What’s the Difference? Comparing Types of Ovens

Deanna Dicristo June 29, 2023

The heart of any commercial kitchen is its oven. However, with so many options available, selecting the right oven to meet your cooking needs can be daunting. If you find yourself asking what the difference is between convection ovens vs conventional ovens, combi ovens vs convection ovens, speed ovens vs microwaves and beyond — you’re in the right place.

One important thing to note: Different types of ovens require different types of maintenance. Keep that in mind while making your choice and remember that the right preventative maintenance partner can make all the difference when caring for any variety of commercial oven.

What’s the difference between convection ovens vs conventional ovens?

The main difference between convection ovens and conventional ovens is the way they distribute heat during the cooking process.

Conventional ovens, also known as traditional or radiant ovens, use a heating source — usually located at the oven’s top or bottom — to generate heat. This heat radiates throughout the oven, creating a hot environment in which the food is cooked. The air in a conventional oven remains relatively still vs the air in a convection oven, which can lead to less precise cooking.

Convection ovens have one main feature that traditional ones do not: a convection fan. The fan within this system circulates the air within the oven, helping to distribute heat evenly throughout the space. There’s an additional benefit to using a convection oven: the movement of air speeds up the removal of moisture from food’s surface, making for crispier crusts and faster browning.

What sort of maintenance does a conventional oven need?

Taking proper care of your commercial conventional oven requires two main focuses: keeping everything clean and making sure none of the components are wearing out. Cleaning should include both interior and exterior surfaces to make sure grease and residue don’t have a chance to build up. 

As for components to keep an eye on — those include:

  • Burners. Conventional ovens use gas burners for heat, which means you’ll want to make sure no blockages or clogs are occurring. 
  • Doors. Hinges, gaskets and latches all need to be working properly so you can maintain temperature accuracy. 
  • Ventilation. Avoid overheating by making sure the exhaust hood, filters and ductwork are all clean and clear. 
  • Pilot light. The pilot light is what keeps your commercial conventional oven working. If the flame is weak or frequently going out, it may be in need of adjustment by a professional.

What sort of maintenance does a convection oven need?

When it comes to the maintenance needs of convection ovens vs conventional ovens, there’s a lot of overlap. The same considerations apply to both cleaning and component maintenance. 

However, convection ovens require one additional maintenance consideration: fan and motor maintenance. The convection fan and motor are critical components of a convection oven. Check them regularly to ensure they are clean and free from any debris.

If you notice unusual noises, vibrations, or the fan not operating properly, consult a technician for inspection

What’s the difference: combi ovens vs convection ovens?

Combi ovens and convection ovens are both versatile cooking appliances, but they have some key differences in terms of functionality and capability.

Convection ovens, like outlined above, use the circulation of hot air via a convection fan and exhaust system to cook food. Combi ovens, like their name suggests, combine features of both steamers and convection ovens. That gives them more flexible cooking abilities since they can be used in convection mode, steam mode, or a combination of both.

While convection ovens have faster cook times compared to conventional ovens, combi ovens achieve doneness faster than both. They’re more expensive up front but if dynamic cooking is a priority when considering combi ovens vs convection ovens, the added flexibility can be a major benefit.

What sort of maintenance does a combi oven need?

Like the other varieties listed here, combi ovens require the same basic maintenance: regular cleaning and upkeep. On top of this, special attention needs to be paid to the steam system that helps give the combi oven its multifunctional purpose.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintaining the steam generator, including descaling and flushing procedures. Inspect the water supply connections and filters regularly to ensure proper water quality and flow. Additionally, ventilation, drainage, and door gaskets should be inspected regularly to make sure no blockages or buildup are getting in the way of performance.

What’s the difference: speed ovens vs microwaves?

Speed ovens and microwaves are both appliances used for quick cooking, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

Speed ovens are a multifunctional appliance that combines the features of a convection oven and a microwave. They do this by using radiant heat and microwave energy to cook food. Radiant heat helps with browning and crisping while the microwave functionality shortens cook times.

When comparing speed ovens vs microwaves you need to consider two things: how much cooking you need to do each day and how important it is to be able to remove moisture from the air for better browning. Microwaves are more convenient, but their functionality is limited in comparison.

What sort of maintenance does a speed oven need?

Speed ovens are part microwave, part convection oven. This means that in order to make sure yours is properly maintained, you have to stay on top of three main things: keeping it clean, maintaining components and regularly inspecting unique heating components.

Commercial speed ovens typically use a combination of microwave and radiant heat or impinged air technology. Check the heating elements regularly for any signs of damage or malfunction. If you notice uneven heating or inconsistencies, consult a professional technician for inspection and servicing.

Additionally — keep the control panel clean! If you experience any issues with programming or control, refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or contact a local professional technician.

What questions should I be asking when choosing a commercial oven?

With so many different types of commercial ovens available to your restaurant or foodservice businesses’ needs, it can be hard to decide. We recommend asking yourself the following questions the next time you’re in the market and using the answers to determine the right pick.

  • What is the oven’s cooking capacity?
  • Does it offer convection heating, radiant heating, or a combination of both?
  • Are there additional heating options, such as infrared or steam?
  • What temperature range does the oven offer?
  • What is the oven’s energy efficiency rating?
  • Is the oven made of durable materials that can withstand heavy commercial use?
  • Does it have temperature safety controls or an automatic shut-off feature?
  • Does the oven require specific electrical or ventilation setups?
  • Do I have a local repair and maintenance partner to help make sure this new oven is being taken care of?

When it comes to that last question — Smart Care has you covered. We offer nationwide reach carried out by trusted local technicians. If you’re ever in need of installation, repair or maintenance services for your next oven, you can find your next service with our team.

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