The commercial range selections you have will first be filtered by whether you want to install gas or electric. The commercial gas range is more popular thanks to higher BTU ratings, and its ability to provide more precise and instant temperature regulation. A commercial electric range is generally chosen when gas is not available, when electricity is cheaper than gas per unit, or due to the specific room or building not allowing proper venting for a gas commercial stove top.
The array of choices in ranges is staggering. Between the four most popular brand choices - American Range, US Range, Vulcan Hart Range, and Southbend Range - there are literally thousands of possible combinations available.
Commercial Range Top Products
Note on terminology: Ask an experienced chef for advice on a restaurant stove or an industrial stove and you will most likely get a raised eyebrow. A restaurant professional would typically refer to this type of cooking equipment as a commercial kitchen range or an industrial range, and would never call them industrial stoves.Gas Range or Electric Range?
If both electric and gas are available, you may factor in utility costs or environmental factors as you choose between them. Additionally, gas provides more powerful heating and is more responsive, since turning the knob immediately increases or decreases the flame's intensity. If you are in an area where gas or electricity is much cheaper, cost may influence your choice. In general, studies show utility bills for gas kitchens are lower in most parts of the United States, though kilowatts are cheaper in areas like the mid-South, where TVA subsidizes the cost. If you have renewable electricity available to you, this may guide your choice.Spark Ignition
Getting a spark ignitor is a common option that we recommend for establishments with a gas range. This electric component produces a spark that lights the gas burner if it is turned off or goes out. These can avoid the necessity of a pilot light or needing to light the range with a match when a burner goes out. Burning a pilot light takes, on average, 200 to 300 BTUs per hour, which means you're burning that much gas 24 hours a day, all year.LP Gas Ranges vs. Natural Gas Ranges
Gas users will also need to choose between LP gas and natural gas. The choice will usually be dictated by what is available at your restaurant or institution, with cost usually breaking the tie if both are. Many ranges can be changed by a trained technician from propane to natural gas or the other way. Before purchasing, make sure you understand the exact specifications for the range you are looking at and which fuel you plan to use. Our consultants are happy to advise you on this choice.Burner and Griddle Configurations
Ranges can be configured in multitudinous ways to ensure you get the cooking equipment you need, whether that means 12 burners, a griddle, or any of a number of specialized top options. Your menu and chef's style will be the best determinants of your configuration. If you typically use stock pots and saucepots, then you'll want a unit with plenty of burners, both regular-sized and larger. If you cook eggs or burgers, you'll likely want some griddle space. The number of configurations may seem infinite and confusing. If this is your first commercial kitchen setup, please call and talk to one of our consultants who has helped countless customers just like you set up the kitchens that will best serve their needs.Griddle Decisions
If you have infrequent griddle orders and need to heat the griddle up fast with minimal fuel, a thinner griddle will be better. If you are throwing down cold meats like frozen hamburger patties at a rapid pace, then you will want that grill on your range to be thicker so it will hold heat better and won't cool as much during usage, even through an onslaught of frozen or cold food.Restaurant Ranges vs. Heavy-duty Ranges
A heavy-duty range has a higher BTU rating and is built to stand up to high-volume usage, with more durable materials and a stronger design. Heavy-duty ranges are typically the best choice for institutional settings and restaurants that serve thousands of dishes a day. Those models will typically be 36 inches wide and are usually installed in a battery with other ranges and cooking equipment. Keep in mind these will typically have the gas intake in the front of the unit, so they can be connected in a cook line set-up.
Heavy-duty ranges offer customizable cooktops that you can gear toward a specific application. With a heavy-duty range, you might add 12 inches of griddle right next to a french top, a graduated burner with different heat zones and a removable plate that can expose an open burner. With a restaurant range, you get what you get straight out of the catalog without a lot of customization available.
Restaurant ranges are better-suited for lighter-duty usage in places like mom-and-pop restaurants and places like churches that only use it occasionally or for portions of the day. Also called medium-duty ranges, these come in a myriad of sizes, from 20- to 72-inches wide. There are an option of bases for restaurant ranges, including standard, convection, and space-saver ovens, as well as storage.
Both types of range provides versatility unmatched by other cooking equipment pieces. However, that diversity comes with a drawback: The commercial range requires more involvement than those other options. The specialized nature of those other pieces means they're more forgiving in their cooking, while ranges require constant, hands-on attention.