Thursday, 13 October 2011

Washing Machine buying guide



There are two types of washing machines - front-loading washing machines and top-loading washing machines. Generally speaking, front-loading machines can handle larger loads and use less water and detergent, but they are also a bit more difficult to maintain than top-loading machines.

When buying a washing machine there are several things to consider. The most common variables from one machine to another are:
  • Load Size
  • Water Consumption
  • Energy Consumption
  • Spin Speeds
  • Noise Levels
  • Washing Time
  • Number of Presets
Load Size
This is the starting point for buying a washing machine. You need a machine that is large enough to handle your laundry needs, but not too big for your laundry room.

Large families of course will need a larger capacity washing machine, but couples without children and single people can easily get by with a compact washing machine. Smaller washing machines are usually less expensive to operate, quieter, and cheaper to buy than larger machines. They may also be come in stackable sets for further space savings.

On the other hand, a large capacity washing machine is a necessity for most families. They are also useful for anyone who “saves up” their laundry for a once-a-week laundry day. Capacity is measured in cubic feet and also in load weight.

Water Consumption
Front-loading washing machines use significantly less water than top-loading washing machines. This may be important if your water supply is limited, but less water consumption also means smaller water utility bills.

An added bonus with lower water consumption is correspondingly less detergent use. This can result in significant savings, especially if your washing machine require special detergent.
Energy Consumption
This is a biggy that adds up to significant dollar differences over the lifespan of the washing machine. Look for a washing machine that is rated “Energy Star.” This means that it consumes at least 50% less energy than a conventional washing machine. This amounts to a savings of about Rs 1500 a year on utility bills.

Machines which are Energy Star rated still cover range of power consumption so if you are particularly energy conscious look for a machine with the lowest yearly energy consumption rating.
Spin Speeds
The range of spin speeds goes from about 800 rpm up to about 1600 rpm on some machines. This is important because a faster spin speed can remove more moisture from the clothes which means they will require less drying time. Less drying time results in further energy savings while running the clothes dryer. Some types of clothes – woolens for example – need a slower spin speed, so it’s useful to have an adjustable spin cycle.
Noise Levels
Some machines come with a noise level rating which is measured in decibels, but be aware that these are ideal figures. Actual noise levels depend a lot on proper installation. In particular, front-loading washing machines are notoriously difficult to install. They need a perfectly level surface in order to eliminate vibration as much as possible, and since the spin cycle can be the noisiest part of the wash cycle, an unleveled machine can be very noisy indeed.
Washing Times
Wash times can range from 30 to 90 minutes for a standard wash. There is really a huge range in wash times from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some claim that their regular cycle is just 30 minutes but usually that is time required for the quick cycle. Extended wash times will use more energy, but are sometimes necessary for heavily soiled clothes.

A suitable wash time depends a lot on how dirty the clothes are, so a washing machine with a selection of presets can help in getting good results no matter how much washing the clothes need.
Number of Presets
Which brings us to the presets. The number of presets can range from about 5 to 20. If you are doing many different types of laundry a large number of presets may be handy but most people will probably never use more than about 7 presets.

Some of the most useful presets are regular, permanent press, cottons, presoak, extended washing, and hand-wash.  This last one is useful for woolens or other delicate items that would otherwise have to be hand-washed.
Some washing machines have special cycles for heavily soiled laundry. These cycles may use steam or very hot water to remove difficult stains, and may also include extra washing and presoaking.

Other preset options include:
  • Fuzzy Logic - This refers to a self-adjusting cycle that can set the wash cycle times and the water and detergent levels automatically. These machines can also self-correct if the load becomes unbalanced during the spin cycle.
  • Delayed Start Timer - If your power utility offers variable rates this option is useful for taking advantage of cheaper electricity.
  • Crease Guard Option - This is a gentler washing action and a shorter spin cycle which decreases the amount of creasing in the finished wash. Some machines will even continue to tumble the clothes until you remove them to prevent them from creasing while sitting in the machine.
Other Options
Depending on your particular situation or laundry needs you may find some of these options to be useful:
  • Economy Wash - saves money by using reduced water temperatures.
  • Half Load Cycle - good for small loads.
  • Childproof Lock - can prevent small children and even pets from opening the machine.
  • Anti-Leak Detector - will shut off the washing machine automatically if it is leaking. This can be useful if you often leave the house while the washing machine is running.

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