Battle of the Boil

When it comes to combis, is an in-built steam generator better than a steam injection system?

In a word – yes! In-built steam generators produce steam more efficiently than a steam injection system and so use less water. They also deliver a number of key performance advantages.

The most important of these is that fresh steam is always available and its presence in the cooking cabinet can be accurately measured and therefore controlled. This is essential to ensure perfect, consistent cooking results.

All Lincat Opus SelfCooking Centers are equipped with an in-built generator and incorporate unique ClimaPlus Control technology. This measures cabinet humidity and makes adjustments as necessary, adding or extracting steam to maintain the desired humidity, to an accuracy of +/- 1%. This level of control and accuracy would simply not be possible with the somewhat “hit and miss” nature of steam injection systems.

A steam injection system simply sprays cold water into the cooking cabinet. The steam is made as the water hits the hot internal surfaces and heating elements. This subjects the metal components to a considerable degree of stress, resulting in damage and a shorter life expectancy.

Moreover the steam injection process, by its nature, is far more difficult to control. It results in an immediate drop in cabinet temperature when the cold water is introduced and so 100% steam is not always available. This can have a detrimental effect on the cooking process, for example causing brown discoloration to sensitive vegetables such as Brussels sprouts or cauliflower.

By contrast, a steam generator provides maximum steam saturation and so overcomes these performance drawbacks.

9 Comments

  1. Mark
    Mar 18, 2010

    Sorry to be slightly off topic but I just wanted to say its great to see you guys have started a blog, the Lincat site is one of the best in our industry.

  2. I really liked your blog! good

  3. Ian
    Mar 23, 2010

    Hi

    Thanks for your comments, dont forget to come back soon to see the latest entries.

    Thanks

  4. Barry
    May 27, 2010

    Hello – a very informative piece. However – I was looking for energy efficiency data on combination ovens and came across an independent review site http://www.fishnick.com who appear to contradict your claims of less water and less energy being used – they have detailed a UK brand I am aware of called Eloma as one of the best – are you able to explain your method and statements.

  5. Ian Hoverd
    May 28, 2010

    Barry

    Thank you for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment, I hope I have answered your queries below.

    Energy and water consumption depends on a number of factors and variables. We were simply offering the widely held view that steam boilers are generally considered to be more efficient than direct water injection.

    The simple fact is that separate steam boilers offer many advantages over direct water injection (e.g. less stresses on elements, more controllability and greater saturation). But boilers and the associated technology are more costly and complex to produce. This is why companies who offer low price combis adopt the water injection method: they either lack the technical competence to produce a boiler model or cannot do so cost-effectively.

    I hope this helps. It’s a complex area and so much depends on how and what the combi will be used for.

    One final thought. If you are in the market for a combi, why not book a place on one of our workshops so that you can see exactly what the Opus SelfCooking Center has to offer.

    Many Thanks
    Ian

  6. Barry
    May 31, 2010

    hello – thank you for responding – although you haven’t answered the actual question of how is that you can make the claim depsite independant information to the contrary. Perhaps instead of just offering a widely held view you should present the facts – I for one would be very disappointed if I chose one of your combis instead of an alternative (as you say I would be paying more for yours) only to find it wasn’t as energy efficient. I would be hoping for payback from the claimed energy savings if I chose yours. Do you have any actual data comparing your combi to others instead of just beliefs?

    I do like your product and thank you for your offer to attend a cook day which I may take up.

  7. Ian Hoverd
    Jun 8, 2010

    Hi Barry

    Thanks for your comments.

    It really is incredibly difficult to rate one combi against another other than in general terms. Combis are so versatile: they can be used to cook a variety of foods in a number of modes (steam, dry heat or combination). Different types of food and cooking methods require varying amounts of steam. Where a combi is used only or mainly for dry heat cooking, then a direct water injection model like the Eloma would use less water than a model like ours with a steam generator. But if you only use it for dry heat cooking, why not buy a convection oven? With our models, the steam generator is filled each day, whether steam is needed or not. This is also part of the cleaning process which means you do not need a separate water filter for our Self Cooking Centers – something which would be impossible with a water injection model. With a direct injection model, when steam is needed the method of production is inefficient (not all the water is converted to steam and so some is lost out of the drain).

    As for energy ratings, this again depends so much on usage. The Fishnick tests use a load of grilled chickens for their measurements; results will be quite different with other food products. You also need to be sure that you are comparing similarly sized models.

    Our combis are manufactured for us in a specialist plant in Germany and their technical experts assure us that more energy is needed to convert water to steam by direct injection than in a steam generator. So in processes involving steam, this type of combi uses less energy.

    Incidentally, in your earlier post you referred to Eloma as a British brand. It is actually a German product (many of the world’s combis, including ours, are manufactured there). It was acquired by a UK company who, these days are a subsidiary of an Italian group!

  8. gareth @ washroom uk
    Aug 16, 2012

    you know what would be great is if you could list some retailers where this could be bought (just an idea)

  9. Ian Hoverd
    Aug 17, 2012

    Hi Gareth

    Thanks for your comments, if you go to our website http://www.lincat.co.uk you can view the where to buy section and find a host of dealers that sell these items.

    Regards

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