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===Out in the Cold===
Until recently if it rained outside I had to bow to the gods of weather'n'such and dry my washing inside. Unfortunately my washing tended never to dry half as quickly as it managed to pile up. This resulted in a slowly building backlog of washing when the weather was inclement. Our solution was to sneakily use the time we spent dog-sitting for my father to "borrow" the tumble-dryer and leave him with the electric bill. Imagine my horror when my dad upped his hours at work and decided it would be best to give the dog to a more doting family. Now I had no excuse to go all the way out to Kirriemuir and stea...borrow his electricity. That sealed it. Allan and I would suck it up and convert the spare bedroom so as to fit a tumble dryer in. First step, skip a rather shoddily put together divan bed four days before Christmas with only a slight panic when I realised the skip closed for the year in 15 minutes after having annihilated aforementioned bed. Step two, go tumble dryer shopping. Step three would be to replace the bed with a futon but since Argos can't seem to deliver within any sort of reasonable time, we're still waiting on that!
===Bekon of light===
Trawling the shopping floors at Curries we came across quite a few brilliant looking machines. Most of them far too expensive, big or ugly for our liking. We eventually settled on our front loading Beko DSV64W which has a 6KG capacity which is fine for our needs. We have an 8kg washing machine but now that the washing gets dry within the hour, we never need to fill the washing machine up. We noticed that almost all of the vented dryers were coming in at a C energy rating but this one happened to be about £100 cheaper than some of the others. Anything with a B rating or above was adding about £200 to £300 onto the already hefty price tag. A couple were coming in at over a grand. Being decidedly cheaper, we went with this one, setting us back about £180.
A "C" energy rating will set you back roughly £180 a year if you dry a load a day. Obviously you shouldn't be using your tumble dryer if you can get your washing out, but let's just assume you live in Scotland and it's wet all year round. You could splash out on an A rated tumble dryer and save on electric but you'd have to have it for at least 5 years before it would make your money back on it. so while the energy costs are higher for a C rated one, you may find it works out to be a cheaper option overall.
Our Beko came packaged in polystyrene and wood. It's really easy to lift as long as there are two of you so make sure you've got someone with you when you're setting it up. One thing I hadn't realised till I took the Beko out of the wrapping and glanced at the instructions is that it can't sit on carpet due to overheating issues! Most people won't find that a problem as you'd probably be buying it to sit in a kitchen. I just had to be awkward and have no room in the kitchen. As stated the spare room is where this was destined to go. My heart despaired for about 30 seconds and then I remembered that the packaging had two wooden strips in it for stability! These are just the right size to pop under the feet of the tumble-dryer to lift it off the carpet and give it some much needed breathing room. So don't worry yourself too much if you don't have laminate flooring in the room you're getting it for!
The tumble dryer is all white apart from a small bit on the programme selection dial. The door is a square door which doesn't take a lot of effort to open. It could cause a little bit of issue with toddlers pulling the door open, however, there is an automatic cut off so the machine at least won't spin your kiddies round if they do open it. Unless of course you have two of them and one is evil enough to close their sibling inside and then push the start button.
Another consideration you'll need to make is ventilation. Being a vented dryer, this has a large tube that comes out the back of it that all the moist air gets blown out of. You'll need to make sure you can hang your ventilation tube out a window or that you have a hole in your wall that you can shove the tube through till it's outside the house. We have ours sitting right under a window so we can just pop the ventilation tube out the window when the machines on. You may wonder what will happen if you forget to do this. Well I found out already when I forgot to put the tube out. Our spare room became a steam room for a couple of hours with any surface covered in condensation. Not advisable.
===Controlling your unruly washing===
There are three buttons and one dial on this machine making it incredibly simple to operate. The first button and arguably the most important button is the almighty power button. This is situated on the right hand side of the machine. It's one of those buttons that click into place, so when it's pushed down, it's on. When it's sticking out, it's off. Just in case you can't quite tell if the button is in or out, there are a few LED lights, one of which will light up when you turn the machine on, although it's purpose isn't actually to indicate that the machine is on. We'll get to the LED's later though.
Once your machine is on there are two other buttons to make your tumble drying a success. One is the "start/ pause" button that has an LED in the middle of it. It sits roughly in the middle of the machine with the other button. Once you have selected your programme with the knob, you push this button and the machine starts up. If you want to stop it mid cycle, you can push the button again to pause it. That would come in handy if you are using a timed setting, you could simply pause it if you need to have the machine stopped for any reason (we need to turn ours off when we leave the house as we can't leave the window open) and then restart it at the same point whenever you want.
=== A bit of a Buzz===
The last button is the Buzzer Cancel button. Similar to the start/pause button, it has a LED embedded in the middle. What does this button do? Well! When your selected cycle comes to an end the machine will periodically give a few beeps. It's not really a buzzer noise at all and sounds a little like the little tune you get when you dial a number that doesn't exist or has been cut off. It's wouldn't say it's incredibly loud unless you are in the room with the dryer. When we are in the living room with the TV on we can't hear it at all. The buzzer will sound every couple of minutes until you open the door. Pushing this button will basically turn the buzzer off. Handy if you don't want to hear the buzzer or if you simply can't unload the machine just yet but want it to stay on.
Why would you want it to stay on, you ask? The machine has an easy iron function built in that will shift your washing every couple of minutes to stop the creases from settling in. As soon as you open the door, however, the cycle ends and the machine stops tumbling until you start the next load. This button means the buzzer isn't being annoying and the machine knows not to turn off the occasional tumble. Fantastic.
Since we are on the topic of noises, I can confirm right now that this tumble drier really doesn't make much noise at all. It's a low hum at most unless you've put something with zips into it; it's a low hum with zips clacking around occasionally. Soon as we close the door to the room we have the drier in, we can't hear it. You could easily have this going to the wee hours of the morning and not disturb your neighbours.
===Which cycle to get on===
Now that's all the additional buttons dealt with, let's move to the cycles. This is what your big circular turn-ey knob is for. The knob/ dial turns smoothly round in either direction which makes selecting your chosen programme very simple indeed. The centre of the knob is a plastic grey circle that breaks the white outer circle of the knob with a stripe of grey plastic to indicate which programme you are selecting. This is something I quite like as I've suffered a few times with appliances that bits have rubbed off of due to lots of use and not knowing what I'm selecting. This can't happen with this knob!
Surrounding the dial you will find the programmes that you can set on your machine. There are five sections containing a few programmes each.
The first section is your basic timed programmes containing four settings: 60 mins, 40mins, 20mins and 10mins. These can come in handy if you know something will only need a set amount of time to dry or you don't want to over-do your tumbling. I've used them a couple of times to give certain items a bit of an extra blast when required and the cycles do last the time the machine states. You can even just use a quick ten minute programme to get your pyjamas cosy before popping them on. Nothing better than pyjamas fresh out of the tumble dryer!!
In synthetics you have two options: "Ready to iron" and "Ready to wear". Personally I am disgusted by the suggestion that I should iron so I have never used this setting. Ready to wear on the other hand is a much more amiable setting. The dryer has a sensor in it to detect when the clothes are dry. How this works I don't have a clue, but it does work well most times. Soon as the clothes are dry enough to wear, the cycle stops. The only downside to this cycle is that you can't really tell how long it is going to take. It does, however, produce dry clothes that rather than being "ready to wear" are "ready to fold up and put away". I would assume that the sensor simply allows the washing to be a tiny bit damper than the ready to wear settings for the ready to iron setting on the assumption that being a tiny touch damp will be helpful when ironing creases out. That is pure assumption, however, as I never, ever iron so never, ever use this setting. Synthetics tend to be dried on a medium heat so if you are worried about shrinking stuff, this may be a better section to dive into than the next one.
Under cottons you will find three settings: "Extra dry", "Ready to wear" and "Ready to iron". Similar to the synthetics, the function I use most is the "ready to wear" one which, most of the time, works great. The "extra dry" didn't really seem any drier than dry to me and the "ready to iron" setting is offensive and should go away. All three of these settings rely heavily on the sensor within the machine to detect the level of dryness being tumbled around inside. Typically cottons are dried on a higher heat so be careful if you are using a setting in this section as you may induce some shrinkage if you use it with inappropriate fabrics.
There are two more settings on the machine that sit singular and alone. They make up the last two "sections". Firstly there is the "Delicates" option which will basically be a low heat cycle for all those things that you are afraid to shrink. Again this is controlled by the drying sensor so when the machine detects that your delicates are dry, it will shut off.
Lastly there is a "freshen up" option. We've got a cupboard in the spare room that is packed full with spare duvets and pillows. After a while of being stored in there, they tend to not smell as fresh as they could when they come out. As such, I've chucked them into the tumble dryer with a few tumble dryer sheets and stuck on the "freshen up" cycle. This cycle basically blows some warm air through the load to air it out. It lasts for about ten minutes. While it does make things smell a little fresher it doesn't really budge that stale wardrobe smell. It would probably work better on light stuff like t-shirts rather than bedding, however.
===No havoc with bright lights===
So, now that you know what the machine can do, you might also like to know that there are a few little lights on the machine to give you an indication as to what is happening. To the left hand side of the machine there is a little neat column of lights with a small description next to them. As the machine goes through the cycle, the lights change. The top light is the "drying" light which is the one that comes on soon as you put the machine on also. It remains on throughout the cycle. Next down is a light with "Ready to iron" next to it, I assume to indicate when the clothes are ready to iron. Following that we have the "Ready to wear" light again, I'm assuming to indicate that the clothes are ready to wear. Lastly in this column is the "End/ Anticrease" light which goes on once the cycle has finished and the machine is waiting for you to open the door.
===Maintaining your saviour===
There is one last light to the left of the "Drying" light which is the "Clean Filter" light. This one is a bit of a strange light. It comes on at the end of every cycle, presumably to remind you that it is important to empty the lint filter. The only problem is that it goes off as soon as you open the door. We've had Allan's mum staying with us recently and she's insisted on doing washing while we are at work and using the tumble dryer. Despite many a time being asked (in varying degrees of politeness) to empty the filter if she was going to insist on using the machine, she still didn't. The light clearly doesn't really serve much purpose as it's easy to not really notice it's there. I would much prefer some sort of automatic function to detect if the lint tray has been taken out and replaced before it let the machine plough on with another load. The build up of lint after one use can vary depending on the clothes, but after a few loads you could easily begin making a rug. If you don't clear the lint, the dryer won't dry as efficiently meaning you'll use more electricity and take longer to dry clothes. It could even lead to machine just giving up on you sooner than you would prefer. Moral of the story is EMPTY THE LINT TRAY FOR THE LOVE OF .... Ahem... contain the rage. Thankfully our machine hasn't broken after being mistreated and my mother-in-law is now in a house of her own.
===Gripes and Groans===
We've gotten all the way through the end of December, all of January and most of February using the machine pretty darn regularly. I was expecting that our bills would be sky high. The electricity has gotten a bit more expensive but nothing too outrageous at all. No more than about £7 difference a month. I'll happily take the convenience the tumble drier offers for the extra money I'm paying on electric. It is something to keep in mind, however, that you still need to pay for the luxury of having your clothes dried a lot quicker than they would on the line outside.
The sensor function does work well, however, there are times where it doesn't function quite as well as I would like. If we are drying bed sheets with other things, we'll occasionally find a still a slightly damp sock wrapped up in the middle of it when we take it out. Basically for large loads the sensor isn't as good at telling when the stuff at the middle is properly dry. Occasionally even on small loads certain items don't dry fully. All of my boxers, for example, have a little square on the waistband that is thicker fabric than the rest and if you give it a little squeeze you can feel that it's still slightly damp. It's mostly when the loads are bigger than you should really put in the machine that it doesn't work well. It does, however, warn you that you may get unsatisfactory results on the little yellow warning sticker on the top of the machine.
The last gripe I have is that you can't really control the temperature as much as I would like to with this machine. It doesn't make it very clear that synthetics are a lower heat than cottons and that delicates are a lower heat than them all. If you didn't have the first clue about tumble dryers, you simply wouldn't know this. Other machines I've used before have had buttons which enabled you to select low, medium and high heats to better control shrinkage in your clothes.
===Important points to remember===
Just to round up some important points before I make my final conclusions, I though I'd give you a quick run down of important things to remember:
+++Clean the filter every single time you use the machine. It builds up very quickly and will stop your dryer working effectively.
+++Opening the door will end the cycle you are on. With timed cycles, this may cause timing issues. If you want the occasional easy iron tumble to continue, don't open the door till you are ready to take your washing out.
+++Don't sit your tumble dryer on a carpet; the bottom needs some airflow so the machine doesn't over heat.
+++Make sure you put the vent out the window or out an inbuilt vent before starting a cycle. If not, your room will become very wet. Buy the machine with this requirement in mind.
+++Some stuff can shrink in the tumble dryer. Always check your labels and if you are unsure either don't dry it or dry it on one of the lower heat settings (synthetics or delicates)
I'd definitely say that this machine is well worth it. One of the cheapest machines in its range and it performs more than adequately! It's made my winter months a lot less stressful by taking away the large piles of washing quickly and relatively painlessly. I will take one star off for the minor gripe about unclear drying temperatures, but overall I would definitely recommend this machine to anyone looking for a cheap and effective tumble-dryer. Four stars from me!
Short name: Beko DSV64W