I'm in the process of sourcing NSF refrigerators and sinks for the shop, and am having a hard time finding anything reasonably priced, especially used. the local places have next to nothing, and what they do have is either ancient or overpriced compared to ebay. but even ebay has a pretty limited selection that is trustworthy. i basically need a single door undercounter fridge and a freestanding fridge, plus a three part sink.

any ideas/anecdotes?

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Jared -

Perhaps the question for you is: what are you considering "reasonably priced"? Even a simple, 27" low-boy, worktop refrigerator (new) is going to cost about $1,500. Double-door reach-in refrigerators are at least $2,500, and the cheapest 3comp sink I've ever found was about $500 on sale, without faucets.

At the very least, commercial equipment is going to cost you more. If you're just getting started, I don't recommend the used market because to get the good deals, you have to know your equipment. You have to know the prices, what they're worth, how to inspect the gear and determine whether or not it's suitable.

eBay can be a source for good deals, but again, you need to know your equipment to really identify the good deals. For example, I recently purchased a circulator on eBay for $500. It's three months (or so) old, in great condition and five hundred dollars. The machine new sells for $3,000. Even if the unit doesn't work, I know the manufacturer personally and can send the unit to them for repair. Even if it costs me a total of $1,000 to buy and get it running, I'm still saving $2K.

Sounds good on paper, but it's only a good deal because I know the value of the equipment and know how to get it up and running for cheap. Same goes with refrigeration. I can get a little adventurous with my refrigeration because I've got a great refrigeration guy that works for a decent rate.

The other downside with the used market is that you have to take what's available. The equipment you may want may not be available when you want it. It took me seven years to find a Silver King 27" Fountainette for sale on the used market - not the ideal way to go if you need a specific piece of equipment now.

Unless you luck out and find what you need used, I strongly suggest going with new equipment from a reliable source. For most of my equipment purchases, I work with a restaurant equipment dealer I've been using for ten years now. They offer suggestions, service, installation and equipment. By no means are the prices as cheap as eBay, but they take care of everything. All I have to do is call and they put everything together. When the equipment comes, they deliver and install. I don't have to sit there, pull it out of the crate and assemble it - like when purchasing from "discount" warehouses (like Superior Products). In fact, the prices are usually competitive with places like Superior.

Good luck.
I agree with Jay. Find someone who can service the equipment locally, because someday, it will need service. If you get a relationship going with a local or regional company, you'll already have their number and a name when your fridge breaks down on Fourth of July weekend. Also, if you find a steal on ebay, then you have to crate and freight a refrigerator from wherever to where you are, it's probably going to bring the price close to what you could get from a reputable dealer in your area.

On the other hand, in this economy there have been a lot of restaurants going under. Check craigslist regionally for liquidations, deals on multiple pieces and all that rot, I've seen a number of desperate listings from all over for the basics, like what you're looking for. If you do buy something like this, I still recommend having an experienced service tech come and check out the refrigeration and install the sink for you, for the same reason listed above. Establish a relationship, get a number, say thank you, these people will probably be saving your ass more than once in the life of your business.

i guess part of me just feels really frustrated at the NSF price gouging, but i understand what you're saying about buying new. prima supply has a smaller 3 part sink plus faucet for around 400, and i'm space limited so that might have to do. i've seen some used undercounters for around 650 with 30 shipping. but who knows what kind of condition they're in.

the only stuff i can afford new is arctic air's white-finish stuff, because it's (relative to the other insanely priced stuff) reasonable and i'm on a pretty tight budget. given the choice between grabbing 2 doserless k-10's and a new fridge, i'm going with the k-10's. that's where the quality lies, not some ridiculously marked up fridge.
Agree checked Craigslist, daily. Took me 'bout 5 months to find a reasonably priced under counter fridge but finally scored a Bevaire for $350. It's been running strong for 4 months. Did even better on a True GDM 37. Oh sure it was white emblazoned with Snapple in blue & red on the sides but $40 for appliance paint and good brush took care of that. All in $240! That deal wasn't a place going under but a caterer who was upgrading to larger primary fridge and old primary went to back up fridge, GDM 37 went to me. Also Craiglist scored a 3 small tub with side drains for $200. It takes time and constant checking to find the deals. And as mentioned knowing what to look for. 36 solid wood matching armed chairs in very good condition $18 each, 24 gorgeous 2x2' tile tabletops $11.11 each. Linea 4AV a cool $1k ($3500 all in after having it completely rebuilt including dual brew boiler PIDs) Old solid wood base and wall cabinets from kitchen that was remodeled $300, enough bases for my needed 10' back bar run and corner 4' corner cabinets drink dressing and garbage station plus bunch of back room wall storage cabinets including 8' pantry cabinet. Light sanding and couple Danish Oil rub downs lookin' good. SS hand wash sink inc. faucet $15, SS prep/pitcher rinse sink inc. faucet $10. Deals are out there...
Jared- Certainly there is something to be said about "NSF" price "gouging" but I don't feel it is as bad as you make it seem. An undercounter-sized glass-door refrigerator from Summit can be had for about $500 (NSF) from a place like Restaurant Depot. The difference is the compressor and the blower. That model (which I used to use in my former office) used passive cooling, much like your home refrigerator. Passive cooling is cheaper to make and is cheaper to buy. Of course, the down side is that it takes longer to cool.

The NSF commercial refrigerators with active cooling utilize large compressors and active fans (all of which use more energy and dissipate more heat into the environment) which cools your food/stuff/milk much faster than passive. The larger and greater capacity compressors cost more, which means that your cost is higher.

But truth is, I can go out and buy a double-door, NSF reach-in for about $3,000 with greater capacity and cooler looks than a similarly priced home model. To me, it's the home models that seem outrageously expensive.

Whatever the case, choose carefully and find yourself a good refrigeration guy. Regardless of the situation, a good refrigeration guy is going to cost more money than you're willing to spend, but when the reefer goes down, that guy will be there - which is better than losing your inventory due to a failing fridge.

One thing to note - and I don't know how true this really is, but I've used a lot of used Beverage Air equipment over the years and they seem to be battle tanks. My first UCR-27 is still with me and ready for battle and the three-door, lowboy reefer has been blowing cold-as-balls for over six years now (and I bought that many years already used from a dairy). They just don't seem to fail. And the UCF-48 freezer was used when I bought it and I've had it for ten years. Battle tanks!

But the True reefers I bought three years ago when I built The Spro have all suffered some sort of bizarre temperature swings or outright failures. Enough to make me spec Randell FX refrigeration for the new shop. Though, my friend with the restaurant has been using mostly True with no problems. It could just be me.

The Artic Air reefers are nice. They're Chinese made (IIRC) but the people I know who have had them seem to like them just fine. The important thing is that they hold temperature below 40F. If that's the case, then no problems. In a coffee shop environment, it's atypical to work with food where you need to bring the temperature out of the "danger zone" (40-140F) within a specified time, so you should have no problems.

Continuing on the thread: The tighter and more restricted your space, the greater your equipment requirements - meaning that the longer and harder it is to find just the right piece. Like I said, it took me seven years to find the Silver King reefer, but by the time I found it, I no longer needed it!
i'm looking at a used undercounter beverage air fridge for 650. seems like a decent deal, and then i was gonna get a new arctic air standup for the milk in the back. plus NSF sink i should be able to get out for about 2-2.2k. i'll have to put off a real dishwasher till later, but oh well.

We got great prices from these guys. Have had great customer support the few times we've needed it.

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