The commercial microwave is vital to nearly every food service operation. To get the most bang for your buck, you'll want to select the right microwave for your intended use.
The two most important factors to consider when shopping for a commercial microwave are its wattage and the level of usage you require, and these two factors are closely related.
The higher the wattage, the faster the microwave will cook. For example, a dessert that takes 30 seconds to cook in your current 1000W microwave might only need 12-15 seconds in an 1800 watt model!
So how does wattage relate to usage?
If you operate a small coffee shop or restaurant and only occasionally use the microwave to warm a muffin or heat up a cup of hot chocolate, a light duty model will be fine.
For busier operations, you'll be able to save a lot of time by purchasing a heavier duty model with more wattage. Since higher wattage microwaves can cook products faster, if your restaurant is growing or you want to increase your output, selecting a microwave with a higher wattage than your current model can have a dramatic impact on your kitchen's efficiency. Take a look at this chart to see what we mean:
Here's a specific example, showing approximate cook times for a baked potato. Any microwave can do the job, but ask yourself how much output you need!
In the groupings below, keep in mind that although some of the suggested uses for the microwaves are the same, the difference is in the degree of usage!
Light Duty Commercial Microwaves (1000W)
These basic, easy-to use light duty commercial microwave models often take the place of a residential model in many food service operations. Light duty commercial microwaves are best suited for usage levels of 50 times per day, at:
Wait Stations: warming desserts, rolls, soup, hot beverages
Medium Duty Commercial Microwaves (a few 1000W, 1200W-2000W)
Our medium duty commercial microwaves have many of the same features as the light duty models. Because their wattage may be higher, they'll be able to get the job done faster. Their components are also engineered for more continuous usage, between 50 and 150 times per day, at:
Wait Stations: warming desserts, rolls, soup, hot beverages
Heavy Duty Commercial Microwaves (1000W to 3000W+)
When it comes to packing the most punch for their size, heavy duty commercial microwaves take the crown. Their higher wattage enables faster cooking speeds while they're engineered to handle constant, heavy use. Heavy duty commercial microwaves are often used upwards of 200 times per day, for:
Kitchens/Back-of-the House: steaming lobster, shrimp and vegetables, defrosting or boost-heating entire entrees like lasagna or macaroni and cheese
Quick Serve Restaurants: high speed, high volume heating of entrees and portions to maintain fast turn times
Cafeterias: quickly heating large portions on-demand to eliminate waste
With advances in cooking technology, several manufacturers have developed hybrid microwaves that either combine several cooking technologies or are engineered for one specific task.
The main advantage of these types of units is that they are able to greatly speed up the cooking process, delivering the same quality results that in the past could only be achieved by using a traditional convection oven or combi oven. Another advantage--most models come with a UL-approved catalytic converter system to capture steam, smoke and grease particles, meaning you can truly use these ovens just about anywhere--no hood required!
Panasonic's Sonic Steamers -- while you can steam in any microwave, these high wattage Panasonic models excel because they are specifically sized to accept two full size 4" deep steam table pans! As a result, they are much less expensive and much more versatile than a traditional steamer -- there are no special water hookups or ventilation requirements to consider! And the food quality is just as good!
Amana's MXP22 High Speed Commercial Combination Oven blends convection, radiant, and microwave cooking to toast, bake, and crisp foods in seconds! It features a compact footprint, and does not require a ventilation hood! The MXP22 can prepare delicious toasted sandwiches, French fries, chicken wings, par-baked pizzas, and more, many times faster than conventional cooking methods.
The Amana MCE14 Convection Express combines convection and microwave cooking methods to quickly prepare anything from frozen dinner rolls and frozen bread dough to appetizers like onion rings, jalapeno poppers and chicken wings!
The TurboChef SOTA high speed oven's compact footprint and high speed output make it popular for quick-serve, sandwich shop, and coffee shop applications. Blending microwave and impingement air cooking, it can make mouthwatering toasted sandwiches in a fraction of the time of conventional methods. You can store up to 256 recipes for one-touch operation and consistent results.
TurboChef's Encore model brings side-launch microwave heating, plus impingement heat and a bottom browning element to prepare anything from breakfast sandwiches to toasted subs, and even pizza in a minute or less. Like the SOTA, you can store up to 256 recipes for worry-free operation.
The Tornado 2 toasts, browns, crisps and heats food with ease, up to 12 times faster than regular cooking methods. While this model uses microwave bursts, impingement air, and a blower motor like many other rapid cook ovens, it boasts an independently-controlled bottom browning element for additional control over the cooking process. It stores up to 128 recipes for repeatable results.
TurboChef's i3 and i5 models cook foods rapidly like all of these hybrid ovens, but can also cook with metal food pans--not something every rapid-cook microwave oven can do! Sharing many of the same features, the i3 is a slightly more compact version of the i5. Both utilize microwave energy plus top and bottom air impingement for fast results. Both can store up to 200 recipes.