Difference between a Spiral Mixer and a Planetary Mixer

Published: 28th August 2009
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Kitchen Applications: Mixers are primarily for bakery, pizza or other food service businesses to mix dough and batter. Countertop mixers under 20 quarts knead small batches of bread dough, pizza dough, whipping cream and fluffy frostings. Floor models have large capacity bowls for mixing heavy quantities of dough.

Types: Planetary or Vertical Mixers can be either floor or countertop models. They generally include a stainless steel dough hook, whip and flat beater. These beaters can be interchanged used to mix pizza, bread, pastry, cookie, cake, donut dough, icing, filling, cream, dressing, etc.

Spiral mixers are named after their spiral-shaped dough agitator or hook. The bowl revolves during mixing while the agitator stays in place. They are designed to mix and knead bread, bagels, pizza and gentle types of French dough. Commissaries and bakeries most often use spiral mixers, but medium to large volume pizza operations can also find a spiral mixer useful.

Unique Features/Technology: Floor models feature swing-out mixing bowls, power lifts and the capability to program multiple mixing schemes.

Capacity: In terms of dough capacity, spiral mixers can handle a much larger volume as compared to their planetary cousins. Countertop mixers for residential or small foodservice operations range in size from 5 to 20 quarts. Floor models start around 60 quart capacity, increasing to 80 quarts, before topping out around 550 quarts for large volume bakeries.

Footprint: Countertop models occupy about one square foot of counter space. Floor models commonly occupy between 2' x 2' up to 3' x 4' of space.

Energy Source: Smaller mixers are single phase electricity. Floor models are commonly 220 or 240 volts with either one-phase or three-phase electricity,

Construction: Mixers are usually made from stainless steel with a bottom-mounted motor that drives a mixing shaft. Smaller mixers have a removable bowl, larger have a tilting bowl, with a pouring lip to easily dispense product. Hand guards are often made of high-impact, see-through plastic. For safety, an interlock prevents most units from operating when their covers are open or bowls are tilted. Some planetary mixers are made from heavy-duty cast iron; more-expensive models have stainless-steel exteriors.

Maintenance: Motors are sealed, but may require lubrication with food-grade grease or gearing oil. Expect to change moving parts, such as belts, during a mixer's life.

Manufacturers: Easyequipment offers a full selection of mixers to suit various capacity requirements, from some of the leading manufacturers, including Bamix, Modena, Fruil, Hamilton Beach, Hobart and more.

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