor and outdoor refrigeration units are sized differently. Look closely at the description to make sure it will fit your location needs.
  • Floor or No Floor:  Whether or not you’ll need an insulated floor depends on where your walk-in unit will be installed.  Walk-in freezers almost always require an insulated floor unless you have an insulated concrete floor already in place with thermal breaks. Walk-in coolers do not always require a floor, but it depends on where the walk-in will be installed. For cooler units installed indoors on a bare concrete slab, a floor is not essential. In new construction, if you plan on carrying heavy loads in and out of your walk-in cooler, it is recommended to construct an insulated concrete pad with thermal breaks. This will help stop condensation from forming on your concrete floor. For a walk-in to be placed above-grade level such as over a basement or on a second story floor, an insulated floor is required.
  • Holding Product: What you are storing in your walk-in makes a difference in what refrigeration unit is needed. For coolers, many models are sized assuming product entering the cooler will be 55°F and the cooler will be holding at 35°F. For freezers, many models are sized assuming product entering the freezer will be entering at 20°F and holding at -10°F. Models vary, so make sure to check the specifications on how it was sized.  If product is entering or holding at different temperatures than what the refrigeration is sized for, the refrigeration will be sized incorrectly causing it to not work properly.
  • Airflow around the Walk-in: When planning your space, remember that there should be at least 2” around the exterior of the walk-in for airflow. Without the proper airflow around walk-in cooler or freezer panels, panels could sweat or cause condensation.
  • Refrigeration Systems: There are two main types of refrigeration systems used on walk-in coolers and freezers.
    • The “pre-assembled-remote” refrigeration is a split system with the coil inside the cooler/freezer and the condensing unit either outdoors or near the walk-in. Most often on remote refrigeration systems the condensing unit is installed outside of the building. Remote refrigeration units require a licensed refrigeration contractor to install and run lines. For refrigeration warranty purposes all refrigeration must be installed by a licensed refrigeration contractor.
    • The “self-contained” refrigeration system contains the coil and condensing unit all in one that is installed on the ceiling or on/in the walls of the walk-in. Typically, a hole is pre-cut in the ceiling panel or wall panel and the unit drops in. This unit is usually ready to be installed, however a licensed refrigeration contractor must start up unit.
  • Geographic Location: The geographic location where the walk-in will be installed makes a difference. Walk-ins that are located in warmer or colder climates require to be sized accordingly. Walk-ins being shipped to warmer climates, higher elevations or with warm product entering temperatures may need a custom quotation and may not work with a “package” available online. Make sure to check the ambient temperature in the specifications to ensure the refrigeration is sized properly and will suit your climate.
  • Delivery: Due to the large product size, walk-in cooler and freezer panels are shipped on pallets and banded together for protection. A forklift will be needed to unload the unit or the unit can be unpacked and unloaded panel by panel off the pallet while it is still on the truck. Two or three people will need to be available to receive delivery if this choice is chosen. You may be charged a surcharge if it takes too long to unload the truck. Many trucks do not have a large enough lift gate for the size of pallets being delivered, therefor this option may not be available for you. It is recommended to have a fork-lift onsite at the time of delivery. It is a good idea to contact the shipping company to make an appointment for delivery to ensure the delivery process goes smoothly. Residential deliveries and limited access locations may incur sur-charges from the shipping company.

The Importance of Refrigeration Gaskets

Refrigeration gaskets are a very important part of your walk-in cooler or freezer’s performance. Under-performing gaskets could cost your business hundreds or thousands of dollars in energy bills. Gaskets are responsible for sealing your walk-in door and panels to stop any air infiltration. When your walk-in door is closed, the gasket keeps the cold air from escaping and more importantly warm air from entering your walk-in. When gaskets are not working properly, your refrigeration unit will have to work harder to keep its cold temperature – which in-turn generates higher energy bills and wear and tear on your equipment.

 
There are two different gaskets on your walk-in door that are both vital to your walk-in’s performance.
– The magnetic gasket is the thicker gasket attached to the door and helps to seal and keep the door closed.
– The wiper gasket is the thin single-dart gasket that helps seal the door to stop any outside air infiltration. Wiper gasket is located on the door and on the frame.

Magnetic Gasket and Wiper Gasket on U.S. Cooler door.

Periodically check door gaskets and door sweeps for wear and tear. Keep your gaskets performing longer by cleaning and removing any food, dirt, or debris build-up. It is suggested to include wiping down your gaskets during your daily cleaning routine.

 
Signs that your gaskets may need to be replaced:
– Step inside your walk-in and check for any light coming from around your door. If light comes through you know there is an opening in the gasket.
– Physically check to see if gaskets are ripped or torn.
– If your walk-in cooler gasket isn’t working properly, you may see sweating between the door and door jam. On a walk-in freezer, there may be ice or ice build-up.

 
When replacing your gasket, make sure to purchase the correct gasket for your brand of walk-in. Walk-in brands use different styles of gasket.

Beer Stores to Expand Current Cold Storage Displays in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania – The state of Pennsylvania is undergoing a dramatic change on how beer is sold to consumers in the state. Among other things, the new bill that will go into effect January 14 will allow single-bottle, six-pack, mix-and-match six pack and growler sales at beer distributors. Thus being a dramatic change from how beer is sold today, beer distributors will be renovating their displays to accommodate the single, six-pack and growler beer products. Retailers will need to act fast to accommodate this additional cold storage space before January 14.

Brew Cave by U.S. Cooler specializes in beer storage and can help facilitate in the design process for new cold storage display coolers. Many beer distributors will be expanding their current walk-in cold storage space and will have limited options for additional display. Brew Cave focuses on custom walk-in coolers and display coolers that can fit most any design specification. From growler coolers to keg warehouses to display coolers, Brew Cave specializes in any type of beer storage.

Need assistance in designing and planning for these changes? Brew Cave by U.S. Cooler is ready to assist merchants in designing their new cold storage space to display these new products. Although Brew Cave by U.S. Cooler does not sell direct to beer distributors, a factory sales representative is located in Pennsylvania and available to facilitate with any cold storage needs.

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Visit Brew Cave or U.S. Cooler for information on cold storage options.

 

New Concealed Freight Damage Policy

Concealed Freight Damage Time Window

The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) has made changes to the window of time you have to report damage to freight carriers. Concealed freight damage to your shipment previously could have been reported within 15 days of delivery, but as of April 18, 2015 all concealed freight damage must be reported within 5 business days of delivery. Concealed damage refers to any damaged that was not able to be seen at the time of delivery. If 5 business days pass between delivery and the reporting of damage (or request for inspection by the buyer), it is up to the buyer to provide evidence that damage was not incurred after the shipment had been delivered. Call to report any damage you see on your shipment to the freight company as soon as it is noticed. Be sure to leave the shipping container and its contents in the same condition as when the damage was discovered (as much as possible) so a proper inspection can be done.

Read the entire document from the NMFC – Supplement 1 to NMF 100-AOU.S. Cooler logo "Concealed Freight Damage"

Indoor vs Outdoor Walk-in Cooler Location

Location is Everything

Choosing the location of your walk-in cooler to be indoors or outdoors is a very important decision. Once the walk-in cooler or freezer is installed it will be a large hassle and waste of money if you change your the location. Here are some considerations to take into account before making your decision.

indoor walk-in cooler location
Indoor walk-ins can take up precious usable area. Find the best location for your walk-in cooler!

Space Requirements – Whether your location is indoors or outdoors you will have to account for the amount of space needed. For indoor walk-ins you need at least 6 inches of airspace above the walk-in and 2 inches on all sides for proper airflow. An indoor condensing unit needs to be easily accessible for cleaning and repairs and should have plenty of airspace all around it. Some customers request hatches in their walk-in’s ceiling to easily access top-mount units. You may consider an outdoor walk-in if your indoor space is limited or if you’d like room to grow in the future. Be sure your property is large enough to house the size of outdoor walk-in you require.

outdoor-walk-in
Outdoor walk-in butted against the building.

Butted vs Freestanding – A freestanding walk-in will be a separate structure and have a door that opens to the outside. A butted walk-in will usually have a door opening to the inside of your building. The panels of a butted walk-in will be butted up against the building on one or more sides. Butted walk-ins will not require a drip cap and the door and its hardware will last longer since it’s not exposed to the elements. Freestanding units should be equipped with locks as they are susceptible to theft.

Condensing Unit Location – If you own a restaurant or any other consumer-based business, you don’t want a loud refrigeration unit ruining the ambiance. There are refrigeration units designed to be quiet, but most of the time a remote refrigeration unit is your best option. A remote unit allows you to locate your condensing unit outside the building, even if your walk-in is inside. Condensing units also give off heat which is not optimal when you’re trying to cool your building. Keep refrigeration units away from any heat sources such as vents, fryers, or ovens and anything that can get the unit dirty or greasy.

Maintaining Your Walk-in Cooler or Freezer

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 your walk-in cooler or freezer
  • 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. Clean the fan blades to reduce drag.
  • Make sure fan motors are running at optimum speed.
  • 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 prevent restricted airflow.
  • Do not pile anything on top of the walk-in. This could cause damage to the ceiling panels.
  • Occasionally have a 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 the condensing unit and evaporator coil. Replace as needed.
  • Hinges should be lubricated once a year to ensure they close 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.
  • 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. Replacement of damaged gaskets will ensure your walk-in is efficient and up to local health codes.