by Joe Ferri
In our “supersize me” culture, the natural inclination to more-is-better ill-serves us in commercial kitchen equipment purchasing choices.
When it comes to gas cooking appliances, btu’s and recovery figures are akin to the horsepower and torque numbers in automobile selection. You need both, and more of each is generally more better, if your volume requirements dictate it.
Years ago, I was asked to cost justify food service equipment’s value based on a cost per pound of the appliance. This was as invalid a measure of its worth as is a simple measure of the btu load is.
The rest of the story is that with modern equipment, engineers have been able of late to squeeze more efficiencies out of every btu input. This is important because it requires less fuel to cook the same amount of food, and where’s there’s greater fuel efficiency, there‘s also lower flue temperatures and the resultant lower air handling (hood and HVAC) requirements.
These combined, of course, will contribute to a greener footprint and lower overall costs, and greater throughput in the kitchen with less real estate and asset usage.
Many of the latest technological advances rely on simple recirculation of the products of combustion, re-firing them and/or using heat exchangers to maximize the potential energy contained within.
This is something that Ben Franklin was attempting to popularize with his famous Franklin Stove. Other innovations contributing to productivity gains in commercial appliances center on technology. Better and more accurate controls with narrower differentials (the band of temperature between cycle on and cycle off) keep the equipment closer to the cooking temperature setting.
In addition, the latest models will have lower “burner on” times, even at lower btu’s! Having the appliance at-the-ready equates to faster recoveries and more production capacity for fuel (and fuel dollars) spent.
Energy Star designations can be a good place to begin understanding the efficiency of commercial food service equipment.
In many instances, rebate dollars from local utilities are available to more than offset the slightly higher initial cost of energy efficient units. Like most areas in life, this is a pay me now or pay me later scenario.
The total cost of ownership should always be considered, and right now the equation is happily slanted towards better-producing equipment and away from commodity (read “cheap”) purchases.
Don’t let btu input be your only judge of appliance capacity.
As Founding Father and stove engineer Ben Franklin said: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.
The Greater New Jersey Society for Healthcare Food Service Administrators will be holding their fourth annual culinary competition, BBQ Ribs with ATTITUDE Competition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm. The culinary competition is focused on elevating the hospital foodservice brand, collaboration with the entire culinary and dietary teams, and having fun doing it. The focus food item this year is ribs. There will be 12 major medical centers, who will participate in the competition.
To learn more about this event, visit Greater NJ Society for Healthcare Foodservices website.