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Q&A: Decorative Lamp Advice from Hatco Engineers

Q&A: Decorative Lamp Advice from Hatco Engineers


There’s more to finding the right equipment for your foodservice operations than meets the eye. Once you look into it, you’ll quickly realize there are a lot of considerations to weigh when researching and deciding on a decorative lamp. That’s why we went straight to the source — our Hatco engineers — to help you understand the different options (and get your order just right).

What is a decorative lamp?
Decorative lamps, also known as hanging heat lamps, are the perfect two-for-one solution if you need to briefly hold food warm and enhance your decor at the same time. Outfitted with standard (250 watts) to high (375 watts) wattage bulbs, they’re designed to provide radiant heat. They’re typically used at waitstaff stations throughout the front of the house (and the front of the kitchen) to keep food at optimal serving temperatures. While they provide less intense heat and are intended for smaller surface area coverage, they’re safely constructed for the durability that commercial spaces require.

And because they’re often invisible foodservice locations, these dual-purpose lamps can also complement your décor. To accommodate various commercial kitchen styles and setups, we have an interactive Build-A-Lamp tool, which you can use to fully customize them — from the mounting styles down to the bulbs.

How do you determine the right height for hanging decorative lamps?
This is one of our most commonly asked questions, and for a good reason. The distance between your decorative lamp and food is a critical factor — if not the most critical factor in making sure your food stays at ready-to-serve temperatures. And while you want to keep food at optimal serving temperatures, make sure you also play it safe by using non-flammable or non-combustible surfaces for plating food. Lamps with standard 250 wattage bulbs and high 375 wattage bulbs should hang no closer than five inches to a non-combustible plating surface.

As a general rule, lamps with standard wattage bulbs should hang between eight and 11 inches above the plate to keep food at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you upgrade to high wattage bulbs, but want to keep your food at that ideal 140 degree serving temperature, place your lamp between 11-14 inches above plates. If you’re hanging multiple lamps, make sure they have a minimum horizontal clearance of 12 inches from the center of one shade to the next.

How do you accurately measure for hanging decorative lamps?
We’re glad you asked. Taking time to properly measure your setup before placing decorative lamp orders is of paramount importance. Before you start measuring, you’ll need to determine whether you’ll be using vertical mounts (hanging lamps) or horizontal wall mounts (rigid arm mounts). Choosing the appropriate mounting option for your space is an important first step in the measuring process. Once you’ve decided on a mounting style, refer to our step-by-step guide to get the proper measurements.

Need more heat to cover larger surface areas?
Built to cover large surface areas, strip heaters can accommodate a high volume of food at peak serving times. They radiate more intense heat over continuous amounts of space and are ideal for back-of-the-house setups, such as expediting counters. At the same time, their power and large surface area coverage make them a go-to solution for buffet and cafeteria serving lines. While strip heaters have gotten a bad rap as the less attractive food-warming devices, Hatco versions come in an array of sleek styles and colors. They also come in various lengths to suit a range of service area setups.

How do you determine the right height for strip heaters?
If you’re hanging strip heaters, measurements differ depending on wattage and model. Refer to our guidelines for recommended clearance distances. And in the event you need to install strip heaters above combustible surfaces, keep in mind they require increased clearance distances.

Still have questions? We’re here for you.
If you’re still trying to determine the decorative lamp that’s just right for your space, take inventory of your needs by asking these important questions. And if you still have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Hatco dealer or rep near you. We’re dedicated to helping you get your order right the first time around!

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