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What is the Difference Between Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration?

If you're searching for a refrigeration system for your business, you may be wondering about the differences between commercial refrigeration and industrial refrigeration. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. The right fit depends on your unique needs and budget.

Read on below to learn the main differences between commercial and industrial refrigeration, as well as how to choose the best option for your situation. To find out how SRC Refrigeration provides the best warehouse refrigeration and other cold storage solutions your business needs, contact us today!

Commercial Refrigeration Systems

Commercial refrigeration is typically seen in retail spaces, such as supermarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants. Commercial refrigeration systems are designed to display and store perishable products that require cold temperatures. They aren't just for food and beverages; they may also be used for flowers, medicine, and more.

Commercial refrigeration systems usually consist of specific refrigeration units, such as display cases, reach-in coolers, walk-in coolers, freezers, ice machines, and beverage dispensers. These units are connected to a central refrigeration system that provides cooling through a direct expansion or an indirect glycol cooling system.

Some of the features of commercial refrigeration are:

  • Temperature range is usually between 45°F and -4°F (7°C and -20°C)

  • Refrigerant is usually freon or a more environmentally-friendly alternative like carbon dioxide or ammonia

  • Compressors are usually semi-hermetic screw or reciprocating compressors, with a capacity of 3 to 6 units per plant

Benefits of commercial refrigeration:

  • Pre-assembled units make installation fast and simple

  • High performance, high efficiency, and low energy consumption

  • Display your products in an attractive and convenient way for your customers

  • Preserve the quality and safety of your products, reducing waste and spoilage

  • Wide range of options and sizes to suit your space and needs

Drawbacks of commercial refrigeration:

  • Expensive to maintain and repair

  • Requires regular cleaning, servicing, and inspection by qualified technicians

  • Generates heat and noise in your retail space, affecting the comfort of customers/staff

  • Can be affected by external factors, such as power outages, weather conditions, or vandalism

Industrial Refrigeration Systems

Industrial refrigeration is generally found in manufacturing facilities, such as food processing plants, breweries, wineries, pharmaceutical plants, chemical plants, and cold storage warehouses. Industrial refrigeration systems are designed to provide cooling for various industrial processes that require low temperatures, such as freezing, chilling, pasteurizing, sterilizing, and fermenting.

In addition, industrial refrigeration systems usually consist of large-scale refrigeration plants that use mechanical compression or absorption cycles to move heat from one place to another. These plants are composed of several delicate components including evaporators, condensers, compressors, pumps, valves, and pipes. These components are connected to a central control system that monitors and regulates the operation of the plant.

The installation of an industrial refrigeration system is complex and time-consuming because it requires careful planning, design, engineering, and construction. However, a properly installed refrigerated space helps you comply with strict regulations and standards for food safety, environmental protection, and energy efficiency.

Features of industrial refrigeration:

  • Temperature range between 50°F and -76°F (10°C and -60°C) depending on the type of process and product

  • Refrigerant is usually ammonia or a mixture of ammonia and water (absorption cycle)

  • Compressors are usually open screw or reciprocating compressors, with a capacity of up to 1,000 tons per plant

Benefits of industrial refrigeration:

  • Highly customizable and flexible

Drawbacks of industrial refrigeration:

  • High energy consumption due to moving large amounts of heat across long distances

  • Dangerous if not handled properly, as it involves working with high pressures, temperatures, and toxic substances

  • Costly to install and operate, since it requires specialized equipment, personnel, and maintenance

  • Vulnerable to breakdowns and malfunctions, since there are so many variables

How to Choose Between Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration

As you can see, commercial and industrial refrigeration are very different in terms of their applications, features, benefits, and drawbacks. Therefore, the best way to choose between them is to consider your specific needs and budget. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to get started:

  • What type of products do you need to store or process?

  • What temperature range do you need to maintain?

  • How much space do you have available?

  • How often do you need to access or move your products?

  • How important are aesthetics, branding, and customer appeal?

  • How much are you willing to invest upfront and in the long run?

By answering these questions, you will be able to narrow down your options and find the best refrigeration solution for your situation.

Explore Custom Cold Storage Systems from SRC Refrigeration

SRC Refrigeration proudly provides custom build refrigeration solutions with a commitment to integrity, innovation, and design.

  • Any Size, Any Shape

  • Exceed EISA Standards

  • 100% Made in America

  • Same-Day Quotes

We understand that the cold storage business requires careful consideration of energy efficiency, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal. As such, we partner with you to provide custom cooling solutions with the highest efficiency and lowest possible energy footprint. We’ve been designing and manufacturing custom walk-in freezers that exceed EISA standards since 1980. All of our custom-built refrigeration systems are easy to install, relocate, and expand. SRC uses only American-made parts and offers the best warranties in the industry.

Call (877) 794-1870 or contact us online now to discuss industrial and commercial refrigeration systems that meet your needs.

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