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.
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.
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.
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.