Commercial Certifications – Demystified
When purchasing cooking equipment and cookware, something often considered when buying is what certifications the product has or doesn’t have. There are four main certifications that are found on these items which are Energy Star, NSF, ETL, and UL.
It is important to consider products with varying certifications for many reasons. For example, the city in which your kitchen operates may require you to use an NSF listed piece of equipment per their regulations. Alternatively, perhaps you are looking to save on utilities and are in the business for the long-term causing you to seek Energy Star equipment which will grant you savings due to higher efficiency and lower energy cost.
Energy Star is unique from the other three as, at face value, it presents the most savings opportunity and value. If an item is Energy Star certified it will be more efficient than its competitors and, while some certified items may be more costly than their inferior counterparts, it also tends to consume power more effectively resulting in a long-term saving. This is important to consider because, in some items, you can in a relatively short period of time make the difference in price back in utility savings and not needing maintenance as frequently.
This efficiency is important because kitchens and restaurants can be extremely energy intensive, sometimes using about 5-7 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings.
Not only is it of Energy Star’s interest to help you be more efficient with your kitchen and, in doing so, save money, they also wish to help protect the environment by encouraging the use of energy-efficient equipment. This is in part due to the labeling program of Energy Star being managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
NSF, ETL, and UL have different goals in their labeling than Energy Star. Instead of looking for the items that are most efficient and environmentally friendly options, they focus on testing items to ensure that standards for public health protection are upheld and that they are fit for use in the production of food intended for human consumption or fit for use in an environment where food intended for human consumption is produced.
Something to Note
All 3 (NSF, ETL, UL) continually retest and have follow-up inspections to make certain items produced uphold the standards set forth.
Really the one difference to concern yourself with between the three is the agency handling the inspection. NSF is conducted by the National Sanitation Foundation. ETL is conducted by Intertek. UL is done by Underwriters Laboratories.
Many tend to be drawn to NSF, when choosing between the 3, as it is represented by a bigger and more reliable name but all of the three certifications are held to very similar standards and tests making them somewhat interchangeable.