industrial compressor refrigeration station at manufacturing factory

Refrigeration units are used to maintain low temperatures by removing unwanted heat from a space or object and transferring it into another object or substance from which the heat can dissipate. Although there are a wide variety of refrigeration system designs available on the market, some applications require custom refrigeration solutions to optimize refrigeration processes and facilitate optimal system operation. Custom refrigeration systems are specifically engineered to meet the needs of particular applications. When deciding whether a custom refrigeration system is needed for your application, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the mechanics of refrigeration systems, the types of systems available, the advantages of specific refrigeration systems for your application, and the installation process and requirements.

For more than 60 years, Kuhlman Incorporated has been a premier provider of custom refrigeration design and installation. Our highly experienced and knowledgeable team of refrigeration experts is committed to using the latest technology to create innovative solutions for industrial refrigeration in nearly every industry. We are committed to serving our clients with the utmost honesty and integrity, with quality refrigeration systems built to spec, on time, and within your budget.

Contact Us

Refrigeration Basics

At its most basic, refrigeration is the removal of heat energy from a material or space. Industrial refrigeration is critical to safe and efficient operations in numerous industries, including food processing, manufacturing, electronics, communication, technology, and chemical processing.

Although refrigeration systems vary widely in design and application, they always incorporate the following four elements:

  • The compressor in a refrigeration system propels the refrigerant through the system using an electric motor or other actuator.
  • The compressed refrigerant is passed through a condenser, which changes it from vapor to liquid form, removing the heat from the refrigerant.
  • The liquid refrigerant passes through an expansion valve, where it loses pressure and expands, reducing the temperature of the refrigerant.
  • The expanded refrigerant passes through an evaporator, where it draws heat from the area that requires cooling and vaporizes, restarting the cycle.

Types of Refrigeration Systems

Refrigeration systems are typically manufactured in four different styles, each of which uses different operational principles and mechanisms to achieve the desired temperature reduction.


Mechanical-compression refrigeration systems, also known as vapor compression systems, are the most common design used for commercial and industrial cooling applications. Using a mechanical compressor, the liquid refrigerant is compressed from low-pressure, cold liquid to high-pressure hot vapor. The process allows cooled refrigerant to trap latent heat in the refrigerated space and transport it out of the system through the use of water or air heat exchange.

Mechanical-compression refrigeration systems operate at either high or low pressure. In high-pressure systems, the components operate at a pressure greater than condensing pressure. Low-pressure systems operate below the evaporating pressure.

Absorption Refrigeration

Unlike mechanical-compression refrigeration, absorption refrigeration transfers heat without the use of a mechanical compressor or electric motor. Instead, the energy transfer that moves the coolant is produced by heat expansion and contraction. The refrigerant enters the condenser at high pressure and is then condensed using cooled water. The refrigerant then flows through the expansion valve, after which it expands and cools the evaporator.

Rather than being pulled in by a mechanical compressor, the coolant is then pulled naturally into the lower pressure absorber, which contains water and weakened coolant. A continuous flow of coolant into the absorber further decreases the pressure in the absorber vessel, which in turn causes more coolant to flow through the system. A pump pulls the refrigerant-water solution into a generator, which then heats the coolant to a vapor and begins the cycle again.

Thermoelectric Refrigeration

Thermoelectric refrigeration uses an electric current and thermocouple with two junctions, one hot and one cold, to transfer heat energy using the Peltier effect. To facilitate the energy transfer, the junctions are insulated from each other, and an electrical current is directed through the thermocouple junctions. The voltage is adjusted to encourage the absorption of heat by the thermocouple, thereby reducing the temperature in the refrigerated space. Thermoelectric refrigeration is ideal for small loads and hard-to-reach systems.

Benefits of a Custom Refrigeration System

Custom refrigeration systems offer a variety of benefits over standard systems. They allow users to tailor the configuration, design, and features to meet particular industry and application requirements that may not be available in standard versions. Below are just a few of the benefits of choosing custom refrigeration systems.

Custom industrial refrigeration systemsSize and Configuration

Custom design allows users to configure their refrigeration system to fit within the available space, which makes it particularly useful for applications that have a limited or unusual workspace. A custom-designed chiller can be manufactured to fit your space, so you don’t have to try and fit a standard machine into an unsuitable area.

Custom Features

Custom refrigeration system design allows users to decide which features work best for the application. With the freedom to choose system features, you can add remote controls, high-performance pumps for greater pressure control, remote sensing technology, and dual refrigeration. Custom features can help reduce energy usage, streamline processes, and decrease your overall operational costs.

Environment Concerns

Custom refrigeration system design is ideal for customers who are concerned about corrosive substances, extreme temperatures, and other harsh environmental conditions common in medical, biotech, pharmaceutical, food processing, and chemical manufacturing industries, among others. Not only must an industrial refrigeration system withstand the external conditions in these extreme environments, but it must also be able to function with efficiency and reliability that standard refrigeration units may not be able to provide.

An infographic depicting the benefits of a custom refrigeration system

Installing a Refrigeration System

In addition to selecting the right refrigeration system for your application, it is critical to find an installer with a thorough understanding of refrigeration technology. Although it may seem simple, installing a refrigeration system involves technical expertise to ensure that your system is working with the utmost efficiency and effectiveness.

Finding the Right Company to Install Your Refrigeration System

It is important to work with a company that has extensive installation experience. In addition to documented experience, the company should have a clearly outlined process for your refrigeration system’s design and installation that includes the following:

  • Design Review
  • Comprehensive Installation Training Programs
  • Demonstrated Expertise Installing Complex Refrigeration Systems
  • Experience Collaborating with Contractors on Complex Projects
  • Effective Project Management Procedures
  • Experience Communicating with Equipment Manufacturers

Choose Kuhlman for Exceptional Custom Refrigeration System Design and Installation

Selecting the right company for your custom refrigeration system design and installation is critical to ensuring an effective and efficient system. Since 1957, Kuhlman Incorporated has been a leading provider of top-quality specialty refrigeration systems for our customers in a variety of industrial and commercial settings. With over 60 years of experience, we have the knowledge and equipment necessary to design and install custom refrigeration systems to meet even the most stringent industry standards and customer specifications. Whether you require a refrigeration system to fit into your commercial kitchen or an industrial-grade cooling system for manufacturing processes, we have the experience necessary to ensure that you have the perfect refrigeration system for your needs.

To learn more about our comprehensive design and installation capabilities, contact the experts at Kuhlman today!

Contact Us