Simple ways to optimize your walk-in cooler and freezer
By Ryan Grobler
Whether you run a hospital, own a restaurant, bar or convenience store, your walk-in cooler or freezer is likely one of the largest line items in your energy usage.
If you’re looking to reduce your overhead it is imperative you do all you can to optimize your walk-in for maximum energy efficiency. Simple maintenance procedures can be implemented and basic education about the newest best equipment in the market will help drive energy consumption down.
Regular visual checks of components
Weekly walk through and visual checks are imperative to making sure that systems are operating correctly and that small issues do not compound themselves and cause further problems.
Some common issues to look out for:
Icing forming around cooler or freezer doors
- This generally means that cool air is escaping through a broken seal or gasket and a more detailed inspection is needed to check for rips or cracks. Icing around the door could also indicate the heater wire is not functioning or the door closer has failed. All of these situations can cause cooling to be lost increasing utility bills and potentially creating hazardous conditions.
Ice forming on the coil behind the motors
- This generally means that there is an issue with the expansion valve regulating the amount of coolant, lack of air movement, defrost cycle failure or simply a failed motor. A quick visual inspection of the evaporator each week with a flashlight will show if any ice is starting to form. When ice is visible call your refrigeration contractor to troubleshoot and remedy the issue. Icing of coils will cause an increase in amp pulls on the motors and also put stress on components leading to higher energy bills and cost of replacing damaged parts.
Maintain your Refrigeration units
Schedule regular maintenance on the units; visually inspect your unit for corrosion, electrical issues, leaks or improper fan operation. Clean the evaporator coils and blades. Check the drainage system is clear of any debris. Ensure airflow to the unit is unobstructed.
Make sure all components are high efficiency
- Install digital thermostats for more accurate control of compressors.
- Make sure that you have sufficient insulated panels installed.
- Install strip curtains to prevent cold air escaping when door is opened
- Install new LED lights and sensors.
- Replace and upgrade the motors and fans to most efficient options.
Train your staff
Have monthly meetings to discuss good operational procedures
- Don’t leave refrigeration doors propped open when stocking or getting product
- Turn off the lights when exiting the walk-in cooler or freezer
- Don’t take hot prepared food and store it in the cooler or freezer
- Check thermometers when entering and leaving to ensure units are holding temperature
- Report any unusual ice formation, noise or visible changes inside units
The simple steps above can reduce the consumption of energy substantially in your walk-in coolers and freezers. These ultimately allow for a smoother operation, less maintenance costs and an increase in profit for your company.
About the Author: Ryan Grobler is founder and CEO of FridgeWize, Inc., a company that specializes in energy efficient turnkey packages for motor, fan and smart components in refrigeration and commercial HVAC. In 2012, Grobler invented the patent-pending carbon fiber fan blade for refrigeration applications. In 2015 and 2016 the blade received multiple international awards including the Energy Awards Top Product of the Year in London in 2016.