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When my house flooded last summer, we were unsure whether the flood water had penetrated as far as the kitchen, as with a fully tiled floor it was hard to ascertain. However, the loss adjustors and their surveyor soon put paid to any ideas we might have had about the kitchen being water free. Evidently the water had penetrated underneath the tiles and all our kitchen units had soggy bottoms (to coin a phrase from Mary Berry). Sadly this discovery meant that we would have to move out of our house for three months and into rented accommodation whilst they did their flood repairs. On the upside, it did mean that we got a brand new fitted kitchen out of the deal. Unfortunately our old stand alone cooker, washing machine and dishwasher couldn't be accommodated into the new kitchen design with any great ease, so we decided to splash out on new fully integrated appliances so as to not spoil the look of our new kitchen. After much research we finally chose a Hoover fully integrated washing machine and it was duly plumbed in for us by the kitchen fitters just over a year ago now. Twelve months is more than sufficient to give it a good trial run and get used to how it works, so I thought it was time to bash out a review on how it has measured up for us.
We decided to buy a Hoover HWB 814 D washing machine as we wanted a washing machine that could handle a bigger load of washing than the norm. This machine can handle up to 8kg of washing so that's a pretty big drum inside the machine. Despite my household consisting of just me and my partner, we also own a dog. My partner and I don't need to wash our clothes any more or less than the average household, but we do need a larger machine to cope with the amount of washing our dog generates. She's a rather hairy Golden Retriever who loves swimming. If there is no deep water to hand, a mud filled puddle will do the trick or how about a stagnant slurry pit? She invariably gets covered in mud, twigs and grit not just on a walk but if she is just outside in our garden. Keeping her clean is never ending, especially in the winter. Therefore we have a constant need for clean and fresh towels in order to keep the beast looking beautiful and more importantly to stop her traipsing her muddiness throughout the house. An 8kg drum holds a lot of dirty towels so we can have a continual supply of clean linen to keep her clean and dry. Added to which, this machine also has a 1,400 rpm spin-cycle so those clean wet towels come out damp rather than wet so therefore don't need much in the way of drying.
=== Features ===
The Hoover HWB 814 D is plain white and rather boring looking, but because it's integrated behind the kitchen units it doesn't really matter how dull it looks. This machine has 12 basic wash programmes, all of which can be modified in different ways i.e. altering the temperature, the spin speed or the length of the wash. Briefly these twelve programmes are for "Resistant Fabrics + Pre-Wash (cotton and linen)", "Mixed Fabrics and Synthetics", "Very Delicate Fabrics", "Rinse", "Fast Spin", "Drain Only", "Silk/Handwash", "Machine Washable Woollens", "Resistant Fabrics (with no Pre-Wash)", "Rapid 14", "Rapid 30" and "Rapid 44". Each of these programmes can then be "tweaked" to raise or lower the temperature of the wash or reduce or increase the spin speed. The temperatures on the various programmes range from 30° to 90° and the length of the cycles start at a mere 14 minutes with the "Rapid 14" programme up to a lengthy 2 hours and 47 minutes for a 90° "Resistant Fabrics + Pre-Wash (cotton and linen)" cycle.
You can also add in other little variations to your chosen programme with various other goodies such as "Fast Iron", "Stain Blaster", "Spin Speed" or "Sensitive Care" buttons. The "Fast Iron" button is allegedly a uniquely designed anti-crease system tailored for specific fabrics. I've not tried this button so I cannot comment on how effective (or otherwise) it is. The "Sensitive Care" button is for the "Cotton and Mixed Fabrics" programmes only and it's been designed to treat the fibres of garments of those with sensitive skin more gently. The load will be washed in more water than usual so that the detergent dissolves more quickly. The drum is also filled and emptied more often so that any detergent is more effectively rinsed away.
The "Stain Blaster" button sounds more like a ride at Alton Towers than it does a programme on washing machine, but by pressing this button (for Cotton cycles only) it tells the machine to rotate in such a way that the detergent is distributed more evenly. It also increases the speed of the programme so that those stains are pounded into submission. Finally we have the "Spin Speed" button which is of course designed to remove as much of the water from your washing as possible. This can be amended to increase or decrease the speed of the drum. It should be noted that not all the selected programmes can be customised. For example the machine will not allow you to use the "Fast Iron" button on the Resistant Fabrics/ Cotton / Linen programme because it simply would not work. Cotton and Linen always need a good iron and the programme on this machine just wouldn't work. Similarly the "Spin Speed" button cannot be hiked up to the max on some of the programmes such as woollens or delicate wash as that would just destroy the fabrics. I must say that this machine has been designed to make washing your clothes as fool proof as possible so by blocking the fast spin option on your silk blouse you're not going to make any costly and irritating washday mistakes.
The HWB 814 D also has a "Delay Start" button which allows you to bung your washing in the machine and then use this button to pre-programme the wash cycle to start up any time in the next 23 hours. I haven't used this programme but from the description it sounds very easy to set in motion. I imagine this programme would be handy if you work shifts and you don't want to be disturbed by the noise of the washer in operation whilst you're getting some zeds in. Or you could set the timer some your wash finishes just before you get home from work.
=== Operating ===
It has to be said that the controls on the HWB 812 D are not that simple to operate initially. Unfortunately the programming dial is made of tiny symbols rather than words, so initially I found myself having to constantly refer back to the manual in order to decipher what each symbol represented. This is both time-consuming and fiddly and I much prefer my older machine where the dial clearly stated what each programme was for. I don't like having to work out what a grey leaf means on this machine when my older model clearly told me it was a "Delicate Fabrics" programme. Also a cloud is used to indicate the "Cotton" programme so I'm not at all sure how they arrived at that decision. Clearly not all the symbols on my Hoover are indecipherable - a grey ball of wool with two needles is pretty self-explanatory in that it's a "Woollens" programme and a hand symbol is indicative of a "Handwash" programme. However, on the whole I dislike the dial on this machine as it's not instantly obvious which programme is which until you get to know and understand the symbols they use. Once you've mastered them, it's fairly simple to operate, but it is somewhat of a learning curve and I would prefer a dial with one word labels rather than symbols next time.
On the far right of the machine is the dial to programme your machine with the wash you want. It's a very simple dial which you turn smoothly and easily until it "clicks" against the programme you want. The dial can be turned both clockwise and anticlockwise but it doesn't need to be pushed in or pulled out like my older washing machine. The dial is a large white one with small grey symbols etched against each of the twelve programme options. Next to the dial is an LED digital display panel which lights up in red with your chosen options. This display panel will constantly inform you about the status of your wash i.e. what programme you've chosen, what temperature it's operating on and most importantly how long the cycle has left to run before completion. Once it's done its thing it will display a red "End" sign so you know it's safe to open the door and remove your washing once a two minute delay has ended. To either the side of the LED display are the "Spin Speed" and "Wash Time" buttons which can be altered to lengthen or shorten the times of your washing programme and increase or decrease the intensity of the spin at the end. Underneath the LED display are six large white buttons which are your "Stain Blaster", "Sensitive Care", "Delay Start" and "Fast Iron" programmes. The fifth button here is for altering the "Wash Temperature" on your programme. This is pretty self explanatory of course - you can decrease or increase the temperature of your wash. However the machine won't allow you to be stupid and try and wash your jumper or your silk undies at 90° so it's pre-programmed to only let you alter the temperature on programmes that can take higher temperatures. Finally the sixth white button is the "Start/Pause" button which you depress to get your washing underway. There is another button just under the programming dial and that's to open the machine door once the programme has finished. All of these buttons are labelled with symbols rather than words, and they too take some working out if you don't use them all that often. There is a handy chart in the user manual which you can refer to, but who honestly wants to get the book out and leaf through it in order to work out what some of the more obscure symbols relate to? It's irritating and frustrating when a simple one word label would be so much easier.
The LED display is very clear and easy to read and it's immediately obvious what length of programme you've chosen as it lights up as soon as they dial has clicked into place. You can also check what temperature your programme is set to, what spin speed you've chosen and the cycle duration. The machine is also quietly intelligent, or dictatorial, depending on your viewpoint, in that it will not allow you to select certain features against specific programmes. So no fast spin on your woollens or delicates here and no high 90° washes allowed for your silks.
The detergent drawer is located on the top left hand side of the machine and pulls out very easily. There are three compartments in this drawer with the one on the far left being for pre-wash detergents, the one in the middle for any fabric softeners, starch, stain removers etc and the one on the right for the actual washing detergent. I don't tend to use the detergent drawer much as I prefer to pop my washing detergent in with the washing in a plastic dosing cup. However, occasionally I will pop some soda crystals in the middle drawer if I want to get my whites a bit whiter. I've never really bothered with pre-wash detergents or fabric softeners as normal washing detergents are so all singing and dancing nowadays, not to mention very highly fragranced, that adding in extra liquids seems superfluous.
This is a front loading washing machine and you need to depress the "Door Open" button underneath the programming dial to open the door. The machine is easy to load and unload as the door opening is quite large. As this machine takes a massive 8 kg of washing the drum inside the machine is much bigger than an average washing machine. My only bone of contention with this machine is how very hard the door is to close. There is no handle on the door unlike my old machine. Although this is good in the fact that when the door is closed it's flush with the rest of the machine, in practice it makes the door very hard to close. You really have to shove the glass hard to close the door and it often takes more than one attempt which is incredibly frustrating.
=== The Results ===
I'm happy to report that this machine produces extremely clean clothes. Initially the symbols used to indicate all the different programmes are beyond frustrating, but once you manage to familiarise yourself with the controls you soon learn which programmes work best for your household. I often decrease the temperature on some washes not only to save on time but also cut down the energy costs. Washing the dog's numerous towels on a 30°C cycle and a fast spin to end the programme works a treat. If the towels are not too stained and just wet and smelly I'll pop them in the machine for a 14 minute quick wash just to freshen them up and remove some of the dog hair.
As for the human washing, I do tend to find I use the same programme every single time as it's not too long and I can alter the temperature on the cycle to either 40°C or 60°C. I use the "Resistant Fabrics with no Pre-Wash" programme nine times out of ten this machine. I pop our clothes in for a 40°C wash which takes just 59 minutes. When I wash the bed sheets, tea-towels and bath-towels I tend to use the same programme but just up the temperature to 60°C and add in some Soda Crystals just to give them a bit more of a thorough clean. I'm more than happy with the results I get every single time I use this machine. Stains are lifted without having to make much more effort than just applying a bit of stain remover and then bunging the wash into the machine. Muddy towels are transformed into something a lot less grotty and lot more fragrant smelling very quickly and very easily. Similarly with the 1,600 rpm spin at the end of most programmes on this machine you tend to find that your washing comes out damp rather than sopping wet which makes drying so much easier and so much quicker.
For a washing machine this Hoover is rather quiet. I've had washing machines in the past where the spin cycle as so noisy you'd get more peace and quiet on the runway at Heathrow. The spin cycle on this machine is still loud, but not excessively so, and you can still hear yourself think, have a conversation or watch a bit of TV without straining your ears.
=== Any difficulties or drawbacks? ===
As I said earlier on the review, the washing machine door is a major problem with this machine. It's incredibly hard to shut the door easily and quickly. You cannot shut it by standing up and leaning down. You often need to crouch down and use both arms to push it shut (or a foot to kick it closed when you lose your temper with how bloody frustrating and stiff the door is and your arms alone aren't strong enough!). Obviously the machine doesn't start if the door is not shut properly which is as it's supposed to be for health and safety reasons. However, many a time I've thought I've shut the door only to find I haven't shoved it quite hard enough. An indicator that the door is not shut before you start programming the machine would be good here. It seems I'm not alone in my frustration with the door on this model. Nearly every review on this machine on Appliances Online says something along the lines of "nice machine but the door is a nightmare"....
Similarly, I do dislike the symbol system Hoover has used on the dial on this model. Initially it's really hard to work out which symbol relates to which programme, and I still get flummoxed if I'm in a hurry and not concentrating properly. I'd much rather there was a one word label or option for each of the 12 programmes and all the other functions rather than trying to work out what each symbol is supposed to represent.
Another feature that I miss on this machine compared to my old washing machine is the lack of bleeping. Now you may well think that this is a godsend as there are far too many machines in your life that bleep, ping or ring at you all day long everyday. However, if I'm upstairs I don't know that the washing machine has finished doing its thing as it just displays a silent "End" sign meaning the programme has finished and you can open the door. My old machine would give three distinct bleeps to let me know it was done meaning I could go downstairs and empty it. With this model I have to mentally remember when it will approximately finish otherwise the wet washing will sit in the machine longer than it needs too...especially if I'm engrossed in a good book or surfing the net upstairs in my study.
Finally, although this machine has a lot of functions and a lot of bells and whistles, not all of them are useable on certain programmes. The programmes are predetermined by the machine and you cannot override them. For example, you cannot alter the temperature settings on some of the programmes, so if you think your smalls would benefit from a hotter 90 degree wash but they really don't need two hours and 47 minutes to clean them if can't be done. Similarly you cannot increase the spin speed on some specific programmes if you've selected a lower temperature wash. I guess Hotpoint have predetermined the settings to make the wash programmes as foolproof as possible, but an override button in certain circumstances would be good.
=== Maintenance ===
This washing machine has that all important 'A' rating for energy efficiency and is allegedly easy to fit. However, I really cannot comment on how easy (or otherwise) this washing machine was to plumb in as it was all done by the team appointed by our insurance company to do the flood renovations. That said, they seemed to have no problems in fitting it, but they were professionals.
The user manual that comes with the machine is very user-friendly. It's written in simple and clear language and all the diagrams are useful and relevant. Although it's a massive 30 pages long it's mostly full of relevant information. This machine comes with a twelve month guarantee in the event of electrical/mechanical breakdown. It also comes with a five year parts guarantee which you need to activate either by completing the form within the user manual or you can do it online. Ideally you do need to activate the guarantee when you receive the machine, and not a year later when you find the form whilst leafing through the manual in the midst of writing a review on the machine....doh!
I've not yet had any mechanical problems with the machine (touchwood), but the manual also includes a useful cleaning and routine maintenance section as well as a malfunctions section. The drum and the door glass still look as good as new on my washing machine. However, whilst photographing the machine I noticed that my detergent drawer looks suspiciously grubby and rather unpleasant so I managed to hook the drawer out the machine very easily and give it a thorough clean in the sink.
=== Price and Source ===
We paid £399.00 for this washing machine in November 2012 from www.appliancesonline.co.uk and that price also included free delivery. It seems this particular model is no longer for sale with either Appliances Online or Currys, but you can still buy it on Amazon for £439.00 with a fairly hefty delivery charge of £24.50 or at www.365electrical.com for £408.99. Hoover seems to have discontinued this particular model but is now selling virtually the same specification model under the new name of the HWB 814 DN1. This can be purchased from either Appliances Online or Currys for £429.00. If you do purchase from www.appliancesonline.co.uk (or Currys) do remember to go through a cashback site like Quidco or Topcashback as they'll give you a further percentage off the price you'll pay. We got 2% cashback on our purchase, which is not huge I know, but when you're buying a cooker, cooker hood, washing machine and dishwasher all at the same time then it all adds up, and we got a nice £35 bonus from Topcashback.
=== Recommended? ===
This is a very good washing machine and I'm more than happy with the results of my wash. It has a good range of programmes that cover any laundry you need to do. The larger 8kg drum is ideal for washing those never-ending towels we need to keep our dog clean. Similarly the 1,400 rpm spin means that said towels leave the machine almost dry and therefore need minimal drying, which is a godsend at colder times of the year when you don't have the option of hanging the washing outside and are limited to festooning the airing cupboard with 5 or 6 damp towels.
However, it's not all rave reviews here. The stiff door on the machine is a complete nightmare and it really does need to be looked at by Hoover as it's really hard to close without a handle. I'm also none too keen on their use of symbols for all the buttons and the dial on the machine rather than using simple one word labels. Having to refer back to the manual to decipher the code is time-consuming and irritating. Sometimes I think that it was quicker for them to break the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park than it is to work out what two teardrops and a plus sign means ("Sensitive Care" in case you're wondering!).
Four stars from me as I'm afraid it loses a star for that troublesome door....not to mention those irritating symbols and the lack of a bleep.
=== Full Specification / Key Features ===
* Fully integrated washing machine
* 12 wash programmes
* Quick wash feature with 14, 30 and 44 minute programmes
* Maximum Rotational Spin Speed is 1400 rpm
* Handles a large 8kg wash load
* Front Loading
* Water consumption is 53 litres (cold fill only)
* Dimensions are Height: 82cm Width: 60cm Depth: 54cm
* Weight 71kg
* This washing machine has an 'A' rating for energy efficiency
* Red Digital LED Display
* 23 hour timer start delay programme
Further details at: http://www.hoover.co.uk/large-appliances/products/49/built-in/62/laundry /1055/fully-integrated-washing-machine/
Hover HWB814D Fully Integrated Washing Machine 1400 Spin speed 8kg large wash load 14,30 & 44 minute rapid programmes The intelligent sensor weighs the laundry during the first 4 minutes of the cycle, then adjusts the cycle time, water and electricity consumption to suit the size of the load. Product Specification 8kg large load capacity 1400 spin speed stainless steel drum assembly 12 wash programmes digital coundown indicator start delay button (up to 23 hours) fast iron button sensitive care button stain blaster button self cleaning filter energy consumption 1.43 kWh water consumption 53 liters energy eficiency class A+ wash performance class A Dimensions: height: 820mm width: 600mm depth: 540mm