How Big Should My Walk-In Be? A Practical Guide

A walk-in cooler or freezer is a must for many industries, by both federal regulations and product longevity. When designing a walk-in cooler or freezer, you first need to decide on its dimensions. But, the task of choosing your walk-in size gets a bit more complex than measuring out a rectangle in a room. If you design the walk-in too small, you don’t leave any room for growth. Too big? Your energy consumption will be disproportionately high compared to your current needs. Depending on your space constraints, industry type, and project needs, this guide will help you determine the best size for your walk-in, whether it’s a tiny 6×6 ft walk-in or something that can fill a warehouse!

1. Measure Your Space for Your Walk-In

When deciding on your walk-in’s size, you first want to understand your space constraints. So let’s get out the measuring tape and a notepad! Taking precise measurements of your space will be critical in figuring out what size walk-in is the best fit for you. Regardless of what you’re storing inside, if the cooler or freezer doesn’t fit well in your building, it will be more a hassle than a help. That being said, remember that walk-ins equipped for the outdoors are always an option, so don’t forget about possible exterior placements. 

Key Tip! The refrigeration systems for walk-in coolers and freezers require extra space for ventilation. When designing your walk-in, leave a couple of inches of clearance between the walk-in’s panels and your room’s walls and ceiling.

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2. Walk-In Size: Bigger is Not Always Better

In summary, the real advice of this section is to be realistic about your needs and growth. Unused, superfluous space in your cooler and freezer can have expensive consequences. Larger walk-ins are not only more expensive upfront, but they also require more power to run. No one wants to pay more on a utility bill for cooling space that’s not even being used! Be cautious to not buy a bigger walk-in than you actually need. 

On the other hand, you don’t want to pigeonhole your business. If an 8×8 ft cooler would fit everything you need now, but you have plans to expand your capacity next year, consider budgeting in a larger walk-in to prepare. Remember that while you are limited by your current space, take into consideration possibilities for expansion and renovation that would open up more room as your business grows. Consider both how much product you need to store now and in your 10-15 year business projections.

Key Tip! As a general rule 1 cubic foot of space in a walk-in can store nearly 30 pounds of food. With thoughtful organization, you’d be impressed by how much product can fit in a small walk-in. 

To give you an idea of the space required, here are the most common sizes for walk-ins. Keep in mind that since they are assembled with panels, you can also customize a walk-in to fit your space!

6’ x 6’6’ x 8’6’ x 10’6’ x 12’
8’ x 6’8’ x 8’8’ x 10’8’ x 12’
10’ x 6’10’ x 8’10’ x 10’10’ x 12’
12’ x 6’12’ x 8’12’ x 10’

3. Walk-In Accessories & Organization

When buying your walk-in, there are nearly infinite chances to customize it to your business. For example, the size, floor insulation, load-bearing potential, metal finishes, and colors are all up to you. Your cooler or freezer is meant to make your life easier and should fit the needs and aesthetic of your business. 

Additionally, adding proper organization and helpful accessories to your walk-in can create more space in a small area. When deciding on the size of your unit, consider shelving and accessories in the design process. A best practice is to line the edge of your cooler or freezer with shelving, leaving space to access everything from the center.

Furthermore, taking into account your specific industry needs will help you find the right proportions for your walk-in. A small cafe may just need a 6×6 standard cooler, while a liquor store or florist will opt for a more showy design with clear doors and viewports to highlight their product. 

Key Tip! Blocking the airflow can hinder the cooler of the walk-in. Never store product in front of the fans or refrigeration system.  

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4. Get Expert Advice

The experienced staff at Arctic Walk-Ins are here to help! When you decide to design a walk-in for your business, a highly trained Arctic representative will connect with you to begin the consultation. Working within your constraints and requirements, they will help create a design and refrigeration system that is customized to your needs. Before you decide on the cooler or freezer, you will have access to detailed drawings and specs to help you visualize the walk-in size in your space. Arctic Walk-Ins has you covered. From pharmacies and healthcare to school cafeterias and caterers, we can determine the right size walk-in for you!