Voltage for an industrial freezer


Old 02-19-16, 10:36 AM
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Voltage for an industrial freezer

Hi all,
I'm a teacher at a small high school and we are planning on starting a culinary program here in the next couple of years. The "when" is dependent on grant funding we haven't received yet, so everything is pretty theoretical right now. I'm trying to iron out as many details as I can in advance, and one thing that's come up is that we will have to install an industrial freezer in order to meet food safety requirements. It's the understanding of some of my colleagues that industrial freezers use a higher voltage than ordinary freezers. I don't know much about electrical issues. Here are my questions:

1) Is it true for all industrial freezers that they require a higher voltage?
2) How hard would it be to install an outlet for such a freezer (220v I think)?
3) Would it be best to have a professional do it, and if so, how much would that sort of thing cost?

The kitchen would most likely be installed in a portable building where we already have a small kitchen area (two sinks, a fridge, some hot plates). The school has two portables and one permanent building, so if for some reason installing in the portable wouldn't work, we could look at doing it in the permanent building, though space would be an issue.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 02-19-16, 11:07 AM
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Welcome to the forums.
In order to be of service, we need to know the specs of the intended freezer(s). What voltage they require and the amperage draw.
Running new electric service - especially to a school - will require a licensed electrician, probable permits etc.
You don't say if the intended location already has 240 volt service or if it need to be pulled from a remote source.
Let us know when you have some facts and we can then better help you.
Old 02-19-16, 11:13 AM
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1) Is it true for all industrial freezers that they require a higher voltage?
If it is a larger freezer, yes.

2) How hard would it be to install an outlet for such a freezer (220v I think)?
This will depend on where breaker panel is. You will probably have to ask maintenance department.
It is most likely to be 208V as commercial buildings usually have 3 phase circuit. Some large freezers require 3 phase connection, some others only require single phase.
Installing outlet itself is not too hard, but pulling cable may be challenging.

3) Would it be best to have a professional do it, and if so, how much would that sort of thing cost?
Maintenance department probably can help you. Either they may do it for you or have someone from county come out and do. Public schools usually have their own electricians or contractors. I'm pretty sure they won't let you do it yourself due to regulations.
Old 02-19-16, 11:20 AM
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Thanks for the responses! I'm muddling my way through this--we run into a lot of apathy and at the moment there are really only two teachers who want to make it happen (me and someone else). I appreciate the answers as often I don't even know where to start looking for answers by myself.

We haven't chosen a freezer yet, and I need to find out what the minimum requirements are. Basically we were going to get some appliances and such with a $1300 grant and that idea got shut down when our principal informed us that we would have to get an industrial freezer in order to meet state requirements. So I have to figure out where that's explained in detail. Ideally we'd get a very small freezer because the classes will have a maximum of fifteen students, and in all likelihood it will be fewer than that.

I don't know what our location currently has for voltage, though the other teachers seem to think it's not 240v. I'll try to find out and I'll post with an update.

If a large freezer requires a 3 phase circuit, and most commercial buildings have a three phase circuit, does that mean that it's likely our building would be able to handle such a freezer? I'll ask if we have a three phase circuit, too.

Thanks again.
Old 02-19-16, 11:26 AM
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A 240 circuit would just use both legs of the 120 that is already available for receptacle loads in the school.

Most likely the 3 phase unit would work on the service if you have 3 phase. I highly doubt the service would be sized so tightly to allow almost zero to be added .
Old 02-19-16, 01:24 PM
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I think you should work with a local electrician to do an onsite evaluation of the building (any kids in the school have an electrician parent who might donate some time?). There are a huge range of possibilities in commercial freezers and huge range of possibilities in the electrical system you happen to have. If you can't find a compatible match it could be very expensive to fix. I'd hate to see your grant get approved then not be able to actually do it.

In a portable classroom the electrical might be bare bones, which could not support additional appliances and cookers. Even if the school building itself has a three-phase service, it might only be available in the central boiler/HVAC room or cafeteria. It could be very expensive to extend it further out into the building.

Note that all the electrical work will have to be done by an electrician licensed to do commercial/public buildings in your state. The school district might employ someone in the facilities department who meets the qualification or have a standing deal with a licensed contractor. Depending on the scope you could potentially need an approved construction plan and/or permit too. Costs on this stuff can add up quick.
Old 02-19-16, 02:42 PM
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What I see as the first issue to be resolved is how is a commercial freezer defined and is that really a qualification?
Old 02-19-16, 08:24 PM
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I would first ask what voltages are available. Then, what voltage will be fed to the portable building. And after you have this information, select a freezer you'd like to buy and see what voltage it is available for. Considering the freezer is going in a portable building it is very likely the building will only be fed with single phase, but this is something you need to ask about. Do not purchase a freezer till you know what voltage will be available to operate it on.
Old 02-20-16, 04:49 AM
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I would check with Building, Health Dept's to find out the requirements for your area. Will tell you what you need to be checking. This way you will know exact requirements. We can help from there.
Old 02-22-16, 09:22 AM
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Thanks everyone.

I really appreciate the responses. Already I'm asking better questions than I was--I'm trying to find out about whether our buildings have 3 phase systems or not, for instance. We are a tiny school, with no kitchen or cafeteria. It's looking like if we wanted to install anything it would have to be in the main building, and that means it would be in this very small room, or maybe in my classroom, which is somewhat bigger. So I'm hoping to find out we don't need a big freezer. The principal is now saying we'd also need a refrigerator. I've emailed a large school in another part of the state asking them to tell me where the requirements are for culinary programs, because I still haven't gotten an answer from the principal about that. Apparently in another school in our district they used to run a culinary program without industrial appliances--just ordinary ones--so I'm wondering if this whole industrial fridge/freezer is even necessary.

I'll update when I finally have some answers. Thanks again.
Old 02-23-16, 09:42 AM
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Well, turns out we DON'T have to have an industrial freezer or industrial fridge for the class. Those are only required for serving food in a lunch program or something similar. This is very frustrating because due to all of this nonsense, we missed a deadline on a grant. The award would not have been big enough to cover the industrial appliances, but would have been just fine for a stove and other kitchen equipment. Anyway. Thank you all for your help, and I'm sure I'll be back with questions about something else at a later date.

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