Why UL Listings Matter: Commercial vs. Household Use Coffee Makers

UL listingsWhile writing a review for the popular Keurig B31 DeskPro Brewing System we noticed something odd – it’s UL listed as Commercial Use Only. Does that matter for those looking for a single cup coffee maker for home use? Yes it does.

Most small appliances have a UL listing mark, either on the box, in the user guide, on the machine itself or in some combination of locations. If you’ve been tempted to ignore it, don’t. This is your assurance that the product meets important safety requirements. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL)  is a trusted independent global safety science company that thoroughly tests products and determines whether or not they comply with important safety standards. If they do, they are “UL listed” (or rated) and carry the UL mark.

UL ratings are important because they are designed to protect your home and workplace, as well as the small appliances you purchase. It’s good to know that the coffee maker you’re considering is safe for where you want to use it.

The following information is specific to Keurig coffee makers, but it’s prudent to assume that it applies to small appliances made by any manufacturer – unless you are certain that the manufacturer says otherwise.

Keurig states on its website that its coffee maker warranties will be voided if the machines are used in any setting other than what it’s UL rated for:

“Because the commercial rating requires a more robust appliance it does not mean an appliance rated for commercial use is suitable for home use. The two UL standards in question; UL 197 “Commercial Electric Cooking Appliance’s” and UL 1082 “Household Electric Coffee Makers and Brewing Type Appliances” are mutually exclusive. Household use has some restrictive requirements not found in the commercial standards and vice versa. Power cord types, appliance portability, material flame ratings, and component certifications are areas where the two standards differ.

“Due to the differences in intended use and design between our UL listed commercial brewers and our UL listed household brewers, Keurig does not honor warranties on products used outside of the UL standard to which it was certified. This means, for instance, that a brewer verified to a UL standard for the household environment used in a commercial setting is not covered under our warranty.”

And, the converse is also true. Brewers certified for Commercial Use Only are not covered by the warranty if they are used in the home. Keurig also points out that your insurance coverage may be affected by using a coffee maker in an environment it’s not UL listed for, and that you should check with your insurance provider if you plan to do so.

Why UL Listings Matter

So, other than the warranty (and possible insurance issues), why should we care about the UL rating?

A product is certified for a specific UL listing once it has been thoroughly tested and proven to meet all the requirements for its intended use. Commercial wiring is different than home wiring, and electricity is pulled differently – consequently, appliances for commercial use will be wired differently than those for home use.

While there typically won’t be any problems, a commercial brewer used in an older home without up-to-date wiring may trip the circuit breakers and in rare cases could even start a fire. The coffee maker itself may eventually short out and stop working. Therefore, it’s important when selecting appliances for use in homes, apartments and some dorms (which share similar wiring systems) to select those that are UL rated for Household Use Only. Conversely, always choose a coffee maker that is UL rated Commercial (or Commercial Use Only) for offices and other commercial buildings.

Consequently, we encourage those interested in the Keuring B31 Deskpro for use at home to consider the Keurig Mini Plus instead. It’s rated for home use and has many benefits as a household machine that the commercial B31 does not.

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4 Comments on Why UL Listings Matter: Commercial vs. Household Use Coffee Makers

  1. I would like a very hot cup of coffee in the am. I had a Keurig 1 cup
    Mr.Coffee but it was not hot enough. When I added the cream it would be lukewarm. Now the Keurig leaks. I would like to buy another one, but one that brews really hot hot coffee. Can you advise.

    • Adele, my friend just purchased the K45 Elite and says the coffee is scorching hot, so you might want to look into one of those. Keep in mind, though, that cold straight-from-the-fridge cream will lower the coffee temperature substantially, regardless of how hot it is when it comes out of the machine. A cool or cold cup will also lower the coffee temp quite a bit (a problem many people have in the winter when the house is cooler). Can you let the cream warm up a bit before pouring it into the coffee? You may also want to brew a cup without the K-cup first, so that hot water flows into your cup and warms it up before brewing. Just dump the water out and brew your coffee into the warmed cup.

  2. Regarding college dorms, apparently it is not always the case that household UL listing is appropriate. My daughter heads off to college this fall, and the housing office says that only coffee makers that are UL listed for commercial use are allowed in the dorms. I found this page when trying to find out the difference between the two.

    • Thanks for that important feedback, Steve. Sounds like the best advice is to check with the dorm before making a purchase. I hope your daughter has a good year at college!

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