Small kitchens can create all sorts of design challenges, but with the latest compact refrigeration it is possible for operators to get all the cold storage they need without taking up vital space. In this special product round-up, we assess a selection of the most compact refrigeration cabinets on the market.
GRAM ECO MIDI K 60
* 2000mm (H) x 600mm (W) x 771mm (D)
* 407 litres (304 litres net usable volume)
Gram Eco Midi 60 cabinets combine stylish design with high functionality and low energy consumption in a compact footprint. The controls on the Eco Midi are concealed behind the top panel, protected against splashing water, while the design principle of ‘no broken surfaces’ makes the cabinets easy to clean.
The distinctive aluminium profiles stretch from the top to the bottom on both sides of the cabinet, imparting strength and enhancing the contemporary design. Accessing stored items is also easy as the storage compartment is raised 370mm above the floor. The Gram Eco Midi 60 is suitable for the 1/1 GN system and the modular rails can go directly in the dishwasher. Other features include automatic door closing, integrated castors, LED lighting and a door lock.
Space is always at a premium in commercial kitchens and with staff needing to work at a safe distance from each other, operators should look for refrigerators that occupy a compact footprint, but still pack a punch in terms of capacity and energy efficiency.
Roz Scourfield, national sales manager at Hoshizaki UK, says: “One important piece of advice for operators is that as refrigerators are one of the few appliances that need to operate 24/7, energy efficient performance is crucial and the ‘A’ rated Eco Midi excels in this area, consuming just 271 kWh per year.”
TRUE REFRIGERATION TUC-24-HC
* 802mm (H) x 610mm (W) x 629mm (D)
* 94 litres net capacity
While many standard 150 litre undercounter size products on the market operate on ‘static coil’ or ‘cold shelf’ systems typical of domestic refrigeration equipment, True’s TUC-24 models feature a fully commercial grade ‘forced air’ system, designed to hold food-safe temperature consistently under high demand professional kitchen conditions, and carry a ‘Climate Class 5’ label certification as proof.
The small footprint unit features a larger than average 94 litre net usable capacity and has a height of 802mm, paired with a ‘front breathing’ design, making it the ideal spot refrigeration choice for undercounter installation in any kitchen. The door is field reversible for right or left hinging. Operating on True’s environment and energy-friendly R290 hydrocarbon system, the TUC-24-HC refrigerator carries an ‘A’ rated label for energy efficiency, and like all True products, comes backed by a five-year P&L warranty.
Commercial refrigeration equipment is no longer limited to huge cabinets of no benefit to space-restricted foodservice operators, says True Refrigeration’s marketing coordinator for EMEA, Chris Cope.
He says that customers now have access to slimline models with enhanced performance. “In the past, operators may have been forced to consider domestic refrigeration equipment as an alternative, but this is not advisable for businesses.
“These products are not designed or intended to hold food-safe temperatures consistently under the high ambient environment and frequent door opening demands typical of many commercial kitchens. Always chose commercial and make sure products have the required energy label. Ideally the label should state ‘Climate Class 5’ in the bottom-right corner to guarantee efficient operation in busy commercial kitchens.”
FOSTER REFRIGERATOR SLIMLIME FSL400H
* 1900mm (H) x 600mm (W) x 705mm (D)
* Gross volume 400 litres
The Foster Slimline has been cleverly designed to fit in compact environments or those kitchens with awkward access, while still offering outstanding storage capacity, style and efficiency. A bottom-mounted refrigeration system draws air from the cooler part of the kitchen ensuring efficient operation. The Foster Slimline offers even temperature distribution and fast recovery due to advanced air circulation, meaning optimum temperature to keep food fresher for longer.
There are advantages to having units that suit different needs and spaces. The key benefit of freestanding units is flexibility. “By choosing a number of smaller free-standing units, the kitchen layout can be modified if the requirements of the space change,” says Stefan Wilcock, regional business manager at Foster Refrigerator.
“Smaller, more tricky-to-work-with spaces can also be capitalised on with products such as undercounter refrigeration. This allows for space to be maximised that might usually be overlooked, as well as allowing chefs ease of access to ingredients as they work at their stations.”
* 845mm-900mm (H) x 450m (W) x 800mm (D)
* 69 litres
The Adande VCC is an ergonomic, space-saving item of equipment that can operate from -22°C to +15°C. Ideal for storing frozen product, the unit can be supplied with a fry basket and drip tray and is perfectly sized to sit beside a fryer for efficiency.
Normally, slimline refrigeration is positioned in areas where it’s busy and the door or drawers are always being opened, which can compromise food holding temperatures and cause problems with temperature stability, especially in freezer mode. Adande, however, uses patented technology so that cold air stays where it should and there is no icing on the food.
The biggest issue in tight spaces is air intake to a refrigeration system. “Adande units ‘breathe’ through the front or underside and these can be boxed in,” explains head of marketing Caroline Parker.
“Normally slimline refrigeration struggles in tight spaces as it cannot breathe properly, which puts extra load on the compressor and makes the unit work harder, resulting in higher energy costs and eventually compressor failure.” She also advises operators not to be tempted to buy cheap refrigeration, as what looks like a great deal initially is very likely to cost more later down the line. “You can never recover the damage caused to food by poor fridge or freezer operation,” she says.
WILLIAMS JADE J300U
* 1956mm (H) x 595mm (W) x 684mm (D)
* 335.5 litres or 8.6 cubic feet (can hold four 2/3GN pans)
The Jade J300U is an ultra slim cabinet that is ideal for foodservice operations where space is at a premium. It is designed with a bottom-mounted refrigeration system that makes it ideal for kitchens with low ceilings.
The J300U includes all the features of standard Jade cabinets — a robust construction with stainless steel exterior and interior base, self-closing doors equipped with easy grab handles and 80mm thick, high performance insulation with low GWP and zero ODP. It also features an enhanced internal airflow design that provides constant temperature throughout the cabinet and an energy-saving CoolSmart electronic controller.
Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director at Williams, says it’s important for operators to seek out manufacturers that specifically design products suitable for all types of applications within a small kitchen environment, including slimline units.
He says there are plenty of features which operators might not know about but which could influence their decision. “Jade units include features such as non-marking swivel castors with brakes which allow for the kitchen space to be reconfigured if requirements change. Other features like removable racking make cleaning the interior simple.”
LIEBHERR GKV 4360 FORCED AIR REFRIGERATOR
* 1900mm (H) x 597mm (W) x 680mm (D)
* 436 litres (gross) 406 litres (net)
As with all Liebherr commercial refrigeration appliances, the slim-profile GKv 4360 benefits from German design and engineering with the highest quality components, 304 grade stainless steel body and polystyrol moulded interior which are easy to clean, food safe, and corrosion resistant.
It has an excellent energy efficiency rating, uses sustainable refrigerants, and has a low operating noise level, all of which are beneficial in busy commercial kitchen operations.
Operators seeking a compact refrigeration solution should look closely at the net capacity of the unit they are buying, says Andy Clarke, national account manager at Liebherr GB Appliance Division. “They also need to carefully consider what they want to store, where the refrigerator will be located and, of course, whether the appliance offers value for money by being energy efficient, reliable and robust enough to provide a long working life.”
Seal in energy and profit
Compact refrigeration units rely on good quality door seals to maintain efficiency and performance. Like tyres on a car, rubber seals need replacing. Faulty seals are a common issue with hard-working fridges and can lead to the equipment overheating or not reaching the correct temperature.
A broken seal can mean refrigeration equipment is using as much as three times more energy because cool air is escaping, which will inevitably hike up energy bills. Stock wastages are also likely and there is the issue of food safety compliance to consider, particularly as fridges are often the first checks performed by an environmental health officer.
Traditionally, it would take two engineer visits to repair and replace a seal — the first to diagnose, measure and order the seal, and the second to return and fit the seal. This could mean two call-out charges and the possibility of delays in sourcing the product, particularly if it is coming from overseas. But FiltaSeal solves this problem with a first-time fix on the day — resulting in one visit and one bill.
Edward Palin, commercial director at Filta Group, comments: “FiltaSeal is unique because our engineers manufacture the seal on-site using specialist tooling in our mobile workshop, before fitting it to the appliance, which means one call-out at one fixed price, with no extra charges. It is cheaper (an estimated 40% cheaper than OEM replacements), more convenient and hassle-free — with no need to wait for parts and no need for two visits.”