Types: A commercial range typically features a range top and a base. Restaurant or café ranges handle light-duty applications. Heavy-duty ranges are constructed of sturdier materials that allow them to stand up to higher volumes and heavier pots and pans. Heavy-duty models can be configured and customized as island suites. Medium-duty ranges are typically free standing and offered with either standard or convection ovens. A variety of specialty ranges — such as tabletop, stockpot, Chinese and taco — are custom models created for specific applications. Induction ranges are also available. While most ranges have six burners, operators can choose between four and 10 burners. Temperature capabilities of range burners can run from 475 up to 600 degrees F.
Capacities/Footprints: The standard width of the range top can vary from 12 inches up to 72 inches, usually in 12- or 18-inch increments. Most range makers market their units in three sizes: 24, 48 and 60 inches. Not surprisingly, restaurant ranges are smaller (24 to 72 inches) than their heavy-duty counterparts (32 to 36 inches per section). 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.
Energy Sources: Electric and gas models offer different burners. Gas models have open burners and provide Btus ranging from 25,000 to 260,000. The burner's grate bowl design determines how Btus are directed to the cooking vessel. Electric units come with tubular metal elements that hold resistance wires. These are covered with protective hot tops or French plates. Models are routinely available in 208, 240 or optional 480 volts. Induction ranges have also become more popular in recent years. These ranges only use power when pots are positioned on the cooking surfaces.
Manufacturing Method: Most manufacturers construct ranges of steel or stainless steel, often 16 gauge. Some manufacturers are trying to design stainless steel out of their products to lower product cost and as a result may not offer standard stainless steel side panels or bottoms. Some models also feature enameled surfaces for enhanced appearance. Range grates offer welded-steel or cast-iron construction. Manufacturers construct heavy-duty models in sections, which leads many professionals to refer to them as sectional or modular ranges. They also come with up to six burners, while restaurant models can have 10 to 12.
Standard Features: The variety of options and designs makes ranges flexible enough to offer features like a variety of cooktops, overhead salamander broilers and fryer units. The four most common varieties of ranges are open burner, hot tops, griddle tops and graduated hot tops.
New Features/Technology/Options: Cleaning and energy efficiency are probably the two biggest areas of focus. In some units, components are removable for easy cleaning, and heavy-duty baffles are specified to help ensure even heat flow. Many models are available with open-top or step-up burners, full-width or graduated hot tops, and/or full-width griddles or charbroilers.
Ranges may also offer casters, powder-coated colors, belly bars, brass accents and electronic ignitions as options.
Key Kitchen Applications: While the range top can be used for cooking, stir frying, grilling, sautéing, searing, boiling, broiling and more, the base can be used for baking, roasting, warming, and broiling (ovens), storage (cabinet bases) or refrigeration (refrigerated or freezer drawers).
Purchasing Guidelines: The quality and gauge of materials; usage of materials (stainless steel exterior panels may be upgrades instead of standard); features and benefits; oven capacities; warranties; and performance should be taken into account. If operators' menus require the use of large stockpots as primary cooking vessels, they will be best served by units with heavy-duty grates.
Maintenance Requirements: Keeping burners clean and free from food debris helps maintain ranges' efficiency. Gas and air mixtures need to be balanced. Staff can clean ordinary grime by using soap, water and a cloth, sponge or fiber brush. To clean baked-on food, staff should use a scouring pad or stainless steel wool to rub on a paste made of water and ammonia, magnesium oxide, powdered pumice or French chalk. Cleaning with wire brushes, files and steel scrapers should be avoided.
Food Safety and Sanitation Essentials: Most range models come with drip pans below the burners to snare spills and grease that should be removed as soon as possible.