December 12, 2008 8:21 AM   Subscribe

What constitutes a commercial-grade toaster oven, as opposed to a household grade one?

I should know this but I am blanking out drawing on my own knowledge, and the knowledge of the local fire authority. I am looking for construction, and also for any signifying markings.

Backstory: There is no code against appliances in classrooms, but I can mandate that they can be over and above what would be found in a home, and I think it's a good idea to do so.
posted by Danf to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most of the commercial ones I've seen (mostly on college campuses) have a little conveyor belt for you to put your toastables on. When they get done, they slide down a little chute. They were all-metal. Here's an example.
posted by Wild_Eep at 8:44 AM on December 12, 2008

That's a toaster, not a toaster oven, Wild_Eep.
posted by grouse at 9:11 AM on December 12, 2008

If your concern is safety, I think you have it exactly backwards.

A commercial appliance would not necessarily be designed to be safe around children or to be safely operated by them.

And it would likely be hotter than a home appliance and draw more current, raising issues of burns, fires, and wiring.
posted by jamjam at 9:44 AM on December 12, 2008

A commercial grade appliance would be capable of continuous use. I wouldn't assume that it is necessarily safer than a consumer one.
posted by kc8nod at 10:07 AM on December 12, 2008

Commercial pizza ovens are much hotter than home ovens, and can run 24/7 with only a once-weekly cleaning required. If you did that with your home oven it would burn out quickly.

I imagine toaster ovens will follow a similar pattern.
posted by rokusan at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2008

I don't think they're safer than consumer toaster ovens either. Take a look at this one. There's sharp edges, metal exterior means the surface probably gets hot, a single dial for temperature only (no toasting by color or modes), and no door. Commercial equipment often doesn't focus on safety as much as efficiency of use and speed. It's pretty similar to what's used in professional kitchens which is an appliance called a salamander oven, like an open broiler.
posted by junesix at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2008

I think it's a good idea to do so.?

Can you explain what needs you have that make you think a commercial appliance would be more suitable? Commercial appliances are often less user friendly, because there's an expectation that the users will be trained to operate them. Though they are often more durable and easy to clean, they are also more expensive, and can use much more power.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:59 AM on December 12, 2008

Response by poster: This issue stems from my employment as a school safety officer. Back when I started in the 80's, we had a fire marshal that had a hard and fast rule: Nothing with a heating element is allowed in any classroom.

Well someone pushed back on this, and it was discovered that there is no code for this. So a lot of the local fire jurisdictions in my state have fallen back to requiring that such stuff be UL listed as "commercial," or have some sort of certification indicating it is for more than "household" use. The thinking behind this is that there have been occasions in which more lightweight appliances have caused fires due to malfunction, lighter wiring, switches, plugs, etc.

I went to the largest restaurant supply here in town and could not find a toaster oven. I am beginning to think that they are not made, and that the ones on the net SAY they are commercial grade, but do not have listings.

It's amazing how much time something like this can eat up. Thank you all for your thoughts.
posted by Danf at 12:59 PM on December 12, 2008

I would suggest heading on over to a Costco near you when they are giving out samples 'cause those folks use commercial toaster ovens especially the pizza ladies and hot pockets folks. I would question them and write down the name of said product line or manufacturer.
posted by jadepearl at 2:39 PM on December 12, 2008

They had those commercial conveyer-belt toasters in the dining halls of my college, and every so often sometone's English muffin or bagel would get jammed and catch on fire. Not worth it (too many moving parts).
posted by bad grammar at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2008

Best answer: As explained to me by an OSHA inspector: The reasoning behind different regulatory standards for home vs. workplace appliance use is that most homes have some sort of wood or other relatively non-conductive material in their floor whereas most workplaces have steel-reinforced concrete floors. So the difference focuses mostly on electrical grounding issues -- for example, one standard was that everything in the workplace had to have a three-prong plug, no two-prong plugs were allowed.

OSHA has two arms -- the educational arm, and the enforcement arm. The educational arm will answer all sorts of questions for you about safety *without* triggering a visit from the enforcement arm. That might be a good resource for the "why" behind rules.

(I realize your question is a fire marshal question not an OSHA question, but OSHA rules tend to encompass fire marshal rules and then some)
posted by Jacqueline at 8:58 PM on December 16, 2008

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