Unveiling the Hidden Costs of Commercial Dishwashers: A Comprehensive Guide

Posted by Ollie Nelson on

When planning for a commercial dishwasher purchase, the cost consideration extends beyond the initial sticker price. While the upfront price is a significant aspect, it's only one part of the broader financial picture. The true cost includes installation expenses, the cost of regular maintenance and unexpected repairs, extended warranties, and the ongoing costs of operation such as detergent, rinse aid, and energy consumption.

Understanding these costs helps businesses make well-informed financial decisions that help to optimize operations and ultimately ensure a return on investment from their commercial dishwasher. This blog aims to shed light on the additional costs you should take into consideration when purchasing a commercial dishwasher.

Commercial Dishwasher Installation Cost

When purchasing a commercial dishwasher, it's crucial to remember the installation cost. This aspect isn't usually included in the purchase price, and overlooking it can lead to unexpected expenses that can significantly strain your budget.

Commercial dishwasher installation extends beyond just slotting in the machine. It involves a variety of considerations including electrical and plumbing work, construction or modification of existing spaces, and in the case of passthrough dishwashers, the need for bespoke fabrication.

Factors to consider:

Plumbing and Electrics:

Services (water, waste and electrics) need to be situated within 1 metre of the machine for the installation to be carried out. Services in an unsuitable location will need to be relocated to ensure the machine can be installed successfully. The cost of this will depend on the amount of labour required (time and number of engineers) and if any additional equipment is needed.

Bespoke Fabrication for Passthrough Dishwashers:

Passthrough (also known as hood type) dishwashers often require additional bespoke fabrication such as entry and exit tables and specialised wash up areas, the cost of which will vary depending on the type of fabrication required and the quality of workmanship. You can usually expect to pay between £1,000 and £5,000 for this type of work. 

Labour Costs:

Labour costs depend on the complexity of the installation (e.g. if the machine needs to be carried downstairs or there is an existing machine that needs to be uninstalled and removed), the time required to complete the install and the number of engineers needed.

Depending on these factors and the rates of the company being used, labour costs range from £175 to £410 for undercounter dishwashers and £375 to £630 for passthrough dishwashers.

While the installation cost will vary depending on site requirements and type of machine being installed, a general estimate is between £175 and £420 for an undercounter dishwasher and £375 and £1000 for passthrough dishwashers. However, for establishments requiring substantial modifications or bespoke fabrications, particularly for passthrough dishwashers, these costs could be much higher. Considering these expenses at the outset can help ensure you allocate a realistic budget for your commercial dishwasher purchase.

To understand the true cost of installation, we always recommend speaking to an expert prior to purchasing a commercial dishwasher who will be able to assist you in choosing the right and identify any additional costs.

Planned Maintenance and Reactive Breakdown Cover

Maintenance is a crucial aspect of owning a commercial dishwasher that directly impacts its lifespan, efficiency, and overall operational cost. Maintenance costs usually fall into two categories: planned maintenance and reactive breakdown cover.

Planned Maintenance

This is a proactive approach to upkeep and involves regular inspections and minor repairs to prevent more significant, more expensive issues down the line. It can include tasks like checking and replacing seals, verifying and adjusting rinse temperatures, and cleaning and descaling the unit. Regular maintenance will ensure your machine continues to function efficiently, prolonging its lifespan and reducing the likelihood of breakdown.

The cost of planned maintenance varies depending on the service company, the type of machine (undercounter or passthrough), the frequency of maintenance visits (quarterly, biannual or annual), and the length of contract (1 or 2 years). In the UK today, the price typically ranges from £300 - £450 for undercounter dishwashers and £400 - £700 for passthrough dishwashers.

Most commercial dishwasher suppliers combine maintenance plans with extended warranty that covers the cost of any repairs and replacement parts fitted during the contract period. These packages are designed to provide customers with complete peace of mind and, depending on the manufacturer, cost anywhere between £420 and £1100 for undercounter dishwashers to £650 and £1200 for passthrough dishwasher.

Reactive Breakdown Cover

No matter how diligent you are with planned maintenance, unforeseen issues can still occur—this is where reactive breakdown cover comes into play. Reactive breakdown cover involves the repair or replacement of parts in response to unexpected faults or failures. The costs associated with reactive maintenance can vary significantly based on the type of fault and the parts/labour required for the repair. Therefore, setting aside an annual budget for unexpected repairs is a smart move. As discussed earlier, most manufacturers provide maintenance packages that include reactive breakdown cover which provide the benefit of cost predictability.

Together, planned maintenance and reactive breakdown cover help ensure your commercial dishwasher remains in good working condition, thereby maximizing its effectiveness and lifespan. Considering these costs is essential when calculating the total cost of owning and operating a commercial dishwasher.

Extended Warranty: A Worthwhile Investment?

The majority of commercial dishwashers come with a manufacturer's warranty that covers breakdown caused by mechanical failure for a specified period – typically between 1 and 3 years.  Beyond this period, businesses are often left to deal with any repair or replacement costs on their own—unless they opt for an extended warranty or maintenance package that includes breakdown cover.

An extended warranty, as the name suggests, prolongs the coverage provided by the manufacturer's warranty, offering added peace of mind to business owners. It works as an insurance against unexpected repair costs that can potentially arise after the standard warranty period has expired.

But is it a worthwhile investment?

The answer can vary based on a number of factors:

  1. The cost of the extended warranty: This ranges from roughly £400 to £600 for an undercounter dishwasher and £600 to £1000 for a passthrough dishwasher. The cost depends of factors, such as the manufacturer, length of coverage and the specific terms and conditions. It's important to carefully assess this cost against the potential benefits.

  2. The reliability of the dishwasher: If the dishwasher model you're purchasing is known for its reliability and longevity, an extended warranty might not provide as much value. However, if there's uncertainty about its long-term performance or it's a new model with little track record, an extended warranty could be a prudent choice.

  3. Your tolerance for unexpected costs: If your business operates on tight margins and an unexpected repair bill of several hundred or even thousands of pounds could be a hardship, an extended warranty could provide valuable peace of mind.

  4. The terms of the warranty: Not all extended warranties are created equal. Some cover nearly any type of repair or failure, while others have many exclusions. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and understand exactly what’s covered before making a decision.

While an extended warranty involves an additional upfront expense, it can help avoid unanticipated costs in the future, particularly if you're investing in a high-end model. It's an additional layer of financial protection that could end up saving you money in the long run.

However, it's important to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, considering both your business's financial situation and the specific terms of the warranty, to determine whether an extended warranty is a worthwhile investment for you.

Operating Costs: Detergent, Rinse Aid, and Energy Consumption

It is also important to consider daily operating costs, including the cost of detergents, rinse aids, and energy consumption, which can significantly impact your overall operational budget over time.

Detergent and Rinse Aid Costs

Commercial dishwashers require commercial-grade detergents and rinse aids to ensure a high standard of cleaning. These specialized products also help protect the dishwasher, prolonging its lifespan. However, their cost can add up over time.

In the UK, prices online range from £6.00 to £30.00 per 5L bottle for dishwasher detergent and £6.00 to £50.00 per 5L bottle of rinse-aid. While it might be tempting to opt for a cheaper product, it is important to bear in mind that using poor quality chemicals will negatively impact the performance of your machine and prevent you from achieving the desired wash results. Therefore, in the long run it will likely be more cost-effective to invest in high-quality product.

Read our article explaining why it is important to use high quality detergent and rinse aid to ensure you get the most out of your commercial dishwasher.  

Energy Consumption

Commercial dishwashers are high-energy appliances. They use both electricity for operations and hot water, which also requires energy to heat. Thus, energy consumption is a significant part of the dishwasher's operating cost. This expense can vary based on the efficiency of the dishwasher, the energy prices in your region, and the number of wash cycles per day.

Importantly, energy-efficient dishwashers, while potentially costing more upfront, can provide considerable cost savings in the long run. Models with energy-saving features such as heat recovery systems or low water usage can reduce energy consumption and help save on utility bills.

Water Usage

In addition to energy, commercial dishwashers also consume a significant amount of water. Each wash cycle can use between 1 and 3 gallons of water. Depending on your local water rates, this can add another significant expense to your operational costs.


Understanding the true cost of a commercial dishwasher requires a comprehensive view of all expenses involved, not just the initial purchase price. From installation and maintenance costs to extended warranties and the ongoing costs of operation, all these aspects significantly impact the overall investment. Taking the time to understand these factors will allow you to make an informed decision that fits both your operational needs and budget, ensuring your commercial dishwasher serves as a true asset to your business.

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