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Types of Thermostats in Restaurant Equipment

Thermostats don’t get a lot of attention, but they should. This tool plays a very critical part in adjusting temperature for your foodservice and restaurant equipment. This overlooked device controls the heating and cooling systems of kitchen appliances by sensing and regulating temperature, or activating a device when the temperature reaches a certain point.

Millivolt Thermostats

Millivolt thermostats are the standard thermostat in the restaurant industry. In a millivolt thermostat, fluid expands and contracts with heat in order to control temperature. Once the temperature reaches a high point, the chemical (fluid) cuts off the sensor. When opting for a Millivolt, the power through the thermostat comes from a heating device, and controls the heating system either directly –by way of electric baseboard heaters and electric furnaces, or indirectly though gas, oil and forced hot water systems.

Pros:

  • Cost efficient

Cons:

  • Temperature detection is not as precise as more advanced thermostats. This reduced accuracy is the main reason we suggest products with more accurate thermostats. You do not want to scorch or undercook your food.

Solid State Thermostats

Solid state thermostats are a type of resistor that functions using electrical resistance that changes in response to temperature. They are electronic with fewer fluctuations in temperature, and are deemed more accurate than their mechanical counterparts. A fryer such as the Pitco Solstice uses this type of thermostat.

Pros:

  • Highly versatile and customizable
  • Its small size and mass allows for a rapid response time compared to other thermostatic devices
  • Provide high level of consistency

Cons:

  • Higher costs
  • Sensitive to grease and water penetration, increasing the chance for damage

Snap Action Thermostats

Snap action thermostats are composed of two metals joined together. The thermostat valves are mechanically controlled through the expansion and contraction of a disc which concaves or “snaps” at a set temperature a snap action unit will provide the highest accuracy amongst its counterparts.

Pro:

  • Can maintain a griddle surface temperature within +/- 15°F (8°C) of set point if the thermostat bulb is embedded

How Thermostats are Used in Equipment

Griddle

In a griddle thethermostat the thermostat will regulate the griddle’s surface around a temperature set point established by the cook. The thermostat is connected to a set of wires, and can be mounted below the plate or embedded into the plate. However, the most common construction for griddle thermostat application is to fasten the bulb to the bottom of the griddle plate, allowing it to sense the change in the plate’s temperature.

Griddle with embedded Thermostat

Pro:

Choosing an embedded option will provide the most accurate read and added convenience.

Con:

Costlier initial investment & repairs.

Griddle with thermostat mounted under plate

Pro:

A cost efficient method for both initial investment and repairs.

Con:

The thickness in material requires a longer response time which means you do not have tight of control over your cooking temperatures.

Fryers

The thermostat ensures that your deep fryer maintains a minimum operating temperature. It is an important part of the equipment piece because it controls the oil’s temperature. Without a fryer thermostat (typically a Millivolt), the heating element of the fryer would fail to shut off or come back on, which would cause the oil to become too cold or hot. As a result, the food would burn, lose flavor or become soggy.

Ovens

Oven thermostats open and close in response to sensing temperature. They turn the oven on and off, in addition to keeping the oven temperature steady at the chosen level.

The thermostat will be located in different places depending on the make and model of the oven. You will need to locate this in order test your thermostat, which is an important to do at least every 6 months.

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