Impinger Ovens & Conveyor Ovens: What's The Difference?

Impinger vs Conveyor Oven

If you look at our commercial oven categories category, you’ll notice a lot of similarities between the products in impinger oven and conveyor ovens. They’re mostly all simple-to-use, belt-driven ovens that heat food quickly and reliably.

Each type is also prized in pizzeria chains and other high-volume establishments because they’re easy for novice cooks to get the hang of and they can be used again and again with consistent results. Food is loaded onto a moving belt and the user sets the temperature and cook time. Once that’s done, little more attention has to be paid to the oven, especially if your kitchen is only producing one type of food, like pizza or baked pasta.

What’s on the Inside Counts

While most of the models will pretty much look like any other one from either category, there are significant differences. They aren’t apparent from the outside because they’re hidden in the cooking chamber, but you would notice them pretty quickly if you were to fire one of each up in your kitchen.

Traditional conveyor ovens rely on radiant heating, which transfers heat directly from burners or elements to the food getting cooked. That’s great for providing a consistently hot cooking chamber that can quickly and gently heat food.

While impinger ovens typically also employ radiant heating, they also bombard food with jets of hot, pressurized air from above and below. The advantage of impingement is that it can cook food more quickly. This addresses the problem of the cold air ‘halo’ that surrounds cooking food and resists the transfer of heat. In a radiant heating system, this halo gradually disappears as the food heats up. An impingement oven uses jets of hot air to break up that cold halo, penetrating food directly and immediately. This speeds up cooking significantly.

How significantly? Well, Lincoln, the brand that pioneered using impingement technology in conveyor ovens, has found the improved heat transfer cuts bake times by as much as 30 percent. Of course that means happier customers who get their food faster than they expect. More importantly, it means that production can be increased, which is huge in high-volume settings.

Which Oven is Best for Your Kitchen?

Each type is more appropriate for certain establishments. Impinger ovens are ideal in high-volume facilities that produce the same type of food back to back for several hours. For example, a commissary that prepares dozens of pizzas for lunch each day could benefit from the high-volume capacity of an impinger. Additionally, if your kitchen faces a big rush at lunch or dinner, this could help you meet it without having to cook things in advance and hold them hot.

When speed and volume are less critical, a conveyor oven will do the job with predictable results. If you’ll be baking breads, pizzas, and desserts throughout the course of a day, a conveyor is the way to go because it is easily adjusted and is predictably easier on foods. Light foods and batters don’t work well in an impinger oven because the jets of hot air blow them around.

While Lincoln was the first to put impingement technology in its conveyor ovens, other companies have followed suit and are using it in different types of ovens to speed up the cooking process. It’s used in deck ovens to enhance their ability to evenly cook items like pizza and bread. It also shows up in high-speed cooking pieces produced by TurboChef and Merrychef, where it’s paired with other technologies like convection and microwave cooking. So when someone mentions an impinger oven, don’t assume that means a conveyor oven, because the technology has grown to meet many needs.