Commercial Refrigeration Shopping on a Budget
180 days ago..

Last updated: 2019-11-29 13:11:51

It’s difficult to run a fully functional commercial kitchen without the right equipment. While kitting out a commercial kitchen is expensive, the equipment you use is necessary and vital to a successful operation. Your budget can be tight whether you’re first starting out, replacing broken equipment or updating outdated models.

Regardless of your financial situation, a commercial kitchen can’t even begin to operate without proper refrigeration. How can you, as a business owner, find the right equipment despite a low budget? There are a number of ways to get the commercial refrigeration you need without breaking the bank.

Budget Equipment

Commercial refrigeration can be generally categorised into 3 broad sections: budget or low-end equipment, mid-range equipment and premium equipment. Getting a low-end fridge when starting out is a popular option for those with a tight budget. These pieces don’t have the longest life span however and may need replacing a year or two down the line.

Low end or budget equipment is manufactured to get the basic job done but it won’t have all of the bells and whistles that premium models have. The quality, durability and lifespan of the unit won’t be as good as with premium ranges but you will be able to properly preserve your stock.

Additionally, as it is purchased from new, you will get a warranty with your unit. Look out for our handy Budget Top Pick suggestion on category pages.

Graded EquipmentLetters A, B, C, D drawn in black

This is equipment that has been returned to the manufacturer that can’t then be sold as new. It may have been returned due to a degree of aesthetic damage or just that it was the wrong size for the customer. In this case, the unit is in perfect condition but just not in original packaging.

Usually, there are 5 grades labelled A-D, each representing the condition of the refrigerator or equipment you are about to buy. They include:

  • A Grade- These refrigerators are always brand new and in the best condition. They come in their original packaging and at full price. A-grade equipment will not have been used by anyone else.
  • B+ Grade- These come with no damage. However, customers will have bought and in most cases, opened them before returning them to the manufacturer. They are sold as B+ grade because they have already left the warehouse and cannot be sold as new.
  • B Grade- B grade refrigerators come with minor dents and scratches. They also lack the original packaging.
  • C Grade- They come with minor cosmetic damage and will have been used before, but only for a short period of time. They lack original packaging from the manufacturer.
  • D Grade- Expect the equipment to have been used and to spot heavy damage. These may also be refurbished units.

Buying graded refrigeration equipment allows those on a budget to get up-to-date models including warranty at a discounted cost. The price will depend on the grade that the manufacturer allocates to a unit. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that the equipment you need will be available as graded stock.

Second-hand Equipment

Auctions are a great spot to buy second-hand fridges. However, buying equipment at auction should be approached with caution. There is usually some danger involved when buying goods in an auction.

You don’t know that it’s in good working condition, if it’s been looked after or if there are any hidden issues since the equipment is ‘sold as seen’ in auctions. Also, equipment bought at auction will not include a warranty.

Arm coming through laptop screen and shaking handsLeasing or Interest-Free Credit

This allows businesses with limited ready cash to invest in any equipment without the large upfront cost. Commercial leasing and interest-free credit means businesses can free up ready cash by spreading the cost of the unit and paying in manageable monthly instalments.

Leasing will make more sense when you are getting a big-ticket item such as a refrigerator for your commercial kitchen. To take advantage of any leasing option, the total value of the order must be at least £1000 exc. VAT.

Certain manufacturers also offer an Interest Free Credit option. This is arranged directly with the manufacturer and not through a third party finance company as with leasing.


Renting is ideal for equipment that you will need for a short period of time. Renting is different from leasing because in most cases, leasing requires a minimum commitment of 36 months and will typically be on a ‘lease-to-buy’ basis. With renting, you will be able to use the equipment in a shorter time-span and return it when it is no longer needed.

Renting usually helps in two situations.

First, if you have a new menu that requires specialised refrigeration equipment to prepare. You can rent some of that equipment to test the market. Only buy specialised equipment after your customers accept your dishes and you’re confident your new menu is a profit earner.

You can also rent a commercial refrigerator if you have a seasonal or time-limited offer. For example, countertop freezers that are needed for different seasons. You will save a lot of money by renting the equipment because at the end you can simply return them.


A low budget should not stop you from opening a functional commercial kitchen. With so many options available, you will have an easy time scaling your business until you are able to fully equip the kitchen of your dreams.

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