Your Walk-in Cold Room FAQs Answered
For startups and small businesses, the option for a remote walk-in cold room instead of (or along with) having an on-site cold room can often prove very advantageous.
However, while many people in the food industry might have heard of a cold room, if you are new to the business you might not fully understand the functions or benefits of an isolated fridge.
So what is a cold room, how can it be used and who commonly rents separate cold storage facilities? We answer some key walk-in cold room FAQs:
What is a cold room?
A walk-in cold room is a storage solution for perishable items that need to be frozen or chilled to a specific temperature. Think of a refrigerator, but on a much larger scale.
The temperature of a cold room is generated artificially and usually used for commercial refrigeration. Cold storage is most commonly used to keep fresh produce fresher for longer, but they are also great for stockpiling medicines and flowers.
Components of a walk-in fridge; how do they work?
Curious how a walk-in fridge or blast freezer works on such a large scale? Here are the components that make up a cold store chiller:
- Compressor; compresses the refrigerant gas
- Condenser; cools hot gas into a cold liquid
- Expansion Valve; controls flow of liquid gas and expands liquid gas into vapour
- Evaporator Coils; boils and expands liquid gas and cools the coils by absorbing energy
- Refrigerator Fans; circulates air over cold evaporator coils and cools the room
- Cold Room Door; rigid door with excellent insulation to maintain temperature
Who uses walk-in cold storage?
Anyone who needs to keep large or bulk items chilled and frozen can hire a walk-in refrigeration unit for food storage, whether you are a business or individual.
Typically, cold rooms for rent are occupied by food businesses to store their back stock of supplies, without eating up all of the floor space in their dark kitchens with bulky refrigerators. Using chilled storage allows businesses to keep their kitchen fridges clear for the products they are using that day. More space within a walk-in fridge makes organisation and stock-checking much faster.
Pharmaceutical companies also hire walk-in fridges for medicine batches that must be kept at very specific low temperatures.
In the food industry, there are numerous businesses that might use cold rooms, including:
- Pop up food stands
- Food box delivery services
- Catering companies
- Cooking class businesses
How to keep up with cold room maintenance?
Adequate cold room maintenance and temperature control are vital when a chiller is in use. If the specified temperature of the cold storage room is allowed to rise or fall too drastically, the products contained inside could become unfit for human consumption or medical administration.
When you use Dephna to hire chilled storage, we conduct regular temperature and safety checks on all our rented cold storage units. By doing so, we can make sure that the room is secure, the temperature is suitable for the stored products, and it also eliminates one job for the occupier of our walk-in chillers.
What are the three main types of food storage?
In the food and beverage industry, there are three main types of food storage, dry, refrigerated and frozen.
Dry Food Storage
Dry food storage means storing items which don’t need a climate-controlled environment to maintain their quality or shelf-life. Typically, foods that can be kept at ‘dry storage’ level are held within pantries or cupboards within or nearby a commercial kitchen space.
Dry storage foods are usually bought in bulk or stockpiled by restaurants, as they have an extremely long shelf-life when compared with fresh fruits or meats. Examples of dry foods include flour, sugar, rice, canned vegetables etc.
Refrigerated Food Storage
Refrigerated food storage refers to foods that require a cool temperature to maintain their freshness and delay their deterioration.
Perishables that require a refrigerated environment must be kept cool at all times, and this usually includes most pre-cooked or ready-to-eat products, fresh and raw foods. Meats, cheese, fruits and pre-prepared meals are examples of food that need refrigerated storage.
Frozen Food Storage
Frozen food storage allows you to preserve foods for a prolonged period of time, that would otherwise spoil fairly quickly in cool or ambient storage temperature. Many restaurants use frozen pallet storage to preserve batch cooked foods that they have prepared in advance to save time, but they won’t be serving over the preceding few days.
What is the temperature of a walk-in cold store?
The temperature of your industrial cold room is entirely dependent on the products you are storing and what they require. In all Dephna walk-in cold rooms, you have the option to set the unit temperature at ambient, fridge or freezer.
Ambient Cold Room Temperature
If you have chosen the ‘cool’ or ‘room temperature’ setting for your cold store chiller – both are classed as ambient – you should ensure the mercury sits between 8°C and 25°C.
Room temperature is anywhere between 15°C to 25°C, while cold or cool is from 8°C to 15°C; so be sure you have the right setting to keep your food fresher for longer!
Walk-In Cold Room Temperature
Based on European regulations, the standard temperature for a regular refrigerator or a walk-in cold store should be set between 2°C to 8°C.
Walk-In Freezer Room Temperature
If you’re storing frozen goods, you should set your cold room to the freezer setting. For the safe storage of frozen foods, the temperature of your walk-in freezer must be at least minus 15°C or below.
What are the benefits of using a walk-in cold room?
They’re a real space saver
Being tight on space in your commercial kitchen is a constant challenge, which is especially annoying when the stock or equipment consuming your precious space are not things that you need quick and easy access to. External walk-in fridges allow you to keep your kitchen free of bulky refrigerators, creating extra floor space for vital cooking equipment, preparation stations or some extra breathing space for your staff.
“But a walk-in fridge is an extra expense, how does this save money?”
Due to chaotic fridges in busy food business kitchens, excessive amounts of food is wasted due to fresh fruits and veg spoiling – usually because it becomes lost in the chaos. Walk-in fridges allow you to neatly organise food, so you can clearly see what you have to consume, store everything in date order, and you can ensure all produce is used while it’s still safe and fresh.
Easy accessibility and convenient
We touched on this above, but the large capacity of an industrial cold room makes it easier to display all of your products. Whether you’re storing medicines, food produce or flowers, you can quickly identify and grab what you need when you’re in a rush, and this also helps with preventing wastage!
Customisable to your business needs
Whether it’s rearranging the layout of your walk-in fridge or freezer, adjusting the temperature settings or upgrading to a larger space when you need to, cold rooms offer great scope for flexibility to suit many business types, sizes and purposes.
Why are cold rooms important?
Cold rooms play an important role for businesses across many industries, especially food. The temperature-controlled rooms preserve the quality and prolong the shelf life of fresh goods, such as food, flowers, medicines and more. They also help the planet and your business finances, by reducing the amount of waste for perishable products.
Do cold storage rooms need ventilation?
Ventilation is necessary in cold rooms to avoid moisture. If improper – or no – ventilation is present, it can result in issues with air quality and also cause a significant amount of mould growth. Most ready-to-rent cold storage rooms will have built-in ventilation and so it’s not something you need to worry about, but you should enquire about this before renting a cold storage room.
Do you need to wear PPE in a cold storage room?
The amount of PPE you need to wear in a cold storage room depends on your work and your time spent in the room. Typically speaking, if you need to spend time searching for goods or re-organising or restocking the room or a walk-in freezer, you should wear PPE to protect yourself and prevent illnesses and accidents.
If you’re entering the walk-in refrigerator for a very short time, to grab ingredients and you know their exact location, you can throw on a thermal jacket and gloves before you enter. However, if you need to spend a couple of minutes or more in the room, you need more protection.
For longer trips to the cold room, you will need the following PPE:
- Insulated safety boots with thermal socks
- Thermal jacket
- Thermal trousers
- Thermal overalls
- Thermal gloves
- Head protection; a thinsulate hat or safety helmet, for example
What can I store in a cold room?
Walk-in fridges are versatile, and can safely house MANY products, not just food items. Typical uses for a cold room are for storing:
Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, raw meats, pulses, pulses, spices, dried fruits, pre-cooked food items, frozen foods, flowers, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, and beyond.
How should I organise my walk-in cold room?
Properly organising a cold room is more important than you might realise. Getting your cold room in order in an effective and efficient way will ensure you can:
- Find products or ingredients easily
- Maximise the space you have
- Ensure proper practices for food rotation
- Prevent food waste
- Avoid cross contamination
Some tips for organising a restaurant cold room include:
- Labelling shelves and food
- Storing items in food groups
- Never overcrowding the cold room
- Use FIFO rotations
- Store fish, meat and poultry at ground level
- Using magnetic containers
- Using food inventory apps
How do I prevent – or treat – mould in my cold room?
Mould exposure can cause negative health effects for many people, and it should be avoided at all costs, or if found, treated immediately. Cold rooms are encouraging environments for mould and other contaminants to grow, so it’s something to be mindful of. Not only can it make workers ill from inhalation, the spores of the mould can contaminate and spoil all of the items in the room.
Prevention is better than a cure, so you should take measures to avoid mould from day one. The key to preventing mould growth in your cold room, you need to get moisture levels under control.
Here’s some procedures and protocols to keep cold room mould at bay:
- Have effective and fully-functioning ventilation
- Don’t store cardboard or absorbent materials in your room
- Remove all wood, cardboard and paper from your products
- Keep surfaces spotlessly clean and hygienic – clean up spills immediately
- Address maintenance issues promptly, checking door seals, for example
- Repairing or replacing good gaskets
- Report water leaks to your property manager immediately
- Ensure door is firmly closed at all times when not in use
- If you need frequent access, install a plastic curtain in front of the door
Is there a maximum or minimum time I can rent chilled storage for?
There are no time constraints when you rent a cold room with Dephna. Assuming the walk-in fridge has not already been pre-booked, there is no minimum or maximum time limit on the length of your stay.
Before choosing a cold room, it is important to consider exactly how long you’ll need to occupy the storage, as well as the size of the room you need.
Having access to a cold room for a short period of time can come in handy if, for example, a large scale event is being organised. Another common reason for short-term cold room hire is when a business is experiencing technical difficulties and requires the use of an alternative fridge or freezer space to avoid medical or food products going to waste.
Why should I use Dephna to hire a walk-in fridge?
There are many benefits of using Dephna’s expert cold room hire facilities.
Our cost-effective cold storage rooms are available at a set size of 3m (length) x 3m (width) x 2m (height), which is big enough to fit 4-5 pallets, so they are perfect for pop-up and startup businesses. You also have the freedom to set your modular cold room conditions to suit the specific requirements of your products, whether you need ambient, fridge or freezer temperatures. Our flexible terms mean our fridge rooms are ready for you to move in immediately, perfect if you need a room at short notice or in an emergency!
Our commercial cold rooms operate 24-7, so you can access your chiller room at any time. We have on-site parking and 24-hour security measures in place to keep your stock safe.
If you are looking for a hygienic and reliable cold room to hire, contact our team today to see how Dephna can help. We also rent delivery kitchens and commercial kitchens in London, equipped with everything you would need to get your catering business underway.