Title:
REFRIGERATION COMPARTMENT INCLUDING FREEZER SECTION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A walk-in cooler arranged in accordance with the invention includes a one or more refrigeration sections and a freezing compartment within the refrigeration section. The wall panels defining the freezing compartment are substantially thicker than the wall panels defining the refrigeration section. To accommodate the substantial change in panel thickness, panel conversion members are provided that couple panels having a substantial different in panel thickness, yet maintain a uniform exterior wall appearance. Ceiling conversion panels are also provided to enable a ceiling transition between the refrigeration section and the freezer compartment.



Inventors:
Smith, William C. (Lexington, TN, US)
Yates, Gaylon O. (Parsons, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/871754
Publication Date:
04/16/2009
Filing Date:
10/12/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/441
International Classes:
F25D13/04; F25D11/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
LOFFREDO, JUSTIN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRINKS HOFER GILSON & LIONE (P.O. BOX 10395, CHICAGO, IL, 60610, US)
Claims:
1. A refrigeration unit including a freezer compartment comprising: first compartment panels having a first thickness; second compartment panels having a second thickness different from the first thickness; and panel conversion members including first and second sections having the first thickness and coupled to the first compartment panels, respectively, and a coupling surface corresponding to the second thickness and configured to couple with the second compartment panels.

2. The refrigeration unit of claim 1 wherein the panel conversion members are coupled to the second compartment panels so as to provide flat exterior and interior compartment surfaces between the first and second compartment panels in the absence of any interruption in the flatness of the wall surfaces.

3. The refrigeration unit of claim 1 wherein the coupling surface comprises either a tongue or a groove coupling member.

4. The refrigeration unit of claim 1 wherein the refrigeration unit comprises a refrigeration section and a freezer compartment.

5. The refrigeration unit of claim 4 wherein the freezer compartment comprises the first compartment panels and the cooler section comprises the second compartment panels, and wherein the first thickness is greater than the second thickness.

6. The refrigeration unit of claim 5 wherein the first and second sections of the panel conversion members comprise portions of both exterior walls and interior partition walls of the refrigeration section.

7. The refrigeration compartment of claim 1 wherein the refrigeration unit comprises a modular combination walk-in cooler/freezer.

8. The refrigeration unit of claim 1 wherein a portion of the second compartment panels comprises interior partition wall panels, and wherein the coupling surfaces of selected panel conversion members are coupled to the interior wall panels.

9. The refrigeration unit of claim 8 wherein the selected panel union members comprise an interior corner of the refrigeration section.

10. The refrigeration unit of claim 1 further comprising selected ceiling panels comprising a first portion having the first thickness and a second portion having the second thickness and configured to couple to the first and second compartment panels.

11. The refrigeration unit of claim 10 further comprising: at least one ceiling union member spanning between spaced apart panel union members, the ceiling member including a first portion having the first thickness and a second portion having the second thickness, wherein the selected ceiling panels include first coupling surfaces on a lower surface thereof having a first width corresponding to the first thickness and coupled to the first portion of the ceiling panel, and second coupling surfaces on a lower surface thereof having a second width corresponding to the second thickness and coupled to the second portion of the ceiling panel.

12. A walk-in cooler containing a freezer compartment, the walk-in cooler comprising: exterior and interior freezer panels having a first thickness; exterior and interior refrigeration panels having a second thickness, wherein the first thickness is greater than the second thickness; and at least one exterior partition panel including first and second sections of the first thickness and a coupling surface corresponding to the second thickness, wherein the at least one exterior partition panel forms an exterior wall of the walk-in cooler and is coupled to an exterior refrigeration panel and an exterior freezer panel.

13. The walk-in cooler of claim 12 wherein the at least one exterior partition panel is coupled to an exterior cooler panel at the coupling surface.

14. The walk-in cooler of claim 12 further comprising at least one interior partition panel forming an interior partition wall of the walk-in cooler and coupled to a refrigeration panel and a freezer panel, wherein the interior partition panel includes first and second sections of the first thickness and a coupling surface corresponding to the second thickness.

15. The walk-in cooler of claim 14 wherein the at least one interior partition panel is coupled to an interior refrigeration panel at the coupling surface.

16. The walk-in cooler of claim 12 further comprising selected ceiling panels having a main portion of the first thickness and having an edge portion of the second thickness.

17. The walk-in cooler of claim 12 further comprising: at least one ceiling panel union member including a first portion having the first thickness and a second portion having the second thickness, wherein the at least one ceiling panel union member include wall coupling surfaces on a lower surface thereof, the wall coupling surfaces having a first width corresponding to the first thickness on the main portion and a second width corresponding to the second thickness on the edge portion, and wherein the selected ceiling panel is coupled to the ceiling panel union member at the wall coupling surfaces.

18. A walk-in refrigeration unit including a freezer compartment, the walk-in refrigeration unit comprising: first compartment panels having a first thickness; second compartment panels having a second thickness different from the first thickness; and panel conversion members configured to join the first and second compartment panels, wherein the panel conversion members include a first section having the first thickness, the first section disposed at a substantially right angle to a second section, the second section having the first thickness and forming a corner, and a coupling surface in proximity to the corner and having a width corresponding to the second thickness.

19. The walk-in refrigeration unit of claim 18 further comprising selected ceiling panels including a first portion having the first thickness and a second portion having the second thickness and coupling surfaces on a lower surface thereof, the coupling surfaces having a first width corresponding to the first thickness on the first portion and a second width corresponding to the second thickness on the second portion.

20. The walk-in refrigeration unit of claim 19 further comprising at least one ceiling panel conversion member including a first portion having the first thickness and a coupling surface having a first width corresponding to the first thickness and a second portion having the second thickness and a coupling surface having a second width corresponding to the second thickness, wherein the ceiling panel union member spans between two panel union members and couples the selected ceiling panel to the panel union members.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates, generally, to walk-in refrigeration compartments that include freezer sections and, more specifically, to walk-in refrigeration compartments having free-standing, molded enclosures with an entry door and including a wholly-contained freezer section within the walk-in refrigeration compartment.

BACKGROUND

Walk-in coolers are widely used to store perishable materials and food items under refrigeration conditions. The walk-in coolers are provided by manufacturers in assemblies in which the dimensions can be varied depending upon the space available and the quantity of items to be stored in the walk-in cooler. Walk-in coolers are typically assembled with flat wall panels joined in edge to edge relationship and panels are locked together by built-in edge locks. The panels are typically about 24 to 48 inches in width and vary in height from about 6 to 8 feet. These panels vary in thickness depending upon the temperature at which the refrigeration compartment operates. For example, refrigeration compartments intended to chill items at temperatures below ambient but above freezing typically have a thickness of about 3 to about 4.5 inches. The panels are oriented in an upright manner and joined edge to edge in alignment with each other so as to define a wall of the desired length. Multiple walls, a floor, and a ceiling are set up about a space to be enclosed and an access door is provided in one or more of the walls. Where two walls meet, an insulating corner panel is inserted at the corner location and is joined to end panels on each of the two walls.

In order to increase the utility of walk-in coolers, manufactures provide walk-in coolers with freezing compartments within the walk-in cooler. By including a freezer section within the walk-in cooler, items can be stored below freezing temperatures and kept in frozen condition within the freezer compartment. Typically, the freezer compartments are wholly-contained within the larger refrigeration space of the walk-in cooler. To maintain freezing temperatures within the freezer compartment and to reduce heat loss, the walls of the freezer compartment are typically thicker than the walls of the refrigeration compartment. Also, government regulations can require that walk-in coolers and freezer sections have a particular R-value in order to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the walk-in cooler to maintain the refrigeration and freezing temperatures within the walk-in cooler. To satisfy government requirements for low thermal conductivity, the walls of the freezer section must have a sufficient thickness to achieve the required R-value. The walls of the refrigeration section, however, do not need to be as thick as the walls of the freezer section to achieve required R-values. For example, if freezer and refrigerator panels have similar construction materials, where regulations require freezer panels to have an R-value of 36 and refrigeration panels to have an R-value of 28, the freezer panels need to have a thickness that is about 120 percent or more of the thickness of the refrigeration panels.

To facilitate ease of construction and to maintain efficient manufacturing, walk-in cooler manufacturers prefer to fabricate all panels of the walk-in cooler with the same materials. Further, to enable walk-in coolers to be easily assembled on site, standardized panel sizes and connection hardware are desirable. In addition to manufacturing and assembly concerns, it is desirable that the assembled walk-in cooler have a pleasing appearance that is achieved by cooler designs having uniformly smooth exterior wall surfaces and a generally symmetrical geometric appearance. While conventional wall panels and assembly hardware is designed to achieve a pleasing aesthetic exterior appearance, conventional systems do not readily accommodate compartment walls having variable thicknesses. Accordingly, a need existent for improved compartment panels that will accommodate substantial changes in panel thickness while providing a walk-in cooler having a pleasing aesthetic appearance.

SUMMARY

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a refrigeration unit including a freezer section is provided. The refrigeration unit includes first compartment panels having a first thickness and second compartment panels having a second thickness. The second thickness is different from the first thickness. The refrigeration unit also includes panel conversion members with first and second sections that have the first thickness. The first and second sections are coupled to the first compartment panels, respectively. The panel conversion members also include a coupling surface corresponding to the second thickness and configured to couple with the second compartment panels.

In another embodiment, a walk-in cooler containing a freezer compartment is provided. The walk-in cooler includes exterior and interior freezer panels having a first thickness and exterior and interior cooler panels having a second thickness. The first thickness is greater than the second thickness. At least one exterior partition panel includes first and second sections of the first thickness and a coupling surface corresponding to the second thickness. The at least one exterior partition panel forms an exterior wall of the walk-in cooler and is coupled to an interior cooler panel and an exterior freezer panel.

In yet another embodiment, a walk-in refrigeration unit is provided that includes a freezer section. The refrigeration unit includes first compartment panels having a first thickness and second compartment panels having a second thickness. The second thickness is different from the first thickness. Panel conversion members are configured to join the first and second compartment panels. The panel conversion members include a first section having the first thickness and disposed at a substantially right angle to a second section having the first thickness. The first and second sections of the panel conversion members form a corner. A coupling surface resides in proximity to the corner and has a width corresponding to the second thickness.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a walk-in cooler including a wholly-contained freezer section in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a floor plan of the walk-in cooler illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plain view of a panel conversion member having a walk-in cooler wall panel coupled thereto;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the panel conversion member illustrated in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a plain view of a wall section separating a freezer compartment from a cooler compartment and including panel conversion numbers arranged in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a ceiling panel conversion member configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a plain view of the underside of the ceiling panel conversion member of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a partial perspective view of a ceiling section of a walk-in cooler arranged in accordance with the invention and illustrating a ceiling panel conversion member;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a walk-in cooler including a wholly-contained freezer section in accordance with another embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 10 is a floor plan of the walk-in cooler illustrated in FIG. 9.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a refrigeration compartment having a wholly-contained freezer section is provided. A walk-in cooler arranged in accordance with the invention includes a refrigeration section and a freezing compartment within the cooling compartment. The wall panels defining the freezing compartment are substantially thicker than the wall panels defining the refrigeration section. To accommodate the substantial change in panel thickness, panel conversion members are provided that couple panels having a substantially different panel thickness, yet maintain a uniform exterior wall appearance.

A walk-in cooler 10 arranged in accordance with one embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 1. Walk-in cooler 10 includes a first refrigeration section 12, a second refrigeration section 14, and a freezer compartment 16. First refrigeration section 12 is defined by exterior walls 18, 20, and 22, and interior partition wall 24. Second refrigeration section 14 is defined by exterior wall 20, interior partition wall 24 and exterior wall 26. Freezer compartment 16 is defined by exterior wall 22, interior partition wall 24, exterior wall 26, and interior partition wall 28. Exterior wall 20 includes a first door 30 opening into first refrigeration section 12, and a second door 32 opening into second refrigeration section 14. In the illustrated exemplary embodiment, interior partition wall 28 includes a door 34 opening into freezer compartment 16.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that walk-in cooler 10 can be arranged in a variety of geometric configurations and can include various door arrangements to provide access to interior compartments. Further, walk-in cooler 10 can have interior compartment configurations that differ from those illustrated in FIG. 1. For example, interior partition wall 28 can extend across the entire lateral dimension of walk-in cooler 10 and an additional door can be provided to allow access to interior compartments defined by the interior partition walls.

In the illustrated embodiment, freezer compartment 16 includes three panel conversion member at the corners of the freezer compartment. A standard corner panel 36 is positioned at an outside exterior corner of walk-in cooler 10. Corner panel 36 connects exterior wall 22 and exterior wall 26. A first panel conversion member 38 connects exterior wall 22 with interior partition wall 24. A second panel conversion member 40 connects interior partition wall 28 with interior partition wall 24. A third panel conversion member 42 connects interior partition wall 28 with exterior wall 26.

Each of the exterior walls and interior partition walls are assembled from individual wall panels that are coupled together to form the exterior walls and partition walls. As illustrated in FIG. 1, multiple compartment panels 44 are coupled together to form exterior wall 18. Similarly, multiple compartment panels 46 are coupled together to form exterior wall 20. Exterior walls 18 and 20 have a uniform thickness and are formed by compartment panels having the same thickness.

In contrast to the uniformly-thick exterior walls 18 and 20, exterior walls 22 and 26 include compartments panels that do not have the same thickness, such that walls 22 and 26 have a variation in wall thickness. In particular, exterior wall 22 includes first compartment panels 48 having a first thickness and second compartment panels 50 having a second thickness. Similarly, exterior wall 26 includes first compartment panels 52 having a first thickness and second compartment panels 54 having a second thickness. Also, partition wall 24 includes compartment panels 56 having the first thickness and compartment panel 58 having the second thickness. To avoid excessive heat loss and maintain freezing conditions within freezer compartment 16, second compartment panels 50 and 54 are substantially thicker than compartment panels 48 and 52.

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, walk-in cooler 10 is configured to provide thermal insulation capability, such that freezer compartment 16 has an R-value of about 36 or more, and first and second refrigeration sections 12 and 14 have an R-value of about 28 or greater. To achieve these thermal insulation characteristics, compartment panels 44 and 46, and first compartment panels 48, 52 and 56 have a thickness of about 4-inches, while second compartment panels 50, 54, 58 and 60 have a thickness of about 5-inches. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, panel conversion members 38, 40, and 42 are configured to connect the compartment panels having a 4-inch thickness to the compartment panels having a 5-inch thickness, while maintaining uniform exterior and interior wall surfaces.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that walk-in coolers can be provided that have different R values and, hence, different wall thicknesses that those described above. The present invention contemplates the provision of walk-in coolers having a range of R values and a range of differences in R values between the freezer compartment and the refrigeration sections.

A floor plan of walk-in cooler 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The individual compartment panels of walk-in cooler 10 are interconnected by tongue-and-groove couplings. Using the tongue-and-groove couplings, walk-in cooler 10 can be readily assembled and can easily accommodate changes in the floor plan or additions that will enlarge its storage capacity. Standardized wall, ceiling, and floor panels are provided that can be interchanged as needed to customize the configuration of walk-in cooler 10. The compartment panels are preferably constructed of foamed-in-place urethane insulation sandwiched between interior and exterior metal sheets, or “skins,” which have been dye-formed and gauged to uniform size. The edges of the panels are equipped with panel locking members (not shown) that cooperate with the tongue-and-groove couplings to interlock individual panels to one another. The urethane foam filling preferably has a thermal conductivity of about 0.147 btu/hr./ft2 per ° F./inch and an overall coefficient of heat transfer of not more than about 0.03. The foam urethane insulation has an approximately 97% close cell structure. The metal panel skins (not shown) can be of various gauges and metal type. For example, the metal skins can be type 304 stainless steel, embossed aluminum, embossed Galvalume, or the like. The floor panels are covered by aluminum, stainless steel, or galvanized steel skins. The panels include listen gaskets at the panel interfaces on the male side of the tongue-and-groove couplings on both interior and exterior compartment panels. In addition to the panel conversion numbers configured in accordance with the invention, walk-in cooler 10 also includes conventional corner members 62 provide corners that couple compartment panels having the same thickness.

Doors 30, 32, and 34 are standard 34-inch by 78-inch swing-type doors having magnetic gaskets and Posi-Seal® (manufactured by Kason Industries) door closure and latches. The doors are self-closing with two strap-type, cam-lift hinges. The door jams are fabricated with fiberglass reinforced plastic and include a heater strip covered by magnetically attracting stainless steel that is fitted into the door jam of freezer door 34. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various additional or different construction materials can be used to fabricate the panels and doors described herein.

A plain view of panel conversion member 38 is illustrated in FIG. 3. Panel conversion member 38 includes a first section 64 and a second section 66. First section 66 is configured to couple with an adjacent compartment panel 50 (shown in FIG. 1) and second section 66 is configured to couple with an adjacent second compartment panel 58 (shown in FIG. 1). First and section sections 64 and 66 couple with compartment panels that define freezer compartment 16. Accordingly, first and second sections 64 and 66 have the same thickness as the adjoining freezer compartment panels.

Panel conversion member 38 also includes a coupling surface 68. Coupling surface 68 enables panel conversion member 38 to couple with adjacent compartment panel 48. Compartment panel 48 is part of exterior wall 22, which in turn, defines first refrigeration section 12. Accordingly, compartment panel 48 has a thickness that is substantially less than the thicknesses of first and second sections 64 and 66. Importantly, panel conversion member 38 is configured such that compartment panel 48 can be coupled to panel conversion member 38 in such a way that a uniform exterior wall surface 70 is realized on exterior wall 22. Further, panel conversion member 38 is configured to provide flat interior compartment surface 72 facing freezer compartment 16. The inventive configuration of panel conversion member 38 enables walk-in cooler 10 to be constructed with panels having substantially different thicknesses, yet provides exterior wall surfaces that are substantially smooth and uniform, and that lack any interruption in the flatness of the wall surface.

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, panel conversion member 38 includes a male tongue-and-groove coupling surface 74 at the terminal end of first section 64 and a female tongue-and-groove coupling surface 76 at the terminal end of second section 66. Depending upon the particular geometry of the compartment walls, coupling surfaces 74 and 76 can have either a male or female configuration as necessary. Further, the length of first and second sections 64 and 66 can vary depending upon the particular application. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 3, first section 64 preferably has a length of about 13 to about 14 inches and, more preferably, about 13⅞-inches. Further, second section 66 preferably has a length of about 11 to about 12½-inches and, more preferably, about 12-inches.

An elevational view of panel conversion member 38 is illustrated in FIG. 4. Coupling surface 68 extends along an outer edge of panel conversion member 38 from a bottom end 78 to a top end 80. Because of the substantially symmetrical shape of panel conversion member 38, the panel of conversion member can be used in a variety of situations to join freezer compartment walls and refrigeration compartment walls. Further, panel conversion member 38 can be inverted to accommodate either male or female tongue-and-groove couplings with adjacent freezer panels. In a preferred embodiment, coupling surface 68 is a female, tongue-and-groove couplings surface. In other embodiments, couplings surface 68 could be positioned on first section 64 and aligned with second section 66.

In addition to providing structure for accommodating a variation in wall panel thicknesses, the walk-in cooler of the present invention further provides structure for accommodating a change in thickness of ceiling panels. To achieve the needed thermal insulation for the freezer section, the ceiling panels must also have a greater thickness over the freezer section as compared to ceiling panels spanning the cooler sections.

The top surface of wall sections of the freezer compartment and adjoining cooler section are illustrated in FIG. 5. The upper edges of the freezer wall sections and adjoining cooler wall sections include coupling surfaces (not shown) configured to accommodate a ceiling conversion panel.

One exemplary embodiment of a ceiling conversion panel 82 is illustrated in FIG. 6. Ceiling conversion panel 82 includes a first portion 84 having a first thickness and a second portion 86 having a second thickness, where the second thickness is greater that the first thickness. In accordance, with the exemplary embodiment of the invention, first portion 84 has a thickness substantially the same as first compartment panels 48, 52, and 56.

Correspondingly, second section 86 has a thickness substantially the same as second compartment panels 50, 54 and 58.

Ceiling conversion panel 82 is configured to couple to the upper surfaces of the wall sections illustrated in FIG. 5. A plain view of underside 88 of ceiling conversion panel 82 is illustrated in FIG. 7. Tongue-and-groove couplings surfaces 90, 92, and 93 are molded into underside 88 of ceiling conversion panel 82. To accommodate the thicker wall panels for the freezer section, tongue-and-groove coupling surfaces 90 and 92 are wider in second portion 86 as compared to the width of the tongue-and-groove couplings in first portion 84. Tongue-and-groove coupling surface 93 can accommodate coupling the upper surface of a freezer compartment wall to ceiling conversion panel 82. The tongue-and-groove coupling surfaces in the underside of ceiling conversion panel 82 are female-type coupling surfaces.

A partial perspective view of a ceiling section is illustrated in FIG. 8. The ceiling conversion panel 82 is positioned to span from interior partition wall 24 to exterior wall 26. Ceiling conversion panel 82 also sits atop both first compartment panel 56 and third panel conversion member 40. Ceiling conversion panel 82 also sits atop first compartment panel 52 and fourth panel conversion member 42 (not shown). Additional freezer ceiling panels 98 are coupled together and with ceiling conversion panel 82 to form a ceiling over freezer compartment 16. Ceiling panels 98 and ceiling conversion panel 82 can include a thinner section that spans across first refrigeration section 12. Alternatively, the thickness of ceiling panels 98 and ceiling conversion panel 82 can remain intact and simply form a thick ceiling section over regions of first refrigeration section 12 adjacent to freezer compartment 16. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various configurations are possible to provide the necessary thermal insulation for a freezer compartment fully contained within a refrigeration or cooler section of a walk-in cooler.

Another arrangement of a walk-in cooler 100 containing a freezing compartment is illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10. A perspective view of a walk-in cooler including a wholly-contained freezer section in accordance with another embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 9. Walk-in cooler 100 includes a refrigeration section 112 and a freezer compartment 114. Refrigeration section 112 is defined by exterior walls 116, 118, and 120, and interior partition wall 122. Exterior wall 118 includes an entry door 122 opening into refrigeration section 112. A second door 124 in interior partition wall 122 opens into freezer compartment 114.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, freezer compartment 114 includes two panel conversion numbers at interior partition wall 122. A first panel conversion number 126 is positioned to connect exterior wall 116 and interior partition wall 122, and a second panel conversion member 128 connects exterior wall 120 with interior partition wall 122.

As in the previously-described embodiment, each of the exterior walls and the interior partition wall are assembled from individual wall panels that are coupled together to form the exterior walls and the partition wall. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the wall thickness of the multiple compartment panels in exterior walls 116 and 120 changes between refrigeration section 112 and a freezer compartment 114. The panels forming walls around freezer compartment 114 are thicker than panels forming the exterior walls of refrigeration section 112. Exterior end walls 118 and 20 each have a uniform but different thickness and are each formed by compartment panels having the same thickness.

Panel conversion members 126 and 128 are similar to panel conversion member 38 illustrated in FIG. 3. Each panel conversion member includes a first section and a second section, where the first section and second sections are configured to couple with adjacent compartment panels having the same thickness as the adjoining freezer compartment panels. Panel conversion members 126 and 128 also include coupling surfaces that enable the panel conversion members to couple with adjacent refrigeration compartment panels. As in the previous embodiment, the panel conversion members are is configured such that refrigeration compartment panels and freezer section panels can be coupled to the panel conversion members in such a way that a uniform exterior wall surfaces are formed. The configuration of panel conversion members enables walk-in cooler 100 to be constructed with panels having substantially different thicknesses, yet provides exterior wall surfaces that are substantially smooth and uniform, and that lack any interruption in the flatness of the wall surface.

A ceiling conversion panel 132 is also illustrated in FIG. 9. Ceiling conversion panel 132 includes a first portion 134 having a first thickness and a second portion 136 having a second thickness, where the second thickness is greater that the first thickness. Ceiling conversion panel 132 is configured to couple to the upper surfaces of both the refrigeration section and the freezer compartment walls. Tongue-and-groove couplings (not shown) surfaces are molded into underside of ceiling conversion panel 132 to accommodate the thicker wall panels for the freezer compartment. The ceiling conversion panel 132 is positioned to span across walk-in cooler 100.

Thus, it is apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the invention, a refrigeration department including a freezer section that fully provides the advantages set forth above. Although the invention has been described and illustrated with reference to specific illustrative embodiments thereof, it is not intended that the invention be limited to those illustrative embodiments. Those skilled in the art will recognize that variations of modifications can be made without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, numerous different types of doors, built in ramps, architectural lighting, air shields, and the like can be included in the walk-in cooler described above. Further, crown moldings, kick plates, heated air vents, door jams, digital thermometers, and the like can also readily be provided with the walk-in cooler. It is therefore intended to include within the invention all such variations and modifications as fall within the scope of the appended claims and equivalence thereof.