If your old washer has been steadily chugging along for a number of years, you probably haven’t been paying too much attention to the newest appliance battlefield—front-loading washers versus top-loading washers. It used to be that front loading washers were used primarily in laundromats and commercial washing operation while the vast majority of homes used top loaders. However, in recent years, front-loading washers have become much more common in the consumer market, leading to the question which is the better choice for you – a front-loading washer or a top loader?
Top loaders retail prices range from $500 to $800 while front loaders will cost you anywhere from $1500 to $2000. A pretty big price differential, so why are people willing to pay the premium for a front loader? The answer generally comes down to three things, efficiency, clothing life and space.
The design of a front-loading washer mounts the drum horizontally while a top loader’s drum is mounted vertically. As a result, a front loader only needs to use about half the water to cover the clothes in the drum as opposed to a top loader-18 gallons per load (gpl) versus 33 gpl on average. So, the water savings are obvious, and if you wash in hot water, there are incremental energy savings from not needing to heat as much water.
In addition, a front loader’s spin cycle can reach up to 1,000 rpm while a top loader’s spin averages in the range of 650 rpm. The higher spin speed means clothes coming out of a front loader are substantially drier than clothes that have been spun dry in a top loader. Drier clothes from the front loader means less energy is required to dry clothes after washing them.
Front loaders clean by tumbling the clothes inside the horizontally mounted drum. As the drum turns gravity drops the clothes from the top of the drum to the bottom, continuously cleaning them. A top loader uses an agitator to keep the clothes in motion and push water through them to clean them. The agitator motion is hard on clothes and shortens their useful life.
Front-loading washers can often have a dryer stacked on top of them, giving the pair of appliances a reduced footprint. A top-loading washer obviously can’t have a dryer stacked on top, so the pair of appliances takes up more room in a home.
Are there any downsides to front-loading washers?
Some people are concerned about the design of front loaders and how long they will last, particularly in light of the front loader’s much higher initial cost. Mounting the drum horizontally means the weight of the water and all the clothes will put a lot of stress on the drum supports, much more stress than the weight of water and clothes in a drum mounted on a vertical axis.
Front loaders require special high efficiency (he) laundry detergent. Standard laundry detergents people use in top loaders create too many suds and can’t be used in front loaders.
To locate the washing machine user’s manual for the model you own, visit the ManualsOnline Library.