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A Quick Guide to Heat Lamps and Strip Warmers

In a commercial kitchen setting, keeping hot food at an optimal temperature is not just a question of quality but a matter of safety as well. Two of the most common solutions are heat lamps and strip warmers, each with their unique attributes and uses. Cafco Services shares an overview of each one and how they can help ensure the success of commercial kitchens.

A Quick Guide to Heat Lamps and Strip Warmers

All About Heat Lamps

Foodservice heat lamps, also known as bulb warmers, operate using infrared bulbs to deliver focused heat and light, keeping food safely warm and presentable. These fixtures are frequently seen above buffet lines, carving stations, or pass-through areas—spaces where visually appealing food display is essential. Standard temperatures for heat lamps are designed to skirt the “danger zone” of 40 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth and foodborne illness.

Heat lamps used in commercial kitchens vary: freestanding bulb warmers offer flexibility and portability, while screw-on heat lamps propose a more fixed option with adjustable heating angles. Hanging heat lamps, while requiring a more committed installation, offer an elegant solution suitable for customer-facing areas.

All About Strip Warmers

Constructed of a long metal housing with built-in heating elements, strip warmers are ideal for backstage culinary environments, where heat distribution must cover a larger surface area. The sizes and configurations of strip warmers can be tailored to the needs of each establishment, ensuring your plated foods remain warm without sacrificing moisture.

Strip warmers are engineered for durability and can withstand the demanding conditions of a busy kitchen. They’re available in two options: low-wattage units for lighter duties and higher-wattage models for more intense use. Features may vary, from single or double heating elements, metal-sheathed or tough ceramic elements, to various mounting alternatives like chains or brackets. In terms of control, they come with either simple toggles to intricate remote settings, allowing for precise heat regulation.

Important Considerations

When it comes to choosing heat lamps and strip warmers for commercial kitchens, it is imperative to take a few considerations into account:

  • Wattage. Wattage for heat lamps can vary from 250 to 2000 watts, while strip warmers can extend from 250 to 8000 watts, depending on the width and intensity of coverage needed. Both pieces of equipment are designed for continuous use during service, keeping food items hospitable and at peak readiness.

  • Maintenance and Safety. Food service equipment requires proper care to ensure it remains an asset not only to the food’s quality but also to the establishment’s safety protocols. When not in use (i.e. after service hours) make sure to turn off the heat lamps or strip warmers to mitigate potential fire hazards.

Both heat lamps and strip warmers are indispensable tools in commercial kitchens, each catering to specific warming needs. For all your hot side needs, turn to Cafco Services. Our team can install, repair, replace and maintain commercial and industrial hot side equipment. To learn more, give us a call at (513) 242-3400, or fill out our contact form.