Buying the Right Dishwasher Booster Heater
Restaurant dishmachines come in two main varieties in terms of how they sanitize dishes. Low-temp machines sanitize wares with chlorine- or iodine-based chemical solutions. High-temperature dishmachines rely on water that's been heated to at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms. If you choose to clean your dishes with a high-temp machine, you'll need a booster heater to raise sanitizing water to the correct temperatures. While some such machines will come with a heater, if you choose a unit without one, you'll have several decisions to make as you choose a water heater. This guide aims to help with each of them.
The first decision you'll need to make when you're choosing a dishmachine booster heater is what energy source will provide the heat. You have three choices: electricity, gas, and steam.
Electric Booster Heaters
Advantages of Electric Booster Heaters:
- Easy to connect - Electric booster heaters may be the easiest type to get up and running. A qualified electrician should be able to install the equipment fairly quickly, especially if a suitable electrical circuit is already present in your dishroom.
- Low initial cost - Electric booster heaters tend to be the lowest-priced equipment of the three types.
Disadvantages of Electric Booster Heaters
- High utility costs - Depending on the cost of utilities in your area, an electric booster heater may be the most expensive type to run. In many parts of the country, electricity is more expensive than gas for the amount of heat generated per dollar. That means gas is often the most economical way to heat water.
Gas Booster Heaters
Advantages of Gas Booster Heaters
- Lower utility costs - In many parts of the country, gas tends to be the cheaper utility compared to electricity when you analyze how much heat each will produce per dollars spent. This makes gas cooking equipment the obvious choice in many kitchens, and the same goes for gas booster heaters.
Disadvantages of Gas Booster Heaters
- Higher initial costs - Gas booster heater equipment tends to be more complex than its electric counterparts, and that means it tends to cost more up front. This higher initial cost may be offset by the lower utility costs over the life of the equipment.
Steam Booster Heaters
Advantages of Steam Booster Heaters
- Nominal utility costs - Steam booster heaters are generally heated with steam from a building's central boiler. This setup means that your dishmachine will likely require no more extra cost per month to operate that what is already being spent to provide energy to the boiler.
Disadvantages of Steam Booster Heaters
- High initial costs - Steam booster heaters tend to be the most expensive type up front. These high costs may be worth the initial investment if the equipment is connected to a central boiler.
The second decision you'll need to make when you choose a booster heater how much the unit will heat the incoming water. A booster heater is designed to raise the temperature of water from your kitchen's main water heater, which will likely measure between 110 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, to the 180 degrees Fahrenheit minimum required to kill bacteria and viruses.
Booster heaters come in 40-degree and 70-degree rise versions. Those numbers correspond to the increase in water temperature they're designed to provide. To choose the right one, you must know the temperature of your kitchen's existing hot water. To find out, measure the temperature of your hot water at the outlet closest to your dishmachine's installation point. It's a good idea to do this during a busy period to ensure your booster heater will be able to keep up when demand for hot water is the highest. Subtract the number you measure from 180 to get the minimum rise in temperature your booster heater will need to provide.
Gallons Per Minute
The final major consideration you'll need to keep in mind when you choose a booster heater is whether it will be able to keep up with your dishmachine's demand for hot water. Water volume is measured in gallons per minute (GPM), and different dishmachines will have different volume requirements depending on their size, features, and how often you use the machine. Consult the specs of your dishmachine or contact the manufacturer to find out the GPM requirements for sanitizing water of your unit. Individual booster heater spec sheets will tell you the maximum GPM volume the heater can handle at each temperature rise.