Oven Types

Ovens

Choosing the right oven for your operation is not always easy. There are a number of considerations that have to addressed up front. First, the oven will probably be your most expensive equipment outlay. Second, the type and style of your oven can ultimately affect the quality of your food and how efficient you are relative to customer service.

I am assuming here that pizza is one of the most important items on your menu, so I will skew in that direction. But keep in mind that any type of oven — deck, conveyor (impinger), wood-burning, rotating deck — has the capability of doing a lot more than pizza. I was consulting for a casual food operation in Philadelphia a few year ago and the owner did not want to buy a lot of equipment. I managed to cook hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, grill vegetables, potatoes (oven fries) and a lot more in a basic conveyor oven.

Answer these questions to make an intelligent buying decision:

• How much money do you want to spend (or that your budget allows)?

• How much space do you have for the oven?

• How many pizzas do you want to produce in an hour?

• What about the help situation in your area?

• Will you be able to find someone who knows how to work with pizzas in a deck or woodburning oven situation?

• What volume do you anticipate?

• Will your operation be table service, take-out, delivery? (Probably all three in most cases).

• Consider fuel source in your area. Do you have natural gas to power a gas conveyor oven? Or a wood-burning hybrid (gas assist plus wood)? If you are thinking straight wood-burning oven, do you have the space to store and stock the wood necessary for continuous operation?

• Consider the reliability of the manufacturer and the service he offers to back you up when something goes wrong.

Once you have addressed those concerns, talk to manufacturers to get answers to questions that might be peculiar to your situation. The asset that oven manufacturers give buyers today is that most of them has test kitchens, so you can go there and bake off a bunch of pizzas to determine if this is the oven you want to go with, one that does justice to the great pizzas you are about to launch on your hungry-for-pizza customers.

Now let’s look at several of the most widely used ovens in the industry today and create an understanding relative to pluses and minuses, along with a reasonable span of pricing for each type. Keep in mind that every manufacturer, regardless of style of oven, offers a range of sizes. Keep this in mind, especially so, when it comes to prices shown. One more thing: most every style of oven listed below can be purchased on the secondary market (refurbished, rebuilt or reconditioned at a much lower price than those listed. In most cases, these ovens will perform well (relate it to the purchase of a certified used car).

DECK OVENS

Price range: Single deck gas $4,300 – $6,795

Double deck gas $8,300 – $13,000

Single deck electric $3,500 – $4,200

Pluses: • Lower cost than all other types of ovens

•Very reliable

• Not many parts, so breakdowns are a rarity

• Produces excellent pizza

• Easy to clean

• Can be stacked to increase production

• Excellent versatility for cooking food other than pizza

Minuses: • Experience is necessary to produce consistently good pizzas

• Cooking times are affected by frequent door opening and closings (the temperature can fluctuate wildly).

CONVEYOR OVENS

Price range: $7,175 – $50,000 relative to single, double, triple stack, single belt, split belt, size.

Pluses: • Options galore as it relates to price, size, production

• A no-brainer when it comes to baking pizzas. Put the pizza on

one end of the belt and it comes out on the other end.

• consistency of finished product.

• Versatility for cooking foods other than pizza

• Fast heat up

• Unlimited production capacity

• Minimal fluctuation of temperature

• Split belt models allows for separate cooking times

Minuses: • Expensive relative to other styles of oven

• Can be difficult to clean

• Some models are noisy

• A belt malfunction puts you out of business until repaired

WOODBURNING

Price range: straight woodburning $5.500 – $12,000 *

Gas assist woodburning $8,000-$14,000 *

* Can go higher relative to installation, facing off or building in the oven.

Pluses: • Visually appealing. Offers a great look and is an asset to any operation, large or small

• Excellent versatility for cooking food other than pizza

Minuses: • Experience is necessary to produce consistently good pizzas

• Cooking times are affected by frequent door opening and closings (the temperature can fluctuate wildly).

Additional oven options.

Rotating or carousel deck ovens are similar to regular decks. By nature of its name, you understand that the deck (baking surface) rotates either like a Ferris wheel or a carousel. Less opening of oven door allows for consistent temperature range, so the energy efficiency is greater. Also, less experience is needed to produce a consistent product. The bottom line is that you can bake more pizza with less help with these ovens. Pizza prep from one side, cut and box from the opposite side.

Infrared ovens offer a technology that is quite interesting. These ovens are energy efficient, quiet when running, and will produce a consistently good pizza (think conveyor/impingement, but with infrared cooking instead of high velocity air). Prices range from $3,000 to $18,000.

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