The dooyoo Washing Machine Guide 2009 - If you think that a washing machine washes (and perhaps dries) your clothes and that is all there is to it, that washing machines are more or less interchangeable, then the chances are you have never owned one (or that someone else does your washing). With prices ranging between £150 to over £1000 and washing machines having varying capacities, spin speeds, energy efficiency ratings and programme modes (not to mention fuzzy logic) a fundamental choice presents itself to those about to wash. Either resign yourself to the hoarding of pound coins and twenty pence pieces for the launderette (woe betide you if you don't have the right change) and the communal pleasures of watching underwear in centrifugal freefall or empty that jar of coins and see whether it will stretch to the purchase of your very own shiny new washing machine.
Assuming the latter is the case the dooyoo Washing Machine Guide 2009 offers an overview of the latest machines from Bosch, Hotpoint, Zanussi, AEG and Miele (as well as other leading manufacturers) and explains the key factors and technologies in determining which is the right washing machine for your needs.
If you are contemplating the purchase of a new washing machine the key questions to ask yourself are: How much space do you have available for your new machine? How much laundry (and what kind of fabrics) do you generally wash and last but by no means least, what is your budget? Armed with the answers to these questions and the information in this guide finding the right machine for your needs should become a little more straightforward.
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Top-loader or front-loader? Drum capacities. The pros and cons of stand-alone washing machines versus washer dryers - The vast majority of washing machines sold in the U.K are front loaders. Top loading machines, some of which spin around the vertical axis and some around the horizontal, tend to be quite a bit narrower and taller than their front loading counterparts and (obviously) cannot be installed beneath a work surface.
As a rule of thumb, averagely dirty, single people wash less than 5kg per load, a couple without children between 5 and 5.5kg, a family with two children around 6.1 to 7kg and a family with 3-4 children 7.1kg and more.
The quantity of laundry that you wash is important as buying a machine too small will result in every day becoming laundry day, creating wear and tear on both you and your machine.
(budget - Beko WM5100, mid-range - Zanussi ZWC1300)
Having said that, with fewer and fewer 5kg capacity machines on the market, a 6kg capacity is fast becoming the most popular size. Larger capacity machines, (budget - 609769, mid-range - Bosch Logixx WAS 24466) for those with big families or frequent wardrobe changes are available, however the largest capacity machine that is of a standard width and height (to allow it to fit under a kitchen worktop) is around 7kg so if your needs exceed this then you will have to install it elsewhere.
Two other factors need to be considered in relation to the question of capacity. Firstly the optimum load needs to be (the load at which the machine is most efficient) less than the maximum capacity (an over stuffed machine will wash less effectively and put undue strain on the motor) and secondly the machine's effective capacity, when used to tumble dry clothes, will be generally be smaller than the load it can accommodate during the wash cycle.
If you are washing higher than average loads on a regular basis (and if space and your budget allows) it might be worth considering buying a separate washer and tumble dryer which will allow you to wash one load and dry another simultaneously. Given the energy costs (and environmental impact) a washing line may, however, prove a more cost effective investment.
There are two varieties of tumble dryer available, vented dryers in which warm moist air is expelled from the machine via a tube (these need to be installed so that the air can be vented externally) and condenser dryers in which the waste water is either collected in an internal reservoir, which needs to be emptied regularly, or plumbed directly to the drain. Of these the latter is by far the most popular and the vast majority of combined washer dryers are of the condenser variety.
Assuming the majority of us are not taking in laundry from the local football team (if you are you should carefully consider whether the guarantee has a clause stating the volume of washes above which the warranty is void), this guide will focus on front loading combined washer dryers (the type of machine most popular with British consumers) but dooyoo also has information and reviews on a variety of toploading washing machines.
Feel the need for speed? The A, B, C of Eurolabel efficiency ratings explained - All washing machines carry a Eurlolabel efficiency rating (best efficiency ratings: budget - Whirlpool AWOD4605, mid-range - Indesit SIXL145) between A and G in the separate categories of wash performance, energy consumption and spin-drying efficiency. Machines awarded A++ in more than one of these categories will command a premium but there is generally a trade off to be made. It is also a good idea to look a little more closely at how these ratings are arrived at and what they actually mean.
In the case of wash performance the benchmark tests are against a cotton load washed at 60 degrees and, as previously mentioned, this load will likely be short of the maximum capacity of the machine (in the case of very large capacity machines this rating is sometimes arrived at on a half load basis).
The energy consumption rating can also be somewhat deceptive. Faster spin speeds and hotter temperatures will result in shorter drying times and (often) a greater energy efficiency rating, however very high speeds and temperatures will not be suitable for all fabrics and the difference between the energy consumption of a machine capable of spinning at 1000 RPM and 1200 RPM is negligible in relation to the additional cost of the faster machine. The fastest washing machines, at around 1800 RPM, do demonstrate a meaningful saving but again given the premium commanded by these machines and the fact that these speeds are essentially only suitable for towels and sheets, you would have to wash and awful lot of towels and sheets to justify the expense of such a high powered machine in terms of your electricity bill alone.
Although it would be wrong to suggest that these ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt, it might be a good idea to approach them with a degree of skepticism. In general faster spin speeds (e.g Zanussi ZWF16070) will increase not only the price of the machine but also the wear and tear the motor is subjected to (meaning it will need to be repaired, or more likely replaced sooner). Faster machines are also likely to be noisier machines.
|Spin Speed||Residual Dampness||Energy Used to Tumble Dry|
This table, based on A rated condenser machines, demonstrates clearly that whilst the difference in efficiency between a machine spinning at 800 and one spinning at 1800 is considerable, in the range 1000 - 1400 (the most common speeds) the differences, in both energy consumption and effectiveness, are negligible.
Programme modes, water consumption and temperature - In the 1980's the average machine consumed a staggering 150 litres of water per load, today that figure can be less than 40. Whilst manufacturers will make impressive claims about lower water consumption (reducing both running costs and environmental impact) if additional rinse cycles are needed to remove detergent residues then any economies are quickly negated.
Smaller quantities of laundry washed in larger amounts of water will be washed more effectively, hence the reason that the small loads required by certain programme modes (fine wash, wash and wear and, naturally, half load) can, in some instances, require as much and even more water than a full load.
Modern washing machines offer a wide variety of programmes in which the entire wash cycle can be precisely adapted to the requirements of specific textiles, however machines offering the widest number of options cost considerably more than their more modestly specified counterparts and if you are only using 3 or 4 of the programme modes why pay for ten?
Another key factor in determining the efficiency and cost of your wash is temperature. The energy efficiency ratings mentioned earlier are based on a load washed at 60 °C (at which temperature even persistent micro organisms are eliminated) but for the majority of everyday use 30°C - 40°C is sufficient and pre-wash options are really only necessary for professional mud wrestlers.
The efficiency of warm fill, as opposed to the more standard cold fill, machines is greater but the higher prices of these machines make any savings hard to justify on economic grounds, however energy consumption is an environmental as well as a financial issue. Though currently unavailable in the U.K, Miele's "Allwater" models (which, as the name suggests can use hot, cold and indeed rainwater) may well be the face of the future.
Fuzzy Logic and Aqua Sensor - If you have been obsessively reading washing machine specifications of late you may have noticed that the "half load" function is fast becoming a thing of the past on all but the cheapest of budget machines. You could be tempted to think that this omission is bad news for both your wallet and the environment but chances are that in its place you will find one of a number of recent technologies which take the process of optimizing temperature, water consumption and spin speed to a hitherto undreamt of level of sophistication.
The latest machines deploy fuzzy logic and aqua sensor technology using a variety of sophisticated sensors and complex programming to detect things like the relative absorbency of your laundry, detergent residues in the water as well as automatically adjusting the balance of the load, speed, temperature and water consumption to optimize the efficiency of your wash.
The sophistication of these new technologies might leave you wondering whether washing your socks will now require a working knowledge of quantum physics but in reality these machines are easier to use than their predecessors, often featuring clear digital displays and one button operation.
The 21st century washing machine - This technological arms race between washing machine manufacturers has resulted in dramatic improvements in the efficiency of the average washing machine and promises to yield further gains through a variety of intriguing innovations.
Siemens have an Internet enabled model in development, which will allow you to control your machine from your PC (and will presumably allow hackers to turn your socks pink). Whilst Samsung's 'Silver Wash' technology uses ionized silver nanoparticles and claims a 99.99% effective sterilization rate (at time of writing rumours that two of these machine used together can transport small objects 'Star Trek' style, remain unsubstantiated).
Not to be outdone LG is introducing a steam function (LG F1402FDS6) which vaporizes the water in the drum (though hopefully not your laundry) and finally Sanyo's evocatively named Denkaisui ASW-ZR promises to replace detergent entirely with a combination of electrolysis and ultrasound, dooyoo awaits reviews from hirsute dog-owners with interest.
Top tips for a tip top wash -
- Stay cool: 30 °C is fine for averagely dirty laundry; 60°C is enough to kill even persistent bacteria. 90°C is hardly ever necessary.
- A full laundry drum saves water, energy and your money but don't overfill it as clothing will not be cleaned effectively. Too little for a full load? Use the Wash and Wear / half-load (or other appropriate energy saving programme mode).
- Detergent and fabric conditioner should be used sparingly. In the case of the latter its mildly waterproofing effect is undesirable if washing towels.
- Fresh air is the most effective (and cheapest) way of drying your laundry. Use the tumble dryer only when you have no choice.
- The pre-wash programme is unnecessary for all but the dirtiest of laundry.
Summary of buying advice - The key factors determining your choice of appliance will always be the space you have available to install it, how much laundry you wash and your budget. Spin speeds, temperature and programme modes will undoubtedly also be a factor in making this choice but consider the following carefully.
The build quality (the quality of the washing machine's components) of a manufacturer's budget model and their top of the range model will be the same, as many of the same components are used in both - the extra cash pays for capacity, spin speed, a wider range of programme modes and flashy design.
As a consequence of this, repair of the cheapest of washing machines can often be prohibitively expensive (sealed motor units, for instance, have to be replaced in their entirety as opposed to repaired) and these components, plus labor costs, may well amount to the purchase price of a new machine. In addition to this the cheapest washing machines have a tendency to be less energy efficient and (considerably) noisier than their more expensive counterparts.
Budget washing machines (as well as top of the range models from the same manufacturers) have a lifespan of between 2 and 5 years, whereas more expensive machines, from manufacturers focused on quality rather than price, can have a life expectancy of up to 20 years. Of course you will have to pay between two or three times as much for these machines but despite the off-putting differences in price, in the long run they will save you money (if you have a large family the savings will become apparent quicker). As well as being kinder to your wallet, these machines are also kinder to the environment as they generate less waste.
As a rule of thumb (and if your budget allows) it makes more sense to buy a machine with fairly basic functions from a manufacturer such as Miele, Bosch or AEG than to buy a top of range model with a huge range of largely redundant additional features from a less quality focused brand, even though the two may be of similar price. Though the latter may appear to be better value for money you will be repairing (or more likely replacing) it sooner, focus on the primary function of the machine and do not pay for features you are unlikely to use.
Brand: Beko / Load Capacity: 7kg / Energy Efficiency: A++ - Washing machine features: Cold water fill. Child lock. Variable temperature. Variable spin speed. Delay start option (up to 24 hours). Overflow protection to help prevent water leakage or overflow. Digital display. Time remaining ...
Brand: Miele / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 6 / Spin Speed: 1400
Brand: Miele / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 7 / Spin Speed: 1400 - Designed and Tested to last for 20 Years. Delay start - Up to 24 hours - so your washing is ready when you are. Cares for your clothes with Miele's Honeycomb Drum. Waterproof System - Guarantee against flooding. 30 minute Express wa...
Brand: Indesit / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 7 / Spin Speed: 1400
Brand: Hotpoint / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 7 / Spin Speed: 1400
Brand: Hotpoint / Load Capacity (kg): 7 / Spin Speed: 1400 - Busy lifestyles demand premium performance. So when it comes to washing machines Ultima is the obvious choice. For those who want the best of everything the smooth style and array of useful features won?t disappoint such as th...
Brand: Siemens / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 8 / Spin Speed: 1400
Brand: Samsung / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 8 / Spin Speed: 1400
Brand: Panasonic / Load Capacity (kg): 10 / Spin Speed: 1400 - Thanks to their efficient inverter Motor the new G-Series Panasonic washing machines have a top energy rating of A+++. The big load capacity of 10 kg and the 34 cm large aperture make it easy to load and wash big volumes of clo...
Brand: Haier / Washing Machine / Load Capacity (kg): 8 / Spin Speed: 1400
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