If you’ve shopped for foodservice equipment, you probably have noticed that in each listing its power type is discussed. Whether it be gas, manual, or electric, knowing what powers the equipment helps operators design and configure their commercial kitchen.

Similarly, most of our listings will break down the electrical information. You’ll see terms like volts, watts, amps, hertz, and plugs. It doesn’t make much sense though for anyone who hasn’t been in the industry or worked with electricity. For clarification, we decided to write this blog.


Before covering definitions, however, we would like to be upfront with you. It is important to consult with a construction team, an electrician, or an engineer to determine the amount of electricity and power your facility can handle. Discuss with them whether updates are necessary to power the equipment your establishment needs to accommodate the demands of your menu. It is important to get advice.

With this in mind, we do want to give definitions of terms. It will empower you to discuss these concerns with consultants in an informed way.

Amps - the measurement of the electrical current.

Volts –the power that moves the current from the source of electricity to the equipment.

Watts – the energy generated from the amps and volts. It’s the amount of strength that powers a unit.

Hertz – the number of changes in current directional flow per second.

Phase – the amount of power that a unit can be connected to.

Plugs – Obviously, the plug is what one puts into an electrical socket to begin this transfer of power. However, there are different types of plugs. They indicate which types of units, voltages, etc. can be paired with the electrical source. We’ll explain more.

Now that you have a brief description of each, we want to break down the math that’s involved to determine the numbers.

You can determine the amps by dividing the volts by the watts. So, watts ÷ volts = amps. Similarly, watts ÷ amps = volts and volts x amps = watts. They’re all connected.

If you see a product that says 50 hertz in its electrical description that means the current’s directional flow changes 50 times per second.


When you look at the plugs for your restaurant equipment, you’ll notice the term NEMA. It stands for National Electrical Manufacturers Association. They ensure that the numbers you see after it, like NEMA 5-20, are standardized across electrical units and with electricians. This ensures everyone is on the same page of what the numbers mean and what sort of electrical sockets can be used.

The first number, in this case 5, correlates directly to the amount of voltage the plug can withstand, the amount of power the cord can transfer to the unit. Five, for instance, means it can handle up to 120 volts. Six means it can handle 208 to 240 volts.

The 20 in our example above indicates the “amps,” or the electrical current, the plug, and cord can carry to the unit.

Not every piece of equipment will come with a cord or plug. This is because an electrician will need to inspect your kitchen to determine the voltage and amps your current plugs can tolerate.

Knowing the exact electrical information and what your building can manage is imperative. If you purchase a unit that is not compatible with your building’s electrical setup, the equipment will not work correctly. It may not even turn on at all. In fact, it can cause significant damage to the unit and, though it’s rare, result in fires.

We don’t want you burning down any buildings, so please check with an engineer or electrician if you have questions or concerns.

We’re always here to help. We hope this post has helped sort through some confusion. If there’s anything we can do for you, please let us know.

Call: 888.778.4815

Email: sales@deqonline.com