Restaurant Report

Free Newsletter - Subscribe Today

Restaurant Management
Restaurant Marketing
Restaurant Service
Restaurant Operations
Restaurant Accounting & Finance
Restaurant PR
Restaurant Design
Chef Talk
Online Store
Buyer's Guide
E-mail Newsletter
Advertising Info
About Us
Our Sister Site:

Follow Restaurant Report on Twitter

Restaurant Report on Facebook

Combi Oven Buying Guide

By Warren Wu of UpKeep

A combination oven, also known as combi oven, is a jack-of-all-trades machine used in the food-service business. It is an advanced, versatile, and powerful piece of equipment that uses convection, steam, or a mix of both to cook food.

There are many types of combi ovens available in the market. Moreover, it is a very high-value and seemly complex piece of equipment. For these reasons, buying a combination oven can be an overwhelming and daunting process.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of buying a combi oven that can best meet your kitchen needs, improve customer experience, and save you time, energy, and money.

Understanding How Combi Ovens Work

Like most other people, perhaps you too think that combi ovens utilize a complex process to operate efficiently. While it is an advanced machine, the fact is that at a very fundamental level, it functions on a rather simple operating model.

Here's how it works:

  • Combis use fans to uniformly circulate dry heat across the cabinet - a process similar to that of a convection oven.
  • When required, you can switch on the steam or inject water function. By doing so, you are increasing the humidity level to meet your requirements.
  • When you use the steam and heat function together, it helps to improve yield and flavor, besides cutting the cooking time.
  • You can even use this oven to eliminate excess moisture from food.

Things to Consider When Buying Combi Oven

Knowledge is the key to buying the right combi oven for your kitchen. Without the right information, you may end up making the wrong choice. Here are the important things to keep in mind before making a buying decision:


Combination ovens come in different sizes, ranging from compact units to huge models that can accommodate more than 35 large pans and even full-size baking trays. While a large oven lets you prepare food in bulk, it uses more kitchen space. It is important to consider the oven size and kitchen space before making a purchase decision. Your kitchen needs to have enough space to house the combi oven you want to buy. Also, make sure your restaurant and elevator doors are wide enough for the oven's passage.

Energy Source

Combi ovens are categorized into two types based on their power source:

  1. Gas combi oven - Uses LPG or natural "mains" gas as an energy source.
  2. Electric combi oven - Uses single or three-phase electricity as an energy source.

The type of energy a combination oven uses makes no big difference in its performance. However, three-phase electric models are more popular. The existing power supply in the kitchen will dictate whether you need a gas or electric combi oven. But keep in mind that many modern gas combi ovens also require some electricity supply.

Ease of Use

When searching for combi ovens, you will stumble upon a programmable version and a manual version. Perhaps you may think a manual oven is fully labor-intensive, but the fact is that most modern manual units come with pre-set options including different food preparation modes. Typically, a manual unit is operated with physical buttons and dials, whereas a programmable model has a touchscreen panel. What is best for your kitchen depends on your chefs' preferences. Ask them before making a decision.


In many places, extraction is a regulatory requirement, and non-compliance may lead to penalties. Overhead extraction is crucial for a combi oven because the unit generates a lot of heat and steam. The good news is that some combi ovens give you a choice to incorporate built-in automated extraction at extra cost. Automatic extraction is quick and eliminates the worries of manual extraction every time.

Water Filter

Combination ovens need water to produce steam during food preparation. As such, they need a stable water supply. The water has to be filtered and softened to remove contaminants and excess minerals. Different models come with different types of filters. A combi oven with a commercial water filter is most recommended because it effectively filters water and prevents matter build-up inside the unit.

Temperature Check Feature

All modern combis come with a detachable or fixed temperature check feature. It gives continuous feedback during the cooking process. Some ovens tweak temperatures and cooking stages automatically to achieve the desired result. It means you can simply begin cooking, and the oven will take care of the rest.

Other Considerations

  • A combi with a hand shower makes it easy to clean the oven floor.
  • Smaller combi ovens usually require a dedicated base/stand to stay in place. Large units are freestanding.
  • Advanced combis allow you to connect to the internet and save your cooking routine and HACCP data to the cloud. Or you can opt to transfer the data onto a USB.
  • Gas-powered combination ovens are generally more expensive than the electric version of the machine.
  • Gas ovens reach the ideal temperature level quickly.

Warren WuWarren Wu has years of restaurant experience from being a waiter at Common Theory Public House in San Diego, California. He is now the Head of Growth for UpKeep CMMS, a software company that helps companies streamline their maintenance.

Copyright © 1997-2023 Restaurant Report LLC. All rights reserved.