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Thread: Walk-in cooler refrigeration dilema...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Posts
    352

    Walk-in cooler refrigeration dilema...

    I'll try to be brief. I purchased a used walk-in 12x30x8. The 1980's era refrigeration was junk when I bought it (I knew this going in) but it was still a good deal for the box itself. I went through a reputable national dealer to source new refrigeration for this unit which has recently arrived. In the process of sizing the system the salesman asked me a few simple questions regarding size, how much liquid will be stored and at what temperature (36F) etc. He then sized a 9,000 BTU 1 HP system for me. So far so good.

    My local refrigeration installer took one look at it and said its undersized. He then ran some calculations that confirmed this. I have asked a few other local folks who use walk-ins of similar (and lesser) sizes and they seem to think that it might be too small as well. I have re-expressed my concerns back to the company that sold me the system and they maintain that it should be sufficient. I looked at the calculation myself, and it seems pretty borderline to me...

    Here's the rub. Do I pay to have it installed just to find out this summer that it is too small to keep up? I can't tell the company that sold it to me to take it back because I can't confirm that it won't work (and by then it'll be too late for any kind of "refund/exchange"). I think this is one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations. I could buy a bigger system and sell the one I have, but I don't want to throw more money down this hole if I can help it.

    Anybody out there running a similar sized system with the equivalent of 20 bbls worth of serving tanks and another 20 bbls of keg storage that could share with me their BTU load/sizing information? Any thoughts on how to handle the salesman who may have sold me an undersized unit?

    As always thanks for all of your sage advice....
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Jacksonville Beach, Fl
    Posts
    129
    Hey Scott, sorry to hear you are potentially in a bind here. I can share with you my experience, might help you. I have 2 units. One is a 1hp and it is in a cooler that is 9x14 and we put 65ish degree kegs in to cool and it has no problem keeping up. we cycle about 9-10 bbl a week in there and it has no problem. However the box is high end brand new with a tight, heavy door on it and it opens very little. We also have a box that is 30 x 15 with a 3hp that we put cold beer and food in (35 taps in the bar come out of it) and it totally "walks the dog" to quote our refrigeration guy. The thing is that I think if you really watched the coils in the box and shut it down when they started to ice up and then turned it back on after they defrost I think you might make it work. I do think based on what we do that it is under sized. You could have them put a defrost timer on it and that might help. Even with that it might take a long time to get the product cold. To put it this way, I wouldn't want to try having the 1hp unit running the bigger box, I can't see that being an easy thing. As far as refrigeration goes, there are things you can cut corners on and other things that will put you out of biz, you gotta have cold beer. If I were you I would go with a bigger refer unit and sleep well at night. Give me a call if you want to chat about it more, I've seen the good, bad and the ugly on coolers over the last couple of years.

    Best of luck.
    Luch.
    Last edited by Luch15; 03-05-2012 at 08:27 PM.
    Luch Scremin
    Engine 15 Brewing Co.
    luch at engine15 dot com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Muskego, Wisconsin
    Posts
    108

    Cooler

    Quote Originally Posted by yap
    I'll try to be brief. I purchased a used walk-in 12x30x8. The 1980's era refrigeration was junk when I bought it (I knew this going in) but it was still a good deal for the box itself. I went through a reputable national dealer to source new refrigeration for this unit which has recently arrived. In the process of sizing the system the salesman asked me a few simple questions regarding size, how much liquid will be stored and at what temperature (36F) etc. He then sized a 9,000 BTU 1 HP system for me. So far so good.

    My local refrigeration installer took one look at it and said its undersized. He then ran some calculations that confirmed this. I have asked a few other local folks who use walk-ins of similar (and lesser) sizes and they seem to think that it might be too small as well. I have re-expressed my concerns back to the company that sold me the system and they maintain that it should be sufficient. I looked at the calculation myself, and it seems pretty borderline to me...

    Here's the rub. Do I pay to have it installed just to find out this summer that it is too small to keep up? I can't tell the company that sold it to me to take it back because I can't confirm that it won't work (and by then it'll be too late for any kind of "refund/exchange"). I think this is one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations. I could buy a bigger system and sell the one I have, but I don't want to throw more money down this hole if I can help it.

    Anybody out there running a similar sized system with the equivalent of 20 bbls worth of serving tanks and another 20 bbls of keg storage that could share with me their BTU load/sizing information? Any thoughts on how to handle the salesman who may have sold me an undersized unit?

    As always thanks for all of your sage advice....
    Guarantees mean nothing if it fails. Ask them what they will do in summer if it doesnt work properly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    205
    I think you are much better off installing bigger unit from start up.
    I would insist that you want bigger compressor and evaporator.
    I would say you need it at least double in BTUs.

    Just my 2cents.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Auburn, WA
    Posts
    226
    If they are an equipment dealer, I'd suggest asking for an exchange (for larger components) or a refund to return the evaporator and condensing unit. If they will provide you a refund for the smaller condensing unit and evaporator, purchase the larger components from your local contractor.

    If they don't agree to refund or exchange, I would make sure they will stand behind their recommendation and provide larger components if it is determined they are required (as well as the extra labor).

    I ran a room load calculation based on a beer storage room of 12'X30'X8', the load range is 16,700 BTUHR/19,500 BTUHR/22,200 BTUHR. My program has a LIGHT/MEDIUM/HEAVY. I use the Medium for our room load estimates, which is double the capacity of your components.

    Your installation concerns and costs are definitely warranted- the installation labor is going to essentially be the same for either size system.

    Good Luck,

    Jim

    Pro Refrigeration Inc.

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