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Gas vs Electric Equipment: Which Fits Your Kitchen Better?

Gas vs Electric Equipment: Which Fits Your Kitchen Better?

As you go through the process of building or upgrading your kitchen, you’ll inevitably run into a big question: Should you go for gas or electric? The answer is not always the same, but 

will depend on several factors unique to your operation. The first step to finding the answer is to evaluate what each type brings to the table, which is what this blog will help you with.

Below, we’ll get into the finer points about each equipment type and take a look at how some of the most common cooking equipment using gas and electricity can produce different results. Knowing the differences between gas and electric equipment can help you make an informed decision in purchasing foodservice appliances.

1. Initial cost

Which is cheaper, gas or electric? Many focus solely on this aspect of the gas vs electric range debate. It is no secret that investing in kitchen equipment can be costly, and many try to stretch their pennies when it comes to deciding what to get. While upfront cost no doubt plays a massive role in your purchasing decision, it is certainly not the most important factor. It only constitutes one part of the equation in terms of overall costs, which we also discuss in the next two sections below.

As far as upfront costs go, electric appliances tend to be at a lower price point than their gas counterparts due to the fact that electric equipment merely need an outlet to plug it in. Conversely, gas-powered equipment will need a natural gas source and line installation, making it a bit pricier out of the gate. While this may save your initial overhead costs allowing for allocation of funds to other areas of your kitchen, you’ll also have to look at costs in the long term by taking into account the rates and the efficiency of each equipment type.

2. Electric and gas rates

While electric appliances may be cheaper initially, their gas counterparts take the cake when it comes to rates and prices per BTU. While the advantage is only slight, the exponential summation of the costs for a larger commercial kitchen can be substantially different between gas and electric rate costs. For this reason, it may be worth the bigger investment in gas from the beginning as the savings over time could null the purchasing cost argument.

3. Efficiency

While you save money per BTU when using gas based on rate prices, taking into consideration whether or not you’ll need to use the same amount of BTUs for a job when using gas versus electric is important. Electric appliances tend to be more efficient, as gas-powered equipment will lose some of its energy as vapors escape. With electricity, all energy is converted directly to heat. Also consider the indirect impact of this, as research tends to show that the escape of vapors and heat in gas appliances means a hotter kitchen. This results in your ventilation and air conditioning setup working harder to cool it, therefore bumping up your utility costs.

4. Heating speed and power

Gas cooking equipment uses flame to deliver heat, which you can adjust using a control knob. Electric cooking equipment, on the other hand, comes with electric coils or heating elements that can also be modified using a knob or thermostatic control.

Gas appliances heat much faster and can reach much hotter temperatures. The knobs on a gas-powered appliance means you can control the intensity of the heat as well, making for a more accurate cooking control. The flame lights immediately, so there’s no waiting time to heat up the coils as you would have to with an electric appliance. On the other hand, the cooling speed for gas appliances is quicker as well, as when you dial the appliance to ‘off’, the flame is immediately extinguished. For electric counterparts, the coils need to cool, making for a hotter ambient temperature over a longer period of time.

5. Portability

As we’ve mentioned before, gas appliances will need to have a natural gas line run directly to the equipment. This means that it will be more difficult in the future to move that appliance, as you’ll need to reroute your lines. Electric equipment can be shifted and moved so long as you have an electrical socket nearby.

Gas vs Electric By Type of Equipment

Gas and electric equipment deliver different types of heat, which will have an impact on the finished product. Depending on your recipes, one will be better suited than the other. 

The fuel source also affects the recovery time of the equipment. In many instances, speed takes precedence in cooking. You want to have a lot of customers, but not a pile-up of disgruntled ones. So you would want to go with the equipment that will help you fulfill orders in the shortest time possible. Also as important is the frequency in which the equipment will be used. If your oven or range is going to be on the entire day, you might keep the utility costs low by using gas.

So it is essential that you anticipate your needs, set your priorities, and analyze what is best for your menu and your staff. 

1. Gas vs Electric Range

Ranges come with an oven and a cooktop. Unless the unit is a dual-fuel type—one that has a gas cooktop and electric oven—both components will use the same fuel source.

There are two types of ranges based on production capacity: restaurant and heavy-duty. A restaurant range is engineered for lighter workload while its heavy-duty counterpart can handle more demanding tasks. Both are available in electric and gas configurations.

Gas ranges are generally preferred in the commercial setting because they can turn the heat up or down quickly. Electric units will take a bit of time to increase or decrease the temperature of the coils.

2. Gas vs Electric Oven

The oven will undoubtedly be one of the most used pieces of cooking equipment in a commercial kitchen, so it is important to find the most suited unit for your recipes.

If you are cooking dishes that require great attention to detail, you want precise control over the temperature and other settings to create the perfect cooking environment inside the oven chamber. Based solely on this, gas ovens could be the better suited option because they allow you to adjust the size of the flame in increments on the fly. Changing the temperature of an electric oven in the middle of baking may prove a little difficult and less convenient because temperature change will not happen instantaneously.

Convection ovens are generally electric-powered because they utilize a fan motor for increasing airflow inside the cooking chamber. Foods where you want a little crispness, crunch, or texture such as when roasting and broiling, will benefit from the dry heat produced by an electric oven. A gas oven might be more suited for juicy meat recipes and anything where you want to keep the savory juices of food intact.

3. Gas vs Electric Pizza Oven

If pizza is central to your menu, deck ovens will surely have a place in your kitchen. Because the impact of the fuel source on taste is discernible, choosing between gas and electric will have a lot to do with the type of pizza that you make. So make sure to really think about what will serve your recipes and techniques best. 

Gas-powered deck ovens produce moisture and humidity as a result of combustion. Electric ovens deliver dry heat and extended cooking time that might be the better choice for cooking pizzas with a lot of toppings, where you want to reduce moisture. 

4. Gas vs Electric Cooktops

The difference between gas and electric stoves and cooktop you'll find have a lot to do with the production capacity. Low-capacity units and countertop models typically use electricity because they will be easier to set up and will not consume high amounts of energy. Larger models are typically gas-operated so you can cook large batches at a time quickly and without generating very high energy costs.

If you will be cooking diner staples or breakfast favorites throughout the day, griddles will play a big part in your production. Gas-powered units might have a bit of the edge here when the priority is to keep costs lower. They have excellent recovery times that will make a difference in a fast-paced kitchen.

Induction griddles make for another compelling choice because of its use of electromagnetic energy. These units have been tweaked for enhanced recovery time, lower energy consumption, and greater temperature precision compared to standard electric griddles. 

You want to be able to maximize the entire cooking surface of your griddles, and electric griddles might fare better at that because they heat more evenly and maintain the temperature consistent throughout the cooking zone. This means no cold spots and hot spots are produced. Electric griddles, at least those with thermostatic controls, also take the win when it comes to precision. They give you the ability to set the exact temperature, which goes a long way in cooking breakfast items.

When it comes to charbroilers, most of what you will find uses gas. Electric units are available, but they are typically for low-volume use.

5. Gas vs. Electric Fryers

Much like ranges, gas-operated units are typically relegated to the heavier work, although it is not always the case. There are floor model fryers in both electric and gas configurations, but you will notice that there is a larger selection of the former. Electric units dominate the countertop segment because they are compact and easy to set up. They are perfect for whipping up a few orders of fried dishes.