Does having less stuff in your commercial fridge make it colder?

Listed Under: Blog

One of the common questions that people ask is, does the amount of stuff inside a fridge make a difference to the temperature? The answer is yes. However, it’s important to remember that even if your commercial fridge remains at a consistent temperature when empty or full, it still has to work harder to maintain that temperature.

If your commercial fridge is having to work harder, it’s using more electricity and costing you more money. Given that energy consumption – and much of this will be on refrigeration – makes up around 70% of the running costs of a small food and drink business, this is an incredibly important area to monitor closely. Fridges are designed to operate at a sweet spot, which is around 75% capacity, and good stock rotation and food management will enable you to keep your commercial fridges running efficiently. Not only does running your fridge at the sweet spot help keep costs down, it also helps keep your food fresher for longer.

How does a fridge work?

Fridges work by transferring heat from the inside to the outside, which is why they can feel warm on the outside. Bearing this in mind, it’s important to remember to have adequate space around the outside of your fridge, to allow the warmth generated by the unit to escape. Fridges work by compressing and depressurising refrigerant, which causes the it to change from liquid to gas. This process is called evaporation and causes the air to cool. This cool air is then circulated around the inside of the fridge. For the fridge to work effectively, the cool air must be able to circulate.

How full should your commercial fridge be?

So what happens if your commercial fridge is too full or too empty? If your fridge is too full, the air cannot circulate effectively. Your food may block the vents on the inside of the fridge, further reducing the circulation of the air. These effects may cause the fridge to warm up, or the circulating air to be unable to reach all the food, which can lead to food spoiling before its best before dates, or causing loss of flavour. Conversely, a fridge that’s too empty will have to work very hard to maintain a temperature. When there are items in the fridge, these become cold and remain cold, helping to keep the air around them cooler. Without any products helping to keep the temperature down, the fridge will have to work extra hard to maintain its temperature. You may find that your fridge does remain cold, but the price of doing so increases. The sweet spot for your fridge is around 75% full, this gives enough space for the air to circulate, and enough items to retain the cold and help stabilise the temperature.

What are the impacts of a poorly-stocked fridge?

When your commercial refrigerator is poorly stocked, it can have several negative impacts on your business, particularly in sectors like hospitality and retail where the availability and quality of food and beverages are critical. These impacts can range from financial losses to operational inefficiencies:

  • Reduced product availability: One of the most immediate impacts of a poorly stocked fridge is the reduced availability of products. This limitation can lead to missed sales opportunities, especially if the missing items are popular or essential staples that customers expect to find. In a restaurant, for instance, the inability to serve certain dishes due to a lack of ingredients can disappoint customers and harm your business’s reputation.
  • Inefficient space utilisation: Proper stock management ensures that available space is used efficiently. A poorly stocked fridge might mean that space is being underutilised, which isn’t economically efficient, especially given the cost of commercial refrigeration in terms of both purchase price and ongoing energy usage.
  • Impacts on food quality: An understocked fridge can lead to increased air circulation around fewer items, potentially causing uneven temperatures and impacting the quality of the stored products. This situation can lead to food spoilage or a decrease in the desired quality of the products, impacting customer satisfaction.
  • Energy inefficiency: Oddly enough, both overstocking and understocking a commercial fridge can lead to energy inefficiency. An understocked fridge may have to work harder to maintain a cold environment, as there’s less thermal mass (in the form of stored products) to retain the cold. This inefficiency can lead to higher electricity bills.
  • Increased operational costs: A poorly stocked fridge can result in more frequent reordering and deliveries, which not only increases operational costs but also disrupts daily business operations. Inefficient stock control often results in a need for emergency supply runs, which can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Perceived lack of professionalism: Customers or clients who notice a poorly stocked fridge might perceive it as a lack of professionalism or poor management. This perception can be particularly damaging in sectors like catering and hospitality, where the abundance and presentation of food are part of the overall service experience.
  • Loss of trust and reputation: In the long term, consistently failing to provide a good selection due to a poorly stocked fridge can erode customer trust and damage the reputation of your business. Customers who can’t find what they want may go to competitors, leading to a loss of business and potentially harming the brand.

Maintaining optimal stock levels is crucial, not only for efficient operation but also for customer satisfaction, reputation management and overall financial health. Regular inventory checks, understanding customer demand patterns and having a well-organised stocking system are all important strategies to manage your fridge stock effectively.

How to get the most out of your commercial fridge

Good stock management will help to ensure that your fridge operates at optimum efficiency. If you run a café or restaurant, you’ll always need enough stock to ensure you can fulfil demand. Operating a first-in first-out system, with good stock management will help you to ensure that your commercial fridge is well stocked, with good food hygiene. Different food types should have spaces between them to prevent transference, and this space also allows the fridge to work effectively. If you have a retail store, then it’s important to consider the visual aspects of a well-stocked fridge. A commercial display fridge that’s overstocked and crammed looks messy and unappealing to your customers, as well as making it hard to safely remove items from the commercial display fridge. An understocked commercial display fridge shows a lack of choice and poor stock management. Remember, the sweet spot for your commercial fridge will also be the sweet spot for your customers.

Come to Fridgesmart for your new commercial fridge

If you’re ensuring you’re stocking your commercial fridge correctly and it’s still running inefficiently it may be time to upgrade. Newer commercial fridges have improved efficiency ratings and can prove an excellent investment for many businesses, with reduced running costs, take a look at our range here. Here at Fridgesmart, we work with many businesses to ensure that they are getting the best out of their commercial fridges. Our friendly and experienced team is always on hand to discuss your commercial refrigeration with you. Simply call us today on 01792 677169.