As the operator of any kind of venue that stores or serves food, your fridges and freezers are perhaps your most important assets.
Commercial freezers, along with their refrigerator cousins, operate 24/7 to store food and prevent it from going off.
As with ovens, dishwashers, deep fryers and fridges, there are a lot of options when the time comes to buy a commercial freezer. You need to know what to look for so you don’t just get the best value for money, but the best commercial freezer for the job.
With this in mind, we have created a commercial freezer buyer's guide to help you decide which model is best for your kitchen, hospitality venue or retail outlet.
While this commercial freezer buyer's guide is detailed and extensive, once you’re familiar with the different options, it is still helpful to get advice from a professional who understands the hospitality industry and can assess your needs based on your venue size and customer numbers.
This could be a commercial kitchen consultant or someone who has supported other businesses to choose the model of commercial freezer to buy that’s best for you. They will help you choose the best freezer brand and model, based on the commercial freezers in Australia.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at SilverChef if you have any questions about how to buy a commercial freezer for your cafe, restaurant, hotel, club, hospital, school, service station, general store or other venue.
Here’s what our commercial freezer guide covers
- Types of commercial freezers
- Common commercial freezer terms
- Buying a commercial freezer: what to consider
- Used commercial freezer vs new
- Best commercial freezer brands
- Questions to ask before you buy a commercial freezer
- Commercial freezer FAQ
Types of commercial freezers
No matter what type of venue you’re operating, you can never have too much fridge and freezer space.
From commercial display freezers to commercial undercounter freezers and blast chillers, here are some of the different types of commercial freezers you will come across when you are shopping around for the best commercial freezer brand for your venue.
Most come in a range of sizes to accommodate your needs.
Vertical / reach-in / stand up / upright commercial freezer
Upright commercial freezers are also known as stand up commercial freezers and may also be referred to as ‘reach in’ or ‘vertical’ freezers. They have shallow shelves that allow you or your customers to grab the items you need. Your kitchen may have a one, two or four door model. It may also have a split commercial fridge freezer.
If you have a shopfront, you may have a multi-door reach-in freezer to showcase your goods to your customers.
If you’re using an upright commercial freezer in your kitchen, look for ‘gastronorm’ storage capabilities (you’ll find out more about what ‘gastronorm’ is further down).
Either an upright glass door/commercial display freezer or stainless steel door freezer will suit your needs.
Walk-in commercial freezers
Also known as cool rooms. These models are ideal for storing large quantities of food. The advantage is extra space.
Unlike a stand up commercial freezer, these models allow you to move around in the refrigeration space freely. They are quite heavy duty and will definitely need to be professionally installed.
These models obviously have a higher price point than stand up commercial freezers and will probably require extra effort to install in your kitchen or facility.
Horizontal / chest freezer
These ‘bend and reach’ commercial display freezers are often used to hold ice cream or other frozen goods. They are believed to be more efficient because it is harder for the cold air to escape when you lift the lid.
You may use a brand of commercial chest freezer in your kitchen for longer-term storage. Look for a model with removable baskets so your chefs can access what they need without having to go ‘digging’.
Countertop commercial freezer
As the name suggests, this small freezer is created to sit on your countertop. It is very handy in a busy food preparation area.
Dessert chefs can pull out the ingredients they need from your larger freezer before service and transfer them to the countertop freezer so they can access them as needed. This saves them from having to constantly walk back and forth or bend down all day.
Commercial undercounter freezer
If you don’t have room above your counter, you may wish to put a small freezer below your chefs’ workspaces.
Look for a single or two-door model of commercial undercounter freezer, depending on your needs and the space you have in your kitchen.
Some commercial undercounter freezers come built into workbench units.
These are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their practicality. With a drawer freezer, you don’t have to crouch down and reach in to find what you need. The shallow drawers make access easy. The drawback can be that these drawers are difficult to clean and you also can’t see what’s inside until you open the drawers, unlike glass door upright commercial freezer models.
You can look for a drawer freezer that has a working countertop above it as a handy feature for your kitchen.
Some drawer freezers even have programmable temperatures so they can be chilled to match the food you are storing.
Commercial blast chiller/commercial blast freezer
Also known as flash freezers, these appliances freeze food in around 90 minutes, where in a standard upright commercial freezer it would take around four hours. This is obviously helpful for time-limit reasons but it also reduces the loss of moisture in the freezing process, and it can also minimise the risk of bacteria forming on food while it cools.
With a blast chiller, you can keep your team busy between busy periods to produce high-quality, high volume ingredients like sauces, soups and gravies, then chill them without losing flavour or integrity. Food can even be par-cooked ahead of being put in the blast chiller before and stored carefully in a freezer. When it’s needed, it can be thawed and the cooking process completed.
As a result of using a commercial blast chiller, you get food that is frozen in a fresher state. The process is less likely to preserve the cellular structure of the food so it keeps its shape, taste and texture.
You can choose from undercounter blast chiller or table top blast chiller models. The other benefit of using one is that while a standard commercial freezer is designed to keep food frozen, a blast chiller is designed to freeze it. You won’t face the issue of putting warm food next to frozen food in the same cabinet, which can impact the resulting quality when both foods are thawed.
You will need a commercial batch freezer if you are creating large quantities of frozen dessert.
In this particular type of freezer, frozen foods like ice cream, gelato and sorbet are ‘churned’ as they are frozen. This prevents ice crystals from forming and stops the ingredients from freezing solid during the production process.
Batch freezers come in a range of sizes to meet different needs.
Roll in/rack freezers
If you’re preparing multiple trays of food that require freezing (like pastries, frozen desserts or meat patties) and you need to access what you have prepared quickly and easily, a roll in/rack freezer will help.
Instead of having shelves installed, this allows you to ‘roll in’ a rack of goods on wheels. Look for a model with floor-level base or a ramp to get the racks in and out without having to lift them.
Common commercial freezer terms
Being a freezer maintenance technician isn’t necessary when you’re busy running a venue but it doesn’t hurt to know what’s going on with your machine. Here are some terms you will come across when you are operating or looking to buy a commercial freezer:
The condenser coil is the metal part at the back of the freezer or across the bottom of it. Its job is to cool and condense your refrigerant. Over time, these coils get covered in dust and dirt, which makes it harder for them to function correctly as they can’t release heat like they are supposed to.
Keep an eye on the condition of your condenser coil as it may need a clean so it can function properly.
With some models of freezers, ice builds up inside over time. This happens because warm air is trapped then cools and freezes after you have opened the door. As a result of ice build-up, the machine actually has to work harder to cool the contents.
Newer models have auto-defrost features to save you time and effort, however you should always keep an eye on the ice levels inside and prepare to defrost your model if ice reaches a depth of more than a centimetre.
If your freezer needs defrosting, the other indicator is that the food isn’t properly frozen.
The fans in your commercial freezer cool the compressor and force air through the coils. They help prevent your fridges and freezers from frosting over and causing food to spoil. If your fans aren’t functioning, the temperature in your commercial freezer will start to rise, which will impact the quality (and safety) of your food.
A freezer may seem like an eternal food storage solution but the truth is that food stored for too long will start to suffer from freezer burn. You can also inadvertently cause freezer burn as you place food in the freezer.
Freezer burn happens when moisture in the outer layers of the food evaporates into the freezer air. Empty 'dry' pockets are left behind in the tissue of the food.
You will see freezer burn as brownish-white discolouration or white splotches and notice the crystally ‘crunch’ factor when you pull food out of the freezer. It doesn’t mean the food has spoiled but it won’t be as pleasant to eat because it has lost a lot of moisture.
Prevent freezer burn by wrapping food well before you store it in a container, and by remembering not to leave food in the freezer for months at a time.
Gastronorm (GN) compatible
You might hear this term come up when you are shopping for kitchen equipment like fridges, ovens, dishwashers and freezers.
If you buy a commercial freezer that is ‘gastronorm compatible’ (or GN compatible), it can accommodate the most commonly used sizes of pans and storage containers. Having uniformity makes it easier to operate a busy commercial kitchen.
Low E glass
Low E glass is a thin coating that reflects heat from your glass display freezer. It minimises the amount of UV and infrared light that can pass into the unit.
Choose a commercial upright display freezer with Low E glass for better energy efficiency and you will save on the cost of running it.
The refrigerant in your fridge or freezer is the fluid that moves around during the refrigeration cycle. As it moves around your freezer, it turns from a liquid to a gas and back again.
Here’s a description of what happens inside your freezer:
There are two sets of coils in your freezer, the condenser and the evaporative/evaporator coil. These are separated by an expansion valve. When your freezer is plugged in, the compressor pump places pressure on the refrigerant in the condenser coil so it is forced to move around your freezer, dissipating heat as it goes. Once the liquid reaches the evaporator coils, it changes to a gas, which creates the cooling effect.
Some refrigerants have been found harmful to the environment. Before you decide on the best freezer brand for you, check the environmental impact of the refrigerant that is used. For example, look for a freezer which uses natural, nontoxic refrigerants that have no ozone depleting properties like hydrocarbon refrigerants.
The seal on your freezer lets it shut tightly without letting cold air out. If your freezer door won’t stay closed it may be because the flexible strip that the seal is made from is either starting to disintegrate or it is so dirty that it can’t do its job.
If your freezer suddenly starts making a lot of noise, it may be due to a faulty seal. The appliance will be working extra hard to keep the temperature low. Even more so than with fridges, freezers require a good seal so the parts can do their job.
Most modern freezers will be able to show you what the temperature is inside so you know the food is protected from going off.
We’ll cover the best temperature range for commercial freezers shortly.
Your commercial freezer has vents for the warm air that is created as part of the cooling process to escape. This ventilation requires a few centimetres of ‘breathing room’ for this to happen.
You may be able to find a suitable model of commercial freezer with ventilation at the front so it can sit closer to the wall.
Buying a commercial freezer: what to consider
Think about size when you buy a commercial freezer. Buy one that’s too big and it will take up too much room in your kitchen or store. Go too small and food will be crammed in awkwardly and difficult to find.
Remember however, that empty space inside means your freezer will need to work harder to keep what is inside cold enough.
The other issue with size is the fit. Check your freezer isn’t too tall, wide or deep to sit where you want to place it. Take some measurements before you go shopping and don’t forget to allow room for ventilation if the vents are at the back of the freezer.
Another option to consider is SilverChef's Rent-Try-Buy
- with this option, you can try the commercial freezer you've chosen in your venue before deciding later whether you want to own it, return it or upgrade to a bigger model.
Capacity refers to how much food your commercial freezer can hold on the inside.
Like with commercial fridges, commercial freezer capacity is referred to in litres. Review the freezer capacity when you’re deciding between models; you may find there is a few litres of difference.
Check out the way shelves are placed too. Will you have lots of smaller frozen products to display or will your chefs be storing larger items inside the freezer and do the shelves accommodate either of these needs?
It is annoying to hear your freezer door beeping because it is open but you will save on electricity bills and food bills if you close it straight away.
An open door for more than a minute or two can lead to food beginning to thaw. The refreezing process can lead to freezer burn so the alarm will prove its value over time.
Your commercial freezer’s energy rating is important for financial and environmental reasons.
Because your freezer is switched on 24/7, the less it costs to run, the better.
In terms of the environment, commercial refrigeration in Australia causes 4% of the global warming emissions released into the atmosphere. The unit you use has to meet certain requirements so it contributes as little to this as possible.
Here is some quick information from energyrating.gov.au about the latest updates to energy requirements:
- The MEPS requirements included in the 2012 Determination were replaced by the Energy Efficiency Index (EEI) in the 2019 Determination.
- Refrigerated cabinets are assessed against a maximum level on the EEI scale. If a unit exceeds the maximum level, it will not be able to be supplied in Australia or New Zealand.
If you buy a commercial freezer in Australia, you have to make sure it meets EEI requirements. The good news is that by doing so, you are reducing damaging greenhouse gas emissions and you are also saving money.
A combination of factors make an energy efficient, environmentally friendly freezer. This includes good insulation, efficient interior LED lighting, good quality seals and technology that reduces temperature fluctuations.
Will you need to move your commercial freezer around your kitchen or venue? If so, look for a model on wheels/castors.
Your freezer needs ventilation to prevent it from overheating so it shouldn’t be placed right next to the wall without breathing room.
Think about the placement of your equipment and its ventilation when you are considering models to buy. Many freezers have ventilation at the front, which is helpful.
Will a right or left-hand freezer door opening make things inconvenient for your chefs? Is a double door commercial freezer the best option? Perhaps you have a narrow space that will only fit a single door model. Four french doors could make sense instead of two longer doors, so you can keep different types of food in different sections.
Some models of commercial freezers have interchangeable doors so you can configure them to open in the most convenient way.
Something else to look for is self-closing doors. This makes life easier for everyone as your chefs and customers won’t have to go back to close a freezer door, and your electricity costs will be kept under control.
This is something we also discuss in our Commercial Fridge Buyer's Guide.
How important is the security of your frozen food? Even if you can’t see anyone wanting to eat what’s inside, you need to consider the risk of vandals breaking into your venue. A freezer model with a lock built in may be a wise investment.
Regularity of use
When choosing a commercial freezer, think about how often it will be accessed.
A chest freezer may fit into a space but will your staff find it frustrating to constantly be lifting the lid and peering in? If that’s the case, buyer's an upright commercial freezer may be the best solution.
Food to store
As mentioned, a roll in/rack freezer may suit your needs best if you’re producing large volumes.
Otherwise, consider shelf placement and the need to place large containers in your freezer. If you are storing very large-scale frozen desserts, ensure your team can lift them out easily.
Temperature control and display
What is the temperature range for commercial freezers?
It’s widely accepted that the ideal temperature for a commercial freezer is -18°C to -20°C (that’s minus 18 degrees to minus 20 degrees Celsius).
A thermometer should give you an easy reference of the current temperature inside your commercial freezer.
Commercial freezer placement
Aim to keep your freezer away from direct sunlight so the temperature outside the unit doesn’t climb too high and force it to go into overdrive.
If it is a customer-facing freezer, check there will be room to open doors without hitting other cabinetry.
Power point placement is another thing to think about. You don’t want the power point placed somewhere hard to reach, particularly if you need to manually defrost your freezer by switching it off at the wall.
Most modern commercial freezers have auto defrost functions so you don’t have to worry about switching the power off, putting towels all over the floor to absorb excess water and scraping ice from the edges of the machine. These functions happen on a time-cycle throughout the day and shouldn’t affect food quality.
If you’re buyer's a used commercial freezer, check if it has an auto-defrost function.
It’s also worth noting that even an auto-defrost freezer may need to be shut down for a proper defrost from time to time once it has reached a couple of years of age.
Installation and power supply
Before you buy a commercial freezer, check about the installation process and how it will be handled. Will the freezer just be delivered and left or will someone help you get it connected to power in your kitchen?
Your freezer should be installed by a professional to ensure it operates at its best.
In terms of power supply, double check the voltage with our electrician to make sure you have the right appliance for the power coming through the wall.
Warranty and guarantees
With your freezer being such an important part of your kitchen or venue, you need to make sure you have a model that operates well.
It may make sense to purchase an extended warranty on parts and labour so you don’t have to pay for the cost of repairs on faulty parts.
Cleaning and maintenance
Most commercial freezer models are very efficient but you do need to keep them clean and dust free to extend the lifespan and cooling functions. Your chefs or cleaners should include wiping down freezer ventilation areas as part of their cleaning routines.
Speak with your vendor about how often your upright commercial freezer, commercial blast freezer or commercial undercounter freezer/blast chiller needs to be wiped down and cleaned.
You should also enquire about part availability. Sometimes a cheaper model will seem like a good deal but you won’t be able to find parts for repair if something goes wrong.
Used commercial freezer vs new
A used commercial freezer could be an option as you establish or expand your venue or retail premises. Buying used can give you an idea of the size you need before you commit to purchasing a newer model, and they can help you save on costs.
Experts will advise you to be wary of buying a used commercial freezer from auction sites or Gumtree because you have very little assurance of the actual quality of the item.
A better option is to find a used commercial freezer that has been professionally serviced and still comes with a warranty. This will give you reassurance that it will work well, at least for a year or so. Check out our range of quality, refurbished equipment here.
Best commercial freezer brands
So which is the best commercial freezer brand? The answer depends on your needs, your budget and your venue.
The good news is that commercial fridge and freezer technology is always advancing and there are many excellent models to choose from.
Premium commercial freezer brands
The following are recommended as some of the best commercial freezer brands in Australia.
Williams commercial freezer pros and cons
Williams Refrigeration offers a huge range of fridge and freezer solutions, including upright commercial freezers, blast chillers and specialised models, including compact mobile and roll in models. This brand has delivered professional refrigeration solutions to restaurants, pubs, schools and hospitals since 1980.
A recent addition to Williams’ Chef’s Drawer range is a variable temperature model that can be switched from a refrigerator to a freezer. They are also introducing hydrocarbon models, which reduce energy consumption, lower running costs and tend to be quieter to run.
Made in the Australian state of Victoria, a big ‘pro’ for a Williams commercial fridge or freezer is the short lead time on orders. They are considered a premium model of freezer.
Skope commercial freezer pros and cons
New Zealand brand Skope is well known and regarded as a dependable commercial freezer brand in Australia. The range includes commercial stand up freezers (one or two door models), blast chillers, reach in/roll in freezers and blast chillers and undercounter commercial freezers with one or more doors.
Reviewers describe Skope as offering quality products that provide value for money, with some saying their freezers are the 'Rolls Royce of the refrigerator world.' Now distributing globally, Skope’s selling points are ultraprecise temperatures, remote monitoring and positive engineering when it comes to being efficient and eco-friendly. Their models are robust and the energy savings make up for the higher price tag.
Polaris commercial freezer pros and cons
Polaris offers 'more than 30 years of experience in the field of professional refrigeration equipment.' They provide a complete range of specific equipment for various sectors, to guarantee the right solution and maximum support to all professionals working every day in the kitchen.
Polaris’ industrial blast chillers help venues to reduce waste, keep up with demand and optimise food purchases. Their freezer models can be controlled remotely or operated by intuitive touch screens and come in models from compact to upright and roll-in.
Mid range commercial freezers
Turbo Air commercial freezer pros and cons
Turbo Air is a US-based company that has been producing commercial fridges and freezers for over 20 years.
Their sturdy commercial stand up freezers come in single and multi-door models as well as commercial fridge freezer combos. Digital controls and displays, plus adjustable, heavy duty shelves make them easy to use. They also offer eco-friendly commercial freezer models. Turbo Air is described as reliable, functional and convenient.
SKIPIO commercial freezer pros and cons
With a base in Sydney’s Smithfield and head office in South Korea, SKIPIO is a global brand that exports to over 60 countries.
This brand recognises the need for equipment that preserves food and minimises energy costs as a make-or-break factor in the hospitality industry.
SKIPIO’s range includes a number of reach in freezers, under counter models and display cases/glass door freezers.
This brand is recommended because of its self-closing doors, range of different capacity models, digital temperature control, internal LED lightning and high density insulation.
Bromic commercial freezer pros and cons
With stock held in four locations across Australia, Bromic Refrigeration supplies sleek-looking bar fridges and freezers, countertop commercial freezers, ice machines, gelato displays, chest freezers and upright commercial freezers.
Bromic is one of the largest suppliers of fridges and freezers in the country, supplying commercial refrigeration and freezing equipment to a number of well-known retail and hospitality brands including Dominos, IGA and McDonalds.
Bromic is known for providing high-value, reliable refrigeration products and scrutinises its commercial units with a ‘100 point check’ to prove quality, value and reliability.
Budget friendly commercial refrigerators
Polar commercial freezer pros and cons
Polar Refrigeration has been producing commercial fridges and freezers for over 15 years. This brand offers a diverse range at a competitive price point.
The Polar range includes ice machines, shop display units, one and two door upright commercial freezers in white or stainless steel, counter freezers and commercial blast chillers.
This is a global brand that operates in over 100 countries and is popular with commercial caterers.
Questions to ask before you buy a commercial freezer
Sometimes the best way to get information on which commercial freezer to buy is to speak to people in your industry.
Before you purchase a new or used commercial freezer, talk to people who run similar venues and ask them some of the following questions:
- Which commercial freezer model do you use and why?
- How often does your commercial freezer break down or need repairs?
- What do you find are the best commercial freezer brands?
- How easy is it to clean and maintain your commercial freezer?
- Is the provider of your used commercial freezer or new model of freezer reliable when you need their help?
- Do your chefs/cooks/staff find your commercial freezer easy to access?
- What was your experience buyer's a used commercial freezer?
- Would say the model you use is the best commercial freezer?
- What is the best commercial blast chiller?
- What commercial freezer price would you recommend paying?
Here are questions to ask your dealer or supplier about the best commercial freezer to buy:
- Will this machine suit the needs of my venue?
- What warranty is included?
- How easy is it to get parts from the factory if they are needed?
- What happens if I need an urgent commercial freezer repair?
- How much are hourly callout fees? What about on weekends?
- Why do you recommend this commercial freezer?
- Is this commercial freezer worth the price?
Commercial freezer FAQ
Why is my commercial freezer not actually freezing food?
Food that isn’t quite frozen is an indicator that something is wrong with your machine, usually that it is not maintaining the right temperature.
A change in temperature in your freezer could be caused by a problem with the seal, poor ventilation, a rise in outside temperature, a dirty condenser coil or too much build up of ice inside the machine. Before you call your technician, it is a good idea to check these areas.
How much does a commercial freezer cost?
The amount you will pay for a commercial freezer depends on the model you need and the brand you choose. Smaller, under counter freezers can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
A larger walk-in freezer can reach costs of more than $25,000. Take the cost of operation into consideration as well as the purchase price. Ask the vendor what the average monthly running cost is and factor it into your calculations. In some cases, a higher purchase price may be offset by lower running costs.
What is the lifespan of a commercial freezer?
Most good quality commercial freezers will last around ten years or even longer.
Over the ten years you have this asset, you may need to upgrade the seals/gaskets, which will wear out due to constant use in a busy kitchen or store.
What is the best commercial freezer brand in Australia?
The best commercial freezer fridge brand in Australia depends on the size of your venue, what you are serving/selling and what you will use it for. For example, you may choose a brand because it is the size you need and it has features (such as a lock or the ability to control it remotely) that you know you will use.
Thanks for reading this commercial freezer buyer's guide
This guide has hopefully helped you understand what to look for, so you can narrow down your decision about what really is the best commercial freezer for your venue.
If you’d like the advice and guidance of a professional, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at SilverChef – we have dedicated restaurant and cafe industry experts available to support you.
Prefer to dive straight in and start looking at the commercial freezers you can buy from our Certified Used team? Shop the range
Want to know about finance options and what your rental payments on a commercial freezer could be? Use our Rent-Try-Buy calculator to run the numbers.
Photo by Mitra Mohammadi on Unsplash