Commercial Kitchen Equipment at Home

5 Reasons to Avoid Commercial Kitchen Equipment at Home

For those who want to take their home cooking to the next level, commercial restaurant equipment can be tempting. The stainless steel exteriors, large sizes, and powerful heating and motors make commercial equipment seem like the obvious choice to those who want to entertain crowds or cook specialty dishes. However, bigger is not always better and leaving the commercial equipment in the restaurant where it belongs can help you avoid getting burnt.

1. Noisy Nuisances

A commercial kitchen is a noisy place, full of multiple kinds of equipment and often several cooks at once. In an environment like that, a refrigerator compressor kicking on isn't going to make that much difference. However, in a home kitchen, a commercial-grade refrigerator compressor turning on regularly throughout the day and night will sound incredibly loud. While some models have sound dampeners, they will still be louder than a typical residential model. On top of that, commercial units are likely to run more frequently than their residential counterparts in a home setting because they're built for being more heavy-laden and having their doors opened more frequently.

Noise isn't restricted just to refrigerators. While commercial dishwashers and ranges may not be much louder than their residential counterparts, they both require ventilation hoods. Most residential hoods are hardly quiet, but it will seem like they are compared to the noise commercial ventilation can generate.

2. Gas and Electricity Difficulties

Because commercial equipment is meant for constant, heavy-duty use, these units have power requirements that can be difficult to meet in a residential setting. If you are installing an electric unit, in some cases you may need to rewire your outlet from 120V to 220V, or from single phase to three phase, which most homes aren't wired for, meaning you would need an expensive new circuit installed. That can be an incredibly expensive change. If you're installing multiple commercial units in your kitchen, you may even find your power supply inadequate, resulting in blown fuses or fires. That can result in the need for installation of a larger power supply for the whole kitchen. For hard-wired equipment - that which doesn't come with a cord and plug - you will also need to hire an electrician to come wire the equipment.

If you're able to get the equipment wired in correctly, you are going to find yourself paying a lot more on your power bill, even if you invest in an ENERGY STAR unit. Commercial refrigerators have much larger compressors, larger cabinets to cool, and especially on models with glass doors, less insulation than residential units. Additionally, commercial refrigerators will put out more heat than a residential version, causing your HVAC to have to work harder to maintain cool temperatures in the warmer months.

You may also find yourself facing difficulties when it comes to gas-powered appliances, such as commercial ranges. Most of these are available in models that can run off natural gas or propane, but the incoming gas lines on commercial models are going to be line than is available in a residential location. While the smaller line may be made to work with a commercial range, it will void any warranty you might have on the unit. Similar to the higher costs of the electric equipment, the fact that most commercial ranges have a standing pilot light for each burner and the oven means they use a lot of gas, which will cost you quite a bit over the unit's lifetime.

3. Safety Considerations

Engineers who design residential ranges know that many of them will be in homes with children and pets, and will be used by amateur cooks. They are designed with safety in mind above all, with exteriors that remain cool to the touch and the capability to be installed next to the combustible surfaces that are present in most homes. This level of safety is more difficult to accomplish with a commercial unit, and because the equipment is expected to be used in professional kitchens by experienced chefs, the safety considerations are vastly different. As a result, these powerful pieces of equipment get very hot and generally require large clearances on the sides and rear. Even with that spacing, most units specify that all adjacent surfaces must be non-combustible, meaning you will have to invest in stainless steel wall coverings and counters to surround the range.

This additional heat also means that you will have to invest in more powerful ventilation than is available from most residential units. Commercial ventilation systems, while powerful enough to add a measure of safety and comfort to an overheated kitchen, require a lot of energy that will be evidenced by your power bill.

4. Cleaning and Maintenance

Most residential appliances are hands-off, requiring very little in the way of cleaning and maintenance. Residential ovens have self-cleaning cycles and most refrigerators just need to be wiped down every once in a while. Cleaning for commercial products is a little more complicated, sometimes requiring the equipment to be opened up, such as removing the grill of the refrigerator or ice machine to wipe off the condenser coils weekly and disassembling the top of the range to clean the burners. For products like ice machines, it is also important to keep up with water filters and water softening systems, or your ice machine will suffer the consequences. For a kitchen with a staff trained in how to clean and maintain each unit, these maintenance requirements aren’t a big deal, but for a home cook it can be a lot of work that is easily forgotten, which can lead to breakdowns and repairs.

As you might expect, service calls for commercial kitchen equipment aren't as simple as they are for residential kitchen supplies. You will have to find a service technician certified to service the brand of commercial equipment you have, and then hope their company has the liability insurance that allows them to come into a private residence to service the unit. If you're able to find someone to do the work in your home, the cost may come as a surprise, as it may be several hundred dollars for a simple repair.

5. Lack of Protection

Your first line of protection when it comes to any costly purchase is the warranty. Warranties can be a major consideration in the buying process, to help prevent having to pay for expensive repairs soon after purchasing the equipment. However, most manufacturers of commercial equipment will not provide warranty coverage for a unit installed into a private residence, meaning you'll foot the bill for all needed repairs, no matter how soon after the purchase they arise.

The protection you can lose goes beyond the warranty. Many home insurance policies are voided by installing equipment that isn't rated for residential use, as these units violate fire and safety codes. In some cases, you can add a variance to your policy that keeps it valid, but that will cost you more each month.

Residential Solutions

Whether you want a high-volume residential ice maker or the sleek look of stainless steel for your stove or refrigerator, there are units designed for residential use to meet your needs.

  • Home ice machines are available in stainless steel and cabinet-style units. These can make nugget, cube, or gourmet top hat ice.
  • KaTom's residential refrigerators are available in professional-looking stainless steel or in the more traditional white or black laminate exteriors. Residential units are also available in undercounter sizes for when you need to add some additional cold storage to your kitchen.
  • Residential toasters are available in a variety of colors or with a stainless steel exterior. These toasters have two or four slots, and many have features commonly found on commercial models, such as high-lift levers, wide slots, and LCD displays.
  • Residential dishwashers are 18 to 24 inches wide and are available in white or stainless. Many models have preprogrammed settings that make washing different dish types simple.

Other available residential kitchen appliances include stand mixers, coffee makers, blenders, food processors, and microwaves. These items are all made for use in residential kitchens to help ensure your safety and comfort. Shop KaTom's selection of residential kitchen appliances online or contact a KaTom representative at 1-800-541-8683 to find the perfect appliance for your home kitchen.