Published on Sunday, 30 June 2013
Written by The Editors
Convection ovens remain popular pieces of cooking equipment because of their versatility. These units can bake, rethermalize and roast large quantities of food product. These units use fans to circulate heated air around a cooking cavity.
Available in either a gas or electric format, a single convection oven can take up as little as 10 square feet and operators can choose to double stack them.
Convection ovens come in 3 standard sizes, including full, which means cavity dimensions can accommodate 5 or more standard 18-inch by 26-inch sheet pans; bakery depth, which can hold a standard sheet pan in either direction; and half-size, which has a cavity that holds a half-size sheet pan.
Full-size convection ovens can come with single or double doors. Double-door ovens are available in two formats: independent, with doors opening separately; and dependent, where both doors open and close simultaneously. Programmable controls allow staffers to pick pre-set time and temperature menu settings, utilize cook-and-hold features and utilize individual rack timing features.
Fully insulated synchronized doors, which open together, may feature cool-to-the-touch handles. Other standard features include stainless steel door seals; double-pane thermal glass windows; two-speed fans with high and low settings; interior lights; porcelain interiors with multiposition, removable rack guides; and mechanical dial controls, including cool-down functions and continuous ring timers.
- Foodservice operations that require general purpose baking or roasting represent suitable candidates.
- Convection ovens can handle a variety of menu items, from vegetables to delicate baked goods to meats.
- Operators frequently use convection ovens to rethermalize frozen food products.
- Consider energy consumption. What matters most is that the unit effectively and efficiently transfers the heat to the food product without excess energy loss. If reheating cold food, understand the recovery rate. One thing to keep in mind is that a higher Btu rating equates to higher energy bills.
- Location of the unit's controls is a factor. That's because oven controls are sensitive to hostile kitchen environments. Many kitchens are not designed with this in mind, and ovens are oftentimes located with their controls up against an extremely hot griddle or right next to a grease-spewing fryer.
Specifying Mistakes to Avoid
- Do not overlook ventilation requirements.
- Understand the menu applications. For example, in some instances gentle baking requirements may be necessary.
- Confirm the mechanical requirements of the convection oven. Verify gas type, electrical voltages and control needs.
When to Replace
Ovens are fairly simple machines, and it is not unusual for a well-maintained oven to last 20 years as long as replacement parts are available. Here are three signs it might be time to replace a convection oven.
- Cost prohibitive: When a single service call and replacement parts equal 40 percent of the cost of a new oven or this causes excessive downtime, it is time for a new oven.
- Damage: If there is structural or frame damage, including rust and broken elements, replace the oven.
- Obsolete parts: The unavailability of replacement parts, discontinued parts or models signifies the unit is out of date and replacement is imminent.
- Regularly check the condition of the unit's controls.
- Refrain from using caustic cleaners, such as scouring powders, when cleaning the inside of a convection oven.
- Regularly clean air-intake openings
- New standards for Energy Star-qualified convection ovens go into effect on January 1, 2014. The required idle energy consumption rate will drop from 12,000 Btu to 11,000 Btu or less.