The Best Food Heat Lamps or Warmers to Buy in 2022

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How to set up and use food heat lamps in restaurants for productive daily operations. Let’s have a look.

Restaurants are reopening and after months of being in lockdown and enduring serious restrictions, people are now ready to get out to wine and dine. Phones are going off the hook for reservations to be made, and that’s a thrilling sound for several restauranteurs.

Now more than ever it is important to ensure that every customer who walks into a restaurant with a smile leaves with an even bigger smile. Using food heat lamps can help you with those satisfied smiles and gain a five-star rating with tuns of great reviews.

Persons operating in the food industry or own food establishments that use and understand the benefits of this marvelous kitchen appliance, tend to have more returning customers.

If this is your goal or you simply need a heat lamp for household use or private gatherings, that will be sorted after reading this entire article. Food Heat lamps are kitchen essentials but do you know what they are and how to use them?

As you continue throughout this article you will gain the answer to these questions including knowledge on how to set up, and reviews on the best food heat lamps available online.

What is a Food Heat Lamp?

A heat lamp is a type of food warmer used to hold and keep food hot until being served and eaten. They supply heat consistently for hours by using infrared radiation which is emitted from the bulbs in the lamp.

These bulbs are incandescent because instead of just creating light, their purpose is to supply warmth to precooked meals without causing dryness and a breakdown in nutrients. When shopping, popular names you may become familiar with are infrared heaters, IR bulbs, and infrared lamps.

If you’re looking for an efficient yet affordable food warmer this is a great choice.

The two basic types of food warming heat lamps are bulb warmers and strip warmers.

Strip warmers contain heating elements in several rows wrapped in a metallic material such as stainless steel to increase heat temperatures directed at large portions of food.

Bulb warmers rather are more affordable and most commonly used to supply heat over small portions of food, with a low gleam of light and generate less warmth than strip warmers. However, they are quite portable and can be plugged into standard electrical outlets.

Food Heat lamps can be used at restaurants over or on household kitchen counters, customer serving areas, and pick-up stations. There are various sizes and shapes of food warmer shades available for you to choose from, so you can create your own attractive style to match your decor.

How Does a Food Heat Lamp Work?

Heat lamps are not complex food warmers and so they have very similar features as that of a regular bulb. Many heat lamps have a thin filament or a tungsten wire that is sealed and circled by an inert gas. The filament acts as an electrical resistor that rejects the stream of electricity.

As the current flows throughout the resistor, the resistor is then converted into heat. The filament produces a great deal of heat and glows with a gradual increase in temperature.

Heat lamps use up to 250 watts or more to generate heat, hence how food can be kept warm for long hours. As mentioned before, the main purpose of this lamp is not to produce light so they may be a bit dim as filters or reflectors concentrate heat radiation.

The bulbs cannot be screwed into a plastic base as they could be melted, so a ceramic base is used. The infrared light produced warms any solid object it comes in contact with.

So, while using your heat lamp to warm steaks, french fry, rice, steamed vegetables, and other flavorsome meals, they will retain a consumable temperature. That is how a heat lamp works.

How Hot Does a Heat Lamp Keep Food?

While several customers are being ushered into a restaurant or diner it can be hard to keep all requested meals hot as staff navigate around the kitchen. As different food orders are prepared heat lamps come in quite handy.

They are designed to keep food over the danger zone of 140˚ F which is produced by using a standard 250W bulb. Using a 350W bulb, however, would produce even more heat which can be used depending on the type of food being prepared that may need extensive heat to refrain from becoming chilled too quickly.

Temperature impacts the reaction to how food smells and tastes. Customers and guests are more inclined to enjoy a hot and well-prepared meal that exudes a delicious aroma while combining the warm flavors perfectly.

Serving that meal chilled however would certainly gain a less impressive reaction from guests. Unlike some food warmers such as steam tables and chafing dishes that hold food in a container, heat lamps create the convenience of placing food on a serving plate or dish, as they can also be used as a plate warmer.

We do know that hot food on an extra cold plate is not acceptable, and heat lamps will supply heat for long hours. It is recommended that food be kept under a heat lamp for no more than four hours. This is to exercise good food safety practices.

If food is prepared in very large quantities, it is best to place only the estimated serving amount under the bulb warmers especially if the business is slow in the early time of day.

Manufacturers have also advised that users not surpass the 10-hour time limit when using the heat lamps. Keeping the food warmer on for more than the allotted time could strain the appliance and create damages while becoming hazardous in the kitchen.

How to Setup a Heat Lamp?

Heat lamps add a nice decorative touch to food establishments but do you know how to correctly install this unit?

Following the instructions provided by the manufacturer will save you time and money for replacing a broken bulb or lost parts. Visualize where the heat lamp will be in your kitchen and how you will get them installed.

For strip warmers, height may depend on your preferred mounting style and the heat capacity. You don’t want to have it hanging too high or foods will be chilled quickly or too low as meals could become dry. Some infrared strip lamps have adjustable stems or retractable cords which creates flexibility while in use.

Bulb warmers do not need to be mounted and so remain quite portable. The distance must not affect the supply of heat to food and must remain within the required temperature of 140˚ F or more, as recommended by the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).

Think about the installation method. If your goal is to create a line of heat lamps over your kitchen counter or serving area, then track mounting is suggested. This method means no wires are run from the floor to the ceiling.

Instead, the tracks depict a circuit with a live end of the track attached to a junction box in the ceiling, and the dead-end is mounted in the location you selected across the ceiling. Note however that a can track hold a limited number of heat lamps that can be attached.

To create a wall switch to power on and off the entire lamps at once, refer to the manufacture manual provided. Another installation method for strip warmers is mounting brackets.

These brackets are attached to the side of the heat lamp and mounted overhead however they can become impaired after years of use so replace them when necessary to secure your appliance in place.

How Do You Use a Food Heat Lamp?

Using a heat lamp food warmer is quite simple. If the heat lamp is mounted, then the individual switches are flipped to turn them on and off. Restaurants often have a remote wall switch so all lamps can be powered at once.

Several food options are then placed in large or small containers and under the heat and kept warm for hours. Be reminded that depending on the type of foods prepared some may require more heat than other meals.

Here it is imperative to know which meals will be placed under a 350W bulb or a 250W bulb as well as refraining from exceeding four hours displaying food under the lamps. They are used in restaurants, buffets, diners, and the household.

As you continue to the end of this article you will see that the portable heat lamps have a different design. Some are made with a cutting board attached so one or two plate servings can be used at a time. Others are constructed without a cutting board and create more flexibility in warming different meals.

Safety Tips for Using Heat Lamp Food Warmer

To safely use and operate heat lamps review these safety tips:

  • During or after using the heat lamp the surface board will be very hot. Use kitchen mittens to remove the board or wait until it has cooled to prevent irritating your skin.
  • If a bulb breaks while food is under a heat lamp, dispose of it and all the shards of glass to stop them from penetrating the body or being ingested
  • Do not change bulbs immediately if they have been in use for extensive hours until they have cooled down.
  • Change the bulbs when necessary to prevent corrosion, as attempts to unscrew them will pose a challenge and may break in your hand.
  • Ensure the screw is properly tightened after adjusting a countertop heat lamp.
  • Excessive heat produced by the lamps may ignite paper and certain types of cloth if they get in close contact with the bulb.
  • When using mounting brackets, support chains or leg stands to hold up the heat warmer ensure they are secure to avoid accidents.

Product Review of the Best Food Heat Lamps

After reviewing all the crucial information above on how to set up, use, and safely operate this food warming kitchen essential, let’s review five of the best products.

1. Avantco Commercial Portable W62 Heat Lamp Food Warmer 2 Bulb Free Standing

Avantco Commercial Portable W62 Heat Lamp Food Warmer

With hundreds of positive ratings and reviews for this product, this is a good look for interested buyers. It’s available in silver with 14 ¼ “W x 19 ½” D and a 14”- 21 5/8” level space under the bulb for using trays and cutting boards. It weighs 5.8 pounds and uses two transparent infrared 250W bulbs.

The electric rocker switch flips on and off and is easily located for use. Wondering how the heat will be regulated? The stand can be adjusted from 23 ¼ inches to 31 1/8 inches. To regulate temperature, unscrew and alter the heat lamp to the desired height for different meals. It is affordable with a sleek aluminum construct which is very durable and the plugs are NEMA rated.

You can use it immediately after unboxing to warm all your crunchy and delicious foods as no parts need to be assembled. It is safe to use once the guidelines are adhered to and are helpful in restaurants, buffets, and the household.

2. The ChefMaid Adjustable Double Head Silver Aluminum Food Heat Lamp, Two Heat Lamp Bulbs for Service Free Standing 120V

ChefMaid Double Head Food Heat Lamp

There is no doubt that using the ChefMaid heat lamp will help bring you closer to that 5- star rating or help you maintain those positive reviews from customers who repeatedly visit your food establishment. Its ability to retain moisture without the need for food protective covering is amazing.

It is 21 x 15.7 x 12.8 inches and weighs 7.15 pounds. The double head is designed to help retain and distribute heat evenly throughout food at quality serving temperatures. It can be adjusted to control heat intensity for different meals by using the screw located at the back. Food can sit under this heat lamp for hours and there’s no need to worry about losing freshness.

The silver aluminum construct shimmers on counters, it’s easily cleaned and scratch-resistant. Not to mention it looks very stylish and presentable. This household and commercial food warmer is used at hotels, restaurants, parties, and family gatherings.

3. Winco EHL- 2C, 120V Silver Electric Free Standing Commercial Heat Lamp

Winco EHL 2C Commercial Heat Lamp

Winco has considered and constructed value for its customers with this attractive aluminum standing heat lamp. It’s a cost-effective, durable, and efficient food warmer and a great kitchen appliance to serve your food warming needs.

The Winco electric commercial heat lamp weighs 6.62 pounds with an 18” L x 14” W x 29” H dimension and a 6ft cord. It features two clear 250W infrared shatter-resistant bulbs and an attached toggle. No need to pour any liquid over food to keep them hot or monitor food temperatures 24/7 to ensure it remains fresh.

The lamp is adjustable to three heights so the intense heat supplied to your food can be regulated to maintain quality. The electrostatic powder coating leaves the frames and hoods scratch-resistant and easily cleaned.

Since it is table size it can be used at buffets, dinners, diners, and restaurants. You won’t regret making this purchase. It’s worth every dollar.

4. Nemco 2-Bulb Free Standing Heat Lamp

Nemco 2-Bulb Free Standing Heat Lamp

To use this when serving food at restaurants, buffets, cafes, and diners is a wise investment. Ensuring that all individual customers receive precisely what they ordered and keeping meals remain warm is tough, but the Nemco bulb food warmer is here to help.

It is 24 x 19.5 x 14 inches in dimension and weighs approximately 11 pounds. There are two lamps but this particular piece uses eight bulbs unlike the heat lamps mentioned above. It is perfect for serving large portions of food at functions and gatherings as guests contemplate their food choices and place various orders.

If you prefer to use a heat lamp that is energy efficient, this model uses only 120V of power to keep your food hot for several hours. Nemco also offers buyers a one-year warranty so it’s a really good deal.

5. KOUWO Double Head Food Heat Lamps with Dual 250W Bulbs

KOUWO Food Heat Lamps

This is the final electrical heat lamp and it displays features of a must-have food warmer. The weight is 14.33 pounds which makes it a little heavier than the others. It is flexible and portable with dimensions 27.55H x 10.23base.

No meals will be overcooked or reduce nutrients due to the extreme heat. The height is adjustable with the holder and the infrared bulbs emit consistent heat throughout the best and most well-prepared meals.

It can be used to heat fries, baked foods, and other delightful food displays. Delivering food at consumable temperatures to customers will guarantee positive feedback for your restaurants and buffets.

Final Thoughts

Steam tables are very efficient for use in kitchens and help maintain heat for the best foods. We hope this article was helpful in helping you to understand the use of heat lamps and how they work to keep food warm.

I am one of the contributors of this site, completed my bachelor of arts from NYU. I love my passion for anything art, culinary, and of course traveling and the different cuisines.

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