To help determine what size cabinet suits the application and the necessary number of shelves, operators should take into account how much food will be held at one time.
Aluminum cabinets are more lightweight for transporting and delivery operations. Stainless steel is easier to maintain and clean with food spillage and is more durable to caustic cleaning chemicals. Both metals will dent and scratch over time. If a foodservice operator moves a holding cabinet frequently and for long distances, such as for off-site catering functions, heavy-duty models with larger casters are recommended. Some models place electrical components, controls and the water reservoir on top for quick and easy access.
Consider the types of food the unit will hold. Menu items requiring a moist environment, including meats and vegetables, would do better in a unit offering humidity control. Be aware of the foods’ holding duration. Humidifying units will require a water line hookup.
Analyze repair and maintenance costs for the unit. Some units feature removable air ducts or self-contained removable tops for easier cleaning.
Determine what model configuration works best in the operation, whether it is a mobile, reach-in, pass-through or undercounter unit. Door type — either solid or glass — is another consideration.
Decide if the menu requires more sophisticated electronic controls or if less costly manual controls will suit the application.
Good insulation can contribute to temperature recovery times, which plays a vital role in keeping food temperatures safe.
As with other types of equipment, operators should be familiar with state and municipal rules and regulations and how they affect the use of these items. For instance, conspicuous thermometers are commonly required in all hot holding cabinets where potentially hazardous foods are stored.
Those seeking energy-efficient units should consider Energy Star certified hot holding cabinets. These units often incorporate better insulation that reduces heat loss, offers improved temperature consistency within the cabinet from top to bottom, and keeps the cabinet’s exterior cooler for safe use. Energy-saving features include magnetic door gaskets, auto-door closures and Dutch doors.