Foodservice operators should determine what products they will store in their walk-in refrigerators and freezers. An item’s density and temperature may mean it takes longer to get it to the right temperature.

The operator may require a larger refrigeration system to compensate. In addition, hot product creates excessive steam in cold environments, producing moisture and changing the dynamics inside the walk-in.

Walk-ins use either single or three-phase electrical power, but larger units may require a dedicated circuit and more amps.

To figure out the necessary capacity, operators should keep in mind that 1-cu.-ft. of open storage area accommodates approximately 28 lbs. of solid food.

Operators can choose from panel thicknesses that range from 2 to 8 inches.

Doors represent another important consideration, since they receive most of the day-to-day abuse. If staff frequently open and close them, heavy-duty doors may be necessary. Automatic closing devices, like cam-lift hinges and a positive door closer, ensure the door does not get accidently left open. When necessary to see what’s inside the walk-in, be sure to specify a view window. Kick plates on the door and inside the walk-in may help prevent damage. Strip curtains can help keep out unwanted outside air during high-volume use. Electric air curtains can be a wise choice, depending upon the operation and physical location of the walk-in. There are calculator tools that demonstrate break-even and pay-back analysis.

Assess the weight and frequency of traffic to determine what type of flooring the unit requires. If the operator will use heavy-loaded carts or the unit will contain heavy shelving, consider a reinforced or structural floor.

If the walk-in refrigerator or freezer will have floor panels, interior or exterior floor ramps can provide easier access.

With today’s walk-ins, temperature control and record keeping for HACCP are becoming more important.