Afterlife Care: An Intro to Mortuary Coolers

When our loved ones pass, we want their body to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Mortuary coolers help provide this by giving families time to mourn.

Purpose of Mortuary Coolers

When someone dies, families usually want to arrange a funeral and burial or cremation. In most circumstances, these events can’t be pre-arranged due to the uncertain timing of death. Exposed to the elements, bodies will quickly decompose. Mortuaries prevent this quick decomposition by storing bodies in cool, sterile environments. This time buffer gives families time to provide their deceased with the best afterlife care. This extra time is very helpful for grieving families. Mortuaries can keep bodies for weeks before decomposition becomes a problem.

Body Storage Arrangement in Mortuary Coolers

Mortuary coolers have shelving units that store the bodies, and they typically have either two or four shelves. Using shelving vastly increases the efficiency of a body storage space. These shelving units don’t compromise a body’s autonomy in the afterlife. The shelving provides enough space to prevent a body from touching any other body.

Morticians slide bodies into and out of these shelves on body trays or bodyboards. The purpose of trays or boards is to contain the body and make moving the body easier. These trays also keep the body in a flat, respectful position.

Body Lifts Are Useful Additions

A body is a heavy object. Lifting up a body, even with multiple people, certainly wears on workers over time. Body lifts are a smart option to move bodies up or down to a storage shelf. Different companies make both manual body lifts and electronic body lifts.

Temperature of Mortuary Coolers

Typically, morticians keep mortuary coolers between 36-39F. This is a general guideline, but different states have different requirements. The process of decomposition is slowed at these temperatures. However, once someone dies, their body will inevitably begin to decompose if it isn’t embalmed. Mortuary coolers simply slow down this process of decomposition. These coolers don’t stop the process altogether. A few places, such as forensic institutes, keep their coolers far below freezing. These facilities must keep the bodies for long periods of time. Keeping bodies at a very low temperature slows the decomposition more than regular mortuary coolers.

Energy Consumption

As with any cooler or freezer, energy is the most significant associated ongoing cost. There are three main factors that contribute to the amount of energy consumption.

Mortuary Cooler Size

Firstly, the larger the unit, the more energy is needed to keep that unit at a cool temperature. However, a larger cooler twice the size of a smaller cooler will not use two times as much energy. It will use more energy than the smaller cooler, but not quite twice as much.


Secondly, a unit in a place with a hotter climate will use more energy than one in a cooler climate. If it is 100 degrees outside, a unit would need to work harder to keep the temperature inside the unit at 36 degrees. If the outside temperature is only 50 degrees outside, the unit doesn’t need to do as much work.

r value


Lastly, the amount and quality of insulation in a mortuary cooler affect its energy consumption. A unit with thicker, higher-quality insulation will be more energy efficient. Higher quality insulation decreases the amount of energy needed to keep the cooler cold. The measured effectiveness of insulation is the insulation’s R-value; a higher R-value means better insulation. However, higher-quality insulation is more expensive. The cooler a unit needs to be, the better insulation it should have. For example, freezer mortuary coolers should have higher R-values because they need to keep a cooler temperature.

mortuary cooler. body box.

Body Capacity

A critical consideration for mortuary coolers is the body capacity of the cooler. For small morgues, a body box might be sufficient. Body boxes are stand-alone units that often have wheels attached for mobility. These body boxes can hold one to six bodies, depending on size. These body boxes can simply plug into a wall.

If capacity than six bodies is needed, walk-in mortuary coolers make more sense. These units have large doors for ease of moving bodies in and out. The units also have enough space for someone to walk in and out of. Walk-in units can be custom-made to the size desired by the client. Clients can choose to have a special floor material installed with their walk-in mortuary cooler. On the other hand, a cheaper option is to have the cooler installed on the floor as-is. Having a drain in the floor is helpful for cleaning a walk-in mortuary cooler.

mortuary cooler

Buying a Mortuary Cooler

Mortuary coolers are significant investments. Talking to a professional in the refrigeration and cooling field can help you decide what type of unit works best for you. Always consider the warranty, shipping speed, and extra add-ons you desire when ordering a mortuary cooler.