What Is a Booster Heater?


Hot water can envelope bathers in soothing liquid and clean dishes of dirt, as well as disinfect them from germs. While bathing works with lower temperatures, cleaning dishes requires at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. However, setting a home water heater to that temperature increases energy costs. Booster heaters can perform the same function with less waste.


  • Booster heaters are instant water heaters that increase the temperature of water intended for a specific purpose, such as washing dishes. They can exist as stand-alone units or more commonly in the home as part of cleaning devices like dishwashers. Depending on the device, booster heaters can come on automatically when needed by the cleaning cycle or may need to be turned on and off by the user. Booster heaters save energy by enabling homeowners to reduce the temperature and energy use on their main heating units, while still allowing high heat when necessary for cleaning.


  • Different jurisdictions have slightly different requirements for booster heaters, but the ones provided by San Diego County show a useful example. When used with a machine for washing dishes or other sanitation purpose, the heater must raise water up to 180 degrees for the final sanitizing rinse cycle. When installed as a separate unit below a drainboard, it must be at least six inches above the floor and away from the well. It must remain easily accessible for cleaning and servicing.


  • Using a dishwasher requires 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand, according to the California Energy Commission. To keep your home water heater at the energy-saving temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, look for a dishwasher with a booster heater than can raise incoming water to at least 140 degrees. This higher temperature not only kills germs more effectively but melts dishwasher soap and cleans grease off plates. Another energy-saving tip is to use short wash cycles for everything but the dirtiest dishware. This also shortens use of the booster heater.


  • Due to the high cost of stand-alone booster heaters, they are typically only practical for commercial concerns where several loads of dishes are washed constantly throughout the day. The higher capacities not only sanitize dishware to mandated health standards but can efficiently remove residue such as orange pulp, sticky sauces and lipstick. Compact units that hold as little as six to eight gallons are available for kitchens where space is tight. Although these units are totally enclosed for safety reasons, they typically have removable front panels for easy cleaning and servicing.

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