'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen' may be a tired old cliche, but one based on an unavoidable truth — commercial kitchens get very, very hot. The accumulated heat from multiple commercial-grade stoves, ovens and hot water systems running simultaneously can make the kitchen of the most modest restaurant a stifling hot place to work, and installing an efficient air conditioning system is a must for the comfort, productivity and safety of your chefs, cooks and servers.
However, not every commercial air conditioning system is well suited to the unique demands of cooling a busy restaurant kitchen, and choosing the wrong system can do more harm than good. If you are looking for a new air conditioning unit for your kitchen, keep the following guidelines in mind to help you choose the right system:
Use a self-contained system or a whole-building system with zone control
You might be tempted to try and save time and money by installing a single ducted air conditioning system that serves both the kitchen and dining room of your restaurant. However, since the kitchen will require far more cooling power than the dining room, using an interlinked system with universal power settings will either make your dining room uncomfortably cold or will not provide enough cooling power to keep your kitchen tolerably cool.
There are two ways to get around this problem. The first is to use separate air conditioning systems for your kitchen and dining room, an option which will prevent the smell of cooking food from permeating your dining room furniture and reduce dust circulation between the two rooms. However, this can be expensive and will take longer to install. If you choose a single system to serve both areas, make sure it has zonal temperature controls; this will allow you to keep your kitchen air conditioning at full blast while maintaining a lower cooling rate in the dining room.
Make sure your system has proper filtration
Filters are a must in any air conditioning system but are particularly vital when it comes to systems used in air conditioners. Large-scale cooking creates an enormous amount of airborne particulate matter, which can clog up the internal workings of an unprotected system and cause severe damage and loss of efficiency. Airborne particles of evaporate oil created by shallow and deep-frying can cause particularly nasty damage.
At the very least, your kitchen air conditioning system should be fitted with HEPA (high-efficiency particle arrestance) filters; these filters consist of an incredibly densely woven grill of fibres and can catch all but the tiniest pieces of airborne matter. Electrostatic filters, which attract and contain airborne particles using static electricity, are also very useful but should be used alongside HEPA filters, not instead of them. Both types of filters must be cleaned regularly, so make sure they can be accessed and removed from your chosen air conditioning unit relatively easily.
Install your system in an accessible location
On the subject of accessibility, you should try and ensure that the fans and condensers of your kitchen air conditioning unit are relatively easy to access. Since kitchen air conditioners have to work so hard for long periods at a stretch, even the most reliable systems are more prone to mechanical malfunction than an AC system installed in a home or office. Installing these vital components in accessible areas (ideally as close to ground level as possible) will allow repair workers to fix any problems more quickly, minimising kitchen downtime.
For more information, contact a company like MTA Australasia.