What is the Life Expectancy of My Commercial Refrigerator?

To repair or to replace – that is the question.  Perhaps you have a commercial refrigerator that has delivered great service but now is up in years.  Other operators experience commercial refrigerators with intermittent maintenance issues which drive up the costs of ownership over time.  Do you continue to repair or get a new commercial refrigerator?  Although the average life expectancy for 1 -3 section commercial refrigerators is approximately 10 years, many factors like maintenance, use, initial quality and environment create deviation from this average.  Whether you want to know to replace or project to replace, consider these factors:


  • Maintenance– If you are cleaning the coil and evaporator every 30 days, you can exceed the average lifespan by 30-50%.  Likewise, without proper maintenance you can expect to encounter decreased efficiency and shorter lifespan.   Unclean coils cause the condenser to labor harder and in turn decreases the life of the compressor.  Lack of maintenance keeps the compressor running to keep up when it be at rest.  For example, if you are in year 7 of ownership and have had a series of maintenance issues caused by a lack of preventative maintenance,  your refrigerator’s actual age is more like 12 years and should be considered for replacement


  • Application – In a Church setting a refrigerator may only be in heavy use three times a week and is holding the rest of the time.  Low utilization extends life 10-25%.  However, a high traffic operation that runs 18 hours every day with the doors open and closed 200 times puts high recovery demands on the compressor.  In this scenario your physical cabinet and interior will take a beating and degrade including hinging, door gaskets, interior shelving, and handles.  Walls and doors will get dinged up and be difficult to clean.  Planning to replace in year 8 or 9 is prudent because a total system failure is exceptionally expensive when you include the costs of losing food and customers in a high traffic operation.


  • Cost of Ownership – Not all commercial refrigerators are created equal. The compressor technology and cabinet durability greatly affect the cost of ownership.  An all stainless interior and exterior refrigerator with 3” of insulation and an upsized compressor could last 15 years if it is maintained.   Light duty cabinets, which have their place, with undersized compressors without energy star approvals will have to be replaced at a faster rate and have higher repair incidents




Can we help you navigate your hold or replace decision?  Give us a call at 1-800-755-4777 or email lisa@dietaryequipment.net.  Thanks!