Commercial Ranges

Ranges are one of the most prominent types of cooking equipment found in any commercial foodservice operation. Commercial ranges are popular for their simplicity and versatility, used for braising, sautéing, pan-frying, boiling, and simmering. Ranges come in a variety of sizes, styles and configurations to better address specific kitchen needs. To get started, it is important to understand the different types of ranges on the market.


There are technically three different categories of ranges:


Commercial specialty ranges include Chinese and wok ranges used primarily for stir fry dishes in establishments serving Asian cuisine, and stock pot stoves which are a smaller type of range with a limited number of burners used mainly for heating large stockpots of liquid. By far, the two most common categories are restaurant series and heavy-duty.

Restaurant Series Ranges Heavy Duty/Modular Ranges

Available in varying widths. Most units are either 24, 36, 48, 60, or 72 inches wide.

Typically come in one standard width, depending on the manufacturer. Usually between 32 and 36 inches.

Standard depth of 36 inches.

Depths can vary, but the most common is 42 inches.

Lighter construction. Some units are bolted together instead of welded like their heavy-duty counterparts.

Units are normally welded together to withstand more rugged applications, built to last longer under high volume and constant use.

Independent units that stand alone.

Designed to be banked together for a continuous line.

Each unit must be connected to the gas supply separately, with the gas manifold connecting to the rear.

Gas manifolds are in the front so they can easily be joined to other units.

Lower BTU output, usually ranging between 15,000 to 25,000 per burner.

Higher BTU rating for faster cooking, usually varying between 20,000 and 45,000 per burner.

Surface finish is normally painted.

Stainless finish is common for the front and sides.

Traditionally the more economical option.

Traditionally the more expensive option.

Oven BTU input is around 25,000.

Oven has a higher heat input, ranging typically between 35,000 and 50,000 BTU.

Please note, BTU (British Thermal Unit) is a unit of measurement common on gas-powered cooking equipment, referring to the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one-degree Fahrenheit. Traditionally, the higher the BTU, the higher the production output. For more information on BTUs, click here.


 

Top Commercial Range Manufacturers

Vulcan

Vulcan is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial cooking equipment with origins dating back to 1865. Vulcan ranges have won many Best in Class foodservice awards for their precision, versatile functionality and dependability.


 

Southbend

Southbend is committed to constant innovations in design and energy savings. Southbend ranges feature three different lines:

    • The Southbend Ultimate Range – five sizes, more than 1,200 configurations, with higher BTU output and High Efficiency Snap Action Thermostat.
    • The Southbend Electric Range – Available in standard, convection, and their signature TruVection base with several configurations to accommodate any kitchen space.
    • The Southbend S-Series Range – available with many top and base configurations, varying based on width, coming in 24”, 36”, 48”, and 60”.

 

Garland

Garland stoves are available in restaurant series or heavy duty. Their G-Series restaurant range is designed by chefs and engineered by experts, expanding the boundaries for creativity inside the kitchen. Garland’s heavy-duty ranges are built to last with the power needed to take all commercial kitchens to the next level.


 

Power Type

Ranges are available in both Electric and gas. Before committing to a specific range, it’s best to know how your commercial kitchen is outfitted and what adjustments will be necessary. For commercial electric ranges, know your voltage (208V, 240V, etc.) and phase hookup (single or three). Commercial gas ranges are available in either liquid propane or natural gas. If you’re opting for a gas range, it is important to know your gas hookup ahead of time.

Which one’s better? Gas or electric? For a lot of applications, it really is just splitting hairs.  Many claim the biggest added benefit of electric ranges over gas ranges is the extra layer of safety. Because they’re electric, there’s no need for a pilot light. Electric ranges are simpler to operate and generally considered safer, ideal for churches and school cafeterias who won’t be constantly operating their commercial range for consecutive days. Additional benefits of electric cooking equipment include:

  • Typically considered cheaper and easier to install. Some units will need to be hardwired into your building’s energy supply, while others simply plug into a socket.
  • There’s no danger of a gas leak.
  • Considered to be more efficient for certain applications because energy input is converted directly to heat, whereas with gas, the heat is routed through the flue.

Though the numerous benefits of electric commercial stoves should certainly be taken into consideration when navigating through the buyer’s journey, it’s important not to discount all the advantages of a commercial gas cooktop. Gas units are still the most popular in commercial kitchens, and for good reason. Some benefits of gas heating include:

  • Greater control over heat intensity.
  • Reduced wait time as the heating element heats up.
  • Quicker cool down.
  • Not inconvenienced by power outages.
  • Typically considered to heat faster than electric stoves for quicker turnaround.

Sizing

What size do you need? This is one of the most crucial questions to ask when outfitting your kitchen layout for any piece of commercial cooking equipment. For restaurant series ranges, the common widths are 24” (traditionally features 4 burners), 36” (6 burners), 48” (8 burners), 60” (10 burners), and 72” (12 burners). The larger the width, in theory, the more product you’ll be able to produce. You’ll want to consider how much product you’ll be cooking up during high volume rushes, and factor that in to the size (and how many burners you’ll need for a smooth cooking process). Standard depth, regardless of width, for restaurant series ranges are 36”.

You’ll also want to keep hood space top of mind. Many health codes require hoods to extend at least 6” beyond the piece of equipment. For instance, if you have a 60” hood, the widest range you’ll be able to place under it would be a 48”.

If space is becoming an issue, there are other options besides open burners. Griddle tops in lieu of open burners are popular among restaurants and diners specializing in breakfast foods. If you’re working with a menu with more variety, you’ll want to take into consideration the number of burners vs. griddle space to configure your unit into a specific, efficient solution for your particular business. Many manufacturers offer griddle options in 12” increments, and there are often “space saver” ovens as well, to help you make the most out of your kitchen layout. See more about popular configurations in the next section.


Range Top Configurations

Some popular range configurations that can help everyone customize their ranges to make the most out of their kitchen space given their specific needs include:

  • Open Burner/Grate Tops – the most popular of the range top configurations, these feature cast iron or steel framing supporting the pot or pan above the burner. They allow for more flexibility, accommodating several different types of cooking methods. They usually come with a removable tray under the grates to catch any spills for easy cleaning.
  • Hot Tops – also referred to as “uniform heat tops,” these steel plates typically range between 12 and 18 inches wide and ½ to 1 inch thick. The heat input is generally greater for hot tops than compared to that of a single open burner.
  • Graduated Hot Tops – similar to the hot top with either one, two or three concentric rings that may be specified to accommodate different size stockpots. The burners are designed and positionsed to heat the different rings, beginning with the center and moving out to match the base diameter of the stockpot. If a smaller pot is being used, only the inner rings are heated.
  • Griddle Tops – steel plates fitted over a section of the range, great for cooking a wide variety of foods like pancakes, breads and buns, bacon, hamburgers, chicken, etc. They transfer heat from the plate directly into the food. Griddles normally range in width from 12 to 36 inches. The thickness of the plate is important as it directly affects the cooking process, determining how quickly the desired temperature is reached. Medium-duty griddle tops are between ½ to ¾ inch thick whereas heavy-duty tops are typically around 7/8 to 1-1/2 inch thick. The thicker the plate, the longer the heat retention, more even the heat distribution, and the less likely to warp.
  • French Hot Plates – most common on commercial electric ranges, these round metal plates are traditionally 6 to 10 inches in diameter and designed to fit over the top of a burner. They are used in lieu of an open burner to provide a more even heat distribution and easier cleaning.

Oven Options

In addition to what’s on top, the base you choose for your commercial range can greatly enhance your cooking efficiency. Both conventional and convection ovens can be specified for placement beneath the top, or you can forego the oven for a storage base that will allow for much needed storage for pots and pans in limited kitchen spaces.

If you go the oven route, here are the need-to-knows:

  • Standard depth ovens – conventional standard depth ovens use a stationary, radiant heat source and fit pans that are up to 2-1/2” deep.
  • Bakery depth ovens – bakery depth ovens offer more space for bigger pans up to 4-1/2” deep! This is ideal for baking bread.
  • Convection ovens – as opposed to conventional ovens that have a stationary heat source that usually emanates from the bottom, commercial convection ovens feature a built-in fan to circulate forced hot air for a more consistent and efficient baking experience.

For more on commercial ovens, check out our oven buying guide.


Cooking Considerations

Ultimately, the cooking top and oven option you should opt for is entirely dependent on what type of cooking you’re looking to do. Here are our recommendations:

  • Open burners are ideal for pan frying, sautéing or boiling.
  • Choose a griddle top if you’re wanting to crisp, sear or brown.
  • A standard oven is the best bet for roasting or warming whereas a bakery depth oven is great for frequent baking.

 


 

Additional Range Options and Accessories

In addition to various cooking top and oven configurations, there’s a slew of other add-ons and accessories to help you get the most out of your commercial stove.

Broilers

Commercial charbroilers are great for getting those grill-like results in a commercial kitchen. Though typically ordered as stand-alone units, if kitchen space is limited, radiant broilers can be added to your range.

Salamander Broilers

Featuring an adjustable sliding grill, salamander units are best used generally for finishing foods and desserts. Used for melting, browning, broiling and caramelizing, they are typically mounted above the cook top on the back shelf of a range.

Cheesemelters

Though similar in functionality to commercial salamander units, cheesemelters are primarily used to melt cheese on top of products or brown au gratin dishes. They can also be used to quickly warm or hold plates for service. They have a lower BTU output than traditional salamander broilers, but are mounted the same – on a back shelf above the cook top.


Central offers an assortment of commercial ranges and range accessories from an array of manufacturers and at varying price points. View all now, and if you have any additional questions, call 800.215.9293 to speak with a commercial foodservice expert.