Ever notice that energy star rating on your commercial equipment and wonder how that relates to your soaring utility bills? It doesn’t. That’s because the way commercial equipment energy efficiency is measured is not related to the real world. For example, one test for convection ovens is to fill it full of potatoes and see how much energy uses to cook those potatoes. I call this the cost per potato method. This test is akin to stating the energy cost to drive a seven passenger SUV is based on the cost per passenger with a full load. As we all know that SUV is rarely running with a full load, just the same as that convection oven. In the end, the cost of operation of that oven isn’t even remotely accounted for in current energy testing.

How can we truly measure commercial equipment efficiency? My suggestion is that every piece of equipment that is going to be evaluated for true energy efficiency be put in a sealed room, say 8 foot long and 8 foot wide and 8 foot high. Lets call it the ECO box. Now measure everything that goes into this room and everything that comes out of this room and give it a value. What is the primary fuel?  Gas, electricity, wood?  Every bit of this input that goes into the room has an energy value. What about additional resources like cooking oil or water? Add those values. Oh wait the room is heating up from the thermal radiation coming from the equipment, we need to calculate the cost to keep the room at a standard operating temperature. Does the equipment require a hood and makeup air with heating or cooling included, add those costs.  Oh there is more, we need to look at cleaning the equipment, what inputs of chemicals and such do we need to add? Don’t forget now we have to dispose of these waste products, including used cooking oil, these all have a cost.

So looking at that deep fryer that is rated as highly efficient, it won’t fare so well when it is stuck inside the ECO box. It will fare even worse if it measured over a 10 hour day with its peak periods and periods of slow volume. The same issue arises with that combi oven, great for cooking big batches but an energy albatross when sporadic partial loads are cooked.

All these factors were considered during the design of the Dragonaire oven with the goal of providing a $1 a day operation.