Doors vs open fronted chilled display cases: what comes out on top?

Chances are when you grab something out of a fridge at the supermarket, you’re not giving much thought to the type of fridge it is. But there are real differences, and individual benefits, to installing either an open fronted refrigerator or one that has doors.

This blog post highlights the advantages and drawbacks of each type of refrigeration cabinet, pitting them against each other so you can decide which solution is the best choice for your business.

Energy consumption

When you see a refrigerated display case with doors you will automatically think of the obvious energy saving being made because the cold air is not being spilled into the aisle. However, when the doors are being opened a large amount of ambient air can be sucked into the case.  During busy periods this can be a serious issue with a potential loss of product quality and temperature.  The reduction of cold air spillage from the cases is great for customer comfort whilst browsing but also has a negative impact on the store environment in summer as there may be a requirement for separate air conditioning to maintain the store at a comfortable condition.

Over recent years there has been many advancements in energy conservation in open-fronted refrigerated display cases. The advent of shelf-edge technology such as Aerofoil and Ecoblades has meant that similar energy savings can be made without the inherent problems that doors can bring. As an experienced refrigeration company, we know this only too well.

Further efficiencies can be applied to open-fronted refrigerated display cases, such as the fitting of FSx night-blinds which reduce the energy consumption of the open-fronted refrigerated display cases during non-trading times and eliminate any product hots spots that can occur with standard night-blinds.


One of the main features for both doored and open-fronted display cases is how accessible they are to the consumer for selecting the product. A doored display case can be deemed a little more difficult for consumers to use, as they must open or slide a door to reach the products inside, which can add an extra few seconds onto their shop and be awkward if holding a basket or bags etc.   On a positive note, the reduction of the ‘cold aisle syndrome’ with a door encourages customers to spend longer browsing the cabinets.

The stocking of the shelves with products into doored cases by store operatives is also difficult as the doors need to be held open during the operation.  From a service perspective, the moving components of the doors are prone to failure in the relentless environment of the trading supermarket.  A failed door restricts access to the cabinet, and this affects merchandising space and sales until the issue is resolved.

Open fronted merchandising display cases offer a better shopping experience with unrestricted views of the product, encouraging customers to make impulse purchases.  During busy periods and stores with narrow aisles, open-fronted cabinets do not have the issue the doored cabinets have where customer flow is hindered and access to products is limited.

Their use for different products

Although doored and open front refrigerated display cases have their benefits and drawbacks, it is important to note that they are both designed for the same purpose, which is to keep products that need to be kept chilled at a specific temperature to allow them to be in the best possible condition. Both kinds of display refrigerators are designed for the same kinds of chilled products, such as dairy, meat and produce as they have a relatively short lifespan and need to be sold within a period of a few days.


As you can see, there is no outright solution that is better than the other. There can be numerous benefits argued for both sides, as doored multideck display cabinets offer slightly lower energy costs, whilst open display refrigerators provide an easier route to products for your customers and fewer service issues. This means that this decision is arguably down to personal preference, customer demographics and price.  Do you have an opinion on this issue?  Have you already made the decision? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Contact us

As well as leaving a comment, you can also contact our refrigeration company via our multiple branches across England and Wales. If you are looking to install a refrigerated display cabinet for your business, whether this is an open-fronted display cabinet or a doored display cabinet, then we can help. Please use the details on our contact us page or you can fill out our online enquiry form for a quick and informed response.

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