Food spoilage is a serious threat to the profitability of any restaurant. I’m sure you know all too well the razor-thin margins that many restaurants operate under. The average is 5 percent, and that’s without any food spoilage. Therefore, a restaurant that’s losing more than 5 percent of its food inventory costs to spoilage is facing a very real threat to the sustainability of the business.
Some spoilage is going to happen no matter how much you work to control your restaurant’s environment. You’re going to receive the occasional delivery of wilted lettuce. The real threat to restaurants is avoidable food loss. Things like walk-in coolers that warm-up without warning or extended power outages that ruin days or weeks-worth of food. It’s like washing money right down the drain.
None of us can control every aspect of our business. With the right tools, though, a restaurant can protect its food inventory and significantly safeguard its profits.
A Reliable Walk-In Cooler Thermometer or Thermostat is Your Best Line of Defense in Safeguarding Your Food Inventory
Most restaurant owners I talk with spend a lot of time researching and shopping for the best walk-in cooler their business can afford. Most will skimp on other costs to maximize the money they can spend on the highest quality cooler possible. What I wish these owners did, though, was put the same amount of energy and research into buying a highly reliable walk-in cooler thermometer.
You can have the best walk-in cooler money can buy, but it’s worthless if you can’t trust the internal temperature gauge to know if your food inventory is resting within a safe range of degrees. I’ll even suggest to the restaurant owners I work with that they purchase two cooler thermometers for their larger commercial refrigerators just to make doubly sure their food is safe.
Food safety is directly tied to the success of your business so make sure you’re using one of the most reliable walk-in cooler thermometers out there.
There a Few Key Features That Make a Walk-In Cooler Thermostat Reliable
In general, a thermostat and a thermometer are simple tools, and there’s no need to over-complicate things here. There are some key features, though, that stand out among high-quality, reliable commercial thermometers. Make sure the walk-in cooler thermostat you choose has these features.
- Food Safety Indicator
- Easy-to-Read Temperature Display
- NSF Certification
If a Thermometer is NSF Certified, It’s Had to Prove Itself Time and Time Again
One of the surest measures of reliability for any commercial refrigerator thermostat or thermometer is an NSF Certification. NSF International – formerly the National Sanitation Foundation – is the governing body over all things having to do with consumer food and water products, including commercial products used in a restaurant to prepare food. If a product earns the NSF’s seal of approval, it’s a safe bet that it’s going to perform well for you and your business.
The cost of a faulty cooler thermostat is too high not to invest in the most reliable temperature monitor out there. When I’m working with restaurant owners on any project, I always recommend an NSF-certified product over a non-certified one.
Here are 6 of the Most Reliable Walk-In Cooler Thermostats Out There
These six walk-in cooler thermostats are the ones I most often recommend to my customers.
Taylor TempRite Series Refrigerator & Freezer Tube Thermometer
The name Taylor carries a lot of weight in the food industry, and for good reason. Quality thermometers are Taylor’s complete focus and they’ve perfected the art of accurate, pin-point readings. This glass thermometer has an easy-to-read analog display that shows you a safe temperature zone guide. You’ll be able to see if your walk-in cooler is edging towards a temperature that’s too hot or too cold every time you walk by. Taylor’s TempRite thermometer sits or stands, and it’s filled with a non-toxic solution that won’t contaminate your food inventory if it were to ever fall and crack.
Miljoco Dial Thermometer
This walk-in cooler thermometer may look simple but it’s actually a highly sophisticated and highly-reliable tool for keeping your food inventory at a safe temperature. It has a +/- 1 degree of accuracy. This is an external panel-mounted system that’s vapor actuated, meaning you’re not going to get an indicator error from the ambient temperature along the tube system between the cooler and the panel. This is critical to getting a good, reliable temperature reading.
Walk In Cooler Parts US Cooler Digital Thermometer
This is another excellent panel-mounted thermometer from Walk In Cooler Parts. Unlike a lot of traditional walk-in thermometers on the market, this one uses a digital display which makes it beyond easy to quickly check the temperature every time you walk by. At +/- 2 degrees Fahrenheit of accuracy and with an easy-to-read display, this digital walk-in cooler thermometer will give you what you need to keep an eye on your food’s temperature at all times.
Cooper-Atkins Refrigerator/Freezer/Dry Storage Thermometer
Cooper-Atkins is a well-respected name in the commercial thermometer world. Their standard refrigerator/freezer thermometer is simple to use yet highly precise so you get a near-exact reading. The display indicates the highest temperature that refrigerated and frozen food can reach to still be considered safe. And, it also includes a dry storage temperature gauge in case you need to steal this thermometer from the walk-in and check the climate in your dry goods storage area.
CDN Refrigerator/Freezer Professional Thermometer
CDN makes a quality professional thermometer that will do the job in your walk-in cooler. If you’re looking for a reliable temperature monitor with a large, easy-to-read display, this model is for you. It measures temperatures from -40 to 80-degrees Fahrenheit, has a bold, bright display, and includes a spoilage range right on the glass display reader. As you’re walking in and out of your refrigerator, you can get an accurate read on your cooler’s temperature at a glance.
Rubbermaid Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer
A simple yet highly reliable thermometer for your walk-in cooler is this one from Rubbermaid. Their commercial thermometer has an easy-to-read display that marks the safety ranges for food in both the freezer and the refrigerator. Not only can you rely on this thermometer for an accurate food safety reading, but you can also rely on it to hold up and last in busy kitchens. It’s constructed with stainless steel and has a shatterproof lens, so it’ll be there when you need it year after year.
Before You Put Your New Thermometer to Work, Calibrate It So You Get an Accurate Temperature Reading
Once you’ve chosen which of these thermometers is best for your cooler, you’ll need to calibrate it before you can trust it to read accurately. Calibrating a thermometer is basically bringing it back to zero or hitting the restart button. You’re creating a baseline from which the thermometer can then read the internal temperature of your walk-in-cooler. When done correctly, a good thermometer will reliably read the temperature within about +/- 2 degrees of accuracy or less
Here’s a general thermometer calibration sequence for a dial thermometer. All you need to calibrate your new dial thermometer is a flat tip screwdriver and a glass of ice water.
Step 1: Expose the Temperature Probe
Most commercial refrigerator dial thermometers have a temperature-sensitive probe inside the center of the dial. To get to it, remove the lens cap. You’ll either need to unthread it if yours is a threaded lens or pry it off if yours has a press-in lens.
Step 2: Fill a Glass with Ice Water
Next, fill any drinking glass with crushed ice and add water until it reaches the top. Let the ice melt into the water for a few minutes before continuing.
Step 3: Take the Temperature of the Ice Water
Place the temperature probe from the thermometer into the glass of ice water. Let it sit in the water for at least 30-seconds with 2-inches of the probe submerged in the water.
Step 4: Take the Temperature Reading
After 30-seconds, read the thermometer’s temperature gauge. If it’s calibrated correctly, the dial’s pointer should be sitting right at 32-degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature is higher or lower than 32-degrees, you’ll need to use a screwdriver to turn the center pointer of the dial until it reads correctly. If the temperature on the uncalibrated thermometer reads high, use the screwdriver to turn the center pointer clockwise until it reads correctly. If it reads lower than 32-degrees, turn the screwdriver counter-clockwise until it’s correct.
Plan to recalibrate your thermometer every six months so you know it’s working the way it should.
Make Finding the Most Reliable Walk-In Cooler Thermometer a Priority for Your Business
A reliable walk-in cooler thermometer is not something your restaurant can afford to do without. Take the time to check out each of the commercial cooler thermometers above to find the right one for your walk-in. Send me questions you have as you do your research. I’ll be here and am happy to help.