Commercial Grade Ranges/Oven/Griddle combos. Any big differences?

Joined Mar 17, 2011
Hello.  I am on the market for a commercial grade propane 60" range/griddle combo with two ovens.  I have been focusing in on Wolf, Vulcan, and Garland, but am open to other suggestions.  I am hoping that some cooks/chefs with experience using such equipment can offer some assistance.  I have been reading similar posts for a couple of days now, and seem to have a pretty good handle on the matter, but my situation is a bit different, and may require some additional refining.  Here goes ...

First some background.  This oven is destined for a large home kitchen, soon to be also a weekend dining facility for maybe 12-15 guests if we're lucky.  It's primary function will be 3 meals per day for a large family and about half a dozen employees.  We live in South America (Argentina), and you can't get good equipment here.  You have to import it, which is what I plan to do.  My wife and I love to cook, and have always been disappointed with home ranges, as we feel they are underpowered, even when we lived in the USA.  Unfortunately, we've never used a restaurant grade range, so we have ZERO experience there.  An employee will also be using this piece of equipment, so it must be durable. 

There are no fire codes here, and even if there were, even the roof is made of concrete, so the fire issues are few and far between.  Nothing in the kitchen is made of wood except the door, and that can be replaced.

I can get strong fans and exhaust hoods locally, so this is not of concern.

I can get sprinklers and extinguishing equipment here so that is not of concern.

Although I realize that 60" is more than we need, if I have to ship something from the USA, I will have to pay a LOT of cash to ship it, another LOT of cash to clear customs in Argentina, and a few days of my time clearing it and delivering it once here.  So I don't want to go through all this trouble and money only to wish that I had gotten a larger unit.  Plus the two stoves are useful, as we can use one exclusively for baking and another for savory dishes, so the smells don't mix.  Also, if one need repairs, the second can act as a substitute.  Ditto for the burners.  FYI -  space is not an issue.

So after that tiring monologue, here are my questions:

1) It will obviously be difficult to get replacement parts shipped and installed.  Is any one brand known for being the most generic, such that locally available pipes/tubing/etc can be used to make repairs by any technician?  Is any one brand known for not breaking as often?  I would be buying a new unit. and so it would be nice to know which brands if any have gone under management/ownership changes recently, since that may imply a quality shift.

2) I hate electronics.  I would not easily be able to get a replacement.  I assume that all of the restaurant ranges are electronics free, am I correct? 

3) Insulation: are restaurant ovens not insulated at all, or are they just less insulated?  I am not concerned about clearances to cabinetry, just about fuel efficiency.  Do restaurant ovens have a gasket around the door to form a seal or are they just metal on metal?  Can additional insulation be added (is there a double wall in the oven with a space in between that I can insert insulation or is it just a single solid wall)?  I have access to SS welders here, so I could theoretically make an incision, install insulation, and re-weld if necessary.  Can a gasket be added to the oven door if it does not have one? 

4) Are there restaurant models that are better at simmering?  What can be done to assist with simmering?  We make a lot of candied fruits, jams, preserves, etc. so being able to simmer is important, but not a deal breaker, as I can use a little campstove/range for that job.  It would just be nice to not have to.

5) I've notice that Vulcan and Garland have different model lines.  For example, vulcan has the "endurance" line and the "V-series"  line.    Garland similarly has "heavy duty" and "restaurant" lines.  The only difference that I can see between the cheaper model lines and the more expensive ones is about $1500, 50lbs of weight and that the fancy line has the option of coming with a convection oven (not interested in it).  Am I missing something here?  Does an additional 50 lbs of metal really add $1500 worth of quality?  These ranges are quite heavy to begin with (800+lbs).  Are pretty much ANY of these ranges super durable, or are there substantive differences between the model lines?

I'd like to thank you in advance for lending some insight, even if only to answer just one of my questions.  I wish I could walk into a showroom and touch and choose one, but since I'm not coming back to the USA until christmas, that is impossible.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
With the commercial stuff, there are two grades, "regular" and "hotel grade".  Hotel grade is more robust, heavier guage s/s , better fittings, more fire power, and of course, more expensive.

As a gneral rule of thumb, gas ranges are quite reliable and don't need much maintainence.  That being said, there are a few parts which will need eplcing every now and then.

The first is a thermocoupler, a small inexpensive device that is pointed at the pilot light,  If this does not detect heat, it shuts off gas to the burner.  Not very expensive, not difficult to install, very generic (Robertshaw is used by all) and not very hard to get.

The second is the thermostat.  See above.

Most ranges prior to the late '90's used static pilot lights--that is pilot lights that are always on.  Thse have been replaced by piezo electronic ignitions, which should be cheap and easy to get, but not always.

Be aware of propane conversions.  Most units are designed for natural gas and are shipped with a conversion kit for propane.  Installing a conversion kit will decrease the btu's by as much as 10%.  Some, but not all mnfctrs will offer "true" propane burners as opposed to conversion kits.

Hope this helps  
Joined Jul 11, 2011
Have you ever though about making a combination of gas range and having Induction Ranges? Since importing is a huge problem due the distance, you could get few Induction Ranges which, according to my reserach, are excelent. They are very efficient, small, easy to transport. You could get 1 first and try it, and then you may buy more as needed. This way you could have whatvecer you may find in Argentina, but add a tool which is very eficient and may complement your need.

I encourage you to make some research (at this same Forum) and learn about this new alternative.Pprobably it may simplify your problem!!

Good luck!!
Joined Jun 9, 2011
Holy Cow, a lot of thorough questions....Some I know the answer to and some, Not a Clue :)

Yes weight differences do mean something,,,,But typically only referring to structural reinforcement differences from 1 manufacturer to another.

-In your application -far less strenuous use than a Med. Volume Restaurant I'd say irrelevant.

Typically No Electricals involved (No Plug and cord) but they Ovens have Thermostat's

-Thermostat's wear out----I don't believe they are Vendor specific-I do believe they are a common piece.

Commercial ranges are NOT insulated-(Unlike Residential ranges).

The sides and Back of the Range will get hot when using the oven for extended time periods-Hot to the touch-Not Blistering Hot

-Insulate around the unit with something that doesn't transfer heat well (Brick, ceramic tile, stainless)

-Defintely exhaust the hot air coming up the Flu-Just like you do your dryer, get the heat out of the building and save on A.C.

You do NOT need fire suppression-You Do need to directly vent the range outside (which you want to do with Gas Equipment anyways).

Pilot lights are standard-Just like Grandma's.....You are already venting outside, so the very small amount of wasted Energy...irrelevant.

Electronic ignitions (common on Residential ranges) cost a Bundle Commercially (about $225.00 per burner)

Door is metal to metal on every range I've seen---might want to focus on insulating around the exterior of unit instead of trying to modify the unit

Commerical ranges, equipment in general-if it is Natural Gas LP is also avail.  Will always slight;ly reduce the BTU's but only Slightly.

Points to compare between manufacturers...

Btu's-28,000 per burner is a good amount-36,000 and up is really hard to cook on (Turn it on high and you must Baby everything, watching constantly-becomes a major waste of productivity-so you end up cooking on Medium heat, yet you have paid all $$$ for Excess Btu's.

Weight-60" range should be around 1000 lbs

hope this helps...
Joined Oct 10, 2005
whoa there.

If any insurance co.finds out a commercial range was installed without a fire supression system, they wont insure.  Doesnt matter what country your in. This tends to piz off landlords and fire marshalls ......Not a good scene

Most ranges are insulated, just not to residential standards


The better quality ranges have fabric seals on oven doors. 

The majority of commercial mnfctrs will not install "static" or "mushroom cap" pilots, but instead piezo.  A lot of  mnfctrs website information on how much gas is consumed by static pilot lights.

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