A Restaurant Owner Wondering How To Make A Commercial Refrigerator Quieter

How To Make A Commercial Refrigerator Quieter

Posted by | 19-12-2023

Navigating the challenge of how to make a commercial refrigerator quieter is crucial for businesses where ambiance and noise control are important. The consistent hum and rattle of these large appliances can be more than just background noise; it can disrupt the atmosphere of your space and the comfort of your customers and staff. 

This blog delves into effective strategies and practical tips to reduce the noise emanating from your commercial refrigerators. Whether you manage a bustling restaurant, a serene café, or a busy retail store, quieting down your refrigeration units can significantly enhance the environment.

A calm and quiet coffee shop with happy customers

Understanding Commercial Refrigerator Noise

Refrigerators, especially commercial ones, are complex machines with various components that can produce different types of noises during operation. Some of these sounds are normal, a part of the refrigerator's regular functioning, while others can be signs of potential issues. By understanding the types and sources of these noises, you can better manage your commercial kitchen's environment and ensure your refrigerator is running efficiently and quietly.

How Loud Is Too Loud?

Understanding the acceptable noise levels for refrigerators is crucial in determining whether your unit functions normally or requires professional attention. A refrigerator's noise level typically ranges between 32 to 47 decibels (dB). To put this into perspective, 40 dB is akin to the serene ambiance of a library, a benchmark for a quiet indoor space. On the other hand, 60 dB is comparable to the noise level of a standard air conditioning unit. If your refrigerator's noise exceeds these levels, or if it's noticeably louder than usual, it's advisable to seek the expertise of a refrigerator repair specialist.

Most noise in a refrigerator usually emanates from the compressor, the component that does the most work in the cooling process. Therefore, the first step in troubleshooting is ensuring the compressor functions optimally. This involves checking that the rear area of the fridge is free from any obstructions or debris. Additionally, the refrigerator should be positioned on a level surface to ensure proper operation. It's also important to verify that the power supply is stable and matches the required voltage for your unit.

If you've assessed these common factors and your commercial refrigerator continues to produce excessive noise, the following sections will guide you through additional methods to mitigate this issue. Learning these techniques can help you maintain a quieter and more efficient refrigeration system in your commercial setting.

Why Is My Commercial Fridge So Loud?

Noise is an inevitable part of commercial refrigerators' operation. However, the sound level can sometimes escalate from a mere background hum to a noticeable and potentially disruptive roar. Several factors can contribute to increased noise levels, making understanding the common reasons behind a loud commercial fridge crucial.

Age and Wear

As refrigerators age, their components can wear down, increasing noise. Parts like the compressor, fan motors, and defrost timer can become noisy over time. Wear and tear on seals and gaskets may also cause the fridge to work harder to maintain temperature, thus increasing the noise level.

Compressor Issues

The compressor is the heart of the refrigerator's cooling system. It can become noticeably louder if it starts to malfunction or is not functioning optimally. A compressor needing repair or replacement can emit various noises, including buzzing, humming, or rattling sounds.

A happy customer in a quieter shopping environment

Improper Leveling

If a refrigerator is not level, it can cause the internal components, especially the compressor and fans, to operate off-kilter. This imbalance often results in increased vibration and noise. Ensuring that your fridge is correctly leveled can reduce these unnecessary sounds.

Fan Malfunction

The fans in a commercial refrigerator help circulate air and keep the unit cool. If there's an issue with the fans, such as a buildup of dirt and debris, or if the fan blades are damaged, the fridge can become louder. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent or resolve these issues.

Blocked Airflow

Proper airflow is essential for a refrigerator’s operation. If the vents are blocked internally by overstocked shelves or externally by objects placed too close to the fridge, it can strain the appliance and increase noise. Maintaining clear airflow paths can help reduce operational sounds.

Loose Components

Over time, screws and panels in the refrigerator can become loose, leading to rattling sounds during operation. Regular checks and tightening of these components can help decrease noise levels.

Common Sources of Noise in Commercial Refrigerators

Remember, while some noises are normal and part of the refrigerator's operation, others can show wear and tear or even impending breakdowns. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to changes in noise can ensure the longevity and efficient operation of your commercial refrigerator.

Ice Maker

One common source of noise in commercial refrigerators is the ice maker. The sounds from an ice maker can range from gurgling and cracking to occasional buzzing. These noises occur as the ice maker fills with water, freezes the water into ice, and then ejects the ice into the storage bin. While these sounds might initially seem alarming, they are generally normal and indicate that the ice maker is functioning correctly.

Refrigerator Walls

Another noise source is the walls of the refrigerator itself. As the temperature inside the fridge fluctuates, the walls may expand and contract slightly, leading to cracking or popping sounds. These noises are typically harmless and are a natural result of the material responding to temperature changes within the refrigerator.

Drip Tray

The drip tray in a commercial refrigerator is often the source of various intriguing sounds. You might hear sizzling, dripping, or even light gurgling noises coming from this area. These sounds occur as the refrigerator defrosts and the resulting water drips into the tray, where it evaporates. These noises are generally normal and don't indicate any malfunction.


The compressor is the heart of the refrigerator's cooling system and, as such, is a primary source of noise. It's responsible for circulating refrigerant throughout the system and can emit a consistent hum or buzzing noise during operation. While this sound is normal, any drastic changes in the noise level or type of sound (like rattling or clanking) from the compressor should be investigated, as they could signify a problem.

A woman shopping from a refrigerator in a commercial store

Strategies to Reduce Refrigerator Noise

Several effective strategies can mitigate this noise, ensuring refrigeration units operate more quietly without compromising efficiency. From simple adjustments to more involved solutions, this section explores various methods to reduce refrigerator noise, enhancing the overall atmosphere of your commercial space. Whether tweaking the settings or reconfiguring the environment around the fridge, these strategies offer practical ways to create a more pleasant and quieter working area.

Workload Adjustments

One effective strategy to reduce noise from your commercial refrigerator is to adjust its workload. Overworking the refrigerator can increase noise, especially if it's constantly running at full capacity. Distribute the contents inside the refrigerator evenly to allow for better airflow and more efficient cooling. Avoid overstocking, which can strain the compressor and other mechanical parts, leading to louder operation. Additionally, regular cleaning of the coils and ensuring that the condenser is not clogged with debris can significantly reduce the strain on the refrigerator, thereby decreasing the noise levels.

In line with workload adjustments, it’s also important to consider the usage patterns of your refrigerator. Frequent opening and closing of the refrigerator door can cause the internal temperature to fluctuate, forcing the fridge to work harder to maintain the set temperature. Educating staff on efficient usage and organizing the contents for quick access can minimize the time the door stays open, reducing the refrigerator's workload and lowering the noise levels.

Temperature Settings

Adjusting the temperature settings of your commercial refrigerator can also significantly impact the noise level. Often, refrigerators are set to colder temperatures than necessary, which can cause the compressor to work harder and longer, resulting in more noise. By setting the refrigerator to the highest temperature that still safely preserves your food, you can reduce the frequency and duration of the compressor cycles, thus lowering the overall noise level. It’s essential to balance the temperature settings with food safety requirements, ensuring the refrigerator maintains a safe temperature for food storage while operating more quietly.

Additionally, consider the ambient temperature in the area where the fridge is located. If the refrigerator is in a hot environment, it will have to work harder to maintain a cool internal temperature, which can increase noise. Improving ventilation around the refrigerator and keeping it away from heat sources can help maintain a more consistent internal temperature with less effort and noise.

Leveling the Fridge

An unevenly leveled refrigerator can contribute significantly to noise production. When a fridge is not level, it can cause the internal components, particularly the compressor and fans, to operate unevenly, leading to increased vibration and noise. Using a level, check to ensure that your refrigerator is perfectly horizontal. If not, adjust the legs or place shims under the base until it is level. This simple adjustment can greatly reduce vibrations and the associated noise.

Beyond leveling, ensuring the refrigerator is on a stable and firm surface is vital. An unstable surface can amplify vibrations and increase noise levels. Regularly checking and adjusting the leveling of your refrigerator as part of routine maintenance can go a long way in keeping noise levels down.

A Restaurant Owner Wondering How To Make A Commercial Refrigerator Quieter

Vibration-Reducing Mats and Stands

Placing vibration-reducing mats or stands under your refrigerator effectively dampens the noise. These accessories are designed to absorb vibrations, a common cause of noise in refrigerators. When choosing a mat or stand, look for one specifically designed for commercial refrigerators that can support your unit's weight and size. This can be particularly beneficial if your refrigerator is located on a hard surface, such as a tiled or wooden floor, which can amplify vibrations.

In addition to using mats and stands, consider the overall placement of your refrigerator. Avoid placing it against walls or in corners where sound can reverberate. Ensuring a little bit of space around your refrigerator can help reduce noise levels by preventing sound from echoing and amplifying.


While you cannot soundproof the refrigerator itself, especially the compressor area, as it needs ventilation, you can employ soundproofing techniques in the surrounding area. Installing sound-absorbing materials on walls adjacent to the refrigerator can help minimize the noise. These materials can include acoustic panels, foam, or even heavy curtains. The idea is to absorb the sound before it can spread into the room.

It’s important to note that soundproofing should not restrict airflow around the refrigerator. Ensure soundproofing efforts do not block vents or impede the refrigerator’s ability to expel heat. Properly implemented, soundproofing can significantly reduce noise without affecting the refrigerator’s performance.

Enclosing the Fridge

Enclosing your commercial refrigerator with additional structures or furniture can be a clever way to reduce the noise it emits. You create a physical barrier that absorbs and dampens the sound by strategically placing storage shelves, cabinets, or other bulky furniture around the fridge. This method is particularly useful when relocating the fridge isn't feasible. When implementing this strategy, it's crucial to ensure that there's still adequate space for air circulation around the fridge to prevent overheating and maintain its efficiency.

However, when enclosing the refrigerator, careful consideration must be given to accessibility and functionality. Ensure that the doors can open fully and that there is sufficient space for staff to access and restock the fridge without hindrance. Also, avoiding enclosing the top of the fridge is important, as heat typically dissipates from this area. A well-planned enclosure can significantly reduce noise levels while blending the refrigerator into the space's aesthetic, creating a more pleasant and functional environment.

A person shopping in a store

Final Words: How To Make A Commercial Refrigerator Quieter

Achieving a quieter commercial refrigerator balances identifying the noise sources and applying effective solutions to mitigate them. Regular maintenance is key, as it not only helps in the early detection of potential issues but also ensures that your refrigerator operates at peak efficiency with minimal noise. It's important to remember that a quiet refrigerator is not just about comfort; it also signifies a well-maintained and efficiently running appliance. By following the strategies outlined, from workload adjustments to soundproofing techniques, you can significantly reduce the noise levels of your commercial refrigeration units, contributing to a more serene and productive work environment.

If you're in the market for a refurbished commercial refrigerator in Canada or the USA, consider contacting Ancaster Food Equipment. Our range of professionally refurbished refrigerators offers the perfect blend of quality, efficiency, and quiet operation. Whether upgrading your current setup or setting up a new commercial space, we have the expertise and inventory to meet your refrigeration needs. Contact Ancaster Food Equipment today at 1-855-680-4398 to explore our options and find a solution that brings both quietness and reliability to your commercial kitchen.

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