Need help to buy new large capacity TL agitator type for DW

mtrotJanuary 1, 2009

Boy, I've been researching for hours now, both on this board and at retailer sites. I have also been reading a lot of user reviews.

DW was initially interested in a FL or HE top loader. After we looked at them at Sears, she felt like she still wanted to be able to work with the clothes on top of the washer and dryer, so that put the FLs out of the running. We don't really have another surface in the utility room to work on. And there is no room in there to be able to pass through the utility room if we had to leave the door open on a FL washer. So, then we got interested in the new HE top loaders.

But let me say that we are not terribly concerned with all this efficiency stuff. I don't care if we can save $50 or $100/year on water and/or electricity usage. Plus, we don't have time to be re-washing clothes because of problems. We need a machine that fills up with a lot of water and just works right the first time.

And, the more I read, the less impressed I am becoming with these machines. I swear, at least 50% of reviews of HE top loaders are abysmal. The most concerning problems seem to be:

1. Clothes just not getting clean, not smelling clean, requiring washing them multiple times. This is due to not filling with much water at all.

2. Terrible reliability due to control panel and other component failures.

3. Laundry items getting in terrible wads, requiring stopping the cycle and untangling them.

Anyway, I am now concerned that we better buy a really good conventional TL while we still can. From my research so far, it seems Whirlpool seems to the main supplier of such models. The available Whirlpool models are WTW6200VW, WTW58ESVW, WTW57ESVH. I also read up on some Kenmores, but the reviews, even on Sears own site, were terrible.

Any suggestions or personal experiences are most welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Let me see if I can address your concerns.

As far as clothes not getting cleaned, your best source will be an independent testing organization like Consumer Reports, and currently CR is not downgrading HE top loaders for poor cleaning performance. A lot of the problem is with expectations. Many of the new HE top loaders have glass windows so consumers can watch while their clothes are being washed, and if they don't see what they expect to see, they can get upset and start assuming that their clothes aren't being washed properly.

The problem here is that what people would like to see is lots of water, and lots of clothes movement, because that's what they are accustomed to seeing with top loader washers, but instead they see very little water, and much slower clothes movement, and it upsets them. However, what they need to understand is that HE top loaders dont clean clothes like traditional top loaders do. Instead of using lots of water, very little water is used with the same amount of detergent as before, so the actual detergent concentration is much higher. This means that a lot more of the cleaning is being done with the chemical action of the detergent, rather than the hot temperature of the wash water, and the aggressive action of the agitator. The end result is that cleaning can be more effective with delicate clothing items, because there is less pulling and stretching, and energy and water consumption are considerably reduced.

So, the problem isnÂt a lack of water. These machines do clean well, but for people that have used deep filling agitator machines all their lives, it can be hard to believe that the washer is actually doing a good job.

As far as reliability is concerned, unfortunately you are going to get electronic controls and the like on pretty much all washers except those at the very low end, and IÂm guessing that low end washers will soon be using electronic controls as well. It is true that the reliability of electronic controls can be bad, but itÂs also true that manufacturers can also find bugs and fix them pretty quickly, so what you want to do is check posts that are fairly recent, because itÂs likely that many of the earlier complaints with a product have gone away. The Maytag Bravos is a good example of this. The Bravos is the same washer as the Kenmore Oasis, but user reports for the Bravos have been very positive right from the start, whereas the Oasis started out with quite a few problems related to controller F codes.

As far as laundry items getting in terrible wads, this was a complaint on the early Oasis, but now customers arenÂt complaining about either the Bravos or the Oasis. Around the time that the Bravos was introduced Whirlpool changed the design of the impeller, and launched the Bravos with this new impeller, and since then itÂs been my impression that such complaints have subsided considerably.

None of this is meant to say that you shouldnÂt consider buying the Whirlpool models that you mentioned. They are all fine machines. However, you should know that energy and water consumption arenÂt the only things that improve when you go to a more expensive HE top load washer. Some of the other things that are also different are as follows:

Capacity  the new HE top loaders generally have much larger capacity.
Spin Speed  the new HE top loaders have much higher spin speeds so your clothes dry much faster,
Vibration  the new HE top loaders have much improved suspension systems, and are far better suited for 2nd floor installations.
Noise  the new HE top loaders are much quieter, both during the wash cycle, and the spin cycle.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 3:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Note that Whirlpool model WTW58ESVW (and probably WTW57ESVH as well) is a new EnergyStar "traditional" agitator-style toploader. It has an automatic water level sensing feature and DOES NOT have a knob for water level selection. The latest Kenmore 800 has the same auto water level feature. Water temperature selection is via a knob, but a sensor is integrated into the water valve for mixing hot and cold to specific targets, as do many other Whirlpool (and Kenmore and Maytag, etc.) models. In fact, several Whirlpool, Maytag, and Kenmore models have a small circuit board on the mechanical timer. It's very hard to avoid electronics.

With government energy and water mandates getting ever more restrictive, manufacturers have no choice but to turn toward features like this in order to keep the "traditional" agitator machine on the market until they simply can't do it any longer and EVERYTHING will be HE.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 4:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 7:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the replies. Regarding Consumer Reports, I don't trust them. I think they have quite a liberal bias. When I read their auto reviews, and the features they use to rate certain vehicles highly, I find that I don't care about such factors.

Anyway, it looks like the Whirlpool WTW6200VW also lacks a real water level control.

I guess my question now is, are there ANY TL machines with user controllable water level? Can anybody point me to some more options?

Thanks much.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some one above already recommended Speed Queen. If you want a top loader that cleans clothes and is very reliable, take a look at Speed Queen. Comes standard with 3 year warranty.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 12:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did you check the Speed Queens ?

From Speed Queens User's Guide PDF page 11:

Adjustable load size:


"Important: Holding the LOAD SIZE (WATER LEVEL) Control in the RESET position can cause flooding of the washer."

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 12:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I think they have quite a liberal bias."

So CR is rating political issues now?

As you noted, you may not have the same personal rating system as CR, but the raw data, feature lists and general information can be useful to you.

In your shopping ignore the claims of how many bath towels, jeans, etc. a washer can hold. Those items are so variable in size and weight as to be useless as a measure. In my reading I've concluded that many people are overstuffing their new HE machines because the manufacturers say silly things like the machine can handle 32 bath towels. Well of course they don't get clean!

I don't understand why you can't work on the top of a FL. But I do agree that not being able to keep the door open would be a deal breaker.

Also realize that unhappy consumers are motivated to post their complaints, while happy consumers often are not motivated to post their satisfaction.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 1:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Anyway, it looks like the Whirlpool WTW6200VW also lacks a real water level control.WTW6200 does provide user control of the water level (Small, Medium, Large, Super) along with an Auto-sensing function. This is an agitator machine in the Cabrio family, uses the Fisher & Paykel drive motor instead of a "traditional" motor and transmission. Fisher & Paykel toploaders have five manual water levels plus auto-sensing. I guess my question now is, are there ANY TL machines with user controllable water level?*Many* brands and models of toploaders have water level controls. GE, Kenmore, Frigidaire, Maytag, Roper, Estate, Inglis, Speed Queen, Amana, Admiral, Fisher & Paykel, Hotpoint. I scanned quickly through the offerings on Lowe's web site, counted at least 25 models, and that doesn't even include all the brands I listed.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 5:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the info on the Whirlpool 6200. I couldn't discern that from the description on their site.

I guess I should have been more clear. She thinks she wants a "nice", large capacity (close to 4 cubic feet) washer(and dryer, of course that match). So, that eliminates all the 3.2 cf machines.

I also looked on Lowes and didn't see much that I thought looked good. I also checked the Home Depot site, and the GE models look pretty good. They actually list a "Colossal" capacity model, think the 6150KWP, as well as a 8150KWP. These are supposed to have around 4.1 cf capacity. Interestingly, these models do not appear on GE website. Perhaps they are last year models.

BTW, regarding the Whirlpool 6200, you say This is an agitator machine in the Cabrio family, uses the Fisher & Paykel drive motor instead of a "traditional" motor and transmission. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I have no idea about motors or transmissions.

Also, what does anybody think about quality and reliability of Whirlpool vs GE washers?

Thanks much.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 5:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also, what does anybody think about quality and reliability of Whirlpool vs GE washers?
30+ years ago GE was a very reliable machine. Then then went downhill and had 20 years or so of abysmal reliability. However they've dramatically improved in the last 5-10 years. The GE Harmony is made by LG and is a very reliable machine and very popular with owners. However, their prices have gone up a lot lately too. Whirlpool has been a consistently solid and value priced machine line on the lower end machines. Their upper end machines are reliable but of course higher priced.

Speed Queens are solid machines but I think their dryers are overpriced. Fisher & Paykal are at a good price point for the washers. I believe their front load dryers are still made by GE. Their top load dryer is expensive but has many nice features.

I agree with you that Consumer Reports is nothing short of a joke. I don't go with "liberal" but biased, they definitely are. I wouldn't waste my time lining a bird cage. Why put crap in there for the birds to crap on?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 8:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think most dryers are way over priced considering they are mostly sheet metal and very simple machines. Actually they are bargains when you consider they can last through several washing machine lifetimes. Unfortunately most people would just DIE to have to bear having a dryer that doesnt match thier washer. So they end up going out the door long before their demise on average. This at least makes for bargains for those less fortunate or less picky.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 8:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

mtrot, I haven't had good experiences with GE washers/dryers or dishwashers.

I am the grateful owner of Maytag Bravos HE washer/dryer, and they are great! I haven't had ANY of the problems you mentioned. I highly recommend them. They are made by Whirlpool. The washer is 4.6 cu ft, holds a LOT of laundry. The dryer is 7 cu ft and dries laundry very quickly.

If you have any specific questions, let me know.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 9:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I should have thought of it before. The WTW6200VW Whirlpool Cabrio is probably the best fit for you by far. This is because it's exactly the same as the Whirlpool Cabrio Impeller washer, except that it has an agitator instead of an impeller, and it's a deep filling machine instead of an HE low water machine.

This means that it has all of the advantages of the high end Cabrio, and in addition, has the deep filling capability that you want.

Also, one other thing to mention is that you may notice that the Cabrio HE washer is rated at 4.5 cubic feet, while the Cabrio agititor washer is only rated at 3.8 cubic feet. This is actually quite misleading because the only difference between the two washers is the agitator and the impeller. They are actually about the same capacity, it's just that the Cabrio HE is rated with IEC capacity, and the Cabrio agitator is rated with DOE capacity. IEC capacity is the standard that's used to rate front loaders, and it inflates that real capacity to try and compensate for the fact that you can stuff more clothes into a front loader than you can with a top loading agitator washer. The problem with this is that there's lot of opportunity for confusion, and I'm betting that the 4.1 cubic feet GE washers you mentioned are actually rated with IEC capacity, which would mean that the Cabrio Agitator washer has quite a bit more capacity than the GE, if you measure actual wash drum volume, because 4.1 cubic feet IEC converts to about 3.6 cubic feet DOE.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know anything about the capacity ratings so just a question on that: I was led to believe that the IEC was supposed to be more accurate since it was a (supposedly) true capacity since the space normally lost to the agitator is figured in where the other did not account for the loss of space for the agitator. Or is it actually the other way around? So, you're saying, for instance, an impeller machine will not hold 4.5 cf of water where the assumed same machine with agitator will hold 3.8 cf of water?

I'm thinking the water example would give the best illustration to what I'm trying to say. If they both hold 3.8 cf then they would seem to me to be the same "capacity". So a large comfortor should fit comfortably well (no pun intended) in either washer I would think.

I've never researched the capacity ratings. Guess I need to do some research.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 10:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are correct. The 3.8 cubic foot Cabrio with Agitator will hold 3.8 cubic feet of water, whereas the 4.5 cubic foot Cabrio with Impeller will hold 3.8 cubic feet of water, plus the difference in volume between an impeller and an agiator, probably about 0.2 cubic feet or so I'm guessing.

This means that the 4.5 cubic foot Cabrio with Impeller probably holds no more than than about 4.0 cubic feet of water. Keep in mind however, that these capacities are still huge!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 8:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have had the Cabrio 6200 agi for 20 months now and I am completely satisfied. You can set your own water level or let the auto feature sense it and do it for you. It holds a very large load and cleans very nicely.

I did start out with the Cabrio HE. I had it for 6 months. I personally was not pleased with cleaning performance and other features. I did trade it in for the Cabrio 6200 and have been very pleased for nearly 2 years now.

Hope this helps some.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


On your 6200, does the machine start all over if you change anything as the cycle runs? I read the reviews on the Kenmore Elite version that seems to be comparable, and people complained that if they change anything as it runs, it starts all over and they end up wasting a bunch of time and doubling their water usage.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 7:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, you better be sure of the cycle you choose before you press start. If you press cancel after it has begun washing you have to start all over again. Although I have never found it to be bothersome as I sort my loads and pick the cycle accordingly.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:31PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Stack Washer & Dryer to make room for Utility Tub?
Hi All! I have a very small main floor laundry "closet"...
Catie R
Need help with LR/Mudroom/PR arrangement
We are breaking ground in 3-4 weeks and we still haven't...
Laundry room reveal
We just updated our laundry/mud room after years of...
List price for new Speed Queens?
Looking at the new front loaders like everyone else...
Do HE TL washer really Clean?
I have had a traditional Maytag TL washer for the last...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™