A cold plate freezer is simply a freezer that you plug in at night and stays cold during the day. The cold plates are filled with a saline solution that is cooled by a compressor that is bolted to the top of the freezer which cools the inside.
Your cold plate freezer will have either 1, 2, or 3 freezer bays and an optional drinks bay, which is equivalent to a refrigerator. Note that the coldest bay will be the one closes to the compressor, and the bays get slightly warmer as you get farther away from the compressor. The freezer will also stay colder at the bottom, so it’s best to store extra ice cream near the bottom so that it does not melt and then refreeze.
Some health inspectors will not know what a cold plate freezer is or understand how it can work without a generator. Some older trucks used to use dry ice to keep the ice cream cold but that is no longer allowed in many towns and cities. The new regulations require “mechanical” cooling, so you will have to explain to your inspector how the freezer works. It would be a good idea to plug it in the night before your inspection to show how it works and bring along a printout of this page from nelson, the biggest cold plate freezer company.
Cold Plate Freezer Facts
-Can bring temperature down to -20F
-Will not go above 0F even on a hot day
-Cost between $2,500 and $7,500
-More reliable than dry ice or freezers that require constant power
-Best insulation and have small doors that let less warm air in
You can buy a used cold plate freezer for about $2500 – $3,500 but a new one will cost anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000. You can save money by buying a truck that comes with a freezer, or by purchasing a smaller freezer. While a big freezer is nice you can get away with a small freezer if you pack it more tightly and organize it well.
One final tip: always check to make sure all your doors are kept closed. You will forget the first couple days out but especially if you are working with someone new just assume they will leave the freezer open. You can potentially loose hundreds of dollars worth of ice cream if you leave your freezer doors open so make it a habit to check your doors every 15 minutes and before you leave a location.