Ranges are multipurpose pieces of cooking equipment that serve as a staple in most foodservice operations. A range top often is the most used piece of equipment in a kitchen cook line.
Operators can choose from different types of commercial ranges, including those that vary in widths, features and configurations. These units most often include both a range top and a base.
The type of range that best suits an operation will vary depending on volume, menu, etc. Restaurant or cafe ranges handle light-duty applications. Typically freestanding, medium-duty ranges may come with standard and convection oven options. Heavy-duty ranges have similar features but have sturdier construction that allows them to stand up to higher volumes and heavier pots and pans. Operators also can utilize heavy-duty models configured and customized as island suites.
The four most common range types are open burner, hot tops, griddle tops, graduated hot tops and French hot plates. Griddle tops range in size from 11 inches wide to 72 inches wide. Hot tops facilitate easier movement of pots on range tops.
Specialty ranges, including tabletop, stockpot, Chinese and taco, are custom models created for specific applications. Some operators seeking energy efficiency have turned to induction ranges. This type also keeps the kitchen cooler since it doesn’t emit heat.
Electric and gas ranges offer different burners. Gas ranges, which are available in 4- to 10-burner units, have open burners with Btus ranging from 25,000 to 260,000. It’s the burner’s grate bowl design that determines how efficiently heat gets to the cooking vessel. Electric ranges utilize tubular metal elements containing resistance wires. These are covered with protective hot tops or French plates and come in 208-, 240- or 480-volt models.
Ranges are available with one or two ovens underneath. Oven thermostats range from 150 degrees F to 500 degrees F.
The standard width of the range top can vary from 12 inches to 72 inches. They usually come in 12- or 18-inch increments, depending on the equipment and requirements. Most range manufacturers market their units in 3 sizes: 24, 48 and 60 inches. Restaurant ranges typically measure 24 to 72 inches, while heavy-duty units generally measure 32 to 36 inches per section. A hotel profile range with a 32-inch base provides more firepower in a smaller footprint. Bakery-depth models accommodate pans both vertically and horizontally.
Many models come with 6-inch adjustable legs to ensure a level stance. The bases can be mixed and matched to fit under the chosen range top. The most popular oven size is 36 inches. Anything smaller may only be practical for smaller operations.
Most manufacturers construct ranges of steel or stainless steel, often 16 gauge. Some models also feature enameled surfaces for an enhanced appearance. Range grates offer welded steel or cast-iron construction.
Sealed burners may be easier to clean. Some units feature removable components for easier cleaning. Insulated burner boxes can enhance efficiency. And heavy-duty baffles, which can help ensure an even heat flow, are also available. Units are available with electronic ignition burner systems instead of standing pilots, which saves on energy use.
Other options include a variety of shelving sizes, such as a stainless-steel tubular high shelf or double high shelf. A rearward-extending flue riser is also available to increase the overall depth of a range to match an existing deep cooking battery. One range line features ceramic fire bricks under the griddles and hot tops that retain heat for faster recovery, better energy savings and increased productivity. Manufacturers have also designed burners that resist clogging.