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Rental Chafers 101
If you do not know much about chafers, here is your opportunity to learn all about the variety of chafers available for rent. Although a rental store may not carry all types of chafers in its inventory, you probably will find one that will work for you. If not, do not be timid about asking the rental store if it would be willing to add a new chafer to its inventory to suit you.
  • Chafers. Rental chafers hold buffet food and keep it at the correct serving temperature. Chafers consist of a water basin, a heat source and a food pan. The heat source heats the water in the basin to create steam, which keeps the food in the food pan warm.
  • Heating element. Rental chafers usually run on solid fuel, liquid fuel or electricity. Disadvantages of using solid or liquid fuel as a heat source include having an open flame and possibly higher fuel costs. Whereas, electric chafers offer heat without a flame, but require an electrical source, which may not be available. They also have cords that could trip someone.
  • Lids. Generally, rental chafers have either a roll-top or a lift-off lid. When space is limited, roll-top lids tend to work best because they retract into the chafer allowing wedding guests to open the chafer and then serve themselves using one hand. They also allow people to serve themselves from both sides of the table. If the chafer has a lift-off lid, wedding guests need space on the buffet table to set down either the lid or their plates in order to serve themselves. Lid holders that attach to the chafer can provide a convenient place to put the lid, though.
  • Size. Full-size rectangular and round chafers usually hold 8 quarts of food, while smaller and half-size models hold 3 to 6 quarts.
  • Shape. Rental chafers come in a variety of shapes. Although the most common shape probably is rectangular or oblong, other shapes include round, oval, square and serpentine.
  • Material. Rental chafers can be made of a number of materials including silver, silver plate, stainless steel, copper, chrome or teakwood. Some rental chafers have accents in gold, brass or wood to create a two-tone effect. Others possess mirror finishes. Sometimes chafers have bases made of copper or wrought iron.
  • Food pan. This part of the chafer usually is stainless steel.
  • Accessories. Chafer accessories like dual pans for serving two dishes in one chafer, risers, wind guards, spoon rests and lid holders, make chafers more versatile in meeting individual needs.
  • Special chafer features. Some of the latest innovations in chafers include drip-free, induction and glass-lid models. Drip-free chafers catch condensation and return it to the water basin to prevent dripping. Induction chafers offer precise temperature control. Finally, chafers with glass lids allow diners to see what is inside without lifting the lid.
Contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products and services to meet your wedding chafer needs. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above.

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