Types: Operators can choose from many varieties of ovens but among them all, conventional or range, convection, impinger and deck or stack ovens such as pizza ovens are among the most widely used. The conventional or range oven, named as such because it sits beneath a range top, is a workhorse in many kitchens. It is built to roast, bake and sometimes hold foods. Convection ovens use fans to circulate heated air around a cooking cavity. Conveyor ovens use a belt to transport foods through a cooking cavity where hot air may be blown onto products cooked by upper and lower heat sources. A deck or stack oven includes multiple cavities, one on top of another. A pizza oven is basically a stack oven set for higher-than-ordinary temperatures ranging between 300 °F. and 650 °F.
Capacities/Footprints: Range ovens can accommodate standard-size sheet pans on one or more adjustable racks. A single convection oven can take up as little as 10-sq.-ft., or double-stack for increased productivity and space savings. Decks in a stack oven are generally 8” or 12” tall.
Energy Source(s): Gas or electricity power range ovens. Most gas range ovens are built with a capacity of 40,000 Btu. End-users can also order convection ovens in either a gas or electric format.
Manufacturing Method: Range ovens, in general, feature double-wall, heavy-gauge construction. This works to distribute heat evenly. Insulation is critical to maintaining heat; most makers recommend at least 2” of rock-wool insulation. Convection ovens come in three standard sizes: full, which means cavity dimensions can accommodate a standard 18” x 26” sheet pan; bakery depth, which can hold a standard sheet pan in either direction; and half-size, whose cavity can hold a half-size sheet pan. The decks in deck ovens are made of ceramic or stainless steel. Electric deck ovens have two sets of heating elements, one on the top for broiling and another on the bottom for baking. Each element has a separate heat switch. Each deck in a pizza oven, also known as a hearth, is comprised of two 1”-thick ceramic pieces or one 1” piece of steel.
Standard Features: Synchronized doors (which open together) that are fully insulated and feature “cool to the touch” handles. Other features widely offered as standard include stainless-steel door seals; double-pane thermal glass windows; 2-speed fans with high and low settings; interior lights; porcelain interiors with multi-position, removable rack guides; and rotary controls, including cool-down functions and continuous ring timers. Full-size convection ovens can come with single or double doors. Double-door ovens are available in independent (doors open separately) and dependent (both doors must be opened together) models. Programmable controls allow staffers to pick pre-set time and temperature settings.
New Features/Technology/Options: A new bakery depth convection oven from one manufacturer offers a deeper 39” footprint. Pans can be loaded in left-to-right or front-to-back positions, allowing for increased production. Another model includes a reversing air system and state-of-the-art controls that offer faster recovery and more even and accurate baking. The list of relatively new options for conventional ovens is long, and includes heat-treated glass doors, adjustable casters, side-mounted controls, more accurate infinite-heat controls and insulated handles.
Key Kitchen Applications: Range ovens provide a large-volume, dry-heat cooking process. Deck ovens are usually found in operations in which space is limited and production needs are great.
Purchasing Guidelines: Operators seeking an oven primarily to execute baking applications, for example, should select models that can add moisture/humidity during a cooking cycle.
Maintenance Requirements: Gas and electric deck ovens each come with flue vents in the rear that must be maintained. With convection ovens, maintenance challenges can come from solid-state touch-pad controls, since employees may use too-long fingernails or even sharp implements to punch numbers into the keyboard. Caustic cleaners such as scouring powders should not be used to clean the inside of a convection oven. Instead, staff should use a mild detergent on the exterior.
Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: One feature that operators should look for in convection ovens is ease of cleaning. Some ovens have easy-to-remove shelves and shelf supports that require no tools for adjustments.