March 2019

Master-Bilt® Refrigeration News & Product Information

A Guide To Reach-Ins

How A Reach-In Fits In

In foodservice kitchens, reach-ins frequently act as cold storage center between the walk-in and the production area. A reach-in located near the production line will speed up your prep time by reducing the number of trips to the walk-in for items like meats, sauces and produce. You can store a variety of items to use over the course of a week and restock as needed from the walk-in. In smaller work areas, a reach-in may be the sole cold storage option. In either case, the reach-in provides quick access to ingredients needed to prepare all kinds of meals. Determining the correct combination of size, features and options needed for your application can speed up your workflow and even help reduce your energy usage.

Important Features

Depending on your needs, there are several models to choose from. You should first decide if you need a refrigerator, freezer or both. In any case, models are typically available in one-, two- and three-door widths. Look for stainless steel construction inside and out for a durable finish that will hold up better in a busy kitchen environment. Shelving is typically vinyl- or epoxy-coated with either three or four shelves per door. Door gaskets are important as they provide the seal between food inside and higher temperatures outside. Make sure you have magnetic gaskets that are easily replaceable if they become damaged. Hold-open doors are handy when loading or unloading a reach-in but you should make sure they are fully closed the rest of the time. Door locks are also important to secure stored products.

Refrigeration System Location

Refrigeration systems are mounted either in the top or bottom of a reach-in. Which is better? There’s really no right or wrong with either option. It just depends on your particular application.

Bottom Mount System Advantages

  • Bottom shelves are higher making it easier to reach products inside.
  • Bottom mounts are easier to service as all components are on the floor and you don’t need a ladder to reach them
  • Hot air makes refrigeration compressors work harder. Hot air also rises and, since a bottom mount system is closer to the floor, it doesn’t pull in as much heat which can help your system’s performance and longevity.

Top Mount System Advantages

  • Works better in cooler environments as the system is located higher where warmer air would typically be.
  • System condenser not as likely to clog due to contaminants, such as grease or flour, pulled in from the floor.
  • Doesn’t take up as much storage space as a bottom mount system.


There are several options available to increase the function and efficiency of reach-ins. Installing pan slides in reach-ins provides some of the functionality of a roll-in or roll-thru and makes it easier to store prepared foods prior to placing in an oven. Just slide a pan out of the reach-in and place directly in the oven. Other options include leg kits instead of casters and extra shelving to maximize storage space.