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Buying Guide: Commercial Reach-In Refrigeration

Need help making a purchase? Central has you covered with a library full of buying guides you can conveniently find on our website.

Today’s buying guide covers reach-in refrigeration. Find this and all buying guides here, and check back after the release of our January master catalog (later on this month) for more. ___________________________________________________________________________

What to Consider When Selecting a Commercial Reach-In Refrigerator or Freezer:

  • Bottom Mount vs. Top Mount Compressor
  • Size Requirements
  • Door Types
  • Material Construction
  • ENERGY STAR Qualifications


Reach-in refrigeration is most commonly used for short term food and ingredient storage. Regardless of brand, commercial reach-ins are constructed to withstand the daily usage of busy kitchens.

Let your Central Product Consultant help you find the right refrigeration to meet your requirements but not overspend on features you don’t need.


 Top Mount vs. Bottom Mount Compressors

Top Mount

  • Higher initial investment, but typically units will last longer and require fewer service calls
  • Compressors are positioned out of the food zone, giving you full use of the interior refrigerated space
  • Keeps the kitchen cooler because the warm air exhaust is at the top of the unit and above the work area
  • Better for bakeries or anywhere with lots of flour or dust. The low compressor on a bottom mount unit will clog more easily as dust/flour settles.


Bottom Mount

  • Lower initial cost
  • More of the interior storage area is a convenient, easy access height
  • Can store miscellaneous items on top of the unit
  • Good in hot kitchen environment because the compressor is near the floor where the air is cooler, so the compressor doesn’t have to work as hard




  • One, two and three door models are available in a variety of widths and door configurations. Half door models are also available for more compartmentalized storage.
  • How much storage space do you need? Larger units provide more storage space but also consume more energy and take up more floor space, so don’t overbuy.

CAUTION: Before purchasing any reach-in, measure your space—including door frames and corners. Don’t buy a unit that won’t fit through your door!



One door (more photos on buying guide page, link provided below)

  • Full height door units offer more storage space than half height models
  • Half height door units are more energy efficient than full height models because less refrigerated space has to be exposed to the hot kitchen at a time
  • Solid metal doors are easier to keep clean than glass and hide a messy interior from view
  • Glass doors are great for merchandising in front-of-house applications. Allows you to see what’s inside without opening the doors and letting cold air escape.
  • Swing doors: Easier loading and unloading, but open doors can block kitchen traffic
  • Sliding doors: Good for use in areas with limited space, but not as easy to load/unload and only one door can be opened at a time


Material Construction

  • Available units range from economy to premium (often called “consultant series” or “spec series”), with a variety of options in between
  • Top of the line reach-ins generally use more stainless steel and may offer more shelving or pan slide kit possibilities
  • Pricing typically increases the more stainless steel is used
  • For the best of the best, go for stainless steel inside and out. To cut costs, you may wish to opt for stainless steel exterior but aluminum interior.


Energy Star

ENERGY STAR qualified reach-ins offer energy savings up to 30 percent compared to standard models.

Various ENERGY STAR partners offer rebates on qualified equipment purchases. Ask your Product Consultant for more details and to see if your purchase qualifies.


For more information, view this Reach-In Refrigeration Buying Guide in full on our website, which also provides the list of our refrigerators and freezers by manufacturer, type and other factors to help you make a purchase.

Ready to order? View our reach-in refrigerators and reach-in freezers on our website. And don’t forget to check out all of Central’s buying guides.