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Restaurant Dishwasher: A Complete Buying Guide

Fagor Undercounter

Undercounter dishwasher

Deciding on the right dishwasher for your restaurant or commercial kitchen depends on a few important factors, and it’s vital to get the right machine for the job.There are multiple types of dish machines depending on what you plan to wash and how much of it you plan to wash in a given day.

The most common restaurant dishwasher types are:

Undercounter – these dish machines are similar to residential models and can handle up to 35 racks per hour.  They usually use a built-in heating element to flash heat dishes and ware to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for sanitization.

Door Type – these washers are larger than undercounter models and can handle up to 150 racks per hour.  Door type washers are most commonly used in most restaurants.

They have a large door that opens and allows racks to be easily moved in and out.  Some models even have a conveyor that allows the constant processing of dish racks.

Hubbell Booster Heater

Booster Heater

Booster Heaters – these stand-alone units pre-heat water to the NSF required 180 degrees Fahrenheit for proper sanitization.  They operate independently of the dish machine and insure that enough hot water is available for washing.

Booster heaters are typically used on large Conveyor or Flight dishwashers that process large volumes of dishes per hour.  Most undercounter and door type units have a built-in booster heater.

Check before you buy any dishwasher to see if you’ll need a booster heater or not.

Conveyor and Flight – these washers are for high volume applications like cafeterias or institutions and can process over 400 racks per hour.

High Temp vs. Low Temp

High temperature dishwashers:

  • Use heat to sanitize dishes and glassware
  • Must achieve 180 degrees Fahrenheit to meet NSF regulations
  • Use slightly more energy than a low temp dishwasher
  • Do not require the regular purchase of chemicals
  • Do not damage flatware and plastics
  • Is the most commonly used commercial dishwasher

Low temperature dishwashers:

  • Use a chemical bath to sanitize dishes and glassware
  • Are not as effective at removing grease
  • Are slightly more efficient than high temp models
  • Can damage flatware and plastics
  • Require you to purchase chemicals on a monthly basis

Some argue that the cost of chemicals for a low temp dishwasher is much less than the increased energy savings versus a high temp unit.

While this may be true, the main factor to consider when you are trying to decide between a low or high temp dishwasher is the damage to flatware, plastics, and dinnerware that might occur with a low temp model because of the sanitation chemicals used.

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5 Responses to Restaurant Dishwasher: A Complete Buying Guide

  1. Kevin Loving February 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    You should also know how hard the water is that you will be running thru the machine. Some models are better at dealing with hard water than others. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can install a simple filter to solve hard water problems. If you have bad water with a high mineral content you need to think very carefully about any machine in your kitchen that has water running thru it. The maintenance on these machines will be costly if you don’t insure the right equipment is bought on the front end.

    Famous quote of the repairman “you can pay me now, or you will pay me the big bucks later” (usually said while in the van leaving with your check in hand–LOL)

    Kevin Loving
    Galveston Texas (where the water is hard but the temperature is NOT)

  2. Commercial dishwashers June 30, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Matching the capabilities of various commercial dishwashers to your business needs is essential, whether restaurant, catering or hospital kitchen . Commercial dishwashers vary significantly in their capacity (total dishes per hour). To understand your needs you must have an idea of how many dishes will be washed daily in your commercial kitchen, allowing for seasonal differences (Christmas etc).

  3. willy November 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    We have a fagor dishwasher f I 43w and it won’t drain out it washes and fills up ok but wont drain drain is clear

    • Kasy Allen December 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

      Willy, is there a drain pump on this unit? That could be the problem. If not then the drain it goes into might be backed up. Check those drains and see if you can unclog them.


  1. COMMERCIAL DISHWASHER BUYING GUIDE « Restaurant Equipment Blog - April 11, 2011

    […] important to understand what type of commercial dishwasher you need. There are essentially three types of commercial dishwashers: undercounter, door type, and conveyor […]

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