To Boost or Not to Boost?

If you want to go with the high-temp warewasher, a booster heater is for you.

In the business we like to avoid using the common (albeit misguided) term “hot water heater.” We prefer plain ol’ water heater. Why? Because “hot water heater” is redundant. Think about it: you don’t need to heat already hot water; you need to heat regular tap water. Get it?

But there’s one situation where “hot water heater” actually makes sense: when we’re talking booster heaters. Booster heaters “boost” already heated water (between 120°F and 140°F) all the way up to that 180°F your restaurant or other commercial application needs to sanitize without the use of chemicals.

Hot HOT Water or Chemical Sanitation?

If you work in a restaurant, hotel, or other commercial application, you know your sanitizing rinse water must be 180°F hot to comply with all your Federal, State, County and Local Health Department Sanitation Codes. That is, unless you use a low-temp dishwasher. Low-temp dishwashers require a minimum of just 120°F because they use chemicals, typically chlorine-based sanitizers, to kill that bacteria on your dishes, pots, and silverware.

If you go with a high-temp washer, you’re going to need a booster heater to boost your hot water up to 180°F to kill all that bacteria. But how do you decide on high-temp vs. low-temp?

Highs & Lows of High- & Low-Temp Warewashers

Low-temp washers might appear to save you in energy costs. After all, you don’t need a booster heater when you’re working with low-temp washers. However, you have to weigh that against the downsides of using harsh chemicals on your dishes. That low-temp warewasher might not remove all the gunk from your dishes on the first rinse cycle, resulting in more re-washing. Plus, you need to train your employees to use the chemicals correctly. Sanitizing chemicals require special wall-mounted equipment that must be monitored to meet safety regulations. Speaking of safety, you’ll also have to worry about safe storage of the chemicals in your establishment—and no matter how safely you store these chemicals, keep in mind they’re not so great for the environment.

Your high-temp dishwashers kill bacteria by blasting 180°F hot water, resulting in cleaner dishes with no need for a second wash. Even though you’re potentially looking at higher up-front costs with a high-temp warewasher, the savings are lasting and worthwhile. No chemicals to worry about purchasing, training on, storing, and disposing of means high-temp washers are the less-hassle and greener option. Plus, they have shorter wash cycles and use less water overall. You will, however, need to make room for that booster heater—so if you’re short on space, that footprint could be an issue.

When in doubt, do your homework. Shop around and ask questions about each model of washer you’re considering for your commercial establishment.

CAUTION: NEVER turn up your commercial water heater to 180°F! Even though your water heater *can* go up to 180°F, it is not meant to run that high. Most importantly, 180°F water will come out ALL of your fixtures, meaning you run the risk of severely burning your employees and guests. We’re talking instant third degree burns.

See for yourself…

Time to Boost? If you want to go with the high-temp warewasher, a booster heater is for you. The next question: should you go with an electric booster heater or gas booster heater? We say gas. Why? Find out next week on The Boiler Room blog!

All images licensed for use under the Creative Commons.

Smart Rental Plans

Reliable Water Services provides affordable rental & service options on a variety of commercial equipment – water heaters, boilers, water softeners & more – throughout Wisconsin, Indiana & surrounding portions of the Upper Midwest. As a B2B company, our specialty is helping businesses where no hot water is not an option – and we’re available for service 24/7 because that’s when our customers need us.


No upfront equipment costs – it’s all part of the package!


Our plumber or yours? Either way, the installation cost is covered!

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Call 1-800-356-1444 for emergency water heater service, day or night.


Whenever your water heater fails, we replace it—fast.

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See all plans and services, or get a free quote.

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