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Types of Compartment Sinks

Compartment sinks are an essential piece of equipment in any commercial kitchen, providing a convenient and efficient way to wash and clean dishes as well as prep food items. These sinks can come with multiple compartments, each serving a specific purpose and function. Commercial kitchens are subject to strict health and safety regulations, and having the right type of compartment sink is crucial to maintaining a clean and sanitary workspace. Compartment sinks are available in various sizes and configurations to suit different needs and kitchen layouts.

Number of Sink Compartments

The first factor to consider as you look into buying kitchen sinks is how many sink compartments you'll need. Among the types of sinks available, the different number of compartments serve various purposes and help improve efficiency in your establishment. Although the three compartment sink is the most common compartment sink in the industry, you can also choose between one compartment, two compartment, and four compartment sinks.

Restaurant Equipment

One Compartment Sink

A one compartment sink consists of a single basin. One of the key advantages of a one compartment sink is its space-saving design, making it an ideal choice for small kitchens or food trucks, where space is often limited. 

A one compartment sink is best used for utility or vegetable washing. These sinks can come with just the basin or can be upgraded to include a drainboard. With the added drainboard, you can increase the drying space and declutter your drying racks and countertops, making it perfect for utility purposes.

  • Space-saving design
  • Best used for utility or vegetable washing
  • Perfect for food trucks
Restaurant Equipment

Two Compartment Sink

Two compartment sinks increase the flexibility of your operation while still maintaining a relatively compact footprint. These sinks consist of two separate bowls, each with its own drain, allowing for simultaneous use and easy organization of tasks. The bowls can often vary in size and depth and the sinks can come with just the basins or can be upgraded to include one or two drainboards.

Two compartment sinks are best used for food thawing and prep. The separate bowls allow for easy segregation of tasks, such as soaking and rinsing dishes or washing fruit and vegetables. This helps to maintain a clean and organized workspace, increasing efficiency and productivity in the kitchen.

  • Compact footprint
  • Bowls can often vary in size and depth
  • Best used for food thawing and prep
  • Perfect for snack bars, cafes, or concession stands
Restaurant Equipment

Three Compartment Sink

The most common type of compartment sink found in commercial kitchens, three compartment sinks have a logical order to help you properly clean and sanitize dishes, allowing you to designate one basin for washing, the second for rinsing, and the third for sanitizing.

When using a three compartment sink, it is important to follow health regulations and guidelines. This includes maintaining the proper water temperatures, regularly changing out the water in each compartment, and using approved cleaning and sanitizing agents. By adhering to these regulations, you can ensure that your dishes are properly cleaned and sanitized, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses.

  • Most common for commercial kitchens
  • Keeps each step of the cleaning process separate
  • Best used to wash, rinse, and sanitize dishes
  • Perfect for standard restaurant kitchens
Restaurant Equipment

Four Compartment Sink

The four compartment sink has the largest footprint among all the different types of compartment sinks. This type of sink is designed to handle high-volume dishwashing operations and is commonly found in commercial kitchens, especially in university and hospital settings.

The four compartment sink is best used for soaking, washing, rinsing, and sanitizing dishes. With its four separate compartments, it allows for a systematic and efficient dishwashing process. The first compartment is typically used for soaking and pre-washing food residues from the dishes. The second compartment is used for washing the dishes with detergent. The third compartment is for rinsing off any remaining debris or soap, while the fourth compartment is dedicated to sanitizing the dishes with a sanitizing solution or hot water.

  • Features the largest footprint
  • Best used to soak, wash, rinse, and sanitize
  • Perfect for university and hospital kitchens

Compartment Sink Materials

The material of the sink you buy is just as important as its number of compartments and size. All compartment sinks are made of stainless steel to ensure long-lasting durability, but there are different grades of steel used. You will often find compartment sinks made of either 430 stainless steel or 304 stainless steel.

The difference between type 304 and type 430 stainless steel is the small percentage of nickel present in 304 stainless steel. Although 304 is not magnetic, it is generally considered the higher-quality stainless steel thanks to its extra rust resistance, which makes it the better option in wet environments.

Compartment Sink Gauges

Each compartment sink is also made with a specific gauge of steel. The gauge is a measurement of the steel's thickness, with lower gauges indicating a thicker metal. The most common gauges for compartment sinks are 18 gauge, 16 gauge, and 14 gauge.

Person washing dishes at a 14 gauge three compartment sink

18 Gauge Stainless Steel Compartment Sink

  • Thinnest material
  • Good for soft water areas
  • Quality: Good

16 Gauge Stainless Steel Compartment Sink

  • Medium-grade material
  • Stronger legs for basin support
  • Quality: Better

14 Gauge Stainless Steel Compartment Sink

  • Thickest material
  • Greatest durability
  • Quality: Best

Compartment Sink Accessories

You can pair your compartment sink with a variety of accessories and configurations to maximize your experience and efficiency.

  • Drainboards: For the best convenience, compartment sinks can come with drainboards on one or both sides for a variety of purposes, from drying washed dishware to adding extra table space.
  • Faucets: Most sinks also include holes drilled into the backsplash to support swing nozzle, gooseneck, or pre-rinse faucets, depending on what you need, to give you the chance to streamline rinsing and cleaning. With three and four compartment sinks, the units commonly come with multiple centers punched over different sinks so that you can have multiple faucets for separate purposes while you work.
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