What is it about Commercial Refrigerators that makes them so expensive?
Commercial refrigeration units are one of the pricier investments a new food service establishment has to make. Having good equipment is the difference between passing a health inspection and having a patron become ill because their food was not chilled properly.
There are six main reasons why commercial refrigeration units cost more than equivalent residential ones.
1. Wear and Tear
Commercial refrigerators are under constant use by a lot of people in a commercial establishment. With their doors opening and closing perhaps hundreds of times a day, a commercial refrigerator needs to be able to hold up to constant abuse from people in a hurry.
While a home refrigerator barely lasts 5 years these days, a commercial one is designed to perform its function for 10-18 years under heavy use. That means that everything involved in the manufacture of a commercial refrigeration unit must be of exceptional quality. Quality costs money.
Residential refrigerators typically have a lot of plastic components such as shelves and dividers which are fine for occasional or light use. The working parts are engineered for sporadic use and aren’t always made from the highest grade materials to cut down on weight and cost. Further, the top must-have items for a residential fridge are not the same as for a commercial refrigerator and there will be a cost differential between those priorities.
All commercial refrigeration equipment must be NSF certified. NSF International is a regulatory body tasked with the mission of ensuring food safety. To meet these standards, refrigeration equipment for commercial establishments must be made from approved food contact surface materials such as stainless steel, which is more expensive than plastic or aluminum.
Stainless steel is able to be bleached and sanitized to local health code standards. Other refrigerator materials are not.
Refrigerators used for commercial establishments must be able to maintain a consistent temperature no matter how many people open and close the door during the course of a day. This puts great strain on cooling mechanisms which must be robust enough to provide enough cooling capacity per square foot to maintain this chosen temperature. This means larger fans and condensers.
There are fewer commercial refrigerator makers than their are residential refrigerator manufacturers. Competition helps keep prices down. When you are making fewer units per year for your commercial customers and prospects, the cost of what you are making will necessarily increase.