A Guide to Energy Ratings for Commercial Fridges and Freezers

Did you know, for independent supermarkets and hospitality businesses, refrigeration equipment is often one of the greatest contributors to energy bills? With Electricity prices rising in Australia now is the perfect time to understand how energy efficiency is determined for fridges and freezers.


Energy efficient products are a fantastic long-term solution to reducing energy bills and improving your environmental impact. It is now easier than ever to invest in energy-efficient refrigeration as government supported tools such as GEMS star rating allow for easy comparison of products to provide you with full transparency on what impact the appliance has not only on your energy bill, but if it is compliant with Australian regulations.


An image of a café owner looking at a bill and his laptop behind the counter.



The History of Energy Efficiency Ratings


The original method to calculate a unit’s energy efficiency was through the “Minimum Energy Performance Standard” (MEPS) which aimed to limit the maximum output of energy that may be consumed by a product while operating. It took the energy used divided by the display area of display fridges and freezers. While this gave valuable information, it did not consider variables such storage units which do not have a display area. E.g., a fridge with a solid door uses less energy than a display fridge with a glass door as the display fridge must work harder with less insulation.



GEMS Star Rating

Thus, the Australian Government’s Energy Rating authority has created a rating system called “GEMS” or “Star Rating” that allows consumers and businesses to easily compare like for like products with a rating from 1-10 stars.


By looking at two similar products’ star rating, it provides a more accurate picture of the cabinet’s electrical consumption for a specific cooling capacity. A higher star rating means it’s more energy-efficient and will save you money on electricity bills over time.



GEMS Compliance

From 2021, manufacturers must comply with GEMS standards to reduce energy. However, the reality is, many manufacturers do not register their products with GEMS, despite it being a legal requirement and can still be sold on the Australian market.


It is best to purchase a GEMS certified product in Australia as it gives you certainty that the unit has been tested under rigorous Australian standards.


An easy way to know if a unit is not compliant is if the unit has no GEMS rating. You can check if it’s GEMS certified by searching for the brand or model on the Energy Rating website.



A screenshot of the Energy Rating website search results with "Star Rating" circled in green.



Other factors to consider when comparing energy efficiency of commercial fridges

When comparing energy efficiency for commercial refrigerated cabinets, it’s essential not to rely on the star rating as the sole factor.



Temperature Class: M Pack Temperature

The temperature class or “M Pack Temperature” of the cabinet is crucial and should also be considered. The temperature class tells you the range of temperatures the cabinet is designed to maintain.


This is critical because different products need to be stored at specific temperatures to remain safe and fresh. Choosing the right temperature class ensures your products are stored correctly and prevents any food safety issues or spoilage.



A screenshot of the Energy Rating website search results with "m pack" circled in green.


Guide on M Pack temperature ratings

M Pack TemperatureCabinet TypeTemperature RangeSuitability
M1Fridge -1°C to +5°C Perishables
M2Fridge -1°C to +7°CNon perishables
H1 Fridge+1°C to +10°COnly suitable for storing pre-chilled non perishable goods
L1 Freezer-15°C -18°C Perishables
L2 Freezer -12°C -18°C Non perishables

For businesses, it’s crucial to consider both the star rating and the temperature class together. You want a cabinet that not only saves energy but also meets the temperature requirements for the products you intend to store.


Finding the right balance between energy efficiency and temperature suitability will help you make an informed decision and choose the best refrigerated cabinet for your specific needs.



Energy Consumption

The Total Energy Consumption (kWh/24h) is the best figure to consider when calculating how much energy the unit will use over time. It shows how much energy the unit uses over 24 hours period. A lower energy consumption means lower energy bills in the long run.



A screenshot of the Energy Rating website search results with "Total energy consumption(kWh/24h)" circled in red.



If you’d like to know how much electricity it will use over a year and, ultimately, what it roughly will cost you to run it, there’s a simple calculation to do. Just multiply this number by 365 to get the yearly energy consumption. Next, take this result and multiply it by the electricity rate from your provider – you’ll find this information on your electricity bill.


For a quick estimate, you can also use average electricity price for your state from this helpful guide by Canstar Blue.


Let’s apply these principles to see the difference.



A tale of two hospitality customers: let’s compare the two

Henry and Steve are both restaurant owners looking to update their upright fridges. They both require a glass door so they can display and easily access their produce. Henry purchases a standard single glass door fridge whereas Steve opts for a Bromic GM0690LB. Both these fridges are uprights with a single glass door.


Let’s compare the performance:




An image comparing two upright display black fridges side by side with captions "Standard single glass door vs Bromic GM0690LB."

Performance comparison

MeasureStandard Single Glass Door Fridge*Bromic GM0690LB (GM690 BLK)
M-pack Temperature M1 M1
Volume (Capacity)420L 659L
GEMS star rating4 stars7 stars
Energy consumption 7.5kWh/24h3.995kWh/24h
Energy cost per year based on an average $0.20 per kWh, with 24 hours of use$547.5 $288.35

As you can see, Steve’s research in comparing all the factors to determine energy efficiency has paid off. He has determined his required M-pack temperature, volume requirements and purpose. Steve’s fridge has a much higher GEMS star rating and energy consumption, saving him a hefty $259.95 across the year.



A person smiling with arms crossed standing in a cafe behind the counter.


*Figures taken from a popular brand’s unit available to purchase in the Australian/NZ market.



Government incentives offered to businesses

The good news is, the Australian government offers incentives and rebates for businesses to invest in energy-efficient commercial refrigeration to make your transition to becoming greener, easier.


NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS)

Rebates of up to $2,000 are offered for businesses that upgrade their existing refrigeration equipment to make it more energy efficient. Also, a free fridge is offered to eligible businesses that replace their old, inefficient fridge with a new, energy-efficient model. Learn more here.



Victorian Energy Upgrade and ACT Business Energy & Water Program

Rebates are offered by the Victorian Energy Upgrade program and the ACT Business Energy and Water Program for businesses that upgrade their commercial refrigeration equipment. Learn more here.



Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)

The ERF offers grants to businesses that invest in energy-efficient technologies, including commercial refrigeration. Businesses must submit a proposal to be considered for a grant. Learn more here.



Better for the environment, better for your bottom line

Now that you have a greater understanding of energy efficiency terms, you can compare units in the Energy Rating with ease. The most important thing to remember is to firstly determine the requirements you need for your fridge. Once you have decided on the application, determine whether the manufacturer is compliant with a GEMS star rating check, then look at the M pack and energy consumption to determine which unit best fits you. By taking in the whole picture, you can make a better-informed decision, saving you costs and feeling secure that your equipment is compliant with government regulation.


Looking to upgrade? Contact the Bromic team to discuss our range of commercial refrigerators and freezers to find the most appropriate energy efficient product for your needs.


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