Everything you need to know about cold storage rooms

Food growers and suppliers, catering, hospitality, pharmacy and florist businesses are some of the organisations which can benefit in many ways from quality cold storage rooms.

5 min read

Cold rooms come in different sizes and designs, offering multiple benefits to businesses, large and small.

Their benefits include costs savings by minimising the waste of perishable goods and using energy efficiently, freeing-up space, such as in busy kitchens, and saving staff time through providing convenient, easy access to well-organised goods and ingredients.

Furthermore, good energy efficiency from well designed and maintained cold rooms ultimately reduces your business use of energy resources and its environmental impact, which benefits us all.

Cold and freezer rooms can be located indoors or outdoors, so they offer flexibility in how properties and spaces are allocated, designed and used.

People in many different roles, professions and sectors should be aware of the importance of cold storage to the wider success of any business.

What is a cold storage room?


A cold storage room is usually the largest piece of refrigeration equipment found in a professional food or catering business. They are typically designed as a fridge or a freezer but some can offer both functions.

Accessed through a door, they are often known as walk-in cold stores, walk-in cold rooms, cold rooms or cold storage rooms. Inside, chilled or frozen goods are stored on shelving, known as racking, at optimal temperatures. They are ideal for vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products.

There are various cold room installation options available with different capacities, components, and design features, so it’s wise to get professional, independent advice to identify the best for your business operations, your property and your use of indoors and outdoors space.

cold room installation

How cold rooms work


Cold room refrigeration works through the transfer of heat from an enclosed inside space to the outside. Refrigeration systems can cool, heat and dehumidifying of air.

Heat transfer is achieved through the chemistry of liquids known as refrigerants. When any liquid evaporates into gas form, its molecules separate from each other and absorb heat easily.

In refrigeration, liquid refrigerant chemicals will ‘boil’ and turn into a gas at a much lower temperature than water when it evaporates as steam. It’s this behaviour that is utilised in refrigeration systems.

Typically, a refrigerant is circulated through an enclosed circular system of pipes, a compressor, an expansion valve, coils and fans. As the refrigerant is compressed or expanded at different points in the circuit, it will absorb any warmth from the cold room air then release the warmth at another point through coils and fans. Warmth is finally released into cold outside air, through a fan.

Cold rooms can be located indoors or outdoors but require good ventilation, therefore very confined spaces may not be ideal. If located outdoors, they can be protected from the weather by a roof or other structure to provide shelter.

In some areas of temperature control, such as commercial air conditioning for offices, shops and restaurants, expelled warmth can be recycled and used to warm incoming cold air through heat exchangers. Heat transfer gained from air conditioning, ventilation, and heating (HVAC) systems also offers commercial and environmental benefits and is well-worth considering.

What makes a good and bad cold room?


Well-designed, organised and maintained cold storage rooms contribute significantly to efficient working and business success. They preserve perishable goods and minimise wasted produce and energy consumption.

The components, design and configuration of cold and freezer rooms is important. Rooms can vary in purpose and size and we offer a range of options including bespoke designs suited for each individual business.

Consideration is needed for the optimal storing of goods which may dry-out through dehumidification of air, such as vegetables. Air can be dried through simple thermostatic refrigeration systems so stored goods that are not packed or covered will dry out. However, cold rooms which use an evaporator system with electronic expansion valve regulation create less air dehumidification so goods such as vegetables will remain in better condition for much longer, whether for sale or for use as ingredients. Technology can also adapt to changes inside the cold room, such as temperature or the volume of stored goods, therefore optimising energy and minimising dehumification.

Defrosting is important for overall performance of cold rooms. It keeps interior surfaces and the evaporator free from frost and allows for the best air circulation. Frost can build up on surfaces and is caused by water from stored goods or from humid air entering the system. Defrosting can be carried out using warm air, hot gas, or electric methods.

Michael Ward Limited ColdRoom Unit

MWL’s speciality of cold room installation and design of cold rooms


We offer cold room installation and design of bespoke chiller and freezer cold rooms, plus extension and modifications, in addition to maintenance services. We can manage complete projects and arrange a no-obligation detailed site visit. We design and build to standard and bespoke sizes, large and small.

We supply and install leading refrigeration brands such as Searle, Friga Bohn, J&E Hall, Copeland & L’unite Hermetique, and premium insulated panels such as Kingspan and Hemsec.

Our modular cold room ranges feature cam locking joints for easy coldroom installation. We have standard and bespoke hinged and sliding insulated doors, roll-fast automated doors and meat hanging rails for butchers, abattoirs and wholesalers. Flooring options include concrete, Altro safety flooring and aluminium 5 bar checker plate.

All our refrigeration engineers hold F-gas category 1 refrigerant handling certificates, giving you peace of mind that we have the required skill level and knowledge to safely maintain your equipment.

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