Not all prep tables are created equal. When operators are considering a raised rail prep table for their Pacific Northwest foodservice operations, we're often asked one important question. What's the difference between Randell cold wall prep tables and forced air prep tables?
Let's take a look.
Cold wall, or wrapped wall, prep tables, use copper lines that run outside the body of the food well. Those lines create a blanket of frost and cold air that results in more consistent refrigeration.
Cold wall prep tables do not require fans or additional ductwork that's required to move air. This also makes cold wall prep tables more energy efficient, as the need for air circulation is eliminated.
Forced air prep tables, on the other hand, force cooled air from the coil to the surface area of the pan, often via ductwork. This method adds cold air to the pans themselves, but does not blow cold air over the top of the food products they contain.
Forced air prep tables cost more to operate, mainly because of the need to redistribute air. They are also typically harder to clean and aren't as accurate when operators look to hold foods at a specific temperature.
Which prep table is best for the long term?
There's no doubt a Randell wrapped wall prep table is more economical in the long run. By using less energy and by reducing the potential for food waste caused by improper storage temperatures, cold wall prep tables provide more upside than not.
Additionally, cold wall units allow operators to control the top temperature separately from the base of the unit, which saves additional energy costs when the unit is not in use. This split system provides better control between the top and bottom zones, unlike forced air units that use one coil to deliver cold to both areas.
When you use a single coil to cool both zones, one temperature zone must be compromised for the sake of the other. This can result in freezing products at the base of the unit. A wrapped wall dual system, on the other hand, means both zones are cooled independently without ever needing to make that choice.
While keeping food temperatures below 41º F is always the goal, ambient conditions in commercial kitchens are often extremely hot. With forced air, this ambient heat is automatically circulated back through the base coil. The design of the cold wall units doesn't need ambient air, making it easy to avoid damage by extreme heat.
Many operators think it's impossible to store foods overnight in a prep table, but with wrapped wall prep tables, this is totally possible.
Debunk these myths and learn more, download our Overnight Prep Table Storage White Paper.