Let’s Heat

by Katie Lee

— By Jaime Tuinstra —

How to find the right heating solution for your restaurant.

After a few rough years, the restaurant industry has quickly recovered from the turbulent business environment that took hold from 2020-22. According to the National Restaurant Association, 2023 sales were forecast to reach $977 billion in the United States. In addition, it is projected that 500,000 new jobs entered the industry in 2023. That is a testament to the recovery of a resilient industry that was devastated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This winter, it will be important for successful restaurant owners to choose ample and efficient heating solutions for patrons and staff. Whether it’s a small brewery or a larger sit-down-style restaurant, there are heating solutions available to meet your unique demands and keep your space comfortable and warm.

Heating Solutions

One type of heating solution that is both efficient and provides ample heating is commercial unit heaters. For restaurants, floor space is paramount because of the foot traffic and the equipment needed to operate the business. Having a large unit may not be convenient. When it comes to unit heaters, their unique design alleviates that problem. The units are smaller in size and can be hung up off the ground and tucked away on the ceiling. Their smaller design also helps with installation costs.

While unit heaters are smaller in size, they are more than capable of providing the necessary heat to meet heating demands. As a permanent heating source, these units can maintain the temperature needed to keep a space warm throughout the day and night. In addition, you can utilize more than one inside a facility to maximize heating potential and circulation. There are also a variety of units available on the market to fit your building’s needs, from gas-fired units to electric heaters.

From a financial perspective, unit heaters are typically more efficient at supplying heat than their whole-system counterparts. For example, high-efficiency unit heaters can operate at up to 97% thermal efficiency, which would dramatically decrease energy costs and CO2 emissions. When it comes to heating your building, unit heaters can be efficient and convenient for restaurants.

But if you have a heating solution that you are happy with, there are other solutions available that allow you to extend your outdoor seating season. Thanks to energy-efficient infrared technology, patio heaters can be permanently installed to take the chill off your customers on cooler days and nights. High-intensity patio heaters direct their energy to surrounding objects rather than the air. This helps increase efficiency by focusing heating energy on customers.

As an alternative to high-intensity infrared patio heaters, there are electric high-output heaters that can be permanently mounted outside to create a warmer environment. These heaters are equipped with reflectors for optimal radiant heat output and are excellent for spot heating and outdoor patios. For restaurants and breweries that utilize outdoor seating as an effective business strategy, patio and high-output heaters can be a great business decision that allows you to extend the outdoor season.

Preventative Maintenance

Selecting a great heating solution may help create an excellent experience for your customers during the winter, but it’s vital to keep the units maintained to help extend the life and heating efficiency of the unit. Restaurant owners must develop a plan that includes preventative maintenance. This can be done by incorporating inspections from a certified technician.

During an inspection, you can expect the technician to take care of some key issues. For unit heaters, those include a visual inspection of the unit, checking the combustion chamber and burner, checking the motors to make sure they are functioning properly, checking the exhaust vents and flue systems and inspecting the heat exchanger for damage. For high-efficient units, the professional will also check the water traps and condensate lines for any dirt or debris.

These proactive steps will ensure your unit performs at optimal levels as the colder months arrive. By following a preventative maintenance plan, the unit will also reach its maximum lifespan.

Creating Maximum Heat

Finding a reliable, permanent heating source during the winter is important for creating an excellent customer experience for patrons. No one wants to go inside a restaurant or brewery that’s cold. Even with a whole-system HVAC unit, there tend to be areas that are cooler than others. Unit heaters can provide the permanent heating solution you need. They can supply just as much heat as whole-system units at a fraction of the size, allowing for more space to utilize equipment or welcome customers. Whether you need one or two, these heating solutions can maximize heating potential. In addition, infrared patio heaters and electric high-output solutions can extend the outdoor seating season by providing customers with a warmer atmosphere outside when temperatures drop.

With a trusted preventative maintenance plan in place, finding the right heating solution for your building can ensure your customers have a smile on their faces when they are trying to escape frigid temperatures this winter.

— Jamie Tuinstra is a regional sales manager at Modine Manufacturing. He has been in the heating and cooling industry for 25 years and with Modine for 16. Modine is a global company headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin, with operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.modine.com.

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