Dependent vs. Independent Commercial Oven Doors
The commercial convection oven is typically one of the workhorses of a commercial kitchen, so it is important to find the right model to meet your needs. A variety of options is available, including analog and digital controls, and porcelain and stainless steel liners, but one of the most-handled parts of the oven, the door or doors, will have a major impact on how you use and interact with your unit. From the handles to the construction of the doors, each manufacturer has door options to meet your commercial kitchen's needs.
Dependent vs. Independent
One of the most important things to know about your oven doors in terms of operation is whether they are dependent or independent. Some manufacturers offer both options, while others may only offer one.
Dependent doors are connected by a mechanism that causes both doors to open when one is pulled. Many models so equipped only have a handle on one of the doors. The convenience this design can provide is preferred by many users in high-volume kitchens because it allows for more efficient workflows and enables users to gain access while carrying a pan. However, the mechanisms used to connect the doors in these models can wear out or malfunction under heavy use, which can prevent the doors from opening or closing at all, rendering the oven useless. While manufacturers are constantly working to build stronger, longer-lasting systems, moving parts are always susceptible to such stresses. Dependent doors come standard on most Southbend, Blodgett, Baker's Pride, Alto-Shaam, and Garland ovens, and are an option from Vulcan.
This design includes two doors that operate independently, so each of the doors has its own handle. Because these doors don't require the mechanism that dependent doors rely on, they are often the more cost-effective option. The doors can be opened individually, which can help the oven retain more heat and recover faster if you only need to open one to check product or work with fractional pans. Since there is no mechanism connecting the doors, there is less chance they will malfunction. However, if you typically work with full-size pans, loading this type may require you to set the pan down, since you might need both hands to get full access. Independent doors come standard on Duke ovens, and are an option from Vulcan.
Additional Door Options
Whether your oven doors are dependent or independent is one of the most important decisions to make about your commercial oven, but there are other options to consider. Below are some additional commercial oven door options to consider.
- Glass vs. Solid: While the majority of oven doors have glass windows, solid doors are also available. Solid doors are more energy-efficient, but glass windows allow you to see inside during the cooking without having to open the door and let heat out. Some models also offer a half-and-half option, where only one door has a glass window.
- Handles: Commercial ovens with independent doors always have two handles, but many dependent doors only have one. Plastic and stainless steel handles are available, with most of the metal handles being hollow to prevent them from absorbing too much heat and help keep them cool to the touch. Some economy models may have shorter handles, but full-length handles are preferred by many operators because they find them easier to grasp from any angle.
- Gaskets: Stainless steel gaskets are the most common option in commercial ovens, though some manufacturers also offer additional sealing, such as a steel rope gasket. These additional measures can help maintain a seal if the stainless steel gasket becomes bent.
- Door Catch: The type of catch an oven door has can have an impact on how easy it is to open and close the door, and how secure it is once closed. A plunger-style catch is the most common, and while they provide a firm latch, they can be more difficult to open. Other ovens use a roller latch, which allows doors to open and close more easily.
- Hinges: The type of hinges on the commercial convection oven will help determine how durable the door is, as stronger hinges should hold up to more use, including door slamming that is common in commercial kitchens. The type of hinge will also determine if the doors are removable. Removable doors are easy to clean and to replace if they become damaged.