Panasonic works with group customers to conceive first windowless microwave

Panasonic NE-1878 open

Panasonic has officially launched a professional microwave with inverter technology and an all-metal door, doing away with the traditional glass-fronted window.

Iain Phillips, sales and marketing manager at Panasonic (main image), said the brand’s R&D department conceived the new design after feedback from operators suggested that chefs are far too busy to stand and watch what goes on inside their microwaves, particularly in open kitchen environments.

It will also help operators overcome perception issues, by allowing them to use it in theatre environments without customers necessarily realising it is a microwave.

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Panasonic’s NE-1878, with full metal door, brings a host of advantages to operators, as well as the benefits of inverter technology, which enables faster, more even, gentler cooking, is also better for defrosting, and uses less energy.

The company says the design is a “global first” and that one of the benefits of having an all metal door is that it does not require the intense maintenance regime of a traditional microwave and therefore increases the lifespan of the oven.

The inside of the metal door has no ridges, seals or film to clean around, which has received the thumbs-up from operators involved in its development.

The system comes with a spare ceiling plate as feedback given by operators indicated that when this is removed for cleaning, it is often not replaced. As microwaves are attracted to food particles, any splatter on the ceiling of the cavity will cause arcing and burns. The NE-1878 will not function unless the removable ceiling plate is in position.

Additionally, the Ne-1878 is 12kg lighter than its predecessor, the NE-1853, which lowers shipping costs and means it is more portable and easier to move around for cleaning.

The inclusion of inverter technology, meanwhile, which enables faster, more even, gentler cooking, is also better for defrosting, and uses less energy, is a first for commercial microwaves, Panasonic claims.

According to the brand, conventional microwave ovens use transformers to increase line voltage to a level high enough to operate the magnetrons, which generate microwaves that cook the food.

It says this technique has its drawbacks as transformers are relatively inefficient; power is lost (through heat dissipation) in converting the line voltage to the higher magnetron level and the transformer operates at a constant power that can only be changed by switching the power on or off repeatedly.

In inverter-equipped microwave ovens, the power transformer is replaced by a circuit board, which converts the incoming line frequency. A relatively small transformer is then required to increase the voltage to the level required by a magnetron.

By varying the pulse width, the output power can be linearly controlled for more precise cooking and defrosting levels. The bulky power transformer is replaced by a small, lightweight circuit board and, because less heat is dissipated, power efficiency is increased.

Mr Phillips said: “After two years working with some of our major group customers, we have developed the ground-breaking NE-1878 microwave to address some of the issues they had in their operations. Inverter technology was invented by Panasonic and, while it exists in a few domestic microwave ovens, there are no commercial microwaves in the UK that use it. And there are no microwaves that exist with a full metal door – an industry first in our 100th year.”

Panasonic will officially launch the NE-1878 at the Commercial Kitchen show in June. Its team will be serving up cake on both days of the show between 11am and 2pm to celebrate its century in business.

Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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