Buying guide: DISHWASHER
Our love affair with cooking is often overshadowed by our distain with having to clean up. This one fact has allowed the dishwasher to go from luxury item to a virtual necessity. 2/3 of American households have one, cementing the dishwasher’s position in the American home right next to our ovens and refrigerators. This handy household appliance has been around for many years, giving manufactures time to perfect their operation and add features that address the users needs more directly.
There are 3 types of dishwashers:
1. Built-in: These dishwashers can be installed under countertops or into kitchen islands. As the name suggests, built-ins are permanent additions, until they are replaced.
2. Portable: Casters, on the base of these washers, allow users to easily move them around. This let you store them out of the way until needed. The washers plug into a standard wall outlet, and for water supply, they hook up to the sink’s faucet.
3. Drawer: Meant to more seamlessly integrate into our cabinets, Dish-drawer units are adorned with panels to match their surroundings. Their inconspicuousness means they’re a bit smaller. Dish-drawer dishwashers don’t have the capacity of a standard built-in washer.
Increasingly, manufactures are building models that meet the Environmental Protection Agency ‘Energy Star’ requirements. Dishwashers that are Energy Star compliant use much less energy and water than models that don’t carry the Energy Star logo.
Beyond curtailing water and power consumption, dishwashers have recently seen other advancements. Dishware sanitizing has been improved, and in order to kill all bacteria some washers now offer super high-temperature washes and rinses. An internal heating element takes care of the water temperature so there’s no need to turn your water heater up as well.
Improvements have also focused on the look of the machines. Cosmetically, a large number of door colors and various wood panel attachments give shoppers the option of exactly matching their new machine to today’s popular kitchen décor. Other manufactures have hidden controls from plain site. Reacting to the demand for products that display a clean modern aesthetic.
Adjustable racks, removable top racks, better designed flatware baskets, and in some cases a third rack at the very top for cups and items that need less space, all help aid in more efficient use of the relatively small amount of space that dishwashers occupy.
Some models differ in only the types of dishes their racks can easily accommodate. An example… if you have a baby, bottles are more likely to be washed everyday, than wine glasses. So looking for a model that easily accommodates your most frequently used dishes only makes sense.
Some of the latest dishwashers have microprocessor controlled wash cycles that adjust the washing time period according to the quantity of dishes. A sensor detects changes in water temperature when more dishes are inserted. This option can save both energy as well as water.
What to look for in a dishwasher
Whether you’re buying a Dishwasher for the first time, or want to replacement your existing one. It’s good practice to ask yourself some questions. How frequently will it be used? What is my daily dish load? What do I expect or need from a dishwasher? What dishes do I use the most? Do I entertain enough to justify a larger capacity? Do I mind pre-rinsing my dishes, or do I just want to throw them in and be done? Are energy savings a priority? Answering these, and other, questions will help you hone in on the model that is right for you.
Here are some options we recommend: multiple spray arms, a high-temperature cycle, an internal water-heating element, and a built in food disposal.
- Size of the dishwasher:
The dishwasher should be large enough to wash the usual number of dishes that you use on an average day with some room to spare. However, the washer shouldn’t be too large as it could be a waste of water and energy. A dishwasher capacity is represented by a measurement called place setting. One place setting usually includes a small plate, large plate, cup, and saucer, as well as cutlery. Place setting is quite a reliable estimate of the number of dishes the dishwasher would be able to accept. Larger families may consider a washer with a tall tub design; these are super high capacity dishwashers that allow for many more place setting to be loaded in.
- Wash Cycles/Programs:
Different types of dishes need different types of wash cycles. Greasy dishes usually need a heavy wash, while relatively dry dishes may just need a little rinsing to be cleaned. The more wash cycles and programs your dishwasher offers the more adaptable it will be for varied cleaning requirements. In most dishwashers, the three main washing cycles include light, normal and heavy. The more cycles offered to the user, the greater the machine’s versatility.
- Delayed start:
Set your washing machine to run automatically during off-peak energy consumption hours, at night. The electric company charges less for energy used during these hours.
- High temperature wash:
130-160 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. You can also look for The National Standards Foundation (NSF) rinse option. The NSF establishes evaluation criteria that ensures residential dishwasher, that carry their logo, clean and sanitize dishes effectively to help prevent food borne illness.
- Electronic controls:
These controls are preferred as they are accurate, long lasting, and easily manipulated. Additionally, electronic controls offer more preset programs for washing processes. Hidden controls protect the dishwasher from a child’s tampering, while looking slick.
- Energy efficiency:
Generally, dishwasher models having the Energy Star® logo are reported to conserve at least 25% more energy than the minimum Federal standards.
- Water consumption:
With the world moving towards water conservation and most families being conscious of the water meter, water consumed by the dishwasher can be of concern. The water consumed depends on the size of the dishwasher and the cycle used. Avoid running the machine without a full load and always try to run the cycle at night using the delayed start.
- Noise output:
You would definitely not want a noisy machine in your kitchen. The humming and droning sounds of water pumps and motors could be irritatingly loud. It’s better to choose a model having noise levels in the range of 45 dB to 50 dB.
- Tub Construction:
The inside of a dishwasher is made of either plastic or stainless steel. Stainless steel is resistant to the damaging effects of hard water and also offers more efficient sound dampening. Additionally, heat is maintained during the drying process. Therefore, dishwashers with stainless steel tubs are preferred.
Making the right decision
Check various dishwasher models on www.etronics.com. For better performance and more tested durability, buy a dishwasher from a reputed brand such as Maytag, Whirlpool, or Frigidaire. You can check out some good brands of dishwashers within your budget on the following links: $200 - $300, $300 – $400.