Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ideas. For years, cooks have desired both the benefits of single-basin sinks and double-basin sinks, yet have had to decide which of the two to install. It wasn't until 2006 that a U.S. sink manufacturer recruited a product designer to come up with an elegant solution.
This solution, called the low-divide or dual-capacity kitchen sink, provides two basins but with a center divider that rises only halfway to the level of the top of the basins.
Is this the sink for you?
Single-Basin and Double-Basin Sink Problems
With the single basin sink, as the name says, it's just one big tub installed within your kitchen counter. Perfect for giant casseroles, turkey pans, baking sheets, as well as for smaller items.
But the lack of a second basin means that you cannot have a reserve of fresh water to rinse items. Also, many homeowners like to locate their dish drying rack in the second basin to allow for water to drain right into the sink. No second basin means no sink space for a dryer. So, the dryer must be located on the counter, taking up precious counter space.
Is the solution to have two basins? Partially. But now what about washing those big baking sheets? The "washing side" of the sink is much smaller than the baking sheet, plus the pan doesn't fit under the faucet. If you're lucky enough to have a hand-held sprayer kitchen faucet, you can spray it--but you'll end up with water all over your kitchen counter and the floor.
The other problem with full-rise sink dividers is that it's difficult to fit large pots underneath the faucet: the divider gets in the way.
Kohler's "Dual Capacity" Sink and the Third Zone
Even though it's now called the Smart Divide Sink, Kohler initially patented the idea in 2006 for what they called a "dual-capacity sink," meaning that one capacity is double-basin (soapy water in one side, clean in the other, for example) and single-basin (water all throughout).
As with most inventions, there are precedents, one being a convertible sink that had a removable divider. But the convertible sink inventors obviously didn't know that kitchen sinks get dirty.
Kohler felt that it made more sense to create a stable product that had no moving parts and no grooves to get gunked up. So Kohler inventors Tod Babick, William Gordon, and Richard Kuether came up with the Smart Divide.
Kohler's plans originally allowed for a divider that was anywhere from 20% to 70% of the height of the outside rim of the sink. In other words, if the basin was 10 inches deep, the divider might be as low as 2 inches or as high as 7 inches. But this didn't make any sense, because 2 inches didn't allow for any room to fill up the separate basins, and 7 inches would bring the single-basin (or what Kohler calls "The Third Zone") level nearly to the rim of the sink. So Kohler settled on a divider that rises to 50%-60% of the basin height.
Manufacturers of Low Divide Sinks
Few sink manufacturers make sinks with low dividers. Here are name manufacturers that make this sink:
- Kohler: As mentioned, Kohler developed the low divide sink, brand-named Smart Divide. It's made of enameled cast iron and comes in four models. Kohler provides the most choices in low divide sinks, yet they do tend to be the most expensive.
- Elkay: A stainless steel sink that comes only in an undermount version, Elkay's version of the low divide sink is called Gourmet Aqua Divide.
- Swan makes a granite undermount sink with a low divider.
- Blanco's Performa Silgranit is that company's low divide sink. The material is 80% granite.