Capacities/Footprints: Cabinet sizes on most commercial models range from 13” to 25” wide, 13” to 25” deep and 13” to 19” high. Usable cavity space generally ranges from .8- to 1.56-cu.-ft. Larger-size cavities can hold a 13” platter or two 4”-tall full-size steam table pans with covers.
Energy Source(s): Smaller microwaves operate on 120V larger, heavy-duty ovens require 208V to 240V. Microwaves power output is measured in watts. Most low-volume operations will receive enough performance from a 700-watt oven. Busier outlets are more likely to require 1600- to 3200-watt ovens.
Manufacturing Method: Stainless steel is the preferred material for cases. Adjustable legs are commonly chrome-plated, and powder-coated handles are a popular feature.
Standard Features: These include programmable memory pad selectors, multiple-portion touch pads, manual operation capabilities, a cycle counter to track oven usage, electronic timers with digital displays, see-through doors and lighted cavities. Removable or easy-to-clean air filters help reduce the effects of grease-laden air on oven components. Most microwave ovens come equipped with an automatic shut-off device to prevent overheating. Doors are required to have two independent, but interlocking systems that automatically shut off oven operations when a door is ajar. Doors also come with seals and absorbers to eliminate the chance of radiation leakage. Other features that some makers offer include Braille keypads, self-diagnostic capabilities, multi-stage cooking, bottom energy feed and drop down, counter-style doors.
New Features/Technology/Options: A new technology allows constant microwave energy to penetrate the foods center, which helps prevent overcooking on edges and surfaces. This also results in even food temperatures and textures. With this technology, microwaves are capable of cooking several dishes at once on two different levels at low to medium temperatures. The technology also keeps food warm in the microwave without overcooking. Another new feature offers heating elements with enough power to steam foods using lower level water pans.
Prime Functions: Microwave ovens cook, defrost, self-steam and reheat foods. Operators mostly use them with other types of cooking equipment to speed production and help keep ambient kitchen temperatures low.
Key Kitchen Applications: Taverns, casual-theme restaurants, banquet halls, hospitals, nursing homes and hotels use microwaves to defrost and rapidly bring foods back to the proper serving temperature. Many operators locate their microwaves near a form of refrigeration. This allows them to take pre-portioned and packaged food items and bring them up to proper serving temperature in such a manner that minimizes customer wait times and labor. Convenience-store foodservice operations employ microwaves to prepare frozen packaged products. Some end-users also use microwaves to steam seafood and vegetables. In general, microwave ovens tend to work well with any foods that are high in moisture.
Purchasing Guidelines: Microwave ovens do not require hoods, which can translate into a cost savings for operators. In addition, warranties on microwaves vary greatly from unit to unit, so end-users should work with their dealer salespeople to ascertain the appropriate levels of coverage. Endusers should also consider how they intend to use their microwaves ovens. For example, if the intended application is bulk defrosting then operators should consider a higher wattage.
Maintenance Requirements: Microwave ovens are considered electronic devices and as such they require cool air to keep them from overheating and to ensure they function properly, so they should not be positioned above a fryer or steamer. Never turn on a microwave oven if it is empty, since the unit needs to emit energy through product absorption. Spattered food left uncleaned will place a strain on an ovens heating element and disable a unit or shorten its lifespan. Seals and absorbers on doors should be regularly checked for radiation and maintained.
Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: Instead of holding food items at a specific temperature for extended periods of time, operators can pre-portion and package them and use their microwave ovens to rethermalize them in a relatively short period of time. This minimizes the risks associated with holding foods and helps provide a hotter, fresher product to the customer. Use of a food thermometer or an ovens temperature probe to verify that foods have reached their safe temperatures is recommended.