What is a cold storage room?
A cold storage room is a room that is specially designed for storing and preserving foodstuffs for long periods at low temperatures. The products that are normally kept in cold storage rooms include foodstuffs such as meats, fish, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and pastries.
Cold storage rooms are generally divided into two categories: “positive” cold storage rooms, i.e. rooms with temperatures higher than 0°C; and “negative” cold storage rooms, in which the temperature is lower than 0°C.
The room is generally quite large in size, big enough for people to walk into it. This equipment is essential for professionals, especially those in the food-processing industry, since a cold storage room is an integral part ensuring compliance with the cold chain. Certain fresh foodstuffs must be permanently stored at a certain temperature, from their production until they are sold from a shop.
Cold storage rooms are also important in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as for florists and nursery owners.
How does a cold storage room work?
In general, a cold storage room works just like a refrigerator, except for the fact that the power required is much higher and the technical constraints are much more advanced. The main part that allows a cold storage room to function is the refrigeration unit. It is made up of several parts:
- A chassis on which the refrigeration unit is fixed
- A compressor that allows the delivery and suction of the refrigeration gas
- The condenser that eliminates the heat from the compressed gas via a fan
- Two service valves: one high-pressure valve and one low-pressure valve
- One junction box to connect the necessary wires
Cold can be produced in two ways. Either “directly”, which means that the coolant cools the products by evaporating, which is particularly efficient as regards the energy required. Or “indirectly”, which means that the coolant acts on a refrigerating medium, by cooling it. The fluid then transports the cold through a circuit. This system consumes more energy than the first, but is proven to be more effective in larger or more complex installations, since this process is more flexible and can be adapted easily.
The three types of cold storage rooms
Modular and detachable cold storage room:
This comes in the form of kits made up of various prefabricated units: walls, modular insulation panels, ceilings, floors, doors, cabinets and various accessories. The refrigeration equipment is adapted to these modules.
The main advantage is that this cold storage model can be removed and re-assembled depending on the circumstances, and can be moved when necessary. In general, the refrigeration unit is not made up of a single piece. Consoles are provided on certain panels to support the cooling battery (or evaporator) of the installation. As regards the compressor, the condenser and the expansion valve, they are not incorporated in the room. Instead, they are placed in a service room.
This type of cold storage room can be commissioned rapidly. For example, a constructed cold storage room of 20m³ requires approximately two weeks of construction work, whereas a modular room needs just one day for installation.
This option offers the particular advantage of more freedom as the cold storage room can be dismantled and re-assembled depending on any changes in the business activity.
Prefabricated non-detachable cold storage room:
This range of cold storage rooms have at least one wall made up of prefabricated panels. The assembly is carried out on site. These panels are assembled permanently and therefore cannot be dismantled.
Traditional cold storage room:
The walls of a traditional cold storage room are constructed. This allows for an effective insulation that reduces heat transfer. However, this arrangement requires the installation of a vapour barrier to protect the insulation, along with its attachment system on the walls.
Traditional cold storage rooms are usually found in older establishments, such as old butcher’s shops. The net capacity is comparable to that of modular rooms.
How do you select a cold storage room suited to your business?
Cold storage rooms come in all sizes and configurations. First, you must estimate the quantity of goods to be stored and preserved, with the greatest possible degree of accuracy. Is it necessary for a person to be able to enter and move around inside the cold storage room? Will handling trolleys and other pallet trucks be used? Depending on your answers, your installation may fall anywhere between a simple commercial refrigeration cabinet and a huge cold storage room that is dozens of cubic metres in volume.
Next, the power of the refrigeration unit will vary depending on the type and fragility of the products to be preserved, on the configuration of your establishment, on the desired temperature, and on the need to continuously maintain this temperature.
Depending on the power of this equipment, the question of energy consumption will also have to be considered. For this, the thickness of the insulation will make all the difference, along with whether or not the floor is insulated. These start-up investments can be rapidly amortised by energy savings in the medium term.
What is the price of a cold storage room?
The range of prices is vast, since it depends on various elements, and especially the ones below:
- Thickness of the sandwich panels
- Volume of the cold storage room
- Operating temperature
- Power of the refrigeration unit
- Complexity of the installation
The price also varies depending on the type of cold storage room: modular kit or constructed, storage accessories, insulation, etc.
Expect to pay a minimum of €2,000 for a mini cold storage room, €8,000 for cold storage rooms with modest dimensions: 3 m x 4 m x 2.60 m. and more than €10,000 for larger and more efficient rooms.
Conclusion: how do you select the right cold storage room supplier?
Choosing a cold storage room for certain sectors of activity, which are subject to a series of strict standards and regulations, is not just a simple formality. This equipment is essential for the proper functioning of your business. Therefore, you must select a supplier-manufacturer carefully and methodically. How should you do this? Ask yourself a certain number of key questions, which will allow you to choose the best:
- Do they offer a sufficiently developed range that allows you to choose between different solutions?
- Ask for the delivery schedules. Depending on the size and experience of the company, these schedules may vary considerably.
- Finally, the warranties that are offered are vital. This is especially true for professionals for whom the correct functioning of the cold storage room is a determining factor in the proper functioning of their business. Look for a warranty of at least two years, and ensure that the response times in case of breakdowns are short.
Finally, take the time to ask for multiple quotes, so that you can compare offers, solutions and prices.