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When to buy used vs. new equipment

NFM Staff

February 25, 2009

2 Min Read
When to buy used vs. new equipment

Always buy new

OK to buy used


Kitchen prep tables







Refrigerated Units




Used equipment can be a risky investment, especially when you don’t know what to look for. The appeal of the discount can override good instincts—the instincts that tell you the piece is really the wrong size or isn’t in good shape. Used equipment: falls into three categories: like-new demo pieces, genuinely reconditioned pieces and useless junk. The junk category isn’t just about problem pieces or things that are outdated, either—it’s about buying things that don’t suit your needs. To avoid falling prey to the third category, follow these tips when shopping:

Check the manufacturer’s date on used refrigeration or cooking equipment. If it’s more than 5 years old, the piece will be much more likely to break down and won’t use the most current technology. You can determine the date by contacting the manufacturer or vendor with the serial number.

Always be clear on the vendor’s warranty and repair policy for used pieces. Though 90 days is common, it's possible to negotiate for a six- to 12-month warranty.

What is OK to buy used? As long as they fit your space, prep tables, sinks and shelving are fine to buy used. Newer ranges and refrigerated units are usually worthwhile used investments, as are slicers, mixers, juicers, warmers and other small mechanical pieces.

Don’t buy used dishwashers, ovens, steamers or fryers. They’re notorious for breaking down.

Be careful about lease-to-own scenarios. Because the benefits of leasing to own can vary by business type and by current tax code, it’s always best to consult a qualified financial adviser before you begin. If it works for you, you’ll be able to get new, good equipment affordably, but you’ll end up paying more over the long run.

Great, now where do I buy? Get service?
The links below can help you find manufacturers of specific equipment, and quick searches can help you find service for your existing equipment in a snap.

Find association-approved equipment brokers
Through FEDA
Through NAFEM
(Click the “Products” tab to search by specific item)

Find association-approved service and repair, by state
Through CFESA
Through NAFEM

Some of the information in this article was adapted from a 2002 NFM article.

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