The temptation for buying used restaurant equipment is a strong one, especially with rising food and utility costs. However, a used steamer may end up costing more money than a new one if it needs a lot of repairs or is inefficient, so be sure to weigh your options and purchase the best steamer – new or used – to suite your needs and budget.
Even though used commercial food steamers can be significantly less expensive than new, it's still an investment, so do your research before cutting a check.
- Physically inspect the unit. If you can, personally inspect a used commercial food steamer, but this may be hard if shopping online or at an auction. Look at the spray holes, to make sure they aren't clogged. Also, check the door hinges and latch to make sure they are functioning properly. Repeatedly slamming the steamer door can wear out the hinges and latch, a common problem with used steamers.
- Watch out for corrosion. The water that steamers use to prepare the food can also corrode the stainless steel if the unit was not properly cared for. If there is any discoloration or rust on the steamer, especially in the food cavity, do not purchase the unit.
- Call the manufacturer with any questions. When you are shopping for a used commercial food steamer, be sure to reference any questions to the manufacturer. Sure, the salesperson can give you tell you specifically how the machine functions, usually "like new," but the manufacturer can give you an idea of what could go or is going wrong based on your inspection and give an idea of repair costs.
Commercial food steamers are generally safe to buy used, as long as you get a unit that does not have overly-complicated controls. Also, look for a boilerless steamer, because the boiler, or steam generator, on older models can be filled with mineral deposits that can affect the boiler capacity and taste of the food, and there is no way to tell short of filling up the boiler and checking the capacity.
A new commercial steamer
is usually a better bet than going used, simply because they are more reliable, easier to maintain, come with a warranty and have several other benefits.
- Most new models are boilerless. Steamers that do not have a boiler are more efficient and easier to maintain. They use an injection system that instantly turns water into steam, which reduces the amount of energy needed to boil water. Also, as mentioned before, older commercial food steamers have a boiler that can become clogged with mineral deposits that affect the taste of the food. Newer, boilerless steamers do not have this problem.
- You can select the power type. There are four different power types for commercial food steamers: electric, gas, direct steam and steam coil. When you buy a new steamer, you can select the power type that suits your needs. With used steamers, you are limited by what the dealer has available.
- They are more energy efficient. Technology is constantly improving in the commercial kitchen. This applies to steamers, too. As mentioned before, the boilerless models use less energy because of how water is turned into steam. Energy efficient commercial steamers meet or exceed government standards of energy efficiency, so you can be sure they'll save a lot of money on your utility bills.