Are you about buying a dish washer and you need help making a choice? If YES, here are 8 key differences between high temp and low temp dish machines.

If you are working in food service, then you are also in the dish-washing business. Dishes, silverware, glassware and everything else are very necessary when it comes to food prep and everything surrounding the food service business. So, once you are in the market for a new dish-washing system, it’s very important to research the different types and models available.

High Temp machines are known to use a device called a booster. What these do is take your incoming hot water and increase the temperature up to the sanitizing 180 degrees. Note that most dishwashers today are sold with a 70° rise booster. This simply means that as long as your incoming water temperature is 110 degrees or higher, you will have no issues. Manufacturers may also offer a 40° rise for facilities that have an incoming water temperature of 140°.

Meanwhile, a low temp machine uses chemicals for sanitation rather than 180° water. In some scenarios based on building conditions and electrical lines coming into the building, operators are forced into using a low temp machine. Note that a low temp machine may also be referred to as a fill and dump machine as each wash cycle requires fresh water due to the chemical use.

8 Key Differences between a High Temp Machine and a Low Temp Machine

Health regulators and local governments have very strict guidelines on sanitization in commercial dish washers, requiring either extreme heat or sanitizing chemicals to remove bacteria from dirty dishes, cookware, and utensils.

Note that these guidelines have resulted in two main types of dishwashers: high temperature, which use an often-external booster heater to heat water to a sanitizing temperature, and low temperature, which use chemicals to sterilize the dishes. Both methods remove bacteria, but the differences in how they do so can have an impact on which one is best suited to your operation.

  1. Efficiency

Note that both high temperature and chemical sanitizing methods remove bacteria from dishes. Customers cannot see germs, though; they are more interested in what meets the eye, and sometimes low-temperature dishwashers are not able to completely remove lipstick, greasy residue, and other hard-to-remove substances in just one wash.

Fat and grease can present a particular difficulty, as temperatures below 130 degrees Fahrenheit cannot effectively remove them. High-temperature washers must reach a minimum of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which means they remove these difficult substances much more reliably.

  1. Impacts

Have it in mind that both types of dishwashers have different impacts on the environment and your utility bills, with some pros and cons for each. Since high-temperature dish washers must use a powerful booster heater to get wash water to the proper temperature. This type will typically demand more energy in the form of either gas or electricity, than a low-temperature washer.

Additionally, it may also be necessary to install a cold water line to the unit’s drain to “quench” or “temper” drain water, cooling it from sanitizing temperatures to a level that is safe for wastewater systems and grease traps. In contrast, low-temp machines are more energy efficient, but sanitizing chemical refills every week or so can be pricey.

  1. Location and Size

Notably, the location of the dishwasher can play a big role in determining whether high temp or low temp will work best for you. High-temperature machines are known to produce more steam, so most models require a vent hood system.

Have it in mind that the unit will capture the steam output in order to prevent water damage to the surrounding area and keep all that excess heat from creating an uncomfortable work environment. Owing of this, a high temperature machine may need more room and an additional electrical connection, not to mention the potential for a sizable bill for the hood.

There are some specialty models that have built-in condensers or other ways of mitigating the steam created by the hot water. They typically use the steam to heat incoming wash water for the next cycle, which cuts the energy needs for that process.

As it does that, the steam condenses on the fresh water pipes and is dispersed down the drain. However, since they lack that steam and the potential to create higher ambient heat, low-temperature machines are usually preferred for locations near customers. These machines don’t produce as much steam because they don’t have to heat the water to sanitizing temperatures, which also means they’re easier on your utility bills.

  1. Utility Requirement

Note that different models will have different utility requirements. With the dishwasher, booster, and vent hood, high temperature washers more or less require more power, and some models may only be available in with a 220 volt or a 3-phase configuration. Machines that use chemical sanitizers will normally require fewer amps.

For high-temperature dishwashers, the temperature of the incoming water is also a consideration; each booster is rated for how many degrees it can add to incoming water. For instance, water that arrives at 110 degrees Fahrenheit will require a minimum of a 70-degree-rise booster to get to the required 180 degree minimum, while you will only need a 40-degree-rise booster if your water comes in at 140 degrees.

  1. Effect on Wares

Note that dish washers that use chemicals (low temp) to sanitize must use a solution of chlorine, iodine, or ammonium. Unfortunately, these solutions can damage some materials used for dishes and utensils, such as some plastics, steel, silver, aluminium, pewter, and other alloys.

If you are considering a low-temperature dishwasher, it will be important to know what all of your serving products are made of to avoid chemical degradation. Consult with your chemical vendor to make sure it’s safe to use its product with your wares.

  1. Wash Cycle Time

For high-volume operations, wash cycle time is very crucial, as even a few seconds per wash can add up over the course of a dinner service. Since they do not have an extra rinse with chemicals at the end, high-temperature machines tend to have faster wash cycles on average. The hot water they are rinsed with means they also tend to dry faster and are ready to use sooner.

However, when this type is used for drinks and particularly in bars, remember you’ll have to allow time for your drink ware to cool after washing, since hot glasses can warm up cold beers and blended cocktails. On the other hand, chemically sanitized glasses can prevent beer from forming a head, which will cut into the flavour profile and will force you to serve more beer to fill each glass, cutting into profits.

  1. Fill-up and Maintenance

Regularly-scheduled fill-ups and maintenance will be required for any chemical sanitization dishwasher, as it cannot function without the chemicals its final rinse depends on. Howbeit, most modern machines come equipped with a chemical dispenser that will need to be refilled on a weekly or monthly basis.

While the high-temperature dishwasher may not need such regular attention, the necessity of the vent hood and booster mean there are two more major parts with the possibility of eventual failure, which could require emergency maintenance.

  1. Costs

Have it in mind that upfront costs are easy to determine between the two types, since they’re on the invoice. Low-temperature washers are generally going to cost several thousand dollars less than high-temperature washers. But the long-term costs are not so easy to analyze and pen down.

Low-temperature washers will have the ongoing costs of the chemicals, leaving you at the chemical manufacturer’s mercy if it decides to raise its prices.  High-temperature washers require only detergent, but they also use more energy and water.

Nonetheless, depending on the efficiency of the specific dishwasher, this may or may not outweigh the costs of the sanitizing chemicals, but low-temperature dishwashers are generally accepted to be more expensive over time, even with their lower initial cost.

Conclusion

Finding out as much as possible the pros and cons of high and low temp commercial dishwashers will help you make a smart purchase. Also take your time to research brands to find the most reputable names and outfit your kitchen with a commercial dishwasher that provides the most benefits based on your guest volume, menu, available space, budget and the desired results.

Solomon. O'Chucks
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