Reach In Refrigerator Guide

Did you know that reach in refrigerators are one of the most commonly miss-purchased pieces of equipment?

Buying a new refrigerator may seem like a rather simple task, but there is actually a decent amount of planning and thought that needs to go into it. The notion of simplicity often leads restaurant owners to buy based on look rather than consideration of their needs and research of what options are available.

Let us guide you through this potentially puzzling process with the major factors to take into account when purchasing a new reach in refrigerator.

Reach In Refrigerator Sizes

Reach ins are generally sized by their number of doors. They vary from 1 door up to 6 doors, all with different ways they can best be utilized.

1 Door Reach In Refrigerators

  • Intended to store essential foods for use on the production line or cooking area
  • Perfect for daily use portion storage
  • Are restocked regularly from either walk-in or larger reach-in refrigerators

2-3 Door Reach In Refrigerators

  • Intended for use near the prep area
  • Good for storing bulk food items in pans
  • Are usually restocked from the walk-in cooler weekly

4-6 Door Reach In Refrigerators

  • Intended for use in the prep area of larger restaurants
  • Can be used to take the place of walk-in refrigerators for smaller establishments
  • Good for storing ingredients long term

Reach In Refrigerator Door Types

If you do not already know that you need a specialized door type, solid doors are probably your best bet. Half doors and glass doors are less versatile than solid doors but have their advantages for specific needs.

Solid Door Reach In Refrigerators

  • Most common door type
  • Seal well and keep the interior consistently cold
  • Sturdy construction, doors require little maintenance when treated well

Glass Door Reach In Refrigerators

  • Great when you need to be able see what is it inside before opening, such as in a very fast-paced kitchen or at a waitress station
  • Do not hold heat out as well as solid doors due to lack of insulation
  • Are much less common as they are not quite as durable as solid door models

Half Door Reach In Refrigerators

  • In these units, the refrigerator is split into completely separate refrigerated sections for each door
  • Good for units that are being opened and closed often as the entire interior isn’t exposed to hot air each time
  • Are not as good for bulk storage as they offer less space with their compartment design

Reach In Refrigerator Compressor Locations

Reach ins come equipped with either a top or bottom mounted compressors. Environment and methods of use dictate whether a top or bottom mounted compressor is best for your establishment.

Top Mounted Compressor


  • Best suited for colder environments as the air higher up will be closer to normal room temperature than the cold air that sinks to the bottom of the room - the compressor is design to work with room temperature air
  • Do not get as dirty as bottom mounted compressors as airborne particles tend to sink
  • The compressor sits high enough to make it difficult to clean and service

Bottom Mounted Compressor


  • Best for warmer environments as the cooler, closer to room temperature air will be closer to the ground
  • Can become more easily clogged by dust and particles that settle downward - the compressor is design to work with room temperature air
  • Easier to clean and service than top mounted compressors as they are within easy reach

Options and Accessories for Reach In Refrigerators


  • Shelves: Reach ins will typically only come with three shelves. This is nice for bulk storage but if you are storing food pans or anything smaller you will want to order extra shelves at the time of purchase.
  • Casters or Feet: Some refrigerators will come with casters; some will come with feet. Check your local codes to see if you are required to have one or the other so you can make sure your unit comes equipped with what you need.
  • Hinges: The hinge side of the door needs to be decided before you purchase. They cannot usually be altered in the field. Factor in the relationship of your refrigerator to walls and other equipment to plan which way is best for your door(s) to open.

NSF 7 Rating

If you are planning to use your reach in refrigerator for back-of-house use, you will likely be storing open and unpackaged foods within. An NSF 7 rating means that that refrigerator can hold open food safely. Although most reach ins have this rating, always double check if this is the way you are planning to use your unit before you purchase.


Energy Star Efficiency

The Energy Star rating is given to refrigerators that are 10% more efficient than federal standards require. Refrigerators with these ratings use less energy than their non-rated counterparts, saving money on utility bills and leaving less of a footprint on our planet. Energy Star rated refrigerators are preferred by many money and environmental conscious restaurants.


Technical details

Most commercial reach-in refrigerators are 120v/1ph and come standard with a cord and plug. For heavy-duty applications or on some three section reach-ins some manufacturers offer 208v-240v/1ph. Most will also work on a 15.0a circuit. International voltages such as 220v/50hz/1ph are available.
What are your main questions when purchasing a new reach in refrigerator? Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments!


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