A Guide to Choosing Ranges
The first two types of ranges listed below are primarily what you’ll choose from, but the latter two are specialty ranges designed for certain cooking preferences.
Heavy Duty (aka ‘Master Series’ or ‘Modular’)
Designed to combine with other units with large gas connections to the front ends of the units. With thick gauges and heavier metals, these are built for heavy use and high volume outputs. Almost all configurations are available, from open burners to french top to griddles. The typical width per section is 34” and a few at 32”. These can be customized to almost and configuration.
The most common type, these are designed with durability in mind. They’re typically stand-alone units with widths ranging from 24”-72” and a gas connection in the back. They’re typically more affordable but have a less durable construction than the heavy duty models. Some manufacturers have developed Heavy Duty restaurant lines.
Specially designed with high BTU burners and a raised ring to support a wok.
Lower in height, these ranges are built specifically to support a large stockpot.
The size of your range not only dictates how much can be cooked at any given time, but it also determines the corresponding size of the hood vent you’ll need to purchase as well. While range sizes fall anywhere within 12” to 72” (in 12” increments), the most common sizes are 36”, 48”, and 60”. Keep in mind the following when deciding on size:
Menu: Multiple cooking preparations may require a combination surface while a restaurant serving primarily breakfast items may opt for a large griddle surface. Your menu will dictate how much needs to be prepared during rush hours on your range, but keep in mind that wider sizes can also allow for multiple users at once.
60” is the minimum space requirement to have two full size ovens. There are smaller units with two compact ovens. Be sure to check specifications.
Hood: With any range, you’ll need to also invest in a hood to vent out the fumes and fire system. The hood will most often need to extend at least 6” beyond the equipment. Check with local regulations first, and then figure out which hood will fit in your kitchen. This will likely dictate the largest size range you’ll be able to purchase.
Cooking Surface Configuration
Depending on your restaurant’s needs and menu items, there are several cooking surface configurations to choose from.
Gas Open Burner
As the most common option, gas open burners are versatile enough for a variety of cooking techniques. The BTU output generally ranges from 30k/burner to 35k/burner.
This configuration has a smooth surface which makes it easy to move around pots and pans without having to lift them from the unit.
Provide a softer surface that’s easier to clean with an even heat distribution.
A flat top with even heating distribution ideal for cooking items directly on the surface.
These can include burners and a hot top or a griddle with burners. You can do multiple types of cooking on one piece of equipment but all under one hood vent.
Once you’ve decided on type, cooking surface, and size, there are other additional features to keep in mind:
Base: You can opt for one of two types of specialty bases to improve the efficiency and space consumption of the footprint of your range:
Oven Base: These can be either a ‘space saver’ oven (20" wide by 26" deep) or standard oven (26” wide +). While these don’t heat as evenly as a convection oven, they may be a good option unless you do a lot of baking.
Storage Base: If you have a separate oven, then a storage base can open up extra area for storing items like pots and pans or kitchen tools.
Top only which can go on a refrigerated base
Electronic Ignition: While an electronic ignition removes the need for a pilot light in gas ranges, it does cost a little more up front in the initial purchase.
Casters: If you order casters for easier cleaning, be sure to also use a quick-disconnect hose with restraining device for safety purposes.
There are also several accessories to purchase in order to enhance your range:
Salamanders: These utilize infrared heat to cook anything from cheese to thick steaks.
Cheesemelters: As the name implies, cheesemelters use tube-type heating to provide a gentle heat suitable for warming or melting cheese.
Broilers: Built into the range top, these combine a raised griddle with a broiler underneath for finishing.