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commercial dishwashers in the home--long idosyncratic post

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  • Wendy Leonard Feb 5, 2002 12:47 PM
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I've never seen a posting on this, so wanted to share my experience with chowhounds. Dishes have always been a huge problem for us; we seem to use every dish in the kitchen. We've always had 2 dishwashers, but even so, sometimes there would be 4+ loads to run. I decided about two years ago to investigate commercial under the counter dishwashers that do a full cycle in 90 seconds. Yes, they really do! I settled on a Hobart LX40 hot water dishwasher (as opposed to one that cleans chemically). However, the price was an impediment--about $4500 new--so decided to buy a used one. First I visited the used restaurant supply stores on the Bowery but felt uncomfortable shelling out so much cash for what was really a pig in a poke and a lot of the businesses seemed pretty sleazy. I eventually ended up buying one on eBay for $1600 directly from a restaurant that had gone out of business.

It is amazing! I've had it for 2 years now and kitchen cleanup is completely different and much faster. It really does wash the dishes in 90 seconds! When you first turn the dishwasher on it warms up for 4 minutes; then each normal cycle takes 90 seconds. Theres also a light 60 second cycle and a heavy cycle that's about 20 seconds longer. It doesn't have a "dry" setting--you just pull the tray out and the dishes are so hot they dry themselves in a minute or two. Except for plastic, of course, I dump plastics in a dish rack to dry. Kitchen cleanup seems more physically intensive with this dishwasher--every couple of minutes you need to pull out a rack of dishes and put them away (still haven't found a machine to put things away) so you are working pretty hard for a limited amount of time. The dishwasher holds one rack at a time, not two like a regular household dishwasher. It fits 22 qt stock pots without difficulty. The dishes also need a bit more prep than a regular dishwasher--my other dishwasher is a Miele. At first I worried that I was just trading one kind of kitchen cleanup work for another but generally I am finished a large cleanup in 30 minutes or so whereas before it would take 2 hours. One kitchen design book mentioned this option but stated that it was too rough on household dishes. I haven't had any problems. I wouldn't put fine crystal in, but I do put Villeroy and Boch china and have not had any breakage or crazing. And I put ordinary wine glasses in with no breakage yet. The only thing that ever self-destructed was an empty plastic Hellmanns mayonnaise jar.

I checked with my insurance company before I bought it to see if they had any restrictions on commercial dishwashers in the home and they had none. It fits into the same space an ordinary dishwasher does--BUT you also have to have a space next to it for a closed bucket of detergent about the size of a spackle bucket and a small (optional)container of rinse fluid (like Jet-Dry). You don't add the detergent or the rinse fluid; the machine automatically takes it from a tube. The bucket lasts us over a year. If you have children though, you won't want the bucket accessible to them; we have ours in a locked cupboard next to the dishwasher. About the heat generated by the dishwasher. We were told that we would need stainless steel or something counters and we resigned ourselves to replacing our Formica when it distintegrated. Well, it never did; the Formica countertop over the dishwasher is holding up just fine. We just put the dishwasher into the same closed space that the previous dishwasher occupied.

I realize this post will be of interest to only a small segment of readers but wanted to alert you all that there is indeed a dishwasher option that seems completely unknown. I'm mystified actually, why kitchens with $5000 Sub Zero fridges and $5000 Viking stoves still have one one-hour-cycle dishwasher...why Hobart or another manufacturer hasn't adapted one of these machines for high-end residental use.

I DON'T have a high end kitchen--Home Depot cabinets, etc.--but the dishwasher is great for people who cook all the time. Oh, and you can email Hobart with the serial number of any used Hobart you are thinking of buying and they will tell you when it was manufactured. Mine was 4 years old when I bought it.

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  1. Thank you very much for this great post! I've wanted to put a commercial d/w in my kitchen, but I was put off by people talking about insurance problems, installation, etc. Do you need to run a 220 line to the unit? Special pipes for water or waste? Is servicing the unit a problem?

    Cheers,

    Marc

    1 Reply
    1. re: mdc210
      w
      Wendy Leonard

      No special pipes for water or waste. You do need to run a 220 line with the hot water version--I should have mentioned that--because there's a booster that heats the water up to about 190 degrees. After the electrician put the line in our regular plumber hooked up the Hobart. We have 2 dishwashers, one on either side of the sink, the Hobart and a Miele, and the regular plumber set that up without difficulty. As for servicing, I don't know! It's never needed servicing. I'm told that Hobart is very good with repairs-- but I have no first hand knowledge. Essentially we acquired the machine, had the electrician put in the 220 line, had the plumber hook it up and we've been running it ever since with no problems.

    2. I've done some volunteer work in kitchens of social service institutions, and I too have been astounded at what I saw in terms of dishwashing. The apparatus for washing dishes in institutions seems to me to be vastly simpler than a home dishwasher; I can't for the life of me understand why home dishwashers should take so long to do the job.

      For those who don't know: commercial dishwashers look a little like countertops, but with a "washing station" in the middle. They're made of stainless steel or aluminum. You put the dishes into a tray on the "countertop" that's maybe 18 in. square. You then move that to the washing station and pull down a kind of "hood"--4 sides, to prevent splashing. You preess the start button, and water and dishwashing solution comes out of a sprayer on the top of the unit. After 90 seconds to 2 minutes, it stops, and the dishes are done--not necessarily dry, but cleaned. This thing *does* require more space than a home dishwasher; if I had enough space for one, I would surely get it instead of a regular dishwasher.

      Hmm, I suppose you could probably see a picture at Hobart's web site.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Howard-2
        w
        Wendy Leonard

        I don't think this is exactly what I am talking about; your description seems a little different. The Hobart LX40 is exactly the same size as an underthecounter home dishwasher and takes up the same space. You just open and close it like any other ordinary dishwasher; there is no hood involved or washing station. I just pulled out an old Kenmore dishwasher and replaced it with the Hobart.

        1. re: Wendy Leonard

          I realize that I'm living vicariously here, but... Have you noticed any change in your electricity or hot water bills since you got the Hobart? Also, does the Hobart draw on your hot water tank like a regular dishwasher? If not, does that mean you can take a hot shower while the dishwasher's running?

          1. re: Lindsay B.
            w
            Wendy Leonard

            I haven't noticed any big increase in our electric bills. That's not to say that there isn't any increase, only that it's not large enough that I am aware of it. The Hobart clearly draws a lot more electricity but I surmise that since it runs for so much less time the difference isn't as dramatic as you might expect. We used to have our regular dishwashers running upwards of 4-6 loads a day (I have 4 kids); thats 4 to 6 hours!

            It does draw on your hot water tank, same as the others, so those hot showers are still out. There is a booster that boosts the temperature of the water higher than what it is right out of the tank--that's where your electricity drain comes from.

            1. re: Lindsay B.
              w
              Wendy Leonard

              I posted a reply to this message but for some reason it isn't accessible--the post is only showing my name. I'll try again.

              I haven't noticed any major change in our electric bills. That doesn't mean there isn't a change, only that it's not large enough for me to have taken notice. The Hobart certainly takes more electricity to run--I imagine that since it runs for a much shorter time the disparity isn't as much as one might imagine. We used to run our regular dishwashers 4-6 loads a day (we have 4 kids)--that's 4-6 hours!

              The Hobart runs off your hot water tank, the same as a regular dishwasher, so those hot showers are still out. There's a booster which ups the temperature of the water as it is drawn off the hot water tank; that's what accounts for the electricity draw. I don't think I would notice an increase in our hot water bills attributable to the dishwasher since that would come under our heating bill and fuel prices have fluctuated so much.

        2. What a timely post. I have been thinking a lot about my "dream kitchen" lately, and have been wondering about commercial dishwashers.

          You did mention that dishes require more prep work than with your other dishwasher. Just how much more prep? I am guessing you mean pre-rinsing and that nonsense? My philosophy has always been put the dishes in as dirty as they come from the table (well, within reason)and see if the dishwasher does the job, usually it does. So I am interested in how much prep work the dishes do require.

          You also mentioned putting in stock pots. I've always heard that you shouldn't put good pots and pans in the dishwasher, have you found that not to be the case?

          I have also heard that they are very noisy, is that true? Of course, with such a short cycle time, that wouldn't matter too much, I guess.

          Thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Persephone
            w
            Wendy Leonard

            Okay, let's see. My philosophy of dishwashing is pretty much the same as yours. The thing to remember about a commercial dishwasher is that you have the advantage of very forceful water and high heat--but not long soaking. I'll put anything into the Miele without rinsing and mostly, like you said, it's OK. With the Hobart you need to rinse off large food particles first and it will not clean adequately baked on food that needs long soaking. That said, I always just dump all the silverware on the tray without generally doing anything to it and it comes out fine usually. If the silverware is very dirty I might shake the tray after the 90 second cycle and then run it again. Plates, cups, etc. always come out fine.

            I have a pretty good collection of pots and pans--Calphalon, All-Clad, various heavy-duty French pots. I've always put everything in the dishwasher, except for copper. What exactly is supposed to happen if you do? I've never noticed anything amiss. To tell you the truth, if I had to do my pots by hand I'd probably buy different pots...

            The Hobart changes the way you work in the kitchen. For example, when I'm baking I will have it running so I always have clean food processor bowls, etc. Also since you can wash things right away they often don't need long soaking.

            For our other dishwasher we bought the Miele because it was so quiet and we couldn't even be in the kitchen when our old Kenmore was running the noise was so disturbing. So I know exactly what you are asking. The Miele is so quiet we sometimes don't know it's on.

            The Hobart, on the other hand, comes to life with a tremendous roar. However we have not found it disturbing at all because it's like having the food processor on for a minute--there's all this whirring whooshing action and then silence. It's an event as opposed to a chronic annoyance. Also because of the short cycle you are usually working pretty hard to put dishes away when the Hobart is running. With regular dishwashers, the cycle is so long that maybe you want to be sitting in the kitchen or talking or whatever.

            If there are just a few dishes or if there are a couple of pans with hardened food I will put them in the Miele. The Hobart shines when you have more dishes than will fit in a single ordinary dishwasher load, or when you want everything done and put away in a short time. I like having both.

          2. For years I worked in someone's home who also had a Hobart dishwasher like yours. I agree, it made doing the dishes go so fast. Many wineries have these also - they can go through many racks of glasses quickly. A great convenience, especially if you can find a buy like you did.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gordon wing
              w
              Wendy Leonard

              You can find used Hobart hot water LX40's; you just have to be patient. It took me several months and I was outbid on eBay a couple of times. I wanted to be able to pick it up myself so was limited to a 4-hr driving radius. Still, they do turn up with some regularity and they go for $1300-1900. The ones you see at auction for $200-$500 are cold water chemical wash machines. You should email the seller and ask for the serial number and then query Hobart so you know how old the machine is. Restaurant supply stores get them in fairly regularly too; they just go very quickly; you probably need to be on a list to be contacted when one comes in.

            2. Hoping you still have access to this. We are contemplating getting a commercial dishwasher. With 13 kids, we have gone through a lot of dishwashers! They never seem to last very long. I'm wonder if, after all these years, you still are happy with you decision.