walk-in cooler guide

An Ultimate Guide to Walk-In Coolers: 5 Things to Consider

In their natural form, walk-in coolers are sizable, insulated boxes with a cooling system.

When looking to purchase a walk-in cooler or freezer, there are many questions you must ask yourself first to make an informed buying decision. If you’re not familiar with coolers and refrigeration units, this might seem overwhelming at first.

Here are four questions you need to ask yourself:

how do you choose a walk-in cooler

Every manufacturer, including Storflex, has its unique design features, and for the most part, they all have the same core components. (panels, flooring, door, and of course the refrigeration system)

To answer all of these questions, you have first to ask yourself a question. 

What specifically am I looking for in a walk-in cooler for my business? 

Whether you operate a food service location, supermarket, convenience, or liquor store, investing in a high-quality walk-in cooler will be one of the most important items purchased.

In this article, we will provide a walk-in cooler guide to help educate you when the time is right for you to make an informed purchase.

By the end of the guide, you will ask the right questions and learn the importance of an R-value related to the materials constructed to build a cooler. 

Here are five things to consider:

  • Choose the Best Walk-In Cooler Panel Insulation for You 
  • Select a Metal Skin or Panel Finish
  • Decide on a Walk-In Cooler Floor
  • Refrigeration Systems that Meet Your Needs
  • The Importance of Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

Decide on which walk-in cooler panel (insulation) will work best

Walk-in cooler panels are critical in helping your unit stay cold and run effectively. 

Walk-in coolers are heavily insulated from floor to ceiling, and this ensures cold temperatures.  A panel consists of insulation foam squeezed in between thin metal sheets, which manufacturers often refer to as “skins.”

Two types of insulation materials are the most common, and they are classified by an R-value, extruded polystyrene and foamed-in-place polyurethane. 

In a recent article in CSP Daily News, polyurethane, which is the material used in Storflex walk-in cooler manufacturing, is the preferred choice because it has the highest R-value per inch thickness of any other insulation material. 

This results in a formidable insulation material that ensures cold air while making sure cold temperatures are perfectly sealed in your walk-in box. 

Meanwhile, extruded polystyrene often loses on average around 20% of its R-value over a 10-year plus period. 

Choose a metal skin or panel finish

The next step after deciding on insulation materials is the metal skin or panel finish featured on your walk-in box.

types of walk-in coolers

Each option has its benefits and disadvantages. Below, we break down what you need to consider for each finish.

Galvanized Steel

The once preferred choice now has lost some popularity due to price increases. Galvanized steel is solid and dent-resistant and features a thickness of at least 26 gauge for ceilings and walls. 

It’s worth noting that units featured in galvanized steel can develop rust if not properly maintained due to moisture build-up.


Aluminum is not as strong from a structure perspective as some other options on this list, as aluminum is susceptible to dents. Therefore, aluminum panel finishes need to be made thicker to ensure proper insulation. One of the benefits of aluminum skin is that it’s one of the less expensive options on this list and features an above-average resistance to corrosion.

Stainless Steel

If you’re looking for the strongest and least corrosive option available, then stainless steel is your choice. As you can imagine, and if you ever bought anything stainless steel before, it is the most expensive finish. There are two types of finishes available for stainless steel, polished and brush.


Another popular choice is galvalume which is a combination of aluminum and galvanized steel. Often embossed for aesthetic purposes, galvalume is exceptionally durable and very resistant to the effects of corrosion

If you’re looking for outstanding value, you can’t go wrong with this finish.

walk-in cooler installation

Decide on a walk-in cooler floor

The flooring on a walk-in cooler is often overlooked, especially with individuals looking to save on overall costs. 

As incredible as it might sound to save on the unit’s price by not including a floor, even if you have a concrete floor unless the floor is insulated, you run the risk of not keeping your perishable items safe. 

It’s worth noting that concrete alone will not provide the correct amount of insulation, potentially causing severe issues down the line. 

Some studies have proven that an insulated floor in a walk-in cooler is a money-saving investment because it allows you to save on energy costs up to 15%.

Refrigeration systems that will meet your needs

For any walk-in cooler to operate at an optimal level, you will need the right refrigeration system based on the layout and location of your unit. 

Most refrigeration systems consist of a condensing unit and, of course, a unit cooler. The condensing unit is conveniently located outside your walk-in box. The unit cooler can be found on the inside.

To be compliant with EISA legislation, all walk-in cooler refrigeration units must be equipped with high-efficiency motors. 

A few types of refrigeration systems, all with their own specific advantages and costs, are popular inside walk-in boxes.

Here at Storflex, we recommend speaking with an expert regarding these systems for the most up-to-date pricing and information.

  • Top Mount Systems
  • Side Mount Systems
  • Remote Systems
  • Pre-Assembled Remote Systems

The importance of maintenance and cleaning

This is undoubtedly no groundbreaking news; walk-in box owners should conduct regular performance maintenance and cleaning. It will help prevent mold and mildew from entering inside your unit. 

According to an article in Food Service Magazine, periodic cleaning with a damp soapy cloth should be conducted often. 

Components such as hinges, gaskets, and coils need to be regularly cleaned to prevent failure in sealing your unit. If not correctly maintained, those components might allow too much moisture to enter the compartment and either freeze the evaporator coil or flood the drain pan of the cooler.

Below are more things you can do to assure your walk-in cooler is properly maintained.

  • After all the camlocks have been checked and tightened, use the cap plugs provided to cover the exposed lock holes.
  • WD-40 is the appropriate and recommended cleaner for the panels after installation has been completed.
  • Extreme care should be taken to assure appropriate cleaner or primer be used prior to application with all excess sealant properly removed.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations on use and clean up.

The purchase of a walk-in cooler or freezer is a significant investment. The right equipment is also vital to the success of your business. 

Storflex has experience providing liquor and grocery stores with the walk-in coolers they need to increase their revenue. Contact us today to learn more!