The restaurant business is extremely competitive. Bad service or one bad meal and you might lose a customer. A bad customer experience can also result in negative word-of-mouth and online reviews. How do you make sure you have consistently satisfied customers? It starts in the kitchen.
Commercial kitchens require the utmost in efficiency. There are many people working at a fast pace in close quarters with no windows, sharp knives, hot grills, ovens, steam and boiling grease. The only way to impose some order on the chaos is to maintain a clean working environment.
The ventilation system in a commercial kitchen is crucial to keeping the work environment clean and safe, as well as, protecting expensive equipment from grease build-up. There are several components that make up an efficient commercial kitchen ventilation system.
- The Kitchen Hood is the central hub of the kitchen exhaust system. It sits directly above hot grills, char broilers, fryers, griddles, wok ranges, cooking ranges and ovens. Type 1 Commercial Kitchen Hoods are necessary for cooking surfaces where cooking oil and hot grease are used. Type 2 Commercial Kitchen Hoods are appropriate if the cooking surface produces only heat and steam.
- Fire Suppression Systems are required for all commercial kitchen hood systems. Fire Suppression Systems can be located inside the kitchen hood or in a nearby location. They must successfully extinguish an oil fire in excess of 680 degrees. This is accomplished through the release of chemical agents or water, although some systems use both. If you are using, or plan to use, char broilers, fryers, griddles, wok ranges, cooking ranges and other similar equipment, fire suppression is required. Your cooking area does not require fire suppression if it is limited to convection ovens, pizza ovens or steam cookers.
- The Hood Filter Bank houses the grease filter which catches oil and debris before it can enter the exhaust system. An excess of grease in the exhaust system will adversely affect its efficiency and reliability so it must be caught at the Hood Filter Bank. It’s important to clean the Hood Filter Bank frequently to avoid grease buildup.
- The Make-up Air Unit replaces the exhaust that was removed from the cooking area with clean, non-contaminated air. Make-up Air Units should replace 100 percent of the exhaust that has been removed. Tempered Make-up Air Units can heat or cool the replacement air to increase the comfort level of the kitchen environment. Non-tempered Make-up Air Units do not heat or cool the replacement air and they are less expensive. They are, however, unsuitable in locations that experience frequent temperature extremes.
- Upblast Exhaust Fans sit on the exterior (roof) of the restaurant and pull contaminated air (exhaust) out of the ventilation system. These fans are typically equipped with one or more grease filters to prevent grease from spilling out of the system and onto the roof of the building.
Belt Drive Exhaust Fans have a motor shaft that is controlled by a belt-and-motor pulley. They are favored by many restaurant owners for their affordability and quiet operation. However, as the belt vibrates, it creates friction, which can cause a decrease in fan performance and reliability.
Direct Drive Exhaust Fans connect the fan blades directly to the motor shaft eliminating the need for a belt. They contain fewer parts than a Belt Drive Exhaust Fan and are more efficient. Direct Drive Exhaust Fans cost more up-front but that cost is offset by the ease of maintenance and lower cleaning costs.