When purchasing a walk-in cooler, you must ensure every detail of the unit you are ordering works with your space and meets your needs. In this blog, we are going to outline various considerations when purchasing a walk-in cooler to ensure you get what’s best for you and your business:
- Frame Options
- Additional Components
A walk-in cooler is a unit constructed of insulated panels made to resist the flow of heat. There are multiple types of frames to consider when designing a walk-in. Specifically for hard-nose insulated panels, there are three frame options available: wood, foam and hybrid.
For many years, wood was the material of choice when constructing panel frames. Wood is structurally sound, easy to mold and cut, and low in cost. However, where wood falls short is in its R-value, or its ability to resist energy to flow through it. This is critical since walk-ins constantly fight to keep warm exterior air and humidity from making its way into the unit, ultimately compromising the unit’s operational abilities.
Frames made of high-density foam provide a higher thermal value. KPS Global utilizes INSULFRAME®, which is the same polyurethane foam as the core of the panel, but poured at a much higher density, creating a stronger, more dense foam. This creates a frame that provides superior performance compared to wood and retains more of its thermal properties over time.
Hybrid frames combine the proven structural performance of wood framing with the thermal performance of polyurethane insulation. FUSIONFRAME® by KPS Global features a foam-frame component with a structural element embedded in it. The hybrid frame delivers optimal thermal-envelope performance, lower energy usage and utility costs and a reduced carbon footprint.
The geographic location of the walk-in is another item to consider during the design phase. If the walk-in will be built in a seismic or hurricane zone, then additional structural elements need to be added to the walk-in cooler.
Locations with warmer temperatures and high relative humidity can impact the performance of a walk-in. Higher humidity around the walk-in cooler forces the cold storage refrigeration system to work longer to remove it. Sometimes, the refrigeration system can’t keep up, but even if it can, it comes with the cost of inflating energy usage through greater defrost frequency and duration. Ensuring that the design of the walk-in includes HVAC controls that circulate airflow around the walk-in’s walls and ceilings will go a long way to ensuring the walk-in will operate at peak performance.
If the walk-in cooler will be placed outdoors, additional requirements must be considered, including additional protection from natural elements. Proper insulation, roofing and flooring are required to keep stored items at safe temperatures in local climates. The biggest advantage of an outdoor walk-in is that it allows for quick and easy installation that avoids disruption to building operations. Refrigeration units can easily be placed and installed, and an outdoor location eliminates the need to set up ventilation and refrigerant lines, which is necessary for an indoor unit.
Operators must consider the purpose the walk-in cooler will serve as its intended usage will affect specifications. For examples, capacity needs, frequency of restocking and volume of stored product affect the required temperature of the designed unit. The type of walk-in, whether cooler or freezer, will influence the thickness of the panels used to build the unit, which then affects the unit’s total footprint. Additionally, the amount of traffic the walk-in will face will help determine the parts that must be installed into the unit, as durability becomes vital as traffic levels increase.
A walk-in from KPS Global will be built to specifications, rather than limited by nominal sizing or predefined shapes.
Nailing down specifications will aid the purchasing process and ensure a seamless installation so that operators can quickly begin or return to normal operations. This practice will also make certain the walk-in will be built to last.
When considering the use and function of a walk-in, it is important to think through any additional elements that will need to be incorporated into the walk-in. Here is a list of components frequently used in walk-ins:
- Glass display doors
- Traffic doors
- Strip curtains
- Windows and view ports
- Additional doors or access points
Most walk-in coolers do not have floors. However, there are exceptions, and KPS Global has the ability to provide a floor for your walk-in if needed. Walk-in floors are constructed in the same way as wall panels, with the addition of a substrate for support based on intended use and load requirements.
Ramps are another helpful addition to walk-ins as they make the stocking and loading processes easier. Ramps can be installed inside or outside of the unit; the location is often dependent on space.
Another key consideration involves manufacturing requirements of the panels used to build a walk-in. In most cases, local code, national certifications and energy efficiency requirements by governing bodies must be adhered to, so operators must look for certifications to ensure they are spending their money on quality equipment.
To ensure that they are buying a quality walk-in, operators should check that the panel manufacturer has the majority, if not all, of the certifications listed above.
At KPS Global, safety is our top priority. That’s why our products fully comply with all safety requirements and go through extensive testing. We offer in-house design and engineering that can provide a unit that will meet any building code requirements.
When designing a walk-in cooler, operators should think proactively and consider incorporating protective elements that will reduce damage and wear and tear.
Installers often mount diamond tread kickplates directly to the exterior panels to prevent as much damage as possible to walk-ins. This type of metal is corrosion resistant and sturdy and can act as a last line of defense against any damage.
Walk-in doors are typically one of the most abused aspects of the unit. In warehouses especially, they run the risk of being damaged by transportation tools, such as forklifts or pallet jacks. In these cases, one of the best forms of protection from such damage is to install bollards. Placing bollards in high-traffic areas helps operators avoid damage that result in costly repairs or complete replacements.
An additional defensive consideration is a concrete curb. Concrete curbs serve as a line of defense against stray carts or low-level pallet jacks. Although they are not as aesthetically pleasing as diamond tread plate, curbs provide effective, easily navigable protection for a walk-in without taking up too much space.
KPS Global has a long history of providing custom walk-in solutions for clients across a wide range of industries. Because of those years of experience, our team of cold storage experts can provide key tips to meet and exceed your cold storage expectations. Contact us now with any questions or request a quote for a walk-in cooler!