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Choosing the Best Commercial Dishwasher

Keeping your dishes and glasses clean is essential to the life of your business. Cleaning your soiled wares is a major success or failure point for health inspectors, and it can make or break your establishment's reputation. If you want to make sure your business continues to grow and abide by federal, state, and local laws, choosing the correct commercial dishwasher is critical.

Dishwashing vs Warewashing

In your research on commercial dishwashers and supplies, you may come across the terms "warewashing," "warewashing machine," "warewashing equipment," etc. So, what is warewashing and how does it differ from dishwashing? Well, in actuality, the two terms are completely interchangeable. A warewasher is simply another word for a dishwasher, getting its name from dinnerware, flatware, glassware, and other 'wares that are commonly cleaned in the machine. Which terms are used comes down to personal preference, but the meanings are the same.

Types of Commercial Dishwashers

There are many styles of commercial dishwashers that cater to all different kinds of establishments. It is important to take into consideration a few different factors before selecting a dishwasher, including volume and allotted space. This section will help you determine which dishwasher makes the most sense for your business.

Conveyor Dishwashers

Conveyor dish washers are large, cumbersome, and powerful, able to process between 350 to 1000 dish and flatware racks every day. These commercial ware-washing machines are made of stainless steel and designed for heavy use in cafeterias, hospitals, and other high-volume operations. Many come with microprocessors and easy controls to set washing conditions, and there are also Energy Star models to help cut down on electricity consumption, and they are made in both high temp and low temp models. But because they're so powerful, a conveyor commercial dishwasher requires a trained electrician to hard-wire them.

Door Type / Rack Dishwashers

Door type or rack dishwashers are smaller versions of conveyor washers that are designed to connect to clean dishtables or dirty dishtables. The idea is to fill up a compatible rack full of dishes, push it inside the dishwasher, close the door, and run the cleaning cycle. Within moments, you can push the door back up and your dishware is cleaned.

A commercial ware washer can typically process between 30 to 350 dish and flatware racks every day, making them great for localized operations like mom-and-pop restaurants. And like the conveyor models, you can also find these with high and low temp designs. Because they're not as large as conveyor dishwashers, rack washers are designed to sit out of the way of your kitchen's traffic, usually in a corner or against a wall. However, many still pull too much electricity to run off a simple plug and should be installed by an electrician as well.

Undercounter Commercial Dishwashers

Undercounter dishwashers are an excellent equipment choice for compact kitchens or bars where you can clean as you go, but not at a rapid pace. They can clean 20 to 30 dish and flatware racks at a time, giving your business a steady supply of clean dinnerware throughout your business hours.

Most commercial warewashing equipment of this type use a single door on the front and resemble residential washing units, but they can incorporate a variety of controls and displays to let you work more efficiently. You can find them in high and low temp styles, and since they fit right under your countertop, these dishwashers are the most convenient when used in the front of the house, minimizing the distance and time required to get clean dinnerware back to your customers.

Commercial Dishwasher Temperature Requirements

The FDA requires food contact surfaces to reach a surface temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered sanitary. Not all dishwashers reach temperatures that can accommodate this requirement, so it is important to pay attention to unit specifications that outline temperature potential.

How Hot Do Dishwashers Get?

Dishwasher water temperature can range anywhere from 120 - 180 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the model and which cleaning cycle they are running. While some businesses prefer high temperature dishwashers, others may benefit from lower temperature units.

High and Low Temp Dishwashers

When it comes to picking a commercial dishwashing machine, it's important to know whether you will need a high temperature or low temperature unit. Both machines require detergents and rinsing chemicals to complete the cleaning process, but how each machine works is different.

High temp machines wash dishware at 150 to 160 degrees and rinse it at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, sanitizing through sheer water heat. Because of the intense heat, high temperature commercial dishwashers also require a condensate hood for operation. Hoods are excellent additions to high temp units, but they also add to the initial cost and footprint, making them more difficult to place. However, dishes coming out of a high temp ware washer often dry faster and don't use sanitizers, some of which harm certain dishware materials. High temp machines are better at cleaning visibly soiled dishes and effectively remove fat and grease.

Low temp machines wash and rinse at temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Because these temperatures alone are not high enough to sanitize, low temperature commercial dishwashers must use chemical sanitizing agents with the water. Low temperature machines are not designed to thoroughly clean heavily soiled dishes, requiring the operator to rinse or scrub them before machine cycles. The cost of sanitizers is ongoing with low temp machine warewashing, but the units are easier to place since they may not require a hood as they do not produce steam (check with your local authority). Plus, low temp machines come with a lower initial investment and a low energy requirement as many can run on a 115V connection. However, you have to be careful when purchasing a sanitizer as some may tarnish or harm certain dishware materials.

Booster Heaters

Depending on the temperature of your dishwash machine water, you may need an electric or gas booster heater to properly complete your final rinse cycle. Luckily, we carry a wide range of Hubbell booster heaters to provide the final rinse water required to sanitize and flash-dry dishes and flatware. These boosters ensure that water is hot enough to meet sanitation codes.

A booster is not required for low temp machines as long as they run at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. In the case of high temp machines, a booster is not required if they run at 180 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Check the settings on your dish machine to see if your temperature is hot enough for a sanitary final rinse. If not, it's time to invest in a booster heater! On top of rinsing, they instantly air dry dishes and flatware to save time, space, and money! Many of our Hubbell models are compact enough to install right next to your warewash equipment.

Our booster heaters come equipped with temperature / pressure relief valves and gauges, a high temperature limit control, pilot indicator light, on-off switch, and a low water cut -off to prevent element burnout due to low water conditions. Standard tanks are designed for a working pressure of 150 psi (equivalent to "pounds per square inch" pressure). Each booster heater has fiberglass insulation to minimize heat loss. This means that the heaters take less time and energy to warm up when needed for your final dish rinse cycles.

The benefits of a booster machine are clear:

- Units effectively remove food residue and provide rapid self-drying and sparkling clean dishware

- Units ensure that the final rinse water temperature is hot enough (120 or above for low temp, 180 or above for high temp)

- Compact models fit right next to your dishwasher

- Units are insulated to minimize heat loss, saving energy and time

How to Clean a Commercial Dishwasher

It is important to regularly clean your dishwasher to ensure that your soiled wares are getting thoroughly clean. Grease and food remnants can build up quickly and act as a hindrance for your machine to function as it should. Be sure to refer to your dishwasher's manual or care and maintenance guide for instructions on proper cleaning.

Warewashing Chemicals

When you're working with low temp machines, it's vital to use machine dishwashing chemicals to ensure proper cleaning with every use. These chemicals enable your commercial dishwasher to sanitize and clean dishes at temperatures that won't naturally sanitize your dishware. When you shop for the proper chemicals, you should look for a chemical that will work with both your warewashing systems and the dishware you're cleaning.

For example, certain commercial ware washing units may only accept powder, liquid, or solid detergent, and some metal products are made with materials that wear after washing because they require a metal safe detergent. While there are multiple brands you can choose, Noble Chemical dishwashing chemicals are some of the most effective and affordable dishwashing chemicals in the industry, helping to cut down on your cost while keeping your business up to code.

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