What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Stainless Steel Equipment?

Stainless steel equipment is widely available for most product categories -- but there are several factors to consider before committing to a purchase.

By Kinnek Knowledge Team  |  June 09, 2018

If you’re currently in the market for commercial kitchen equipment, then you may be wondering about the benefits of purchasing stainless steel equipment, as opposed to equipment made of aluminum, plastic, or other materials.  Given the variety of options offered by vendors, it can be a confusing decision — after all, despite the fact that stainless steel has become relatively ubiquitous in the commercial kitchen equipment world in many different product categories (i.e., commercial ovens, commercial refrigerators, commercial dishwashers, stovetops, preparation tables, and more), you may not actually need stainless steel equipment.  In fact, your needs may be better served by choosing an alternative material.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of stainless steel in the commercial kitchen equipment context — hopefully this will shed some light and help clarify your purchasing decision.


Superior Durability

Stainless steel offers industry-leading durability — simply put, the material is strong and holds its shape.  It is highly resistant to impact and structural damage, and the rigidity of the steel is preserved with a broad temperature range (up to roughly 1400 degree Fahrenheit, at the top end).

If you purchase stainless steel, you can count on it to last for a very long time.  Replacements are generally not necessary (assuming adequate maintenance), except where the business requires new equipment for additional functionality.

Resistance to Corrosion

Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, whether rust-based or otherwise.  As such, stainless steel is perfectly suitable for a wide range of environments — it’s worth noting, however, that despite being corrosion-resistant, there are still certain chemical environments that may pose a problem for stainless steel equipment.  Speak with the vendor for more details about the limitations, and how you can avoid exposing your new stainless steel equipment to those corrosion risks.

Equipment Stays Clean for Longer

Unlike other popular materials, such as wood, grooved plastic, and various metal alloys (like aluminum), stainless steel retains a smooth and even surface quite easily.  So long as you properly maintain the steel, there will be very few dips, crevices, and grooves that form in the steel.  This makes it much easier to keep the steel clean, as there is less opportunity for dirt, oil, and dust capture — further, bacteria will not have an opportunity to grow and thrive in these hidden areas.

Resale Value is Preserved Over Time

Because stainless steel equipment is so durable, and can be maintained in tip-top condition for a long time, it tends to hold substantial resale value.  This makes it a fairly safe and reasonable investment, even if you’re not sure whether you’ll have to replace the equipment with new equipment at a later date.

For example, suppose that you are just getting started with your pizzeria, and aren’t ready to purchase a brick oven setup yet.  Instead, you’d like to purchase a stainless steel convection oven as a stop-gap measure.  The price of the “stainless steel” oven is rather high, however, so you’re worried about whether the investment is sensible given that you’re likely to replace it at a later date.  Fortunately, because stainless steel equipment holds its resale value fairly well, you can simply sell the convection oven later, defraying your costs significantly.

Commonplace in Today’s Market

Stainless steel equipment is fairly commonplace, so you’re most likely not going to run into issues with finding vendors with the requisite stainless steel equipment on sale.  If you can’t think of any reasons to go for an alternative material, it may be worth purchasing stainless steel equipment as the “default” choice, assuming that you have sufficient capital.


Tends to be More Expensive Than Alternatives

Unfortunately, stainless steel equipment tends to be more expensive than other materials, such as aluminum.  This is perhaps the most fundamental disadvantage of stainless steel equipment, though it’s worth reiterating that the resale value of stainless steel equipment is quite high, which can help defray the costs.  Further, stainless steel is more durable, and maintenance is easier, so — years down the line — you may find that the overall cost evens out.

May Be Prone to Collecting Dirt (and Smudging)

Stainless steel is a magnet for dirt, dust, and smudges (though it’s easy to clean off).  This isn’t necessarily a problem in the commercial kitchen, but if you have customer-facing equipment, then you may have to make extra efforts to ensure that the equipment is dirt and smudge-free so as not to detract from the experience.

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