Commercial Catering Fridges Buyers Guide

Selecting the correct commercial catering fridge or freezer for your business is essential so we have created this simple guide to help you make the right selection for your business. 

All of our commercial catering fridges and freezers have been graded into three types

  • Light duty
  • Medium Duty
  • Heavy Duty 


Light Duty to Meduim Duty Units

          Key Features 

  • Static cooling systems (see note below) 
  • ABS (Plastic) or Grade 430 steel 
  • Designed for use fairly unchallenging environments and infrequent door openings 
  • Designed for maximum ambient conditions of  +32 Deg C / 60% Humidity

Light and medium duty units are fine for use in coffee shops and cafes where there are not many heat producing items around them. So, generally speaking not inside a commercial kitchen but for use in store rooms or on a shop / cafe floor. These models often provide a great value solution. Most light to medium duty chillers provide legal temperatures for raw meat products, however, we advise that light and medium duty units be used mostly for cooked meats and fish products, dairy and other provisions such as salads and vegetables. 

Light duty models tend be constructed from ABS, some models have a steeel exterior with ABS interior.

Medium duty units are often constructed from grade 430 stainless steel and offer users a more robust structure compared to ABS models

To Veiw Our Light to Medium Duty Fridges - Click Here

To Veiw Our Light to Medium Duty Freezers - Click Here


Heavy Duty Units 

          Key Features 

  • All heavy duty units have a ventilated ‘fully blown’ cooling system (see note below)
  • Constructed from heavy duty Grade 304 stainless steel, inside and outside
  • Designed to be used in commercial kitchen and frequent door openings
  • Most are designed for use in conditions of up to +43 Deg C and 85% Humidity

Heavy duty units offer users a highly robust structure which can withstand more forceful and vigorous use and are less likely (within reason) to suffer from impact damage on the inside or outside of the unit. Heavy duty units are able to work in hotter and more humid conditions such as commercial kitchens where there may be many peices of equipment which are producing heat and steam. They provide lower and more even temperatures and recover temperature very quickly after door openings. Heavy duty units are universally suitable for storage of all perishable chilled products, including dairy, cooked meat and fish, fruit and vegetable and raw meat products.

To Veiw Our Heavy Duty Fridges - Click Here 

To Veiw Our Heavy Duty Freezers - Click Here 



Static Cooling Systems V's Ventilated ‘Fully-Blown’ Cooling Systems

Refrigeration systems use a process of pumping refrigerant gas around a sealed pipe. The gas switches from very hot to very cool through a process of compressing and expansion. The heat produced is blown out and away. The cold is harnessed and used to cool the fridge or freezer. 

A ‘static system’ loops the cold part of the pipe inside the back wall of the fridge, so the back wall inside the fridge is very cold. A fan may be used inside the fridge to circulate cold air around the cavity. 

A ventilated ‘fully blown’ system has this same cold pipe looped in the base of the fridge through lots of stacked metal fins (to make cold the surface area much larger). The cold air produced is blown into the cavity of the fridge.

Because both types of unit may have a fan inside the top of the fridge, static systems can be described as 'fan assisted' and most commercial fridges will have such a fan. 

Pro's and Con’s of each type: 

Static Cooling 

Static cooling systems are suitable for many commercial applications, it’s just a matter of checking yours before buying one. They are generally suitable for ‘light to medium duty’ use in fairly unchallenging conditions and where the door isn’t being opened very frequently. They have lower manufacturing costs so can provide customers with a significant cost saving - although this isn’t always the case. 

Static cooling systems don't provide the same temperature consistency as a ventilated unit and cannot cope with high ambient conditions (high temperatures and high humidity) or very heavy use. Static units can be prone to icing inside the unit (especially where humidity is high) and they take much longer to recover their temperature after door openings.  

Some freezers with static cooling systems may have fixed only shelves - this depends on the model so check the specification.

Ventilated 'Fully Blown'  

Ventilated cooling systems are specifically designed to operate in commercial kitchens where the heat and humidity is inevitably much higher than the ‘norm’ - this is what we and others mean by ‘heavy duty’ use. 

Ventilated, heavy duty models are able to cope with extra heat and humidity partly by being oversized - but don’t panic! Oversized doesn’t mean they cost a lot to run, in fact it’s the opposite. Oversized units tend to use less energy than smaller units as they have to work less in order to produce cooling. Ventilated systems recover temperature very quickly after a door opening compared to statically cooled units. They are very unlikely to suffer from icing problems and provide lower and more consistent temperatures. They can do this in higher humidity and warmer conditions (often up to 43+ Deg C and 85% Humidity). Ventilated systems usually have higher manufacturing costs, so may cost more to buy (although this is not always true).

Freezers with ventilated cooling systems always have adjustable shelves 



Stainless Steel Grades - What They Mean

‘Stainless Steel’ is a term which is often mistaken as meaning it’s all the same. However, stainless steel comes in many different grades with different properties. When it comes to commercial refrigeration the two most common types are Grade 304 and Grade 430. 

Another common misconception is that stainless steel cannot corrode. This isn’t true. Stainless should be seen as meaning it stains-less than other materials, which it does. It isn’t though completely resistant to all corrosion. 

Higher content of chromium and nickel give stainless steel higher restistance to corrosion and improve tensile strength. Higher carbon content reduces resistance to corrosion.  

  • Grade 304 steel has higher content of chromium and nickel which is what gives 304 grade steel it's more robust properties. 

Grade 430 stainless steel is a lower cost material and can offer a cost saving in the finished product. Although Grade 430 steel is slightly more susceptible to corrosion than 304 Grade and is not quite as tough, it isn’t likely to rust severely or rapidly and is likley to be virtually rust free when the unit comes to the end of it's life - don’t believe a lot of the scare stories which say it will rust in days, it will not!

Grade 403 steel is steel and therefore fairly tough. While not as tough as grade 304 steel it can still withstand heavy impacts without breaking (within reason) and it is considerably tougher than plastic.

It is important to be a little more careful when cleaning 430 grade steel with corrosive cleaners and not to use it in very high humidity conditions.

Although grade 430 stainless steel sometime gets a bad press it has to be taken into context. Most commercial fridges have a lifecycle of a few years and with sensible use and in conditions which are not excessively warm or humid, 430 grade steel is unlikely to suffer from severe corrosion or impact damage.

Grade 430 steel also has a parting shot to throw at its critics - it is considered to be a greener steel than other grades due to its composition and the processes involved to produce it, so by using it you are considering the environment. 

Grade 304 steel is a higher cost material compared to 430 grade steel. It is often the preferred choice of caterers because it is stronger than 430 stainless steel and has very high resistance to corrosion (grade 304 stainless steel is highly unlikely to ever suffer from corrosion).

Being tougher and more corrosion resistant material grade 304 steel is important if a fridge is to be located in a kitchen where humidity will be high and/or if it is being subjected to heavy duty use. If long life and toughness is important then grade 304 steel offers the best option.


Some suppliers and manufactuers may suggest that light duty units offer poor performance this is a myth. If a static system is used in lower ambient conditions (and they can still cope with temperatures of over 30 Deg C - which is pretty warm) and if the door is only opened infrequently (which is the case in many businesses) then they are suitable and will perform perfectly well. They simply offer a solution for which is suitable for many environments and uses and in doing so allow the buyer to make a cost saving. 

On the other hand, if your business is a commercial kitchen with several cooking devices which make it a hot and humid area and if the fridge door might be opened a lot, then you will need a heavy duty model in order to cope with these conditions. 

Some supplier suggest that grade 430 steel 'will rust' - this again is not true. Grade 430 steel is still a 'stainless steel' with excellent resistance to corrosion. Rather, grade 304 steel is the most corrosion resistant of the two. Choosing the right material is just a matter of thinking about your own use. 

Choose carefully and base your decision on your own use and the conditions that the fridge or freezer will be subjected to.