Let’s start with integrated cooling systems, also known as self-contained. These are the standard types of fridges and freezers you probably have at home and what you see in most cafes and restaurants. Integrated or Self-Contained simply means the compressor and other cooling system components are contained within the body of the fridge/freezer.

Self contained fridges may have their cooling systems located above the doors, below the doors or in the case of under-bench fridges on the side of the doors. Cheaper, static cooled fridges like bar fridges and freezers usually have their cooling systems at the bottom towards the back of the fridge/freezer cabinet to give the impression of having more storage space. Chest freezers have their compressors and cooling systems at the bottom to one side for the same reason. These types of fridges/freezers are designed to be more affordable so have smaller capacity refrigeration systems.

Chest Freezer

The F.E.D BD466F Chest Freezer with SS lids is a heavy-duty commercial chest freezer.

Larger, more robust fridges and freezers have larger capacity cooling systems with more components and take up more space. This is why their cooling systems are located on the side or above the cabinets. As we have discussed in previous articles, regular maintenance, specifically cleaning of the air filter is crucial to be carried out regularly. This is another reason why the cooling systems are located on the sides or above the cabinets as this allows easier access to get to the air filter and other components.

Remote fridges and freezers work exactly the same way as integrated versions however their compressors and some other components are located away from the cabinets, usually in another room or outside. The refrigerant gas is pumped from the remote compressor back into the cabinet through pipes.

Remote Freezer


The main advantages for this setup are that the fridges and freezers run much quieter, as the noisy compressors are in separate rooms and the regular maintenance can be carried out without disrupting staff or business operations.

The disadvantage of remote setups are that they cost more than integrated versions. The upfront cost of a remote cabinet will always be less than an integrated version however that price doesn’t include the compressor or installation costs. This needs to be set up by a licenced refrigeration technician and depending on the length of the pipes (that the gas has to travel), installation costs can be anything from $1,500 - $50,000. We recently supplied a grocery store with 11m of reach-in fridges, the cabinets were around $45,000 and the installation including removal of the old units, all electrical work and new piping cost another $40,000. Not cheap but when your merchandising fridge is effectively your marketing and sales tool, its best not to go cheap!


Reach-in Refrigeration


This SKOPE Reach-In Fridge is perfect for Grocery stores walk-through cafes.

Another advantage with remote setups is that you can cool multiple cabinets of different sizes and internal capacities with a single large compressor or bank of compressors. This is how most grocery stores set up their reach-in displays. Larger stores such as Coles or Woolworths will have banks of compressors located in the roof with the refrigerant gas piped back into the shop.

So there are pro’s and con’s of integrated or remote setups. Things to consider are the total installation costs as well as ongoing maintenance costs. Remote setups are expensive investments in your business but if you have a grocery store, bar or other setup with many meters of refrigerated cabinets, the up front cost will usually pay for itself many times over compared the integrated units which typically need to be replaced every few years. That and the quietness in your shop will definitely be appreciated by your staff and patrons alike!


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