Is Proper Insulation Important in Coolrooms?03 February 2016
Two critical variables govern the running of coolrooms. A highly efficient active cooling unit serves as the first half of the solution, but what about the passive half of the formula? All the cooling technology in the world will be next to useless without proper insulation, a physical layer that prevents heat from destroying the uniformly cool environment created by the cooling device.
What we’ve got so far is a vague notion of how coolrooms rely on a mechanism of some kind, a device that drops the temperature to near or below subzero values. The coolroom keeps the temperature at or slightly above 0°C. The walk-in freezer drops the climate far below this point, so low that the moisture in the air turns to ice and the enzymes in the food stop their chemical reactions, thus preserving the food from spoiling. This is basic coolroom science, with the actual coolrooms just using less cooling energy so that the food can still be handled and prepared for cooking, but uniformity is still a huge factor in both scenarios. Insulation stops heat from entering the room, a process some perceive as cold leaving the cooler. Therefore, the thermal isolating properties of the insulant, by simple logical deduction, can be perceived as a barrier, and, as such, are a crucial part of the cooling environment. In other words, the material maintains temperature by the blocking losses caused by external factors.
As with any other high-end passive material, when we improve the material design, its physical properties and/or dimensions, we enhance functionality. In the case of coolroom insulation, the material must cover every exposed square metre of open wall, but this isn’t enough. Thermal leakage is a surprisingly potent force, one that expresses its costs in spoilt food and high energy expenditure. Every corner and crevice must be evenly lined. Energy audits are then conducted on a regular basis to ensure uniformity is protected. The effect of such attentive monitoring and careful application of thermal insulation is invariably well-preserved food, typically to within a degree of that stated on the thermostat. Also, almost as importantly from a profit standpoint, electrical energy costs are significantly reduced.
An entire branch of industry is dedicated toward servicing coolroom insulation. New models come standard with modular polyurethane panels to maintain 100% energy efficiency. Meanwhile, older glass fibre and CFC-laden linings are replaced on a daily basis in a determined effort to push older models towards contemporary cooling standards.
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