Commercial Gas Cooking Equipment: Current Status and Future Directions


Commercial cooking is the fourth largest commercial gas end-use in the United States, accounting for roughly 10% of gas consumed in the commercial sector or approximately 0.219 quads annually. In recent years, a number of high efficiency cooking technologies have been developed. Notable among these are infrared fryers, infrared griddles, clamshell griddles, direct-fired convection ovens, combination ovens, and power burner or jet impingement range tops. Energy savings for these options are estimated at 25% to 40%, much greater than untapped opportunities in the residential market. A number of other promising technologies have been developed and tested in the laboratory (eg; pulse combustion fryers and griddles, vent dampers) but have not been manufactured or else were marketed for a while and then withdrawn, apparently due to a lack of interest in the marketplace.

Despite the high savings potential among available technologies, market penetration of this equipment is still quite low, generally 10% or less of current shipments. The primary reason for this is the fact that first cost is the overriding factor for the end-user. Another major deterrent has been the lack of standardized rating systems which makes it impossible for end-users to compare the operating costs among different options. This deficiency is in the process of being rectified' through an unprecedented industry-wide effort. Other market barriers include lack of dealer motivation to sell high efficiency equipment, and exaggerated concerns over the unreliability of the new technologies.

Results of a simplified economic analysis indicate that paybacks for high useage applications range from 2 to 6 years with 5 years typical. By comparison, paybacks for average usage cases range from 4 to 9 years with 7 years typical. Unfortunately, paybacks in these ranges are higher than most commercial customers are willing to accept. As a result, rebates, standards or other approaches may be necessary to improve current penetration. The most likely candidates for rebates are forced convection range ovens, power burner ranges, jet impingement ranges, infrared fryers, infrared griddles, and possibly clamshell griddles or combination ovens. If pulse combustion technology becomes available, rebates for it should also be offered. Several measures could benefit from local testing and/or demonstration projects, including the clamshell griddle, the power burner or jet impingement range top with convection oven base, and vent dampers or intermittent ignition devices used as retrofits. Field tests to generate accurate data on typical energy use and load shapes of the major types of commercial cooking equipment are also recommended. In addition, an information service on high efficiency equipment options should be developed for equipment vendors, designers and end-users.

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Commercial Gas Cooking Equipment: Current Status and Future Directions