Commercial Refrigerator vs. Residential: Understanding the Key Differences

Commercial Refrigerator vs. Residential: Understanding the Key Differences
Refrigerators are essential to keep groceries fresh at home or preserve perishable food in a bustling restaurant kitchen. Have you ever thought of buying a commercial refrigerator for your home, or wondered what makes commercial refrigerators different from residential ones?

So what are the key differences between commercial and residential refrigerators? Generally, they are different in terms of capacity and storage, material and durability, temperature control and cooling ability, variety and accessibility, maintenance requirements and power consumption. 

In this blog post, we'll discuss the intricacies of commercial refrigerators versus residential ones, uncovering all the factors when it comes to considering which one best suits your needs. Whether you're a homeowner or business owner searching for a refrigerator, this article can provide you with more clarity and insights. 

Commercial vs. Residential Refrigerator


Capacity and Storage

Commercial refrigerators are designed to accommodate the high-volume storage needs of the foodservice industry, so they generally have larger capacities compared to residential ones. You can expect to see all different sizes of commercial refrigerators, ranging from small under-counter units to big walk-in coolers. Our commercial refrigerators range from 1-door models with 23 cubic feet capacity to 3-door models with 54 cubic feet capacity.

Commercial refrigerators usually come with adjustable shelves, which facilitate efficient organization and storage. They may also have specialized compartments to store different types of food, such as meat, dairy or produce. Some companies even offer customizable storage solutions.

westlake refrigerator 54 cu. ft capaciy for food

On the other hand, residential refrigerators typically have smaller capacities since they are designed to meet the storage needs of households. Regular households replenish groceries, leftovers, and other food items daily or weekly, so they don’t require big storage space. While some residential refrigerators models may include adjustable shelves and door bins, the storage space is less customizable. 

In general, commercial refrigerators have larger capacities and customizable storage configurations, while residential refrigerators are designed to meet the storage requirements of households, offering enough space for storing groceries.

Material and Durability

Commercial refrigerators are constructed using industrial-grade materials, which are designed to endure the rigorous demands of commercial setting. Featuring stainless steel exteriors, commercial refrigerators are resistant to corrosion, scratches, and dents. The interior of commercial refrigerators may be lined with stainless steel or aluminum, enhancing durability and a professional look.

Premium-grade components such as compressors and hinges are engineered to withstand tough usage and navigate frequent door openings. The compressors of commercial refrigerators are more powerful to handle the frequent fluctuations of temperature. Westlake commercial refrigerators feature high-quality Embraco compressors known for their reliability and efficiency. 

Display refrigerator anti-fingerprint design

The materials of residential refrigerators are usually lighter compared to their commercial counterparts. While some high-end residential refrigerators have stainless steel exterior, many other options only have exteriors made of painted steel, plastic, or other materials, which are more prone to wear and tear over time. Those shelves inside the refrigerators are less durable because of the material being plastic or tempered glass. 

Overall, residential refrigerators are designed to withstand everyday household use with the use of lighter and less durable materials, while commercial ones feature heavy-duty constructions and are tailor-made to meet the robust needs of restaurants and such.

Temperature Control and Cooling Ability

Due to the stringent food safety standards and dynamic usage patterns, commercial refrigerators are equipped with precise and consistent temperature control. The advanced digital control system allows operators to set and maintain accurate and specific temperature levels. Westlake commercial refrigerators use  Carel controller for automated fan cooling and automatic defrost. 

Even under heavy usage, commercial refrigerators are capable of quickly recovering temperature levels after door openings. Consistent cooling performance is maintained throughout the day. The rapid cooling capabilities are designed to preserve the freshness of perishable goods more effectively. 

Besides the precise control ability, commercial refrigerators can quickly lower the temperature of large volumes of food items, thanks to the high-capacity compressor and insulation system. Some commercial refrigerator models even offer specialized temperature control zones which are perfect solutions to store specific types of food or dairy products at their own optimal temperatures.


On the other hand, residential refrigerators generally only offer basic temperature control settings. Users can only adjust the temperature within a certain range, not at a specific temeprature.  A few higher-end residential models are the exceptions, but their digital temperature control system may not be as accurate or consistent as the commercial counterparts. 

After each door opening, the temperature fluctuates significantly inside the refrigerators. Residential refrigerators that don't have the rapid temperature recovery system in place to keep the food and beverages at a certain temperature required in a commercial environment.   

Residential refrigerators have one cooling zone with uniform temperature control throughout the entire refrigerator, so it’s impossible to store different types of food items at their own ideal temperatures. The compressor and insulation systems are not as robust as commercial ones. You may find it takes longer to maintain cooling performance if there are heavy loads of items or prolonged periods of door openings. 

In summary, commercial refrigerators can meet the higher standard in terms of temperature control and specialized zones. Meanwhile, residential refrigerators only offer basic temperature control systems suited for storing leftovers and groceries. 

Variety and Accessibility

From reach-in to under-counter, commercial refrigerators offer a wide variety of types to  meet the different needs in the foodservice industry.

For example, reach-in refrigerators are upright units ideal for a high-traffic kitchen for easy and frequent access. Under-counter refrigerators have a smaller footprint with sufficient storage capacity. Walk-in refrigerators provide ample space in enclosed cooling areas that allow people to enter. Display refrigerators have glass doors to showcase food and beverages. Refrigerated prep tables offer convenient workstations to prepare sandwiches, salad or pizza.  

Residential refrigerators also come with different sizes, styles, and configurations. For example, top-freezer, bottom-freezer, side-by-side, and French door style are some popular types.  Compact refrigerators are small-sized refrigerators for small areas such as offices, apartments, etc. Homeowners usually choose a refrigerator type that suits their space and personal needs.

In terms of accessibility, commercial refrigerators have more ergonomic designs such as wide door openings, adjustable shelves, and self-closing doors. The accessibility is enhanced by LED lighting, temperature display and intuitive controls.

Residential refrigerators have some accessibility geared towards homeowners, such as easy-to-open doors, adjustable shelves, and clear storage bins. Advanced features such as touch-screen displays or Wi-Fi connectivity are only available in higher-end products..

Overall, commercial refrigerators offer a more diversified configuration for foodservice businesses, prioritizing accessibility and functionality in busy kitchens. Residential refrigerators cater to homeowners whose priority is convenience and usability. 

Maintenance Requirements

Commercial refrigerators are usually under heavy usage, therefore more wear and tear can happen on compressors, hinges and seals. Regular maintenance by trained technicians is necessary to ensure optimal performance and prevent costly repairs. Besides maintenance, regular cleaning of interior surfaces and doors can help avoid cross-contamination and ensure compliance with food safety standards.

But not to worry - if you buy from us, you'll benefit from our superior warranty program. We offer a 6-year warranty on the compressor, exceeding the industry average of up to 5 years. Additionally, our comprehensive warranty covers the entire machine for 2 years, including free parts, telephone/video guidance, door-to-door maintenance, and other services. 

On the other hand, residential refrigerators are generally used lightly throughout the day, so routine maintenance tasks such as checking compressors, cleaning condenser coils or checking door seals are less needed. Regular cleaning of spills and interior surfaces is a nice thing to do but it’s not required. 

In short, commercial refrigerators require regular professional maintenance while residential refrigerators only need simpler maintenance tasks handled by homeowners.

Power Consumption

Because commercial refrigerators have more robust cooling systems to handle frequent temperature fluctuations and door openings, they consume more energy compared to residential units. Some models may meet energy efficiency standards, but they generally still consume more power compared to residential ones due to the large storage capacity and continuous operation.  Besides, commercial refrigerators may be designed with special features, such as glass doors and extra lighting, which can increase energy consumption. 

Even though Energy DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) testing is not a requiremnt for commercial refrigerators, Westlake commercial refrigerators have passed the energy efficiency test and proudly carry the Energy DOE certification. By choosing Westlake refrigerators, businesses not only have lower electricity bills but also contribute to environmental sustainability.

In contrast, residential refrigerators are designed with energy efficiency in mind and use energy-saving features such as improved insulation and energy-efficient compressors. Manufacturers aim to meet household needs with adequate cooling performance while minimizing energy consumption.  

In summary, residential refrigerators are designed with energy efficiency in mind, while commercial refrigerators focus on functionality and performance.


Commercial refrigerators have better performance over residential ones in terms of larger capacities, durable construction, precise temperature control, and rapid cooling capabilities. 

Shop our collections today with a peace of mind - knowing our commitment to provide excellent customer service and our comprehensive warranty program is here to guard your investment. 


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