Natural and Propane Gas Restaurant Equipment

Construction Factors

Before any equipment can be operational, the gas, electricity, plumbing, ventilation, and fire control must be considered and planned carefully.

Gas—Natural and Propane

Many food service managers think it is wise to have part of the cooking and serving equipment energized by gas: Gas supplies a source of immediate heat and when turned off, the heat stops immediately. If at least some of the equipment is gas powered, it is still functional in an electrical failure and the menu can be modified more easily to adapt to the emergency. However, many gas-fired burners are triggered by an electrical solenoid thermostat so it is important for some auxiliary power to be available in case of a power outage.
Food service equipment designed to use gas may be less expensive than the same equipment that uses electricity. The cost of operating gas-fired equipment should be compared to the cost of electricity for an equal amount of heat or energy. Planners and designers must decide which pieces of equipment will use gas and which will use electricity.

Examples of equipment that might be powered by natural gas are the following:

Because natural gas is piped directly from the supplier to the consumer and is not stored on the premises, there is the possibility that the supply will not meet the demand during periods of peak usage; thus, it is good to have a propane-air standby unit installed. The dealer can attach the necessary regulators so that the mix of fuel and air will perform with the same orifice setting as with natural gas. If natural gas is not available, burners can be adjusted to use straight propane, which has a higher British thermal unit (Btu) rating.

It is important for the mechanical engineer or contractor to calculate the necessary power output of all utilities. This calculation or estimate should be based on maximum load so that during peak periods there will be an adequate fuel supply for the equipment to perform to capacity. The total Btu load must be determined to properly size the storage container, regulator, and piping. Whoever provides the basic input into the planning might project the total Btu's needed by totaling the requirements of each piece of equipment, allowing for a 10-15% margin of safety.

A manometer, which indicates the presence of leakage, is used to check the pressure, which should be held to 10 pounds per square inch (psi). There are specific requirements for the size and kind of pipe depending on the distance transported, the flow rate, and the usage volume. Generally, copper pipe is used for shorter distances and lower flow rates and usage volumes, but iron pipe becomes necessary as these factors increase.

Propane storage containers and piping will be installed by the local supplier in accordance with National Fire Protection Association standards.

Propane gas equipment that might be used by food trucks and street vendors are the following: