High Tech Washers: Beautifully Designed and Energy Efficient
Anyone shopping for a new washing machine has no doubt paused and looked admiringly at front-loaders in bright red or cobalt blue. These machines are beautiful and efficient in water and detergent use.
But a couple of drawbacks may cause some shoppers to reconsider. One drawback is the $200 pedestal that should be purchased to elevate some models. And some people may find the front-loaders are not as easy to use as a top-loader.
An alternative might be a top-loading hybrid. The one designed by Fisher-Paykel incorporates some of the same technology that allows front-loaders to use so little water while maintaining the traditional, easy-to-use top-loading design. The large top opening makes it very easy to add and remove clothes.
In addition to efficient water use, Fisher-Paykel washers are simply engineered, using a direct-drive motor. This eliminates belts, pulleys, brakes, clutches and gears. This is a nice improvement since there are few parts to break. If something does go wrong, repair is easier and less expensive than conventional washers. One salesman claimed that the entire machine could be taken apart completely and repaired with a single screwdriver in fifteen minutes.
These top-loading hybrids use 76% less energy than traditional washers and take 50% less time to complete a wash than front-loading machines. Some spin at 1,000 RPMs, cutting drying time by 30%. They also use HE detergent.
While the Fisher-Paykel eco-friendly model has an agitator, it also "squeezes" or forces water through clothes at certain points in the wash cycle. This reduces wear on clothes, much as a front-loading machine does. With the electronic controls, users can select a favorite for repeated loads or choose from 24 possible combinations for special requirements. This allows for precise setting, requiring less water and electricity.
When the wash cycle begins, water flows in, then there is a pause while the washer waits for clothes to become saturated and air to be dissipated. This is another great water-saving feature. The washer only uses as much water as needed.
The high spin speed may be a little disconcerting to new users. 1,000 RPMs does create some vibration. People should consider where the washer is located in the home so vibrations are not a problem.
New users should expect to make a few changes in the way they do their laundry. Do not wrap clothes around the agitator. Instead, pile items loosely. Also, learn to use less detergent.
The problem with this model is the tendency to become unbalanced if the manufacturer's recommendations for loading are not followed carefully. Mixing items of different weights causes unbalance problems. For example, washing one or two pairs of jeans with a load of lightweight shirts doesn't work well. However, a full load of jeans or other heavy items works fine.
For a consumer who is accustomed to traditional washers, any of the new washers requires learning a few new techniques. But the trade-off is worth it. Hybrid washers deliver clean clothes that dry quickly with little or no wrinkling. And they do save water and electricity.
By the way, the salesman referred to above actually worked for a rival manufacturer. His recommendation carried even more weight when he suggested the Fisher-Paykel eco-friendly hybrid!