Although there are electric units, the majority of broilers are gas powered.
Broilers are most often used to cook meat at temperatures ranging from 550 degrees F up to 700 degrees F.
Gas models, which are the most common, have burners every foot and provide Btus ranging from 40,000 to 50,000.
Broilers range in size from a 24-inch countertop unit up to a 72-inch floor model for high-volume applications. These units typically are available in 12-inch increments.
Foodservice operators can choose from over-fired and under-fired units. Over-fired broilers consist of a big drawer, tray or grate that is slid under the heat source. Because these units create more of an enclosed environment than under-fired units, heat is retained to produce hotter temperatures.
Under-fired broilers are more commonly used for greasier foods, such as burgers, that may be more of a problem in an over-fired environment. Units with a high Btu rating offer the same searing effect as over-fired units, but at a higher energy consumption. Built-in salamanders on some models can be used for browning, warming or melting cheese, offering additional flexibility.
The majority of broilers provide radiant heat and include an angled metal or cast iron component to help protect the burner. Although cast iron is more commonly utilized, radiants also are available in a heavier gauge stainless steel.
Ceramic stone and lava rock are other heating elements that are not used as often due to the extensive maintenance required. This type of broiler is more common in open kitchens.
Infrared heated broilers also are available as an option. The burners on these units are located below a glass surface, which offers added protection from grease and food debris.
Broiler grates are available in cast iron, stainless steel with welded construction and carbon steel. Some gas units provide adjustable grates, which can be placed at different distances from the heat source to control temperature settings from different products.