Commercial Refrigeration 101

Commercial refrigeration has been around for more than 100 years, and it's an essential part of the industrial food chain. Commercial refrigeration systems are used to preserve perishable goods such as meat, fish, dairy products, and vegetables.

But how does this technology work? Commercial refrigerators use a cycle of compression and expansion which drives heat from one side to another. This process is called thermodynamics, and it's what makes commercial refrigerators so effective at preserving food items that would otherwise be spoilt by bacteria or mold!

Basic Refrigeration

A basic understanding of refrigeration is important. There is a basic structure for most of the commercial food storage units that are used in grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses.

The first step to understanding how this works is by learning about the refrigeration cycle which allows the unit to become cold enough to store.

Basic components in a refrigeration system:

Compressor And Condenser

The job of the compressor is to pump a gas called Freon which has been compressed into a liquid form through tubes that pass by the condenser, where it releases heat and returns to its gaseous state. This process generates coldness inside commercial refrigerators or freezers because this process causes the temperature to drop.

A commercial refrigeration unit is filled with a liquid called coolant, which also goes through this process and helps absorb heat as it changes into a gas or vapor that can be vented outside of the room where the refrigerator is located.

The inside walls of such units are lined with coils similar to those on an air conditioner but they must be much larger because they need more surface area for cooling purposes.

This allows cold air from evaporating coolants in these coils to make contact with food products like meat and ice cream so that temperatures stay low enough for safe storage without freezing them solid at very high altitudes during summer months when displayed outdoors in front windows.

Metering Device

The metering device’s purpose is to reduce the pressure of the vapor as it enters into an expansion device. The metering devices used are capillary tubes, nozzles, and orifice plates.

The liquid passes through a metering device while in the evaporator section where there is no refrigerant concentration change required because all components remain in equilibrium with one another throughout this part of the cycle.

A little bit later after entering into the condenser area, where partial pressures will affect performance; controlling proper flow becomes critical for efficiency purposes.

This portion of the cycle requires that any increase or decrease can be controlled by regulating how much fluid enters into certain areas such as compressor suction line, discharge line, and between different stages within the condenser unit itself (radiator).


The evaporator is where the liquid refrigerant evaporates into a gas. This process absorbs heat from your food and keeps your groceries cold or frozen depending on what you’re trying to do with them.

The most common type of evaporator is called an “expansion valve” which is actually just one-half of a split system, but I won't get too in-depth there because this post is about commercial refrigeration not residential!

The liquid leaving the expansion valve goes through tubing that leads backup to another part of the system (the compressor). By now, if we were talking about something like air conditioning units for cars, things would start getting pretty complicated by this point…but since it's all contained inside that big box thingy, this is as complicated as it gets!

The liquid refrigerant goes up to the compressor which forces it through a smaller tube. This part of the process creates pressure for the evaporator and actually compresses the gas back into a liquid state so that we can keep going around in our loopy little circle.

Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance

It is also important to understand how much energy each commercial refrigerator uses so that it can be properly maintained and operated in an efficient manner which reduces operating costs along with greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

If there is dust or dirt in the coils, it will prevent them from being able to absorb heat. This can cause problems. It is best to use cold water when cleaning your condenser coils instead of hot water because doing so will keep Freon from leaking from the metal parts that carry it around.

One way to ensure your commercial refrigeration units are operating in a healthy manner is by checking each unit's evaporator fan blades, condenser fans, and compressor belts for signs of wear or damage whenever they have been serviced during the year. If these parts are not properly lubricated or replaced when needed, it can lead to refrigerant leaks and potential fires.

In addition to the obvious benefits of maintaining your commercial refrigeration systems regularly such as preventing catastrophic failures from things like Freon leaks which could cost you a fortune in lost revenue plus costly repairs.

Need More Help With Refrigeration Services

If you’ve ever wondered how a refrigerator works and what can go wrong, we hope this blog post has answered your questions. We also want to make it clear that if you need service or installation of new refrigeration, call us today or visit our website for information.

You won't be disappointed when you learn about all the options available from McNamara Custom Services!


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