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Is my new stainless-steel fridge second-rate?

07 August 2008

I've just bought a new stainless-steel fridge. It was reasonably priced but not a giveaway. Now someone has told me that as a magnet can stick to it, it's second-rate and isn't going to last. Have I bought a pup?

Your fridge is made using ferritic stainless steel, rather than a chromium- or nickel (austenitic)-based stainless steel. Ferritic stainless steel is highly corrosion-resistant, but less durable than austenitic grades. Unlike austenitic, it's also magnetic.

Seeing whether a magnet stuck to a fridge - or other stainless-steel equipment - used to be an acid test of quality. If it did, it was substandard.

However, while it's true that ferritic is not of such a high quality, these days it's increasingly accepted as a perfectly suitable alternative for the food service sector, not least because it's a lot cheaper to produce. Most good quality food service equipment will have a life expectancy of up to about 10 years - a ferritic-based stainless-steel fridge should easily last this long. If they're not using ferritic throughout, some manufacturers are using it for less exposed parts of the equipment, such as back panels.

It's important to check that the grade of stainless steel is up to the job you want it to do.

For more advice

Visit www.cesa.org.uk and click on the link "CESA Buying Guides". For energy-saving advice click on "CESA Energy Saver".

If you have a question on equipment, send an e-mail to enquiries@cesa.org.uk

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