Thanks to the invention of appliances, the way we do tasks around the house has changed considerably in the last 60-70 years. Beginning with households in upper-middle class America, and subsequently spreading throughout the world, this phenomenon literally changed our lives by returning some of our free time. Nowadays, most homes in the world own at least one type of appliance for the kitchen or house, starting with cooking stoves and microwaves, and ending with refrigerators or dishwashers. Moreover, we have the option of choosing from what seems like an unlimited variety of products, catering to all sorts of different needs, and matching diverse budgets.
With all that, it can be difficult to know exactly what to choose when you’re in the position of buying a new appliance. Sometimes, it is precisely this variety which confuses us, and which may cause us to pick an appliance that later on proves to be less than we expected. In order to avoid such issues, we’ve come up with a comprehensive buying guide for dishwashers, because these appliances are some of the most sought-after but some of the most difficult to “understand” as well. By understanding, we refer to the fact that a prospective buyer has to look at specifications, options, motor, and other special features that the manufacturer incorporates, and figure out whether they meet their personal needs or not.
That being said, pay attention to the categories that follow and check them one by one when purchasing a new dishwasher.
- Establish a Budget
Although it may seem a bit silly to establish a budget before you even know exactly how much the model you choose will cost, it is more important than you realize. Sure, you can do some quick overall research to see general prices for an average dishwasher, and based on that information, decide how much you are willing to spend. Whether you exceed the budget or not will ultimately be your choice, but having one in mind will also help you reduce your searches by not wasting time with products you wouldn’t afford. You have to realize that there are dishwashers out there that cost thousands of dollars, but you can still find a very good one for just a few hundred.
- Check out New Technologies
The world of appliances always gets updates and innovations; because these are products we use constantly, manufacturers also strive to bring improvements all the time, especially where consumption of water or energy are concerned. However, there are also innovations concerning performance, capacity, and even new software that allow you to control your appliance via smartphone or other mobile devices. If you would be interested in something like this, do some minimal research at least, to see which brands invest more in this type of technology innovation. A final advice here is that no matter what your budget is, and no matter what kind of dishwasher you need, look for those with Energy Star rating, because it means they benefit from technology that has reduced consumption on various levels and will save you expenses in the long run.
- Type of Dishwasher and Capacity
Dishwashers nowadays come in all shapes and sizes, and you can even find brands that manufacture special vintage designs for those décor-conscious home owners. What mainly interests you, however, is being able to tell the difference between various types of dishwashers. First, we have the free-standing dishwasher, which is generally average in capacity and holds about 12 place settings; it can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, and in some cases moved around. Secondly, there is the built-in dishwasher, which most customers prefer, because it gets incorporated in the kitchen furniture and can even be hidden behind a panel door that looks exactly like the rest of the furniture. The built-in dishwasher can be both average and large, holding up to 16 place settings; this makes it ideal for normal to large families, but it is more expensive and requires more planning in the kitchen to fit it well.
Another type of dishwasher you might like to know about is the countertop dishwasher, which is small in size and ideally meant for singles, couples or students. It doesn’t consume much; it takes little space on your countertop, and is enough to wash dishes for one or two persons a day. However, not all models may be worth paying for, so make sure to compare them with other average dishwashers. Finally, there is also the portable dishwasher, which is smaller in size than an average one but larger than a countertop, and which is fitted on wheels so it can be moved around, say, between the winter and summer kitchens.
- Technical Specifications
This is the most important part of a dishwasher buying guide, and the one you’ll need to spend most time with. If you’ve never owned a dishwasher, then understanding its technical specifications may seem a bit complicated at first. These specifications generally talk about the dishwasher’s capacity, about its motor, about the number of spray arms, the types of washing programs, other special options, and even the materials the appliance is built from.
For example, a normal dishwasher will have something like five wash cycles: normal, delicate, pots & pans, quick wash and possibly eco wash. The delicate cycle is meant for china, glassware and other precious items, the quick wash is meant for smaller loads, or dishes that aren’t heavily soiled, and the eco wash utilizes less water and energy, but will take a longer time to finish. Other wash programs you may find are pre-rinse, which is a special program rinsing very soiled dishes before actually washing them, or sanitize wash, which again, is ideal for a baby’s items and other special dishes.
The materials a dishwasher is made from are also important; for instance, it won’t make much difference performance-wise whether a dishwasher’s exterior is made from stainless steel or plastic, except in the design department maybe. However, you do want to make sure the interior and wash arms are indeed made from stainless steel; even though they can be a lot more expensive, they improve the quality and life of a dishwasher considerably.
This wouldn’t be a complete dishwasher buying guide unless we spoke about the special options that each manufacturer tries to include in their products to make them look more appealing. You have to learn how to discern between options which are just for show, and which you will never actually utilize, and those that you personally might find use in. For example, some dishwashers will mention options like child lock and door ajar alarm; the first option is evidently useful only for those who have children, whereas the second will be of use to anyone and prevent a lot of mishaps. This is the kind of option you need to pay attention to, otherwise you may end up paying more for a dishwasher just because it came with some options you were never going to use anyway.
- Noise Levels
Decibel outputs are essential specifications describing a dishwasher; for those who’ve never had a dishwasher in their home, it may seem strange that the manufacturer mentions noise levels and even makes a quality out of the fact that their product is silent. Yet when you think about the fact that a dishwasher – an appliance you use daily, or even multiple times a day -, takes at least one hour to complete a normal wash cycle, you might start to understand why any noise coming from it can be maddening. Before we talk about what a silent dishwasher is, know that built-in types are without a doubt the winners; that is because with them size isn’t an issue, and the manufacturer adds layers and layers of insulation; moreover, the dishwasher is also covered by the furniture that muffles the sound even more.
With a freestanding, portable or countertop dishwasher, where the main idea is to save on space, manufacturers can’t afford to add all that insulation, so noise levels will be higher. We don’t recommend these last three types for open space living, and even if you have to make a financial effort, getting the built-in variant will be the better option. So what about some actual numbers? Well, considering that some 3 years ago a normal dishwasher would have a noise output of about 70 decibels, the fact that today some dishwashers produce a mere 38 decibels is quite impressive. For comparison, know that the average discussion between two people occurs at 60 decibels; this means you won’t even hear the dishwasher running! For this reason, top-of-the-line brands have recently incorporated lights into their dishwashers, that project on the floor, letting you know whether the program is still running or complete.
- Read More Dishwasher Reviews
The more you read this dishwasher buying guide, the more complicated it must seem to you to ever make a decision. Don’t be alarmed, when it comes to the actual purchasing, all this information will come back and guide you in the right direction. You can find an extra bit of help by reading dishwasher reviews, written by both professionals and consumers. However, if you manage to decipher the technical specifications on your own, a consumer review can be much more enlightening, because it will relate a person’s actual experience with a certain product and give you a clear idea about performance and other aspects. For example, you can find very useful and unbiased dishwasher reviews on websites like DishwasherCritic.Com, but even tips and advice about how to take care of a dishwasher and offer it proper maintenance in order to prolong its life. Some manufacturers even create their own buying guides so that prospective customers know how to choose from a specific set of products. Such a brand is Whirlpool, one of the most reputed manufacturers on the market, and which has created its own buying guide based on type, specifications, color, size and more.
- Know Your Warranties
All manufacturers are obligated to offer you some kind of warranty for their products. With most dishwasher warranties however, manufacturers have lately offered component-oriented warranties; for example, the motor will come with warranty over a limited period of time, whereas the door lining and tub will have a different due date for warranty expiration. Before purchasing, make sure the manufacturer offers warranties for all of the important parts of a product, and that they span at least a year; otherwise, it can be a good sign that the product is unreliable and they know it. In happier cases, the retailers also offer some additional warranties, if they know a product is in demand or is indeed very qualitative.
As you can see, while buying a dishwasher is complicated, anyone can do it successfully by getting a bit organized and figuring out well what they want. Think about the size of your family, the number of times you cook in a week and thus need to clean dishes, and other characteristics inherent to you that will have a large impact on your buying strategies. Then, by using our dishwasher buying guide, you will slowly but surely reduce your options and pinpoint the ideal product for you. We hope you found this guide useful and that it helped save you some time and money.