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The Challenge Of High Efficiency

Our industry’s adoption rate of high-efficiency gas fryers is a pretty dismal 10%, according to David Zabrowski, director of engineering at The Food Service Technology Center, San Ramon, Calif. The FSTC and Southern California Gas Co., Downey, Calif., are on a mission to change that percentage by changing perceptions. Next month (March 12 at SoCalGas, March 13 at FSTC, which is based at Pacific Gas & Electric and supported by California’s investor-owned utilities), the two labs will conduct a Fryer Challenge, inviting operators, dealers, reps and fryer manufacturers onsite to test-drive the most efficient, Energy Star-rated gas fryers and to learn oil management best practices.

FSTC and SoCalGas have partnered before, most recently on a series of combination oven challenges that were very well received, according to Zabrowski. “More than 150 people attended the challenges to learn how to cook with combis and to understand how energy efficient they are.”

He believes the same “challenge” approach can and should be applied to high-efficiency gas fryers. “Prior FSTC testing, both in the lab and in restaurants, has shown a 2:1 difference in efficiency and a 4:1 difference in idle rate between standard efficiency models and the best-in-class Energy Star models,” he says. “The focus of this challenge is simple: to promote Energy Star gas fryers over standard-efficiency versions.”

The higher initial price of Energy Star models is certainly one contributor to the lower adoption rate. “Part of the price issue is offset by rebates, which used to be $500 per vat, but was recently raised to $749 per vat,” Zabrowski says. “But there’s also a widespread misconception that Energy Star fryers will not keep up in a busy operation, which is patently untrue,” he adds, as the challenge will demonstrate.

Zabrowski, along with Nicole O’Rourke, Food Service Equipment Program Advisor at SoCalGas, will use their labs to show how these high-efficiency models cook fast, recover fast, achieve excellent idle rates and can pay for themselves within a couple of years, especially in a chain application.

In our March issue, we’ll be highlighting Energy Star-rated, high-efficiency gas fryers in the FER Focus, but if you’re interested in learning more about the Fryer Challenge, contact the FSTC at or SoCalGas at And here’s a link to Energy Star-rated fryers to get you started:

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