Opening A Restaurant In The Southwest? What Are Your Best Air Conditioning Options?

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If you're finally realizing your dream of becoming a restaurant owner in the Southwestern U.S., you may be excited to pick out unique decor and design your menu. However, one important component that could make or break your business is its air conditioning system. With outside temperatures routinely in the triple digits during the summer months, not to mention scorching ovens and griddles in the kitchen giving off heat throughout the day, keeping your customers and employees comfortable without sacrificing profits to the utility company can be a formidable task. What can you do to improve your space's existing air conditioning system, and when may you need to upgrade to a specialized system to handle your restaurant's needs? Read on to learn more about the best air conditioning systems to keep your cooks and customers cool without breaking the bank.

What are the best ways to cool a hot kitchen?

For spaces that are already outfitted as a restaurant, it's likely that you have multiple air conditioning units (and thermostats) installed -- this permits you to keep the dining area a cool temperature while allowing the cooking area to remain warmer, cooling it only to the extent necessary to keep your employees from breaking a heavy sweat. (Trying to keep a restaurant kitchen the same temperature as the dining area when it's hot outside can be an expensive and fruitless endeavor.)

However, for kitchens that need an upgrade -- or if you're retrofitting an office building to serve as a restaurant -- a zone cooling system can be the ideal choice. This system uses heavy-duty fans to immediately vent out the hot air produced by the stoves and ovens while also sending a cool blast of air to each of the areas where your employees spend the most time. This can allow your employees to remain comfortable (or to head to a cooler zone after spending time in front of the ovens) without causing your electric bill to skyrocket. These systems are also relatively inexpensive to install and maintain, making them one of your lower-cost air conditioner replacement options. 

How can you keep your dining area cool during the blazing heat? 

One unfortunate part of the summer temperatures in the Southwest is the relative inability of many air conditioner units to drop the temperature of a space more than 20 degrees or so. When outside temperatures are in the triple digits, this can mean that inside temperatures are still uncomfortable for your patrons -- especially those eating hot food or drinking coffee. As a result, you'll need an air conditioning unit capable of lowering the temperature more than the average system, as well as some mechanisms in place to keep the outdoor (and kitchen) heat away from the dining area. 

The key to lowering your restaurant's temperature lies in the surface area of your air conditioning compressor. Choosing a compressor unit with microchannel coils or another innovation to expand surface area can allow more air to be cooled more quickly. This amps up your air conditioner's ability to cool the air in a large room, quickly lowering the temperature to the thermostat setting without overloading the unit or significantly increasing your electricity bill.

You'll also want to design your restaurant's entry and exit points so that there is a buffer zone between the doors and the dining area. Having patrons head from outside into a lobby area and then through glass doors into the restaurant can keep most of the hot outside air out, while floor-to-ceiling stockade-style doors separating the dining area from the kitchen can keep the heat contained. 

For more tips on how to maximize the efficiency of your air conditioning, contact an HVAC company like Robinson Heating & Cooling Inc.

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22 June 2016

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