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Why Humidity Control Matters for Commercial Refrigeration

Why Humidity Control Matters for Commercial RefrigerationPhoto from Unsplash

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Balancing humidity levels is crucial for the performance and long-term health of any refrigeration system. However, in commercial refrigeration systems, improper humidity levels can significantly impact energy consumption, which can cause energy bills to skyrocket.

High humidity can cause frost buildup on evaporator and condenser coils, cause fridge doors to sweat, and weaken the performance and consistency of your refrigeration system’s temperature. Additionally, high humidity can damage the refrigeration system’s contents across several industries, while low humidity can be similarly destructive.

In this article, %COMPANY%’s mechanical contractors and refrigeration experts discuss the role of humidity in refrigeration, highlight the impact of unbalanced humidity levels, and outline tips for getting the most out of your commercial system.

Understanding the Role of Humidity in Refrigeration

Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor present in the air. In a refrigerator blasting cool air, high humidity can cause water vapor to condense on the cold surfaces of the equipment, leading to frost and ice buildup.

When ice and frost accumulate, they reduce the efficient heat transfer of your evaporator, making your fridge work harder to maintain the set temperature. This results in increased energy consumption and can pose other health risks to the products you’re storing.

The two types of humidity are relative and absolute, but relative is the measurement that matters when thinking about refrigeration:

  • Relative Humidity (RH): This measures the amount of moisture in the air relative to the maximum amount it can hold at a given temperature. For example, an RH of 60% means the air has 60% of the water vapor it can possibly contain at that temperature.
  • Absolute Humidity: This is the amount of water vapor present in the air, regardless of temperature, usually measured in grams per cubic meter of air.

Optimized relative humidity can minimize condensation, reduce energy consumption, and extend the lifespan of refrigeration equipment, ultimately leading to cost savings and improved operational efficiency.

Commercial Coolers and Humidity Control Measures

There are a range of commercial refrigeration systems that require different humidity levels to protect inventory and maintain consistent temperatures. Certain products require low humidity levels to prevent bacteria growth and reduce the amount of moisture in the fridge. In contrast, others require high humidity levels to prevent them from drying out. Flowers, food products, and medical supplies require different humidity levels to store them safely.

Some of the most common commercial coolers that require specific humidity levels include:

  • Floral coolers
  • Fresh fish/meat cases
  • Produce coolers
  • Beverage coolers
  • Glass door display coolers
  • Undercounter coolers
  • Walk-in fridges/freezers

How Relative Humidity Maintains Product Quality

Across various industries, relative humidity plays a crucial role in preserving product quality and preventing spoilage and contamination. Humidity levels are important during manufacturing, storage, and transportation.

In the electronics industry, humidity control helps prevent static discharge and corrosion. In pharmaceutical manufacturing and storage, it helps maintain the potency and stability of certain medications. Even in textiles and the art world, delicate materials can be compromised with excessive or insufficient moisture.

However, for commercial refrigeration systems in restaurants, bars, and grocery stores, relative humidity control is essential for the following:

Reducing Food Waste

Proper humidity control is vital for preserving the freshness and quality of food and helping to minimize unnecessary food waste. Fresh produce is susceptible to moisture levels; without enough, it loses texture and size; with too much, mold and bacteria can fester and spoil the food.

Balanced humidity in transportation and storage is also key for dry foods. High moisture levels can quickly compromise grains, spices, and baked products, so balanced humidity is essential for preventing clumping and maintaining crispness.

Ideal humidity levels slow down the degradation process, helping reduce waste, lower costs, and provide fresher products to customers.

Preventing Freezer Burn

Freezer burn is often thought to be the result of keeping products in the freezer for too long. In reality, freezer burn occurs when moisture evaporates from the surface of frozen foods, resulting in dehydration that causes discoloration and negatively impacts texture and taste.

Humidity control and consistent levels in commercial freezers are essential for protecting your products and minimizing the chance of freezer burn.

Humidity helps prevent freezer burn through the following:

  • Minimizing moisture loss: Humidity control ensures the air inside the freezer has enough moisture to prevent dehydration and moisture loss from the products.
  • Preventing ice crystal formation: Low humidity levels can cause large ice crystals to form on the surface of frozen foods. These crystals can damage the food’s cellular structure, leading to freezer burn and compromised products.
  • Maintaining a consistent temperature: Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause condensation and frost buildup. This can worsen the cooling efficiency of your system and accelerate freezer burn and dehydration of your products.

Mitigating Food Health and Safety Risks

Finally, humidity control in commercial systems also helps reduce the chance of health risks. High, fluctuating humidity levels can encourage the growth of bacteria and mold and lead to foodborne illnesses.

Consistent humidity levels can help maintain an environment that prevents the growth of pathogens and protects your business from potential food safety and legal risks.

Mechanical Contractors Bolster Your Business’s Operations

With quality installation and regular maintenance services, mechanical contractors can bolster your daily operations and prevent refrigeration issues from damaging your products and impacting your business’s bottom line. Contractors ensure your refrigerator(s) perform optimally and address issues swiftly before they become severe.

With the right team on your side, you can expect decades of proper operation and consistency from your refrigeration equipment.

Contact %COMPANY% to Discuss Your Commercial Refrigeration Needs

At %COMPANY%, we have extensive experience providing support for commercial refrigeration systems. From restaurants to medical offices to flower shops, we understand the importance of consistent performance and work diligently to complete all our projects in line with industry standards and safety regulations.

When you work with us, you’ll be treated fairly and receive personalized advice and service that keeps your daily operations up and running.

Call %PHONE1% to schedule a risk-free consultation and discuss your commercial refrigeration needs with our experts.

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