Grocery Store & Supermarket HVAC Equipment

Supermarkets, grocery stores, and food distribution centers demand a level of sanitation unlike any other to keep people safe and healthy and maximize the shelf life of the products being sold.

They require a high-quality, well-performed ventilation system to deliver consistent temperatures and a balanced building pressure to maintain that high standard.

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Standard HVAC systems on their own are moderately effective but incredibly inefficient. Temperatures vary significantly in supermarkets and convenience stores (source). Specifically in sections such as the chiller and freezer areas. These areas are sometimes close to entrances, which further complicates matters.

In this article, we’ll discuss some specific equipment designed to maximize and enhance the HVAC system throughout the space and specific departments.

Keep in mind that grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores are used interchangeably for the sake of simplicity.

Commercial / Restaurant Duty Exhaust Fans for Grocery Stores

An integral part of a commercial kitchen exhaust hoods are commercial or restaurant duty exhaust fans. These exhaust fans in grocery stores provide the exhaust required to power the kitchen exhaust hoods.

The combination of hood and exhaust fan provides the general ventilation necessary for a kitchen within a supermarket or grocery store.

Air Curtains in Grocery Stores

A major concern of grocery stores is stabilizing the temperature. Air curtains in grocery stores play a significant role in providing just that, among other things.

At the entrances and exits of a supermarket air curtains provide an invisible barrier to keep the tempered air indoors while keeping untempered air out.

Air curtains (click to learn more about commercial air curtains) achieve this by providing a high velocity air stream at the open door which separates the two different environments. During operation it allows for free flow of customer traffic creating a much more pleasant experience.

The benefit of the air curtain at entry and exit points is minimizing the influx of outside air right at the source.

Additionally, the air curtain can provide supplemental heat to the area and circulate air while the doors are closed. This results in significantly reduced HVAC demands, increased HVAC equipment life, more constant space temperatures resulting in longer produce shelf life and a more pleasant consumer experience.

Despite the age old rumor, air curtains will not mess up your hair. 

Outside of the HVAC benefits, the biggest benefit to the store owner is the added space that an air curtain provides. Air curtains are approved in the international building code to be used in lieu of a vestibule.

This approval transforms what was once useless vestibule space into usable retail floor space. Air curtains have been proven more effective than vestibules, carry a lower cost and provide a higher return on investment.

However, an air curtain is not just used in place of a vestibule, it can also be used to enhance the performance of a vestibule.

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We’ll be happy to help explain which model and make is best for your application.

Benefits of air curtains in grocery stores’ main entrances:

Air curtains for Supermarket Receiving Entrances

Another area air curtains benefit grocery stores is at the receiving and/or loading dock. With deliveries being made all day, every day there is always a door open somewhere.

Deliveries often involve equipment, materials and people all working in concert and congesting an area making a physical door another obstacle to overcome. An air curtain eliminates that obstruction by providing environmental protection similar to a physical door but without the physical obstruction.

Equipment, materials and people can move freely in and around the opening without concern of the interior space being impacted by the outdoor conditions.

In addition to, yet equally important, an industrial air curtain will protect the interior space from several other conditions.

Flying pests can be virtually shut out. Pollutants from the delivery vehicles are kept outdoors and wet floors caused by condensation or other reasons are kept dry preventing workplace accidents.

Read a Case Study on How Air Curtains Helped a Local Restaurant Increase Revenue by 25%!

Air Curtains for Grocery Store Freezers

The benefits of air curtains also extend to coolers and freezers. Having an air curtain over a freezer or cooler protects the freezer air from the warmer air and eliminates ice buildup on the floors and walls.

An air curtain over a freezer door also facilitates temperature stabilization resulting in reduced energy costs.

Kitchen Exhaust Hoods for Supermarkets

Many supermarkets today are offering prepared meals which requires a commercial kitchen. These cooking areas are required to adhere to strict building standards equal to those of restaurants and catering facilities.

A proper ventilation system will include a kitchen exhaust hood(s) in the supermarket to ventilate the grills, ovens, ranges, fryers, etc. 

grocery equipment diagram

Heated Make-up Air for Grocery Stores

Many grocery stores today are offering prepared foods that are cooked right there in the store. It may be out of sight but there is usually a full commercial kitchen with a grille, flat-top, oven and fryer to allow for fresh prepared “home cooked” meals at the store.

This kitchen will include the corresponding ventilation system to properly rid the space of smoke and fume so neither the employees or consumer is impacted by it. Most notably is the exhaust hood with exhaust fan.

However, to balance the system and provide proper operation it will require makeup air (learn more about make-up air units).

Makeup air is a piece of equipment that delivers fresh outside air to the space to “makeup” for the air that has been exhausted. In a grocery store the balance between exhaust and makeup air is important for a variety of reasons:

Specifically in the kitchen area it is important to pair the make-up air with the exhaust hood. The makeup air should be delivered to the exhaust hood at a local point, preferably across the entire width of the hood and slightly negative (1%).

In climates that see colder temperatures it is important to provide heat to the makeup air to keep incoming air temperatures tolerable. Conversely, makeup air can also be provided with cooling for extremely hot climates.

The heated and/or cooled make-up air units provide the necessary intake air to makeup the air lost to the kitchen exhaust hood & general ventilation. This provides a balanced building pressure allowing equipment to work as intended.

Destratification Fans for Supermarkets

One of the biggest hurdles a supermarket faces is inconsistent temperatures. The prepared foods area is too hot while the dairy section is too cold. The inconsistency results in HVAC systems working overtime to compensate and battle to equalize temperatures.

In recent years a simple solution has been developed to circulate air within the entire space resulting in a balanced temperature throughout the space. The product is a small “bucket” fan that destratifies the air eliminating the hot and cold layers at the floor and ceiling and provides a constant temperature in its place.

Strategically placed throughout the store these bucket fans will save more energy per dollar than any other solution. The return on investment is almost immediate.

Not only do these fans keep customers and staff comfortable, but due to recycling of indoor air it is also reducing the stores’ carbon footprint.

Bucket Fan

To equalize the floor-to-ceiling temperature a bucket fan is used. The bucket fan’s main objective is to reduce energy costs and increase comfort for occupants.

This is accomplished by constantly pushing air down from the ceiling to the floor thus eliminating any hot and cold spots. The consistent temperature significantly reduces the demand on the HVAC equipment resulting in significant energy savings.


bucket fan

Bucket Fan Benefits:

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