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Don't try to save money by purchasing a smaller commercial toaster. Toasters that are going to be used for long stretches at a time put a lot of stress on the heating elements. If the correct type is not used it will substantially shorten the life of your toaster. If you are toasting wide product like bagels or Texas Toast be sure to purchase a wide slotted pop-up toaster. Putting large product into a small slot will cause the product to burn because it will not be able to release it.
How much will you be toasting and how fast do you need it? If you are a high-volume restaurant that has a busy breakfast buffet and you need an endless amount of toast then perhaps a conveyor toaster would work nicely for you. However, if you are a smaller hotel chain that offers a complimentary breakfast in the morning and guests will be making their own toast as needed, then a pop-up slotted toaster will do.
A standard 120V connection will support most light-duty commercial toasters. If a higher voltage connection is required such as 208/240V, make certain your kitchen is equipped with this connection. If your kitchen is equipped with the correct voltage needed, be sure it is located in a spot where it makes sense to put a toaster. Keep in mind, if there is not adequate space for a toaster then productivity will be minimized.
Pop-up toasters typically cost much less than conveyor toasters. Most standard pop-up toasters can cost $200 or less, but a heavy-duty, two or four slotted pop-up toaster can cost up to $600. Conveyor toasters have more moving parts and more high-tech electronic controls. These heavy-duty stainless steel units normally range from $1000 to $2000.
A commercial conveyor toaster is designed to keep bread, bagels, English muffins and more traveling slowly on a conveyor belt through a heated section for consistent and fast toasting. This type of toaster is available in a variety of sizes and toasting capacities. Most have a high-volume range of anywhere from 200 to 1800 slices of bread per hour. This type of toaster is perfect during peak hours of operation when you need delicious toasted product, and you need it fast. Remember to check opening size, fitting a slice of bread is normally easy, but be sure there is enough clearance for your bread to flip correctly when it comes out the back of the machine. Texas Toast and bagels both need extra clearance.
Pop-up toasters are popular for smaller establishments that have low production needs and because they are easy to use and maintain. From the outside this toaster looks just like the one you have at home, but on the inside it's so much more. This type of toaster accepts individual slices of bread into two to eight horizontal slots. The user selects the desired brownness level on a dial control and presses a lever that lowers the bread into a heating chamber. Their electric elements apply extreme radiant heat. When the toasting process is complete, the toaster releases a spring and the bread pops back up and out of the chamber. These work best for English muffins, bread, and bagels (if slots are wide enough). These toasters normally can handle up to 380 slices per hour.
Some toasters have a program that allows you to lock in specific cooking times. This permits you to pre-program your toaster to the appropriate heat and cooking time so you can assure that you get consistent results—perfectly browned toast.
Some conveyor and pop-up toasters feature a bagel option which means only one side of the heating element is activated. This feature guarantees that the bagel has a crispy exterior but the interior is still soft but warm.
Because a toaster can take up a lot of space in your kitchen some manufacturers offer wall mount or stacking kits. So if lack of space is a concern, be sure to check that the model toaster you choose has one of these options available.