Open vs. Closed display refrigeration: What you need to know

Open vs. Closed Display Refrigeration: What You Need to Know

Posted by | 16-12-2021

Whether you are opening a new store or considering new equipment, you want to make sure you choose the best equipment for your needs. You not only have to consider what types of display refrigeration will be best for energy efficiency, but also what commercial refrigerator will help improve sales. You also need a commercial refrigerator that is convenient for customers and will keep food safe. In this article, we will look at the difference between open and closed display refrigeration units to help you find the best one for your needs.

Energy Efficiency

This is a very important consideration, as energy efficiency directly impacts your bottom line. The more display refrigerators you need, the more energy they consume. This can really hike up your energy bills. So, when it comes to display refrigeration, which is better at saving energy?

At first glance, you might think the open display case is less energy efficient. Still, there are a few things to consider. First, display fridges that are open are designed to help contain cold air. However, there is no denying when you walk down the aisles in a grocery store with open displays, there is a distinct chill in the air. With doors, you also face issues, though. The constant opening and closing of the doors actually reduces energy efficiency. The busier the area, the more energy is lost, which affects fridge temperatures and the quality of your food.

The best choice is to go with the closed display refrigeration with proper self-closing doors. This way, the cold air is contained when the fridge doors are closed, and you also reduce risk for cold air being wasted by doors that aren’t properly shut. Otherwise, you have to invest in expensive features for your open display fridge, such as shelf edge technology or night blinds so that you can close off the displays when the shop is closed.

Customer Convenience

Open doored display refrigerators do have easier access for customers; they can just grab and go. However, on the negative side, that easy access also makes your cold storage aisle very uncomfortable for customers with all that chilly air. In the winter, this isn’t quite as noticeable, as people are dressed warmly. In the summer months, though, when people are dressed in light clothing, and the air conditioning is blowing down on them, shopping in the refrigerated aisles can be downright uncomfortable.

This can make customers feel the need to leave quickly, so they miss out on opportunities to browse the choices available. This is not only bad for them, but also bad for sales. Additionally, as mentioned above, if you choose display refrigerators with easy access sliding, or self-closing doors, it is really not difficult for customers to just open the door to grab their food or drinks.


Closed display refrigerators can be placed anywhere, while open display refrigeration cannot. If open display fridges are exposed to external air flow and drafts, it can lead to malfunctions. So, if you want your display case at the front of the store, for example, this could be problematic for open display cases. This is especially risky in the summer months when warm air can come into the store and affect performance.

Other risks for airflow include air conditioning, windows, and fans, which can all negatively impact an open display case’s performance. The more drafts and temperature changes there are in the area, the more difficult it becomes for the open display refrigerator to maintain ideal temperatures.

Stocking Shelves

Stocking shelves is a big consideration, as it takes time to complete this everyday task. Doors can get in the way for staff trying to keep the refrigerators stocked, so at first glance it seems the open display fridge wins out. However, while air flow is important for both open and closed fridges, you can’t block the return air flow for an open display refrigerator, as it overworks the system and leads to temperature fluctuations.

Because of this, it can take longer to stock the fridge properly, as staff have to make sure they are leaving proper gaps between items. Worrying about air flow can take up more room, which means you might have to stock less items in the open display case. As a result, your team is stocking more often while also fussing over spacing. Your closed display refrigerator comes out ahead, as it might have a door, but it doesn’t take time trying to leave proper spaces to maintain air flow. 

Square Footage 

Another consideration is square footage. Open fronted display cases don’t require door space, which can make them a good choice if you have tight aisles. However, two-door coolers come with sliding doors, so the tight aisles aren’t an issue.

If you would like more information on two-door coolers, speak to our team at Ancaster Food Equipment about the many benefits of our affordable refurbished display coolers today. Call us at (855) 888-9644 or contact us here.  

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