What Is Commercial Refrigeration?

commercial refrigerators

RSI is a Great Training Option for Everyone

Learn more about how we can prepare you to advance your career.

Commercial refrigeration refers to the cold storage equipment used in commercial settings. Examples include the reach-in refrigerators and freezers found in supermarkets, specialty food stores, convenience stores and grocery stores. The walk-in refrigerators and freezers found in restaurants and cafeterias would also be considered commercial refrigeration equipment.1

How does commercial refrigeration compare to residential and industrial refrigeration? Which segment of the industry might you want to focus on after completing your refrigeration training?

Find answers and a closer look at the commercial refrigeration industry below.

What Are the Different Types of Commercial Refrigeration Equipment?

There is a wide variety of commercial refrigeration systems:

  • Reach-in vertical cases and refrigerators
  • Plug-in enclosed vending machines
  • Semi-vertical display cabinets
  • Horizontal cases2
  • Deli cases
  • Drop-in coolers
  • Draft beer systems
  • Undercounter refrigerators
  • Back bar coolers
  • Refrigerated display cases
  • Prep tables3

The various commercial refrigeration equipment can have different functions:2

Get Started on the Path to a New Career

Fill out our form to learn how we can help you change your life.

You are giving your express written consent for The Refrigeration School to contact you regarding our educational programs and services using email, telephone or text including our use of automated technology for calls or texts to any wireless number you provide. This consent is not required to purchase goods or services and you may always call us directly at (888) 671-5803.

+ Read More


Chillers are used to keep items, such as food and beverages, below the normal room temperature yet above freezing. Such equipment prevents spoilage by keeping perishable items cool.2


Freezers keep perishable items frozen, preventing them from spoiling.2

Combo Chillers and Freezers

Combination commercial refrigeration units can allow for both chilling and freezing perishable items.2

How Do Commercial Refrigeration and Residential Refrigeration Compare?

Commercial refrigeration systems can differ from residential refrigeration systems in size, technology and setup.4

Unlike residential units, commercial refrigerators may have the compressors and condensers in a different location from the refrigerated case.5

Commercial refrigeration systems are also typically more powerful than residential units and may have more space inside the cabinet.4

How Do Commercial Refrigeration and Industrial Refrigeration Compare?

commercial refrigeration on industrial building
When comparing commercial refrigeration to industrial refrigeration, looking at the applications of each can help highlight the differences.

Most commercial refrigeration units are used to keep perishable items—usually food and beverages—cool or frozen prior to consumption.2

In industrial settings, refrigeration units may be used during the production process of plastic or metal, as well as to help with the fermentation process of beverages.6

Industrial refrigeration may also be used to provide environmental testing of parts or components. The refrigeration system can create extremely cold environments to test whether or not parts will experience failures or shortened lifecycles under certain conditions.6

What Industries Use Commercial Refrigeration?

A number of businesses and industries usually rely on commercial refrigeration.1

We often categorize food and beverage companies, supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants as businesses that require commercial refrigeration systems.1

But hospitals and medical research clinics often use commercial refrigeration to keep sensitive materials the appropriate temperature.3

Commercial refrigeration systems may also be found in florist shops, where they can keep fresh cut flowers from wilting.3

What Role Do Commercial Refrigeration Technicians Play?

Many industries rely on commercial refrigeration systems to keep perishable items cold to prevent spoiling.1 When a business in this sector needs new machinery installed, repairs to malfunctioning equipment or routine maintenance, they may call a commercial refrigeration technician for help.7

What does a commercial refrigeration technician do? What skills does this tradesperson need? And how can you prepare for a career in commercial refrigeration?

Keep reading about the commercial refrigeration technician career path to find out.

Additional Sources

This blog has been labeled as archived as it may no longer contain the most up-to-date data. For a list of all current blog posts, please visit our blog homepage at https://www.rsi.edu/blog/