Choosing the correct bottle cooler for your business can be a daunting task with so many makes and models on the market. There are huge differences in so many models, but for all the recent improvements in efficiency and design, the price of a new bottle cooler still reflects the quality of product you receive. Bottle coolers have to be very robust to maintain temperatures as bottles are taken out, stock replenished and doors constantly opened and closed.
Bottle Cooler Size
Bottle coolers come in a variety of sizes, with one, two or three door back bar models, as well as tall single door coolers. It is very important to measure the space you have. Most double door coolers like the Sterling Pro SP2 and LEC BC900 will fit in a space that is 900mm wide and 900mm tall, where other coolers like the Autonumis Popular and ECOchill models are slightly wider and taller at 920mm wide and 925mm tall. These models are of different design to allow greater bottle capacity.
If there is less than 50mm of space above your bottle cooler, choose a cooler with vents at the front underneath the doors. If there are vents underneath the unit like the Sterling Pro Series the unit will pull cool air through one half, and eject its heat through the other half of the vent. Models Like Autonumis Series pull cool air from the front and eject it at the rear of the unit, so there needs to be a sufficient gap above the unit for the rejected heat to escape.
Unfortunately the cool air drawn in will also contain lots of dust which should be cleaned every six months minimum, use the following article for information on cleaning and troubleshooting How to look after your Bottle Cooler and save money .
Appearance and Features
Bottle coolers have many extra features to help your products stand out. Most models are available in black or silver, with the higher end model in stainless steel. Chrome shelving and aluminium interiors make your bottles stand out more, and lighting is just as important for your display.
The latest energy efficient models such as the Autonumis ECOchill have ultra bright LED lighting, using less energy and eliminating changing fluorescent tubes and starters. Look for fully adjustable shelves to allow for taller bottles like ciders and smaller mixers.
It is important to consider the space behind your bar too, as both sliding and hinged doors are available on all models. Sliding doors save on space, but look for self closing doors, both on sliding and hinged doors to prevent doors being left ajar.
Most models including LEC and Sterling Pro now include digital thermostats, for close temperature control and increased efficiency. Door locks are usually an optional extra, but the Sterling and LEC models are fitted with locks as standard.
The most important consideration when purchasing a new cooler is the ability of the refrigeration plant. A lot of lower priced models that are new to the market run on a refrigerant called r600a/r290a. This is basically Propane/Butane, and although it offers a very small increase in efficiency, there is an explosion risk through high pressure refrigerant leaks.
This is the same refrigerant that resulted in Beko recalling three years worth of domestic fridge freezers due to explosions caused by a faulty heater. There is also a severe nationwide shortage of refrigeration engineers trained to repair these units. Manufacturers such as Sterling and Autonumis have been using R134a Refrigerant for many years.
R134a is non-flammable, and lower pressure and very serviceable should any problems occur within the refrigeration plant. Look for units with forced air refrigeration, this just means the bottles are cooled by a fan driving the cool air around the cabinet, allowing for faster pull down of temperature.
As long as your cooler is well maintained and kept free from dust build up it should last for many years. It is also important to check that your new product comes with a manufactures warranty on both parts and labour. All Coolers in the Inn Doctor Shop have full warranties, as the manufacturers are confident in the quality and longevity of their products.
© Daniel Shotter 2013
Daniel Shotter works out of Hailsham as part of the team trading as JS Refrigeration servicing refrigeration equipment also installing cellar cooling for Carlsberg, Scottish & Newcastle and Heineken Breweries and are the main refrigeration contractors for Harvey’s Brewery.