What Type of Heat Lamp is Best for Your Restaurant
What Type of Heat Lamp is Best for Your Restaurant?
For most restaurants, heat lamps are an unfortunate necessity - and in some cases, they would be impossible to avoid. Heat lamps do exactly what the name suggests. They are high-powered hot light bulbs designed to provide enough heat to already-cooked food to keep it pleasantly warm and ensure there's no chance of the food spoiling.
Food warmers are, of course, most necessary in situations where you're running a buffet - although the type of warmer used will vary depending on the application. However, almost any restaurant may have the need for a heat lamp from time to time, even if just to keep a main course warm while the sides finish up, or vice-versa.
What heat lamps are available? When are they appropriate? Let's find out.
When Should You Use A Heat Lamp?
Heat lamps are best at maintaining the temperature of foods for relatively short periods of time, usually no more than an hour and preferably less than that. They are particularly effective on foods that are relatively thin andor have a wide surface area to catch the thermal radiation.
However, heat lamps have a major drawback: they create a very dry heat and, as such, will slowly dry out any food placed under them. Therefore, they are unsuited for maintaining heat over long periods, as they will slowly desiccate the food. Additionally, they will not work on foods that are too thick or dense - the heat won't penetrate far enough to keep the middle at a safe temperature.
Types of Heat Lamps: Strip Warmers vs. Bulb Warmers
Fundamentally, there are two types of heat lamps available, strip warmers and bulb warmers. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks depending on the application.
Bulb warmers are what people generally think of when they think of heat lamps. These are economical high-powered lightbulbs tuned to put out a lot of infrared energy, which are placed directly above the foods being preserved. Many also serve a dual purpose, as they can light the foods as well. They can even come as portable, free-standing units that are perfect for catering.
Bulb warmers can work well on buffets if the food isn't left out for too long. They're also great for applications like warming French fries. However, they do have a relatively low energy output and each bulb can only warm one item.
Strip warmers, also called strip heaters, utilize either one or two heating elements in a strip, making them excellent for heating several plates at once. For this reason, they're much more commonly seen in the kitchen than in the front of the house.
They can also output much more heat than bulb warmers, with high-end options like ceramic or halogen-based models, capable of pumping out a lot of heat.