Types: Hot holding cabinets can safely maintain all types of heated foods and are available in a multitude of sizes and configurations, from small countertop models to higher capacity units that accommodate large rolling racks. Cabinets may be insulated or non-insulated and units are frequently fitted with casters to provide mobility. A variety of special use holding carts are available for healthcare meal delivery, hotel room service, banquet support, proofing, correctional foodservices and other specialized functions. Manufacturers are producing more display and grab 'n go equipment as well as cabinets designed for self-service and impulse buying, particularly from C-stores.
Capacities/Footprints: Single cabinets typically average about 20" × 27" × 27", but are also available in compact countertop models. Most full-size cabinets can accommodate 6 to 8 full-size sheet pans on wire racks, depending on configuration. Institutional users tend to move to larger-capacity cabinets, while chains tend to buy smaller footprint models due to menu expansion and space constraints.
Energy Source(s): Single cabinets generally require 1200W of electrical power, while double cabinets use 1800 to 2000W. 1 and 2 drawer warmers may be equipped with dual wattage controls of low (600W) or high (1200W) to provide more precise temperature control.
Standard Features: The exterior is usually constructed of either aluminum or heavy-duty, 22 gauge stainless steel. Cabinet doors are usually constructed of stainless steel with magnetic latches in 1 or 2 door configurations and are available with glass windows. Right or left hand hinged doors add convenience and allow for more flexibility when installing the unit. Pass-through and half-door configurations are also widely available. Many models are stackable. Locking casters provide added stability. Optional bumper guards protect cabinets and walls, and many units include recessed push/pull handles to provide easier maneuverability. Cabinet controls may be manual or electronic; in the latter case, a multiple timer setting capability is available. On some models, electronic control systems can monitor up to 6 independent timers for each compartment, to facilitate “first-in, first-out” product rotation. Space saving single and multi-drawer heated holding cabinets hold different foods within proper temperature ranges conveniently at hand prior to serving. Rear panel outlets allow multiple single drawer units to be conveniently powered from one electrical source. Power cords can be rear or side mounted.
New Features/Technology/Options: Energy-efficient thermoelectric technology in some newer models allows them to run quietly on 110V, draw minimal amps and operate on low watts so they can plug in anywhere. Louvered panels circulate heated air evenly throughout the cabinet. Coved designs that allow staff to hose down cabinet interiors without having to remove the power unit save labor, time and money and improve sanitation. Other newer features include timers with single switch start/stop/abort, manual override and power out memory, continual digital temperature display, separate operating time and temperature set points, sound alert signal and food probe calibration. Removable air ducts for easy cleaning are a plus. Some of the more desirable features include electronic temperature control with display in °F or °C, a built-in digital clock and programmable temperature input with program lock to prevent an accidental change of settings. Heated glass shelves increase holding capacity and maximize uniform heat distribution. Manufacturers are adding more insulation as well as magnetic door gaskets, auto-door closures and Dutch doors for improved energy efficiency.
Purchasing Guidelines: If a holding cabinet must be moved frequently and for long distances, such as at off-site catering functions, heavy-duty models with larger casters are recommended. Units with half-doors offer more energy savings and convenience when frequently removing foods from cabinets. Some models place electrical components, controls and the water reservoir on top for easy and quick access. Research your state and municipal rules and regulations and how they will affect the use of these items. For instance, conspicuous thermometers are commonly required in all hot-holding cabinets where potentially hazardous foods are stored.
Maintenance Requirements: Frequently clean and sanitize holding cabinets. Stainless- steel cabinet interiors with removable tray slides are simplest to clean and maintain. Some cabinets come with self-contained removable tops, allowing operators to hose down the interior more easily during cleaning. New preventive maintenance features include shatter- proof bulbs, bar heaters and bulb guards. Some manufacturers offer alternatives to the traditional strip heater design with lower watt/density per equal measure of length.