Commercial Dishwashers clean more efficiently, in a shorter amount of time, with less effort, less labor, less water, and less potential hazards, than a sink ever could. Sinks function great as an all-purpose appliance, but the constant rush of dirty dishes produced in a busy kitchen, can cause a pile-up of dishes, that a sink just can't keep up with or handle. Dishwashers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and specialties. How compatible these appliances are with your kitchen will either streamline your clean-up process or sabotage it.
Here's what you should look for when determining which washer is best suited for your restaurant...
In the world of commercial dishwashers, ”rack” is the primary unit of measurement. Dirty dishes and utensils are loaded onto racks, which are then loaded into dishwashers. The frame of a rack will vary in shape, some feature lattices to accommodate rows of glasses, mugs, or soup cups; some feature stalagmite juts better suited for pans, pots, and dishes; and some are completely hollow, ideal for spatulas and silverware. Although racks feature unique skeletons, their exterior shells come in a single standard 20”x20” size that fits nearly all dishwashers.
To determine what dishwasher size you need, estimate how many racks your dishwasher must process during its peak hour. Most restaurant equipment stores advertise the number of “racks per hour” a dishwasher can clean. Your restaurant demands a washer that can handle the strain during the busiest hour of your busiest day. Keeping this in mind, a restaurant typically produces 35 racks of dishes per 100 meals. If you take into consideration your peak hour needs, and account for business growth – add a little bit of padding to that estimate; and your dishwasher will serve you well.
Now that you've calculated your rack-load, you can choose which type of washer will best serve your kitchen needs. If your restaurant contains a bar, consider springing for a combination of two smaller washers rather than one single large unit. This can be a more practical and economical strategy in the short and long-run.
A dish pit consists of several stations – a station to dump remaining left over food, a station to rinse off the remaining crumbs, a station with a washer, and a station where the dishes dry and are then put away. Door-Type dishwashers work really well in kitchen that use this common dish pit setup. You slide the rack into its washing chamber, the door closes, the machine washes, the doors open, and you slide the rack out through the other side. These inexpensive units can wash up to 80 racks per hour, perfect for small-scale restaurants.
For larger restaurants or restaurants with high turn-over rates, a conveyor-type dishwasher is compatible with the dish pit design while cleaning at a higher capacity. After pre-rinse, racks are hooked onto a conveyor chain that slowly pulls them through the wash chamber. The size, speed, and price of these units will vary. Low-end units can clean two hundred racks per hour; with the larger units cleaning up to four hundred.
Larger than the largest conveyor-type dishwasher, flight-type machines tackle the bulky loads produced by hospitals, cafeterias, and banquet halls – businesses where hundreds of guests sit, eat, and leave simultaneously. Dirty dishes are loaded directly onto the conveyor belt which then carries them through pre-wash, wash, and drying chambers. These units are the most expensive of the washer types, but if your business requires a heavy-duty machine that can manage extreme loads, this is your best option. Flight washers can wash up to 8,000 dishes per hour.
Similar to the dishwasher in your own home, an undercounter washer can hold only a single rack at a time. Capable of washing no more than thirty-five racks per hour, these lightweight models perform best as supplemental appliances that assist a restaurant's primary door-type or conveyor-type washer. You can save your bartenders from running back and forth between the bar and kitchen by installing an undercounter dishwasher near their beer taps.
Designed exclusively for stemware and glassware (no china or silver), a glasswasher trades versatility for efficiency. Though small, these machines can wash two thousand glasses per hour. If your bar-top never sees porcelain or silverware, consider one of these models to keep your glasses and mugs consistently spotless.
The final aspect that distinguishes dishwashers and controls how well your dishes are cleaned, is wash temperature. High-temperature units include a housed booster heater, which warms rinse water before the cycle begins. Low-temperature units bathe dishes in sanitizing chemicals and rinse them clean with unheated water. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks.
High temp units remove grease from dirty kitchenware more readily and more reliably than their low-temp counterparts. This makes for shorter wash cycles and no need for restocking chemical cleaners. However, high-temperature machines are more expensive than chemical units. Be sure to check the high-temp units you're looking at include a booster heater, a miniature water heater that attaches to the waterline. If it doesn't you'll need to purchase one separately and install it yourself.
The low-temp wash cycle wets, sanitizes, and rinses dishes. The detergents and rinse agents used in this process eradicate all bacteria and remove a large majority of grease. Since these models don't heat the water, low-temp units require less energy than high temperature options. If price is your main concern, this type of machine is the right choice for you.
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