I see I never wrote a review for my old AEG dishwasher, which is both a surprise to me as well as not surprising at all. What's not surprising is that I bought it back in 1993, so by the time I had started writing reviews, my model was sorely out of date and no longer on the market. However, I'm surprised that I never wrote one anyway in order to show how excellent AEG dishwashers are - simply because it took a full 15 years (without even one technician's visit), for it to finally kick the bucket. Too late now, since I now have a new dishwasher which I think is equally as good - the Siemens SE24M851.
The first reason I was attracted to this one was the pretty silver, fingerprint free finish. Since my home renovation when I bought that huge shiny LG fridge to match my huge Brother silver cooker, I still had my boring white AEG dishwasher and was very anxious to get a nice aluminium finished one to match the rest of my major appliances (my microwave is next, and last). This is very sleek, with no dials or other thing sticking out on the front. It has smooth square buttons and red digital timer numbers, making it really sexy (see corrected picture above), and gets a perfect 10/10 score in the looks department.
This model has four washing cycles plus a pre-rinse. There's the intensive one for pots & pans at 70oC, the economy one for regular washes at only 50oC, and a quick-wash at 45oC. The fourth cycle is what they call an automatic program that is between 55oC and 65oC. The idea behind that one is that the machine is supposed to decide how dirty the dishes are and will adjust its temperature and length of wash according to that. Pretty cool, huh? Well, I can tell you that this is the cycle I use the most, not only because each and every wash comes out beautiful, but because I also find it to take less time than the intensive or economy cycles. This model doesn't have a gentle cycle for delicate glassware but that doesn't bother me since I don't have or use that fancy stuff. It also doesn't have a half-load cycle which is a bit of a pity, but I find that if I see that its taking me a while to fill the thing up, I simply run what's in there through the pre-rinse and that keeps food from getting caked on until the machine is full and I can run it. But the best thing about this machine is the delay washing program. With this, you can set your machine to start up to 19 hours ahead of time. Since I tend to put the last dishes in the machine while waiting for my morning kettle to boil, knowing that I can set this up to start a couple hours after I've left the house and have clean dishes when I get home is wonderful. This is also very useful for making sure that if I run it at night, it goes on when everyone is deeply asleep and won't disturb us. For versatility, I'll give this machine a 9/10 score.
As I said above, so far, every time I've used this, the dishes come out truly beautiful. I've tried all the different programs and have found very little to fault it. One thing is it does tend to leave the tops of my coffee mugs pretty wet no matter what cycle I use. I guess I could change the setting on this to the "intensive drying" function which would make the dry cycle hotter, but I'm enjoying being able to handle the dishes immediately after their finished, so I won't bother with that (but it is an option you should know about). I must say the power of the water spray on this machine is apparently very strong, and I've had a couple of instances where a plastic bowl or even a small glass one was upturned during the washing and I've found them filled with less than clean water. I'm sure that this is partially due to my not placing them securely enough inside, so I can only partially blame the washer. However, one of my biggest problems with my previous machine was that the flatware never got very clean no matter how hot I set it. I'm glad to say that this machine has brought the shine back to my forks, knives and spoons, so that's a real joy for me. Also, I've put baking dishes into the economy program and had them come out spotless without soaking or scraping them, which I find amazing. All told, I'd say for the washing itself, it gets a 9/10 score.
The internal design here is also another important factor to consider. The cutlery basket has lids on it which can hold your flatware separated, so that they get the most exposure possible to being cleaned (which I've already noted is successful). But while there are two sizes of holes in lids, even the larger ones won't allow placing bigger items. Still, these lids can be pushed up and out of the way if you want to put oversized things in as well. The bottom rack has one set of tongs that can be folded down for washing large pots and pans, which is great (since I was always bending the tongs on my old machine when I wanted to do a pot & pan wash). The upper rack is adjustable in height so if you have really tall items beneath, you can raise it up and everything will still get clean. You can even remove that upper rack altogether, put a special nozzle on the water sprayer and put really large baking pans and racks from your oven inside, which I think is marvellous.
However, I'm not absolutely thrilled with the design of the upper rack. The areas where one would put the drink ware seem a touch on the narrow side to me (okay, so I like my coffee in he-man mugs and not adorable granny teacups. Should I be punished for that?). They also have these upper shelf things on one side which make it impossible to put anything taller than a juice glass underneath. Thankfully, those clip off and the moment they were gone, I was much happier. The other side also has an upper shelf that allows taller things underneath and at least that one you can flip it up and out of the way when filling underneath it. The best part about that one is it has grooves and hooks on it which make it perfect for putting cutting knives and larger serving pieces onto. My other problem is that there isn't quite enough room for deep bowls here, and a bit too much room for small dessert plates. Still, I'm finding I can put some bowls where the dessert plates would go and still have them come out very clean (my old machine failed me terribly with bowls practically the full 15 years I owned it). I'm also quite pleased with the mechanism for putting the cleaning powder/tablets in, which clicks shut with a little push and has a nice button on the side to open it. The place for putting the finish and salt are also easy to use and I find I spill less of these than I did in my old machine. This also has a triple filter for catching debris and food which is a snap to open, clean and put back. Still, while it says this machine can take up to 12 place settings, I'm not seeing it and I found that it will fit eight comfortably, and 10 with a bit of fiddling around. That means in the internal design area I'll have to mark it only 7/10.
I have to say that it does take a bit of learning (and reading of the very clear manual) to figure this machine out. However, once you go through it once or twice, you'll find it far simpler than it seems at the outset and in no time at all I was switching between programs, stopping things, resetting things and putting it on every which way. So as for ease of use, I'll give it a 9/10 score.
When talking about efficiency, as far as energy is concerned, this gets an A rating so that's great. I've also found that the machine is far quieter than my old one, but that's no surprise. This also has a very strong spring on the door and opens and closes with a very secure feeling click that makes you feel there's no way it will leak and you'll feel no residual heat from it even at the highest temperatures. What's really cool is this machine apparently can detect when you're using those combination detergents that have their own salt and/or rinse aid. This means that when it detects those additives, it won't use the salt and/or finish that you've put into the machine. Also, if the machine is out of or low on either of those, when you use the detergents with the additives, the warning lights won't even go on. So if you're into those powerball tablets, you may never need to buy rinse aid or salt for this machine again. I'd say that makes this 10/10 on the efficiency rating.
Finally, I should mention this is far from the cheapest machine on the market - and I've quoted below some prices for you. Still, I'm thinking that you get what you pay for and I was lucky enough to find a shop that was willing to come down a touch on the price for this, and include the shipping. Also, some machines out there are offering up to 10 years guarantee, and this one only gives me three, but I'm not all that worried about this, but a longer guarantee period would have been more competitive of Siemens, and I'll say it only gets 7/10 on price and guarantee.
All told, I'd say that this is a beautiful dishwasher that is very efficient to run, fairly easy to use, gets things wonderfully clean and is well designed for the most part. Yes, it is expensive, but remember that a cheaper one might cost more in the long-run. Of course, there's no telling today if this will last 15 years like my old AEG, but I'm pretty confident I'll be enjoying this for many years to come. If you tot up my scoring you'll see this gets an average score of 8/10 which I'll translate into 4 stars out of 5 but certainly recommend it.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © March 2008
You can find the British Siemens appliance site at http://www.siemensappliances.co.uk/
A look through the Internet found this model available from Appliances Online for £392, at Sainsbury's Kitchen Appliances for £371 and at John Lewis for £399. A slightly fancier model that has the ½ load programs and gentle cycles are sold at Appliance City for £479 and Comet for £499.
The Siemens SE24M851GB Stainless Steel Free-Standing Dishwasher has 4 wash programms / Short name: Siemens SE24M851GB