Although not considered a major piece of kitchen equipment
by some, commercial microwave ovens still hold a firm place
in many professional kitchens. They are ideal for safely reheating,
defrosting and finishing foods; creating smoother, more
efficient operations and saving time during busy services.
Understanding Commercial Microwave Ovens
When browsing available units don’t be fooled into thinking that a domestic model will fit the bill.
Although standard commercial microwaves may look similar to domestic alternatives, with a glass door panel and either manual or programmable controls, they are very different. Operating with a higher wattage, commercial products provide more even heat distribution, deliver safe results faster and are generally more durable than domestic models.
Types of Microwave Oven
There are typically two types available;
Commercial Microwaves are the industry standard and offer safe reheating and defrosting for foods. Using radio waves transmitting at a specific frequency, the molecules in foods are agitated. It is this movement which generates the heat required to allow cooking to occur.
- Combination Microwave Ovens perform the same operations as a standard design but also use hot air convection and grill cooking techniques to heat foods evenly inside and out. The micro wave element effectively penetrates the food, cooking from the inside, whilst the air impingement circulates the heated air to cook the outside. Food can be prepared up to 15 times faster using this simultaneous method of cooking. Units often look more like a compact oven than a typical microwave and, whilst typically with a silver finish can also, on occasion, be available with colour options.
Consider the intended use of your purchase and tailor your selection accordingly. If your demands aren’t great, a standard model should work just fine. For more complicated menus the combination alternative may be better suited.
Understanding Power Levels
Commercial microwave ovens are generally divided into 3 power brackets;
- Light Duty – 900W to 1100W – best suited to small cafes where equipment is not in regular use. Check out the Samsung CM1099 with 1100W output, 26 litre capacity and manual controls.
- Medium Duty – 1100W to 1500W – ideal in busy cafes and small pubs. Take a look at the Samsung CM1529 with 1500W output, 26 litre capacity and simple programmable controls.
- Heavy Duty – 1500W to 2000W – perfect in busy pubs, restaurants and hotels where units are in continuous use. You might be interested in the Merrychef HD1925 offering 1925W output, 2 magnetrons and 28.5 litre capacity.
*A domestic unit operates at around 800W meaning even the lowest powered commercial piece will outrun anything you will find in a domestic kitchen.
The power bracket you require will be dictated by how regularly you use the equipment, the speed of required operation and typical portion sizes. The elements of power and size are typically interlinked; the larger the unit, the more power is required to function.
While most microwave equipment is supplied with a standard 3 pin plug, combination pieces are generally available with either single or 3 phase power.
Features to Look Out For
- Capacity. Typically displayed either in litres or with the size and quantity of GN pans that can be accepted. Commercial microwave ovens will often have a static base instead of the standard turntable featured in domestic units. This reduces any potential obstructions during use and allows the entire floor to be used for heating, increasing overall capacity,
- The number of magnetrons or wave emitters. Light duty pieces may only have 1 magnetron as they operate with reduced power while heavy duty alternatives should have at least 2 to create more even performance.
- Programmable or manual controls. Standard commercial microwaves will have either manual or programmable controls. For lighter use, manual should be fine however for more complicated processes, programmable will be quicker and easier.
- Removable oven cavity liner. Look out for equipment with a removable liner. This allows for easy in depth cleaning.
- In built catalyst. Some high speed combi microwave ovens, such as the eikone3C, eikone5C, eikone4 and eikone4S, will have an inbuilt catalyst; this means additional extraction hoods are not required.
All commercial microwave ovens will have a warranty cover which will generally differ with each manufacturer. Look out for parts only or full warranties and the length of time the cover is supplied for. Less powerful units may state that they are only for light duty use only. Any subsequent heavy use of these products will void the warranty; the cost of any breakdowns being charged to the user.