Removal of crumbs and thorough, regular cleaning are essential to ensure toasters remain sanitary. This is especially true of conveyor toaster models, which may handle products with toppings such as cheese, meat or vegetables.

Types: Two basic varieties of commercial toasters exist: pop-up and conveyor. Low-volume operations preparing smaller-sized food items, such as waffles or bagels, tend to use pop-up models. Higher-volume operations tend to use conveyor units, which can accommodate larger-sized breads, croissants and specialty bread items.

Capacities/Footprints: Conveyor units offer much greater capacity compared to pop-ups. Depending on the number of slots, a pop-up toaster is limited to producing 150 to 380 slices of bread per hour. Conveyor models can handle 350 to as many as 1,800 slices per hour. The footprint of a typical pop-up model generally measures 10” x 10”. Available space will determine whether an operation's conveyor model should be vertical or horizontal. Vertical units generally have a 22” x 17” footprint and stand nearly 3” tall. Horizontal models usually measure 14” x 22” and are typically no taller than 16”.

Energy Source(s): All varieties of toasters require single phase electricity, ranging from 120 to 240 volts. Bread is toasted with infrared radiation from heating elements. The elements are usually metal coils, though some makers use quartz.

Manufacturing Method: Stainless-steel construction adds durability and helps prevent rust. High-temperature insulated wire can help ensure longer operating life, while high-temperature bearings require little or no lubrication. A factory-installed cord and NEMA-standard plug are usually included. Some toaster makers also offer chrome-plated steel construction. Others offer damage-resistant, etched foil elements. When included, solid-state sensors automatically adjust toasting times.

Standard Features: Conveyor models can include simple conveyor belt speed controls, individually adjustable top and bottom temperature settings, an energy-saving “standby” mode, an automatic cool-down feature and front or rear-exit operation. Other features include air-cooled solid-state controls, damage-resistant heating elements, stainless-steel construction and a one-piece, removable stainless-steel crumb tray. Some conveyors offer extra-tall toasting chambers. The number, width and length of slots on pop-up toasters are available in various configurations. Slot opening sizes generally range from 1 1/8” to 1 1/4” wide. Some controls turn off heating elements not being used in order to conserve energy and maintain product integrity. Removable side panels allow easier access to a unit's mechanics and “cool to the touch” exterior materials help to prevent burns.

New Features/Technology/Options: Some conveyor toasters pair infrared technology with convection air and conveyor support. This parabolic design focuses heat on the product as opposed to its surroundings, saving on energy usage and reducing kitchen heat. Products like sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pizza and pretzels can be prepared quickly because the heat is focused on the food.

Key Kitchen Applications: Toasting breads, rolls, buns, muffins, bagels, frozen waffles and similar items.

Purchasing Guidelines: Despite the fact that toasters are relatively simple tools familiar to almost everyone, operators should not overlook the optional features. Browning controls are an often-useful option. So are “shade” controls that monitor heat to assure toasting consistency.

Maintenance Requirements: Some manufacturers insist that operators bring units in for service, while others will arrange work on toasters where they are installed. Depending on usage rates and models selected, this could prove a critical difference for operator customers. Since toasters are cooled by having air flowing through their electrical areas, employees must not operate a unit without the side or rear covers being in place. If the conveyor chain touches the top surface of the crumb tray holder, it must be re-tensioned by first unplugging the unit, removing both side covers, loosening front-bearing mounting screws and pivoting the bearing until the chain no longer touches.

Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: Removal of crumbs and thorough, regular cleaning are essential to ensure toasters remain sanitary. This is especially true of conveyor toaster models, which may handle products with toppings such as cheese, meat or vegetables. Staff should keep moisture away from heating elements. Some models come with a nonstick, Teflon ®-coated return chute.