The Pitfalls Of Buying Pre-Owned Catering Equipment

When you are opening a new restaurant, one of the largest bills you will face is for new catering equipment. The size and complexity of the units that you need, from refrigerators to ovens and deep fat fryers, means that a large chunk of your start up costs will be eaten up almost immediately. It is not surprising, then, that many new restaurateurs will be tempted to buy second hand catering equipment, hoping to save money. Whilst this is acceptable for some items, there are pitfalls which should be considered before deciding on a second hand catering equipment purchase.

Wear And Tear

There is no doubt that some catering equipment will be useable for many years, and if you are on a tight budget it is sensible to buy these items second hand. Prep tables are one example of this. Anything without moving parts and not showing signs of rust or missing parts should be acceptable. The real problems arise when you are buying second hand electrical appliances.

Expired Warranties

One of the major pitfalls in buying second hand appliances is that you have no warranty with them. Either the warranties have expired, or details of them have been lost. Without a warranty, if a problem develops you are on your own. This can be extremely frustrating, as the likelihood of faults occurring increases the older the item is. You could find yourself spending more on repairs and replacement parts than you would have done on a new appliance. It is an issue that many restaurant start ups face and it is a gamble you need to consider carefully. Buying brand new items may appear to be an expense too far, but remember that these items hold their value well. If your restaurant did fail, you will be able to recoup more of the cost of newer items than a second or third hand ones.

Think Carefully You should think carefully before buying second hand appliances for your kitchen. By all means, save money on items that can’t break down. Even smaller electrical items, which would not break the bank to replace if they broke, can be a good saving if bought second hand. But larger items, such as ovens and refrigeration units might be an investment worth making. Having the peace of mind that comes with a reputable manufacturer warranty is priceless. Sometimes there is damage to second hand equipment that may not be immediately apparent. Do you know that it has not been dropped, or had multiple previous repairs and problems? You should consider all these pitfalls before making a decision.

Is There an Optimum Temperature for Keeping Food Fresher for Longer?

The primary function of any catering refrigeration unit is to keep temperatures constantly low in order to slow down the rate at which mould and bacteria proliferate, and thereby increase the length of time that food is edible. Getting this right can mean the difference between a business thriving or going under, due food spoilage. So just what is the optimum temperature at which to store your food items, to best prolong their shelf life?

Perfect Temperature

The ideal temperature at which to prolong the life of fresh food is widely agreed to be 3°C. Between 0°C and 4°C is acceptable, but ensure temperatures don’t fall above or below this point. However, some foodstuffs can be damaged if they are stored at these lower temperatures. Lettuce is a good example of this. Because of the high water content of lettuce, they are fragile and freeze easily. The best way to ensure your refrigerator is working at the optimum temperature is to use a good quality fridge thermometer, and check it regularly.

Fridge Exceptions

Refrigeration at 3°C is not the key to all fresh food longevity. Cucumber is a perfect example of a foodstuff that cannot be stored at a normal fridge temperature, if you want to optimise its shelf life. The perfect temperature to keep a cucumber is at 12-13°C, so to keep yours from going mushy, store it wrapped in a tea towel or cloth. Tomatoes should not be refrigerated at all, as they will deteriorate quickly. Onions and garlic should not be refrigerated, because they need plenty of air circulating around them. Keep onions in their mesh bag. Potatoes will have their flavour impaired by refrigeration. Store in the pantry in low light. Bread and coffee should also be left out of the fridge.

Special Storage Needs

Keeping foods fresher longer is not always a question of temperature. Lettuce will last longer if it is kept moist, whereas mushrooms will quickly go slimy if they are in a moist environment. Store mushrooms in the refrigerator, but wrap them in a paper towel to keep them dry. Lettuce is best stored in a plastic bag, with air holes in order to keep it fresher for longer.

Remember, the best temperature to keep a majority of food fresh and safe for the longest time is 3°C. If your food is spoiling after less than three day in the fridge, check the temperature with a thermometer. Don’t take risks with food safety. Salmonella and Listeria can be fatal.

Catering Refrigeration Is So Much More Than Keeping Food Chilled

Those who know nothing of the catering industry might assume that catering refrigeration is simply a question of having a fridge in the kitchen and using it as you might at home. But there is more to catering refrigeration than simply keeping food chilled. Fridges can actually be extremely dangerous if not used correctly.

Fridge Discipline

Keeping food chilled is not only essential, but it is a legal safety requirement. If you have a catering fridge that works as it should, the story doesn’t end there. One of the major causes of food poisoning in restaurants comes from cross-contamination in fridges. This is when bacteria migrate from raw food onto cooked food. If raw meat juices drip onto food in a lower part of the fridge, those foods are contaminated, and potentially hazardous. If a kitchen finds that they are having to compromise food safety when storing food, it is a sign that they need a new refrigerator. Ideally, a kitchen should have more than one refrigerator, so that raw meat and poultry, and ready-to-eat food can be stored separately. A meat and poultry fridge is often used for eggs, fish and unwashed vegetables and fruit, so that the space is fully utilized.

Fridge Safety

Lassana Bathily recently saved 15 people’s lives by locking them in the walk in chiller room of a Paris grocery, when it came under terrorist attack. By switching off the unit and locking them in, he became an overnight hero. So much for chiller units as a place of safety. But whilst a catering fridge may not immediately strike you as a piece of equipment that could pose a risk to life, they can and do. Walk in cooler rooms, which provide large areas of storage space, are often found in supermarkets, large institutions and factories. It is essential that proper safety measures be used with these units, in order to minimise the risk of people becoming trapped inside them. Some catering companies now fit an alarm to their chiller rooms so that the alarm can be raised. Deaths of those trapped in chiller rooms from hypothermia are not unknown.

Regular Maintenance Maintaining a catering refrigeration unit is a key part of fridge safety. Accurate thermostats are essential, since without an accurate reading food safety is compromised. It is important to check seals and doors regularly, and replace damaged parts, as cold air escaping through damaged seals can lead to a rise in internal temperature. Even a few degrees increase in temperature can affect food safety, so accurate readings are essential.

New ‘F Gas’ Rules, Commercial Refrigeration and the Impact

As you may know, there have recently been changes made to the rules governing EU fluorinated greenhouse (F gas) regulations, which include the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and bans on some products. This EU regulation represents a change brought in during 2014, in an effort to minimize the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment, and replaces the 2006 regulations.

Clearly, this has major repercussions for the refrigeration industry. But it affects not just manufacturers, but end users too. So, if you own a business that uses refrigeration units, what will the impact be on you? What Is the Impact On Me?

You must comply with these regulations if you operate a refrigeration unit. Even if the unit does not belong to you, you are responsible if you are using it in your business. To find out if your refrigeration unit is affected, you should check the manual that came with it, look for labels or speak to your supplier. Look at the list of the fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases) covered by the new EU regulations here.

HFC 404A and HFC 134a are common in refrigeration systems, so look to see if your refrigeration units contain them.

Only Use Trained Technicians

The 2014 regulations state that:

“Only trained technicians can carry out work on equipment containing F gases, including:

1. installation 2. testing for leaks 3. general maintenance 4. disposal or decommissioning when you no longer need the product” As a business, it is your responsibility to check that the person maintaining, repairing or disposing of your refrigeration units is properly qualified. Label Your Refrigeration Unit

You must label to your refrigeration unit if your service operator has had to add F gas during the course of maintenance. The label must state that the equipment has F gas in it, and the industry name for the F Gas.

Check For Leaks

As the operator, it is your responsibility to keep your refrigeration units within the regulations. Therefore you must check that no gas is leaking from your unit. Those who ‘install, maintain or dispose of equipment’ bear joint responsibility for F gas leakages. This is another reason to be sure that you only use qualified technicians to service your equipment.

Keep Records

You must keep record about any refrigerator unit that has been checked for leaks, if it contains F Gas ‘equivalent to more than 5 tonnes of CO2.

For full instructions on how to comply with the 2014 EU Regulations on F Gas units, refer to the Government information page here: EU F gas regulation: guidance for users, producers and traders.

Three Suitable Ice Machines for Your Business

There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a hot office, and especially so if that office has a lack of airflow. The solution to this problem is air conditioning, but you’ve got to also consider the needs of your workers – to this end, cool water and ice are excellent ways to boost morale during the hotter months and to keep everybody sane.

With that in mind, here’s some superb ice machines to consider for your business.

  1. VonShef Digital Ice Maker and Dispenser

The VonShef Digital Ice Maker and Dispenser (Amazon, £109.99) is ideal for the office or the factory floor. It can make up to 800g of ice at a time (up to 15kg in 24-hours) and has a 1-litre water reservoir, so you don’t have to keep refilling it. Ice can be made in three sizes and a neat digital LCD display offers ease of use and maximum control.

  1. Andrew James Compact Ice Maker

The Andrew James Compact Ice Maker (Amazon, £89.99) is smaller than the VonShef but equally as powerful. It too can create up to 15kg of ice in 24-hours and it also has a large water reservoir (2.4-litres). Ice can only be made in two sizes, but at this price who’s complaining. This is one of the smallest ice makers on the market so it’s ideal for compact spaces.

  1. Porkka Ice Machines

Porkka ice machines (ACL Refrigeration, £TBA) can make up to a whopping 600 kilos of ice everyday and 20 kilos of ice on a single cycle. Ideal for larger applications such as in bars, cafes, restaurants or catering facilities, these ice machines are extremely powerful and can serve a workforce of over one hundred people with ease. Get in touch with ACL for a quote today. Commercial vs. compact ice makers When choosing an ice machine for your business, it’s important to consider what size of ice machine you will require. Often, space is the limiting factor, in which case the good news is that there are a wide variety of ice machines on the market and chances are there will be at least a few which are of the right size. For office floors, compact ice makers are an ideal solution, but for larger areas of work a commercial ice machine is going to be better for your business – these can produce a lot more ice and are an essential appliance for catering facilities.

The Benefits Of Portable Air Conditioning Units

How many times has somebody you know complained about how stuffy their room is?

In the UK, people don’t seem to have discovered portable air conditioning units yet – appliances that can easily cool a bedroom or living room and appliances that don’t cost the earth. If you are new to portable air conditioners, here’s a list of the key benefits to buying one:

They are a take-anywhere appliance

Portability is the biggest benefit of portable air conditioning units. They can be moved from room to room and home to home with minimal effort, which also makes them ideal for small office environments. Thanks to their small size, they are easy to store away during the colder months and when it gets warm, they don’t take up much space.

They are energy efficient

Portable air conditioning units run off a power socket and draw very little energy in comparison to their larger, fixed air conditioning brethren. This means they’re not going to cost you much money to run on a day-to-day basis, and they’re not going to harm the environment. Because they are energy efficient, this will give you extra scope when running other appliances.

They are relatively safe

Because they draw little power from a wall socket, portable air conditioners don’t get hot – so you aren’t at any risk of burning yourself or the unit catching fire (unless there’s a serious internal malfunction). Like all electrical appliances, these air conditioners are also backed up by safety features to prevent electrical shocks and to cut power in the event of a malfunction.

They can cool or heat a room

Lots of portable air conditioners have a dual feature for cooling or heating air – much like larger fixed air conditioners do. Thus, they can be used all year round. These units should be able to cool or heat a small room all by themselves and if you combine two or three a larger room should not be a problem. Dual-heat air conditioners cost more than regular units, though.

They are cost-effective

Not just to run, but to buy too. Good portable air conditioners can be purchased on sale online for as little as £100, and they are ideal for cooling a small room. You tend to pay more for higher output models and dual-heat models, but you shouldn’t be paying more than £350 for a top-of-the-range portable air conditioner. Be sure to shop around for the best price.

What To Look For When Considering A Second Hand Air Conditioner

Buying a second hand air conditioner is akin to buying a second hand car. The process is much the same – you find a model that suits your budget and needs, you go and inspect that model and if everything is in order you buy it. But, as with buying a car, there are certain things that you should consider when buying a second hand air conditioner – things which are often overlooked but are essentials in order to come away with an appliance that’s worth the money.

So, here’s our guide on what to look for when considering a second hand air conditioner.


Size matters – the required cooling capacity for an air conditioner depends on the size of the room it’s to be installed within. So before you start to look at used air conditioners, find out what output you need your air conditioner to have. Most people buy air conditioners that are too large but contrary to belief these are less effective, and they also waste a lot of energy.


Buying a second hand air conditioner that’s over five years old or more is fine – so long as it has been serviced at the required intervals and well looked after. As with buying a car, the cosmetic and internal condition of the air conditioner is important – poor cosmetic condition can point toward a unit that’s not been well looked after. We recommend having an expert check it over.


As with any appliance, the times move on. Although you might be able to buy a top of the range model from three years ago for a bargain price second hand now, the latest like-for-like version might be cheaper just as effective – so that’s something to consider. Secondly, air conditioners depreciate, so if you are going to buy one second hand consider its future retail value.


Regular air conditioning servicing is important to keep it in tip top condition, but in-between service intervals regular maintenance is important too. So look for second hand air conditioners that are easy to maintain – most modern air conditioners have a filter that slides out easily for regular cleaning and most will have logically placed controls to turn off your air conditioner.

If the air conditioner you want to buy isn’t easy to clean, it isn’t a deal-breaker though.

6 Ways To Keep Cool (Or Warm) Without Using Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is great, but not everybody has access to it. If you’re somebody who is without air conditioning, here’s 6 ways to keep cool or warm without an air conditioning system.

Keeping cool

  1. Use a dehumidifier

Managing moisture is essential to keeping cool. Moisture is what creates that sticky, thick air that makes you sweat and feel uncomfortable. A dehumidifier is a fantastic appliance to manage moisture – these suck in the air from your room and blow it back out moisture-free.

  1. Move your indoor plants outside

Indoor plants are great for air quality, but they also produce a lot of airborne moisture. You can reduce the level of humidity in the air by moving your indoor plants outside or at the very least near to a window that’s safe to be left open for most of the day during the summer.

  1. Get cold

Have a cold shower or a cold bath to make you feel more comfortable. A temperature of around 75°F should be just right to cool you down. Cold water can also be splashed on the back of your neck and your face to cool you down quickly (and much faster than cold air).

Keeping warm

  1. Dress in layers

Arctic explorers dress in layers and you should too – especially when stepping outside. Indoors, you can do the same, but without the windproof jacket – wear a t-shirt with a jumper and a fleece on top of that to feel nice and snug. Or, throw a dressing gown over your normal clothes.

  1. Buy thicker curtains

If you live in an older property or any property without double glazing, you should definitely invest in some thick curtains. The key here is to use layers – hang drapes next to the window and then have a pair of thermal curtains to stop draughts from getting through.

  1. Clear your radiators

It can be tempting to hang clothes on radiators to warm them up, but you shouldn’t. Doing so traps large amounts of heat that won’t help to heat your home. If you are using your central heating system once a day keep them clear and move large pieces of furniture away from them.

All in all, keeping cool or warm without air conditioning is entirely possible. Be sure to use our top tips and keep yourself comfortable this year.

Key Points to Remember For Air Conditioning Installation

An air conditioning system installed in your home circulates air through the use of supply and return ducts. If you want to have a home that is comfortable even when temperatures outdoors are sizzling, you need an air conditioning system that is adequately installed. Installation of your air conditioning system is critical when you are looking to get efficiency, longevity and safety out of your central air conditioning unit.

But before you go ahead with air conditioning installation, there are some key points that you should consider, including:

  1. Space

  2. Guidelines

  3. Registers

  4. Installation quality

  5. Charge checking


Let’s take a closer look at these key points.

Adequate Space This is something that is often overlooked by some inferior Air Conditioning Companies. Adequate space for installation and maintenance of your AC unit indoors is incredibly important. An access door should be installed in the duct to allow for cleaning of the evaporator coil. This will ensure that your air conditioning system is functioning at a high level of efficiency for a long period of time. Duct Size Guidelines The size of duct that is required for your air conditioning system is contingent on guidelines that have already been set. It is important that your AC system is installed using duct size methodology that is outlined in the ACCA manual. Checks Registers It is also critical to the installation of your AC system that the number of registers within the home are checked. A sufficient amount of registers are needed to ensure that cool air is delivered and returned back to the air conditioner  properly. Not having enough registers can hinder the operation of your central cooling unit. Installation of Duct Work Another key to remember involves the installation of duct work. All duct work for your air conditioning system should be installed without using the attic space whenever possible. All duct work should also be sealed with duct mastic. Refrigerant Charge Checking Ensuring that the newly installed air conditioning system has the correct amount of refrigerant charge based on manufacturer airflow rates is also essential. The thermostat for the system should also be placed away from heat sources and windows. All of the above keys for air conditioning system installation are extremely important. The ability to cool your home efficiently and safely is dependent upon if these keys are adequately followed during installation.

Commercial Refrigeration Is Essential If You Own a Restaurant, Cafe or Coffee Shop

If you own a restaurant, café or coffee shop, chances are you need peace of mind from knowing that your food is properly stored. Commercial refrigeration is the most effective way to provide cold storage of all the food and beverage items that are integral to the operation of your food-related business. But not only do you need adequate space that is only possible from commercial refrigeration, you also need reliability that you can depend on – reliability that will see you through tougher times.

What Benefits Can Be Gained from Commercial Refrigeration? There are many benefits that you can get access to by simply choosing commercial refrigeration for your restaurant, café or coffee shop. Not only does this type of commercial appliance make finding what you need easier, but it also keeps produce and all food items fresh, crisp and cold for longer periods of time. Even prepared foods will maintain their integrity much longer when kept in a commercial refrigerator. It is possible to purchase a commercial refrigerator in a variety of sizes to help you meet all of your needs. If the storage of food id integral to your business, commercial refrigeration is the ideal option. What is the Big Difference? Some restaurant, café and coffee shop owners might be tempted to save money by opting for residential refrigeration over commercial refrigeration. However, this is not a good way to cut costs. In the long run, residential refrigeration is much more costly and will not be sufficient for storing your food. Residential refrigeration is inferior because it does not offer the same amount of space or power that commercial refrigeration provides. There are even legal and safety guidelines that stipulate commercial refrigeration is the necessary option. Why Commercial Refrigeration is Essential Investing is a commercial refrigerator allows you to meet all safety and legal business codes. The cove design of the interior allows for easy cleaning and increases organization. Finding what you need quickly only increases overall efficiency. The design of commercial refrigerators is also up-to-date with current health code requirements and the power that is provided allows you to keep your refrigeration system set within two degrees of the temperature. This type of refrigeration is also constructed using only commercial-grade materials that are resistant to bacteria and designed for commercial heavy use. Failing to choose commercial refrigeration could lead to a variety of problems that you want no part of.