Warewashers, or dishwashers, play an important role in a commercial kitchen keeping it going. Without a restaurant dishwasher dinner would come to a standstill as the kitchen maids clean every dish by hand.

Sanitization requirements make having an efficient commercial dishwasher a priority. Budget is an obvious consideration when selecting a restaurant dishwasher machine , but there are also other factors that you must consider.

restaurant dishwasher

How to Choose a Dishwasher

When choosing a dishwasher for restaurants, several factors need to be considered. Type, capacity, features, energy source, and maintenance are a few of the most important factors to keep in mind when selecting a warewasher.

Dishwasher Types

One of the first things you need to consider is what type you want. There are many models on the market:

Under-counter

Under-counter dishwashers are ideal for smaller kitchens and bars. They don’t work well for high-volume kitchens, but they are ideal for compact spaces where you can clean as you go.

Under-counter type can clean about 20-30 dishes at a time, so you can keep a steady flow of clean dishes throughout the evening.

Most under-counter models look just like residential dishwashers, but they may have different displays and controls that help the machine work more efficiently. Whether you’re looking for a high temp dishwasher or low temp dishwashers, you are sure to find an under-counter model that will fit your needs.

Because they fit right underneath the counters, they are convenient and take up less space in the kitchen. If you need a small commercial dishwasher, an under-counter model is ideal for you.

Conveyor

For high-volume kitchens, conveyor dishwashers are ideal. They’re large, but they’re powerful enough to process up to 100 dishes and flatware racks in an evening.

Most of them are made of stainless steel and designed for heavy use. They can handle high volumes of dishes. Many models come with microprocessors and controls that make it easy to set washing conditions.

You will also find Energy Star models for both high and low temp conveyor dishwashers, which will help save on your energy costs. Because these models are so powerful, they must be hard-wired by a trained electrician.

If you run a high-volume kitchen, a conveyor type may be a good option, but you must consider the extra cost of hard-wiring the machine and its maintenance.

Door Type

A door type commercial kitchen dishwasher is a smaller version of a conveyor dishwasher. They're easy to use. Load up a rack of dishes, close the door and run the cleaning cycle. After just a few minutes, you can open up the door and use your freshly cleaned dishes.

This type can clean up to 1,000 dishes and flatware racks daily, so they’re ideal for mom-and-pop restaurants. They are available in both high and low temp designs. They have a more compact design, so they can be tucked away in the kitchen and out of the staff’s way.

But because these commercial dishwashers still pull a lot of electricity, they should be installed by an electrician.

Capacity

Type is just one piece of the puzzle. When choosing a warewasher, you must also consider the capacity and footprint. Capacity is determined by how many racks the unit can wash per hour.

Door type and under-counter models are ideal for smaller and mid-size restaurants. They can typically handle 21-60 racks per hour.

Conveyor machines, on the other hand, can clean hundreds of dishes per day.

Consider your daily volume to find a machine that suits your operations. Your daily capacity needs may be the determining factor in which type you choose.

Energy Sources for Restaurant Dishwashers

Dishwashing machine for a restaurant is some of the biggest energy hogs in the kitchen. Most warewashers operate at electric power levels ranging from 115V to 460V.

But you will also find that some models operate using steam or gas water heating systems.

Decide what type of energy source you will want for your establishment. If you have gas appliances in your kitchen, it may be more cost-effective to use a machine with a gas water heating system.

If you have electric appliances, you might consider looking for an Energy Star rated unit  to save money on energy costs.

High Temp Dishwasher vs Low Temp

When choosing a dishwasher for restaurants, you will need to consider your temperature needs. The FDA requires any surface that comes in contact with food to be heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Not all machines will be able to reach this high of a temperature, so it’s important to check the product specifications to see whether the model will meet your needs.

How hot does a dishwasher get? The temperature can reach anywhere from 120-180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some restaurants prefer high temp commercial dishwashers, while others benefit from  low temp commercial dishwashers.

To determine which type is best for your restaurant, you must understand how each type works.

  • A high-temperature model washes dishes at 150-160 degrees, and then rinses at 180 degrees Fahrenheit to sanitize the dishes and flatware. Because of the intense heat, these dishwashers require a condensate hood. A hood will come at an additional cost and take up additional space in the kitchen.
  • A low-temperature machine will wash and rinse between 120- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit. Chemical sanitizing products are used to sanitize the dishes and flatware because the water is not hot enough to get the job done.

If the final rinse temperature of a commercial dishwasher is not hot enough, you may need to get a gas or electric booster heater.

A booster is not required if:

  • A low-temperature machine runs at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • A high-temperature machine runs at 180 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

commercial dishwashers

Features

Modern industrial dishwasher machines come equipped with a variety of features. Some have computer interfaces that allow you to control one or more units with the touch of a button.

These interfaces allow you to control the timed cycle, start-up and machine shut down. Some also allow for the control of the internal booster heater, machine programming or to check individual operating components.

Many digital displays can be programmed to send alerts for dirty water, low temperatures, and lime build-up.

Maintenance Requirements

All commercial warewashers require maintenance and care, but some machines are more complicated than others. It’s important to consider how often and how costly your machine’s maintenance will be.

Understanding your dishwasher requirements is crucial before investing in a machine.

Conveyor models must be hard-wired by an electrician. Even door type machines should be installed by an electrician. Read the product description or contact the manufacturer to learn more about how to maintain your appliances properly. The more complicated the process, the greater the cost will be.

Choosing a dishwasher for your restaurant kitchen isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. There are sanitization requirements that need to be considered as well as energy consumption and capacity issues. Weigh your options carefully to ensure that you choose a machine that suits your kitchen’s layout, volume, and needs.