Gas ranges are the modern cook’s best culinary friend. By integrating the world’s most effective cooking equipment into a single, stainless-steel appliance, the gas range is the throne upon which sit the versatile kitchen’s most diverse dishes. The best of ranges can do it all: Bake, fry, warm, boil, broil, grill, sauté, and simmer. Kitchens that provide more specialized cuisines can also avail the utility of ‘specialty’ ranges, such as wok and stockpot ranges. However, this range of features can both diversify and confound your choice – do you need a restaurant range or a heavy-duty range? What should its hood space be, how many burners should it have, and how do they vary with your menu? In this article, we discuss the most important features of gas ranges to help you make the best choice for your kitchen.
Surveying the Range
The commercial range exists in many forms across the world given the mass utility of its two most common components, the humble stovetop and oven. However, classified broadly according to their size and usage, there are three types of major commercial gas ranges:
1. Restaurant Range: A ubiquity in the mid-sized commercial or community kitchen, a restaurant range is the less industrial answer to the heavy-duty commercial range. Capable of serving no as many as 100 patrons at a time, the restaurant range can have widths between 20” to 80”. While providing the integrated functionality of heavy-duty commercial ranges, the restaurant range brings easier maintenance, lower power costs, and unbeatable ease of use to the budget-conscious restaurateur.
2. Heavy-Duty Commercial Range: The best equipment for intensive and long-term use, the heavy-duty commercial range is made out of heavy metals to endure greater temperatures and grease. The heavy-duty range also consumes more energy per burner than other ranges, thus making it the most expensive and energy-consuming choice of all ranges in this list.
3. Specialty Range: Specialty gas ranges are designed to cook particular cuisines according to their most prevalent temperature and cookware specifications. The most common specialty range is the ‘wok specialty range’, designed to cook Asian and stir-fry dishes in commercial kitchens. This is followed by the ‘stockpot range’, a short-range popular most for its compatibility with cookware for soups, stocks, and broths. While specialty ranges can consume more power, their optimized designs make them an excellent addition to the cuisine-specific kitchen.
What Makes a Good Commercial Gas Range?
In commercial gas ranges, stovetops or rangetops make the upper half of the appliance, while the base comprises the lower half. Rangetop surfaces can be made of burners, charbroilers, griddles, salamander broilers, cheese melters, hot tops, or a combination of these options. Commercial range bases can include an oven, a refrigeration unit, or a cabinet.
Rangetop configurations can vary depending on your kitchen’s needs. For example, a B&B may need a ‘combination surface’ where equal space is shared by a griddle and burners, while a fast-food restaurant would require a large chargrill and virtually no separate burners to conduct its business. A few configurations that are best mixed and matched to accommodate your kitchen’s requirements are discussed below:
Burners: As focused sources of heat whose temperatures are user-controlled, burners are best for frying, stirring, stewing, boiling, and poaching food. Given the range of burner-compatible cookware, an only-burner rangetop is the best choice for an up-and-coming establishment still acquainting itself with its volume. While the number of burners on a common rangetop can vary from 6 to 12, this number also depends on the range’s width.
Chargrills: Chargrills, or charbroilers, consist of a series of burners placed under a grate, and are used to cook grilled food.
Salamander Broilers: Best when low on space, salamander broilers are an add-on option for rangetops that provide high heat to cook meat with a crispy finish.
Cheese melters: Similar in design and make to a salamander, cheese melters are used to melt cheese, toast bread, or reheat food to its original texture and crispiness.
Griddle: Made of aluminum, stainless steel, or the popular cast iron, griddles are flat or grooved surfaces that are perfect for burger patties, omelets, pancakes, and more.
Hot tops: Hot tops are flat surfaces with a heat gradient, where the temperature increases as dishes move closer to the center. Similar in design to a griddle but in functionality to a burner, hot tops can be induction, gas, or simple electric-based cooktops.
Ranges are typically between 20” and 72” wide. The width of your range will directly influence your configuration options and the hood space required. The latter further depends on your state regulations.
An oven base: An oven base can either be a convection, standard, or space saver oven. While a convection oven includes a fan to evenly cook food, space-savers are designed to occupy as little space as possible in budget-friendly ranges.
A refrigeration unit: A refrigeration base provides cold storage and can be a great addition to a refrigerator, especially when low on space. A refrigeration unit can also make cold ingredients readily available with its easy accessibility when short on time.
A cabinet base: Storage bases are either great standalone storage options for the base of your range or can be added to an oven or refrigerator base configuration. Much like a refrigerator base, a storage unit provides additional storage and easy access to ingredients.
While some countertop ranges may not include a base, a full-size range usually includes one (or more) of the above base options.
Gas Vs. Electric Commercial Range
Commercial ranges are available in gas, electric, or the increasingly popular induction-powered variants. Though choosing between the gas and electric range may seem tough, some stand-out differences can make your decision more straightforward:
The gas range heats up instantly and provides complete control over the rangetop’s temperature adjustments. This is due to their open flame and quick cooling capabilities. While gas ranges do require a gas connection, kitchens that have existing hook-ups can avoid the setup costs associated with installation. Also, gas costs are sometimes lower than electric costs, and the long-term expenses with a gas range are thus lower than that of an electric range. Their dependency on gas alone also frees your kitchen from being power-dependent, and outages will not adversely affect your business under a gas range. Most professional chefs prefer gas ranges due to their quick heating and cooling abilities and visual indications of heat.
Electric ranges provide easier installation options than the gas range and are much easier to clean due to their flatter surfaces. However, electric ranges, while being energy-efficient, also cost more than gas ranges and are slower to heat or cool. Also, a backup generator is usually necessary to avoid losses during outages.
Our Top 5 Commercial Gas Ranges
Chef Buyer offers several excellent commercial range options for savvy and novice buyers alike. Whether you’re looking for the perfect commercial gas range for your brand-new kitchen or are on the fence about your choice, our online catalog has some of the best cooking equipment the industry has to offer. Here are our 5 favorite commercial gas ranges, ranked according to their popularity:
Garland US Range U36-4G12R Restaurant Gas Range with 4 Burners
This popular cooking range integrates 4 open-top 184,000 BTU burners with a 36” wide standard oven. With cast-iron grates 12”x12” over each burner and a porcelainized oven cavity, this popular model integrates excellent durability with compactness.
Cooking Performance Group Garland US Range with 2 Standard Ovens
A Liquid Propane-powered gas range with 10 iron-grated burners, this model includes two standard ovens whose versatility is only rivaled by their spaciousness. The range includes a back shelf, adjustable legs, and removable grates.
Admiral Craft BDGR-6024G/NG Black Diamond Range with Griddle
Another Cooking Performance bestseller, this model replaces 4 of 10 burners with a sturdy and flat-surface griddle. Perfect for fast-food restaurants and diners, the range has a total BTU of 30,000.
Garland C0836-7M 36” Commercial Range and Modular Base
The C0836-7M is a 36” wide range packed with the power of 6 burners and a quickly-heating standard oven with a 36” cooking cavity.
Garland U.S Range C0836-24AM Cuisine Series Heavy Duty Range
Garland’s Cuisine Series most popular model is 24” wide and includes a charbroiler and a fixed cast iron grid assembly. With a total BTU of 72,000, the range comes with a modular base.