Tag Archives: commercial equipment standards

Domestic V’s Commercial

Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. To assume that what may seem common sense  is often a mistake  in the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry industry is perhaps unique in that its the one industry ‘that everyone thinks they can do’.  And many want to for various reasons, run their own cafe/restaurant/bar/ pub etc. Aside from cash and capital  to commence there are very few barriers, very little legal minimum requirements for skills, training or experience. And with this in mind its one industry that really  does struggle with people having a crack, but with little ‘real’ or ‘practice knowledge or experience’ …which is why so many struggle, learning as they go with expensive mistakes, often failing.

In many situations new comers to the industry would be well advised to watch/study/copy the big boys , they have already done the research/study and learnt from their mistakes.

Which is how this topic comes about….the too often seen mistake of new operators thinking they are saving money by cutting corners on equipment and appliances.

The thing that always still amazes me to see especially in smaller cafe type operations is the amount of ‘domestic’ appliances people are trying to work with.

If one was to study the major players in the industry you would see that they all use only the best quality commercial equipment to suit their operations.

The numbers add up quickly.

Recently a manager explained to me that their recently refurbished establishment was going to have to get the carpet replaced already (it wasn’t very old, like 2-3 years approx)…but then he explained in one section alone they calculated it was walked over around 10,000 times per month! The numbers surprised me ,  I knew how may people they seated and how busy they were, but i only ever had seen a couple of hundred people in there at any one time, 10,000, really?  I quickly did some maths and yes those numbers added up, the punters turned over several times a day, they are open 12+ hours per day 7 days a week…wow, its amazing how the numbers add up.

And this where quality/reputable/established brand manufacturers of kitchen appliances get it. They know their machines are going to  get worked really hard for long periods of time, often 7 days a week,  sometimes be available for use 20 hours a day and by multiple different operators.

To borrow some analogy from Menu Master Microwaves, a domestic microwave may get used 3-5 times per day maximum ( I would say this is very high use for the average home). A commercial machine is designed to be used say 200 times per day!

So the domestic machine may get used 1000-1500 times per year. If you placed that machine in a busy commercial environment it could achieve those numbers in one week!

The same goes for refrigeration, I’m amazed how many cafes try and pass off domestic refrigeration in place of commercial. The numbers of door openings per day for domestic for sure would be higher than 3-5 but no where near the volume of commercial.

It really simple layman’s terms think about how whisper quiet your domestic fridge is at home. How tiny the motor is, how little heat the motor produces. Now have a look at a standard 1 door commercial drinks fridge, noisy massive big motor, heaps of heat coming off the motor, yet internal capacity not that much bigger than a large domestic ref/freezer.

Its really simple when you look at the motor size, they are engineered and designed to meet a set of performance demands that are much higher than any domestic machine. There are of course many other specification and design differences between the two, but in summary they are designed for different purposes and standards of performance.

If you are storing food in your fridge you are required by law for that unit to have both external and internal temperature displays, not many domestic fridges meet this. The requirement for the storage system to be at or below 5c is something that most domestic fridges struggle with in the home environment let alone in a hot busy commercial kitchen.

There is also legal requirement for operators to be using equipment that is ‘fit for purpose’ , this is for ANZFSA food safe code. Domestic appliances are not ‘fit for purpose’

An under sized fryer will impact your ability to serve food quickly, and quality and food costs, but it might not have any food safety implications. A fridge that doesn’t hold temperature certainly does, if a Food Safety inspector or Auditor is on their job properly such an appliance would be required to be replaced asap, as its not designed to suit the purpose and application. You would/should  fail your inspection and be at risk of fine or closure until the problem is sorted out.

If you would like to learn more about exactly how powerful and energy sucking commercial refrigeration is , take a look at this resource. http://www.energyrating.gov.au/products/commercial-refrigeration

Same applies for ovens,grills and cook tops, selecting the right tools for the job. This doesn’t  always mean biggest is best, sometimes it’s not about the ‘initial power’ its more about the ‘constant usage’.

On top of this there is warranty, service and spare parts to consider, domestic machines are not covered by commercial use. Commercial machines rarely change models, and often keep parts for models that have been around for decades! Domestically, lucky is a)you can get parts at all b) if it can even be fixed c) no chance of finding parts for any models with years against them.

If your looking at starting up your own operation in the hospitality industry , I can’t stress enough the importance of tooling up with the right equipment to the job. When your shopping around, if something is for example is half the price/cost of all the similar items you have been looking at , then it’s for good reason! Avoid it like the plague!

The best way I think people should look at the costs of their equipment is simply ROI. Eg that $25,000 new pizza oven, how much money is it going it make you? If Pizza is mainstay of your operation then you could get that amount of sales easily within one month.

If you only do the ‘occasional’ pizza on your menu, then its expensive and you should be looking at smaller less expensive option, or even dropping it off the menu!

Simple stuff yes, but ‘too may many people get fixated on the cost of the equipment, instead of looking at business systems’, plans, staff, marketing, running costs, labor inefficiencies,  the things that will pay for the equipment and make you profit. Spending days ‘shopping around’ your equipment list to save a few hundred dollars is short sighted and a waste of energy and resources. This energy can be better spent for higher returns in other areas of your business.

The commercial equipment/appliance industry in Australia is loosely regulated to be polite.  Plumbing and Gas being the only section that seems to have quality and standards in place…as for the rest its buyer beware, and because it’s commercial there is very little consumer protection. So if it looks to good to be true, it is exactly that!

Here is some information on the quality of commercial plumbing, dish washing and any appliances that are connected to water and drains are being made to comply with some minimum standards.


It’s all simple common sense stuff.