Search for off-the-shelf three-compartment sinks online, and you’ll likely be overwhelmed with choices. The many different combinations of features and sizes in this category lead to thousands of options. However, three-compartment sinks are one piece of equipment where research and planning results in the purchase of a product that lasts for years with little maintenance or repair necessary.
While the basic features of three-compartment sinks haven’t changed lately, what has changed are operators’ attitudes. “For a while we were seeing a price-shopping mentality in customers, but now we’re seeing people come back to better-quality products for initial purchases or making upgrades such as stainless legs to add to the longevity of their equipment,” says one manufacturer.
Building a Sink
Understanding the different steel choices, manufacturing processes and variety of bowl measurements will set you on the path to selecting the right three-compartment sink.
Steel quality. Steel measures in thickness (gauge) and quality (series). Manufacturers build the majority of sinks for commercial operations with 18-, 16- or 14-gauge steel, with 18 being the thinnest. For three-compartment sinks, you’ll see steel quality in a series numbers of 304, 403 and 316, with 304 being the standard, 403 a lower-quality series, and 316 a more corrosion-resistant, marine-grade steel.
Consider the size and weight of your operation’s pots and pans when choosing the gauge and quality of steel. It’s easy to drop pots into the sink when working with soapy water, and thinner gauge steel could dent from constant abuse. Those dents create places where water can pool up, leading to stains, rust, weak spots and possibly leaks.
The location of your plumbing will dictate whether you need to specify a wall- or deck-mount facuet.
Manufacturing process. Makers build sinks typically one of two ways, either through fabricated construction, where they cut and weld sheets of metal together at the seams, or deep-drawn construction, where steel is formed into a bowl from a punch and die for a seamless finished product.
Fabricated sinks often come in at a lower price point, and take up a little less space because the compartments are flush against each other. As deep-drawn sinks are individual bowls, there is a little more space between each compartment. However, the rounded corners of deep-drawn sinks are easier to clean and don’t allow water to pool as it can in the right-angled corners of fabricated sinks, causing a place for potential bacteria growth.
Bowl size. Compartment size ranges from (inches) 16 x 18 to 30 x 24, with all the increments in between. The most common sizes are 16 x 18 or 16 x 20, and they usually run 12- to 14-inches high.
Noting your menu and capacity will help determine which bowl size you’ll need. Knowing what you’ll cook determines the types of ware you’ll wash, and you need to be sure to choose a bowl size large enough to submerge all ware completely, including your biggest sheet pans. You’ll also want a sink big enough to handle your operation’s dishwashing needs at your busiest service times.
Sinks come with galvanized steel or stainless legs. Galvanized steel typically costs less than stainless, but is more prone to rust in wet environments. Manufacturers offer braces for the front and back as an accessory to add strength to legs and make the sink sturdier if needed.
Whether a sink has galvanized or stainless legs, it’s important to pay attention to cleaning protocols. Chemicals used to clean floors can lead to corrosion, even on stainless. Manufacturers recommend using a mop or hose to rinse floors rather than a jet spray which can splash those cleaning chemicals up onto the legs. If chemicals do get on the legs it’s important to wipe them down with a clean cloth.
Creative Use of Spaces
Along with investing in quality products, another trend in three-compartment sinks is a move toward space-saving options. Operators are looking to maximize small spaces for various reasons, from the rising cost of real estate to the proliferation of ghost kitchens. Three-compartment sinks that fit into corners serve as one way to reduce the overall footprint of the equipment. “The corner three-compartment sink used to be a custom product, but we’ve seen such a need for options with a smaller footprint that we now have a few items you can buy off-the-shelf,” reports a manufacturer. “For example, we’re working on a project converting a warehouse into 40 different small kitchens, each with its own unique operation and different menus, and 20 of those kitchens come with corner sinks.”
Some drainboard configurations also can conserve space. A standard three-compartment sink comes with two drainboards, one for dirty ware and one for clean ware. However, operators have the option to choose just one drainboard or even none. In those cases, it’s best to opt for a side splash to prevent water from splashing up on the wall or neighboring equipment. Most makers’ side splashes come fixed on the right or left side of the sink but at least one company offers a side splash that can move from one side to the other in the field, making it more adaptable in remodels.
If you opt out of drainboards, remember to dedicate a space to dry dishes. Many manufacturers offer accessories such as shelving, wire racks or pot hangers that crews can install above the sink for storage. Shelving and storage options also are available for the space underneath sinks. Just make sure nothing interferes with the plumbing.
There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a three-compartment sink, and many of them are specific to each operation. In addition to knowing your menu and capacity, make sure you know local health code requirements and consult with a sales representative who can steer you toward purchasing the best three-compartment sink for your needs.
The location of your plumbing will dictate whether you need to specify a wall- or deck-mount faucet.
Attention to Details
Here are the newest off-the-shelf, three-compartment sinks for your dishroom from five manufacturers.
Model: MRSA-3-D, MRSB-3-D
Gauge: 18, 16
Bowl Size Range: 18-in.W x 18-in.D x 12-in.H or 24-in.W x 24-in.D x 14-in.H
Model: Regaline Sinks
Gauge:18, 16, 14
Bowl Size Range: From 16-in.W x 20-in.D to 20-in.W x 28-in.D, and 12-in.H or 14-in.H
Bowl Size Range: 24-in.W x 24-in.D x 14-in.H
Model: SS Series
Bowl Size Range: From 16-in.W x 18-in.D x 12-in.H to 20-in.W x 28-in.D x 12-in.H
Model: 3PB-2D Pro-Bowl Series
Bowl Size Range: From 16-in.W x 18-in.D to 30-in.W x 24-in.D, and 12-in.H or 14-in.H
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