Nobody likes doing laundry, and buying a washing machine and dryer is even less enjoyable. Over the last 10 years there’s been a number of advances to the technology of washing machines has increased energy efficiency and is easier on your clothes. There are different types of washing machines and dryers with many features.
Front load vs top load
When you first walk into the appliance showroom you will immediately notice the coloured washing machines and dryers which stand out compared to the traditional white ones. The coloured washing machines will usually be front-loaders while most white ones will be top-loaders. This is more than just an aesthetic difference, there are differences in prices, features and size.
Top load machines
Top load washing machines have been around for years. The tub is upright with the door for the machine at the top. An agitator pushes the water around the tub to clean the clothes. This can cause the clothes to get damaged in the machine and if it is not loaded correctly can cause wear and tear on the machine. These machines are easy to use and do not have any sophisticated electronics or computers in them. Some things to consider:
- Cycle and cleaning time are shorter compared to front loaders.
- Top loaders are less expensive than front loaders.
Front load machines
Front load washing machines, although common in Europe, are considered more high-end in North America. Front load machines are also “high efficiency” machines. These machines use 20 to 60 per cent of the detergent, and 30 to 50 per cent of the water that a traditional machine uses. During the spin cycle these machines spin up to 20 per cent faster than traditional washers. Your clothes come out drier, thus, saving you time and money when in the dryer. These machines usually have sophisticated electronics that will automatically balance out and weigh the load to make sure the right amount of water is used. Some things to consider:
- Unlike a top-load machine, the drum of a front load machine is air tight to prevent water from escaping. Moisture and debris can get trapped in the rubber bellows resulting in mould and mildew. Leaving the door open between uses and maintenance cleaning is required.
- It is important the machine is leveled. If the machine is not properly level it will move and make a lot of noise during the spin cycle.
- These machines use high efficiency soap. The soap will be marked with an HE label. The number one cause of damage to front-load washing machines is the use of incorrect detergent.
High efficiency top load
There is a third type of washing machine, a high efficiency top load. These machines are for people that are accustomed to the traditional top load, but want the high efficiency advantages of the front load machines. Although not as efficient as front load machines they still use less water (compared to top load) and have many of the same features.
Dryers for the most part are pretty standard compared to washing machines as they are always front loading. If you are buying a washer and dryer at the same time the difficult choice will be deciding on a washer, and then opting for the dryer that goes with it. The main concern will be whether to purchase gas or electric powered.
Gas and electric are both options for dryers. However, gas is not as common. If you don’t already have a gas hook up in your laundry room this will need to be considered as well. Gas dryers are usually a few hundred dollars more, but can save you money in the long run due to their lower operating costs.
All washing machines and dryers, regardless of model will be 27 inches wide and deep. Top load washers are usually 42 inches high and front load machines are 38 inches high. Generally with front load machines the washer goes on the left and dryer on right. This is due to placement of the hinges. If you would like to flip them the hinge on the dryer door can be reversed. If space is tight and you don’t have the width to put the washer and dryer side by side you can buy a kit to stack the front load washer and dryer. Pedestals are an option as well if you feel the heights of the front load washer and dryer is too low, raising the height by 16 inches.
By Ian MacNeil
Images from Whirlpool