If you work in food service – or perhaps own your own restaurant – one of the first pieces of equipment you will need to invest in is the best food heat lamp for your kitchen.
Not only will this product prevent your customers’ food from cooling down while the rest of the order is being completed, but it will keep it at safe to eat temperatures.
For optimal safety, food should be kept at internal temperatures of 140 degrees or warmer.
You should always use a food thermometer to double-check, but keeping waiting food under proper heat lamps can help reduce the likelihood that bacteria will grow and make your customers sick.
If you’re in the market for a reliable food heat lamp, it can be tough to weed through all of the options available online.
Consider our top picks for the best food heat lamp and review our buying guide so that you can make the best selection for your kitchen.
UPDATE: New user reviews added for 2020.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A FOOD HEAT LAMP
There are many options available to you when you are looking for the best food heat lamps to properly warm your food.
Here are some factors to keep in mind.
Strip vs. Bulb Warmers
Food heat lamps can be broken down into two warmer types – strip and bulb warmers.
Your choice should depend largely on where and how you plan to use the lamp.
Strip warmers are as the name implies and consist of one or two rows of heating elements contained in a long metal strip.
Reflectors are often attached to direct and increase heat flow.
Strip warmers generate more intense heat than bulb warmers and are also known for being more durable.
Strip warmers are best for buffet lines, giving off the heat you need to keep food at the right temperature. They can also be mounted above a pickup shelf or staging area in the back of the house, too, working well on fry dumps and similar applications.
Their small counter footprint also makes them great for tight areas and small kitchens.
Bulb warmers, on the other hand, are the most cost-effective choice.
They are used in merchandising applications because, despite the fact that they give off less heat, they are more economical.
You’ll see food heat lamps with bulb warmers being used at carving stations where only a slight bump in heat is needed.
Bulb warmers are also convenient because they can be plugged into standard outlets. This makes them more convenient for applications in which they will need to be frequently moved.
You can use a bulb warmer in the front of the house in settings such as lighted display stations, buffet lines, and carving stations, but generally, you will want to avoid using them in the back of the house.
You’ll find a few different element types when it comes to food heat lamps.
Strip warmers will usually include metal-sheathed or calrod heating elements. These are generally placed close to the food.
Ceramic heating elements can be placed farther away because they have a larger surface area and higher wattage, generating more intense heat than metal-sheathed units.
Halogen elements can also help keep your food hot, burning more efficiently than alternative element types but carrying a larger startup cost.
Bulb warmers heat food using heat bulbs. The most important thing to keep in mind when investing in a bulb warmer is that bulbs can and do break. To avoid this, look for a warmer with a shatter-resistant bulb, ideally ones that are Teflon-coated.
Think about how your food heat lamp will be mounted in order to find the best type of controls.
Temperature is usually managed by a toggle switch or an infinite control. These can be side-mounted or remote-controlled.
Your setup is unique and you may need to mount your food heat lamp different than the next person.
Some of the best food heat lamps are shipped with multiple accessories to give you flexibility in how you mount your heat lamp.
Mounting brackets work best for mounting on an overshelf, such as above a food pickup area.
Some warmers may include support chains or leg stands. Other bulb warmers are freestanding but can be clamped or screwed to a countertop.
Some bulb warmers are also designed as suspended units to allow them to be mounted above self-serve areas in banquet halls and cafeterias.
10 BEST FOOT HEAT LAMPS
Nemco 6000A-2 Two Bulb Freestanding Heat Lamp
Nemco offers a myriad of food heat lamps, including this and another eight-bulb lamp that are ideal for larger areas.
Made out of sturdy steel, this metal food heat lamp has a scratch-resistant finish that makes it well-suited for a commercial setting.
Measuring just 24 inches tall and 14 inches wide, this lightweight food heat lamp is easy to transport.
A highly portable device, it comes with clear heating bulbs, and is an affordable option for any restaurant budget.
You can even swap out the clear bulbs for red ones if you choose.
- Flat bottom for added stability
- Easy to assemble
- Non-adjustable height
Winco EHL-2C, 120V Electric Free Standing Commercial Heat Lamp
The Winco EHL-2C is another one of the best food heat lamps on the retail market.
This lamp is incredibly versatile, with adjustable features that make it easy to use in any setting. It is also exceptionally stable, featuring an easy-to-clean and scratch-resistant finish.
The Winco has heavy-duty steel tubing and a scratch-resistant, powder-coated finish on both the frame and hoods. To make it even more convenient, it comes with a six-foot power cord.
Best yet, this heat lamp has a three-position adjustable height so that you can use it with various sizes of food trays. It includes shatter-resistant infrared bulbs of 120V and is ETL listed for sanitation and electrical safety.
- Easy to use and maintain
- Shatterproof bulbs
- Adjustable height
- Slightly difficult to find replacement bulbs
HomeGenerosity Reader Review
“We used this at the catering business I worked at over the summer. There was never a complaint about cold food. The heat lamp being adjustable was huge as we used different size trays.”
Empura 48″ Strip Warmer Food Heat Lamp
This 48” food heat lamp is manufactured by Empura. It’s one of the largest food heat lamps you will find, yet is still offered at an affordable price.
The Empura has a compact aluminum design that makes it easy to assemble. The housings are lightweight and durable.
This electric food heat lamp ensures your food is always ready to be served. It is the best food heat lamp if you need to keep large quantities of food warm and safe for consumption. It’s NSF listed and available with both toggle and infinite controls, as well as in a variety of voltages.
- Various control and voltage options
- High capacity
- Easy to set up
- Plug must be purchased separately
Chef’s Supreme 2 Bulb Heat Lamp
The Chef’s Supreme 2 Bulb Heat Lamp is powered by a 250-watt bulb and made out of rugged aluminum.
This heat lamp has an adjustable height, making it perfect for various uses in a serving area or commercial kitchen. It also has a lightweight frame and vented bulb shades, making it easy and safe to move around to wherever you need it.
We really like that Chef’s Supreme has enough confidence in its product to offer a 1 year warranty.
- Adjustable height
- Lightweight and durable construction
- Fits a full-size hotel pan
- Can sometimes be wobbly
Chefman Electric Warming Tray with Adjustable Temperature Control
The food heat lamp by Chefman is one of the best food heat lamps for controlling a large surface area, boasting 400 watts of warming power.
It is different from the other products on this list because it provides heat from the bottom up, instead of from above.
Reviewers love that it can keep food warm all day, with adjustable temperature settings that make it easy to maintain the ideal temperature for whatever you’ve made.
This food heat lamp is CETL approved with some of the most advanced safety technology, including a black tempered glass top and stylish stainless steel accents.
It’s not only easy to clean and to use, but it’s easy on the eyes as well.
- High power
- Can be used with all heat-safe cookware and bakeware
- Sleek glass top saves space and looks great
- Can’t be left on for more than 72 hours
Jiawanshun 290mm Food Warmer Lamp
The Jiawanshun 290mm Food Warmer Lamp makes our list of the best food heat lamps by standing out as a top hanging option.
It has a unique heat emission system that allows heat to be dissipated around the entire perimeter of the heating element. This not only extends the longevity of your food warmer, but it also heats your food more evenly.
This food warmer comes with high-elastic spiral wire that can be stretched about 100,000 times. It has exceptional longevity and even comes with a stretching adjustment knob that allows for free extension.
The lampshade is made out of high-quality stainless steel and is high-temperature resistant so that you won’t have to worry about damage to the shade due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Even temperature dissipation
- No “cold zones”
- Lower wattage than some other models
Chef-Master 90050 Professional Heat Lamp
This food heat lamp is perfect for serving food at a diner, cafe, or small restaurant.
Perfect for small surface areas, this small bulb warmer covers a 20″ x 12″ inch area.
Offering all the warmth your food needs to stay toasty until it’s ready to be served, it has a contemporary design that makes it well-suited for both the front and back of the house.
This food heat lamp has a chrome-plated stand with aluminum non-slip feet. It won’t move around while you are using it, allowing for maximum user safety.
Its bulbs are 250 watt and shatterproof, complying with UL-EPH sanitation and safety requirements.
- Easy to assemble three-piece construction
- Non-slip feet
- Adjustable stand
- Low capacity
APW Wyott FD-48H-T 48 Inch Single Calrod Overhead Warmer
This food heat lamp makes your day a lot more convenient when you own a restaurant.
This light not only helps keep food warm in the back of the house, but it can also be used over a buffet table. Delivering 22% more heat than the average food lamp, this product also reduces hot and cold spots with its unique technology.
Made out of durable stainless steel, the APW Wyott food heat lamp is easy to clean. It’s corrosion-resistant and also attractive to look at, making it a good option for both the front and back of the house.
It even comes with a limited manufacturer’s warranty that covers parts for a year and elements for two years.
- 22% more heat than other lamps
- Made of aluminized steel
- Backed by manufacturer’s warranty
- Requires hard wiring
Avantco Commercial Portable W62 Heat Lamp
The Avantco Commercial Portable W62 Heat Lamp consists of two bulbs and is one of the most versatile food heat lamps you can buy.
Because it is a free-standing unit, it requires no mounting or brackets, saving you time and money in its assembly. It can also be moved and re-positioned with ease.
This heat lamp is easy to control and not only heats your food, but nicely illuminates it as well.
It has a two-bulb system that helps to prevent over-drying, and is made out of heavy-duty aluminum, withstanding the demands of your snack bar, carving station, or restaurant with ease.
- 500-watt output
- Adjustable stand
- Simple to control
- Some reviewers have had reliability concerns
ZXT Food Warming Lamp
Last on our list – but certainly not least – is this food heat lamp from ZXT.
A highly portable lamp, this one keeps your food warm and ready to serve with its 250 watt output.
It has a metal hose light stand that is entirely adjustable, allowing you to change the height and angle of the light to avoid drying out your food.
In addition, the lamp has a rustproof lamp holder to prevent damage and degradation. The lampshade is nano-plated, and it has a three-piece construction for quick and easy assembly. It also has non-slip feet to help make sure the lamp stays in place without skidding.
- Adjustable stand
- Not as powerful as other models
Why You Need a Food Heat Lamp
No matter which of these food heat lamps you select, it’s important to remember that these items are only good for keeping food warm over short periods of time.
They are best for holding items with small surface areas, like chicken, vegetables, corn, and french fries. However, they aren’t designed for long-term holding, as the dry heat will rob your food of its texture and taste.
That being said, the best food heat lamp can prolong the serving life of your food, allowing it to safely be served to customers without risk of contamination.
When you’re shopping for a great heat lamp, keep this list in mind and you’ll be equipped with all the skills and know-how you need to make an excellent purchase.
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com.