BTU is a unit of measurement often seen attached to the specifications of cooking equipment. But what do they represent, and what do they tell us about the product itself? Here, we answer some common questions about BTU, including what they are, where you can expect to see them, and why they’re important. 

What are BTUs? 

BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is the amount of energy that is needed to increase or decrease the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. 1 BTU equals 1,055.06 joules. Essentially, BTU is a unit of measurement that represents the amount of output gas-powered cooking equipment has (electric equipment measures output in watts)A higher BTU equates to equipment heating or cooling faster.  

BTU is equally important when discussing recovering time. Ovens need to open to put the product inside to cook. Of course. While the door is open, some of that heat is displaced and it takes time for the cavity to recover back to the temperature it was at before the door opened. The higher the BTUs of the element inside the oven, the faster that the cavity will recover and the faster that food will cook. This consideration is especially important for bakeries and high-volume restaurants where oven doors are frequently being opened and closed.  

The average residential range has 7,000 BTU per burner while the average commercial range has 30,000 BTU per burner. 

On what products can I expect to see BTUs? 

The BTU unit is commonly associated with cooking equipment like commercial ranges, gas fryers and charbroilers. The average BTU per type of equipment varies greatly – and the amount of BTUs needed for your equipment will vary depending on the application.  

Whatever your kitchen needs, Central makes it easy to shop by BTU. Where applicable, you can select the BTU power(s) you want to browse by on the left-hand side of the web page, and it will be present in the specification area of product descriptions. 

Why are they important and what do they mean for me? 

Product specifications can often be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers of commercial foodservice equipment. However, BTUs are an important unit to pay attention to because they offer perspective on expected production. It’s critical to keep the BTU in mind if you will be doing any cooking that requires high temperatures or fast recovery times. Essentially, you can read the BTU level as the higher the number, the higher the production. 

Higher BTU levels can never hurt production speed and quality, but some things to consider when shopping for equipment with higher BTUs: 

  • Uses more gas, so expect higher energy bills 
  • Increases amount of heat that it puts off 
  • Higher initial purchase cost 
  • Faster cook times and recovery 
  • Increase production and efficiency 

When in doubt, we’re always here to help! Give us a call at 800.215.9293 to speak with a knowledgeable product consultant.