questions about top loading washing machines

collageMarch 19, 2014

I've spent about 2 hours reading about washing machines as our 10+ year old maytag front loader will cost $500 to fix so we're in the market for a new one.

I've decided I want a top loader for a number of the reasons I've seen on many of the threads here. I do not want an agitator. My question is: what is the difference between a top loader HE and, well, not an HE. So many recommend Speed Queen and I will look at them but my sense is that they are not HE. Should I care? Does it make a difference to (1) how clean my clothes are? (2) my energy bill? (3) my water usage?

I saw a thread that led me to believe energy usage isn't THAT variable and I'll check the yellow energy labels when I go to the store but I live in California and water usage is another issue. We're facing a drought and very possibly water rationing so I want to factor that into my decision making. But can't I set my own water level on a non - HE model?

If anyone can help me understand the differences between HE and non- HE I'd really appreciate it.

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1) highly debatable topic here.
2) will lower a bit
3) will more than double
4)"But can't I set my own water level on a non-HE model?" yes but then you are affecting how clean your clothes get and how well detergent/softener is rinsed. Or conversely what load capacity can be washed well.

Speed Queens are not HE.

Should You care? It all depends on your priorities.

What is more important; to be a rational self maximizer or a good citizen of the world ?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 3:06PM
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HE vs non-HE. Top load vs Front Load. Topics that resonates at this forum.

Really a lot of factors at play to consider before laying down your hard earned cash on a new washer.

Utility costs:
-wash hot water most of the time; FLW or HE TLW the way to go
-water and sewer cost a fortune; FLW or HE TLW the way to go
-wash warm most of the time; not much to be saved with HE TLW
-water and sewer cheap; not much to be saved with HE TLW
-BTW, 90%+ of a washer's energy use is to heat the water
-modern detergents work great in warm water IMHO

Your personal time:
-many HE TLW washers have really long cycle times; with less mechanical action they must work the laundry longer to get it as clean; cycle 60 min+; some have nearly 90 minute cycles that get top or near top rated by Consumer's Reports

-traditional TLW washers have more mechanical action; 30-35 min cycle

-how will the top load cycle match up to the dryer? Traditional TLW will give 150G spin and generally wash faster than the dryer can dry; dry time 40-60 min; you get that 150G every time with a repeatable cycle length

-HE TLW claim they give 300G spin, but that requires nearly a perfect balanced machine; many have time consuming algorithms that attempt to rebalance; if they can't rebalance you get 150G or potentially much lower spin speed; many horror stories posted here about HE TLW balancing issues; so do you really get that extra cup or two of H2O out of the laundry after spin that you paid dearly for?

-do you mind doing the wash all weekend or do you want to get it done fast?

Your personal tolerance for detergent residue:
- only traditional TLW has a good deep soak
-HE TLW have a spray or partial bath rinse; not as effective to get all the soap out

Your personal tolerance for fabric wear:
-traditional agitator is generally harsher on clothes than a little puck on the bottom of an HE wash basket

Since you are ruling out front load washers, you leave some of their advantages off the table for a low energy, low water use machine.

Saving the world one wash load at a time:
-certain areas are very hard pressed for water; it is an undeniable fact
-all areas some day will face energy shortages some day if not already
-does saving one gallon of water in the Upper Midwest really help the drought stricken southwest or a farmer in Florida? How will that saved gallon get from say Chicago, a water rich location, get to Phoenix, a water short location?
-is the same Eco minded person buying an HE washer driving around in a gas guzzling SUV or living in a 10,000 SQ ft mega mansion?
-why do certain people guilt those who buy traditional TLW as energy/water gluttons, yet move or chose to live by choice in water starved area or in a desert running the AC non-stop that the local environment cannot sustain?

I know I am being cynical here, but being ecologically sensitive is an all-inclusive way of life, a summation of all the choices that a person makes. But if buying an HE TLW or better yet a FLW is your first step to helping our planet, then great, but be aware of all your decisions that impact the environment.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Well said laundryvet. I had a Bosch FL washer and dryer bought during an abnormal drought; They worked perfectly for 5 years when I got rid of them. The vibrations on all cycles except permanent press, no matter the spin speed selected, adding extra water manually and other additives to clean and deodorize my clothes. I was using Tide Total Care HE , so it was a good detergent. Would take for ever the finally balance a load and go to final spin. and clothes would come out so twisted and tangled, so with permanent creases in them. I could go on and on.

So before the next round of gov. mandates to take over my laundry, I bought a wonderful set of Speed Queens. AWN542 and matching gas dryer. (the Bosch dryer was a joke). Yes my water bill has gone up a little and my gas has too. I wash every thing on warm and hot. But I now have enough water to clean and deodorize my clothes in one third the time and not one time has the loads been unbalanced. I am using Cheer powder about one or two tablespoons per load whitch is enough to make the water slippery without a mound of suds and rinses out good.
I just don't see how a HE TLW could be that gentle on clothes. there is not enough water to cushion them. I failed to mention that the FLW also pilled my clothes, have not had that problem with my 542. I know I am in the minority here, but give me a good old fashion Speed Queen any day.
Should have said that mechanically they worked perfectly and had no repairs in the 5 years I had them.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 9:02AM
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For those changing over to HE, I don't understand the resistance to FL's. Everybody's dryers are FL and always have been. Nobody complains about FL dryers and having to bend over to take the clothes out. Seems like non-issue to me. HE/TL's seem like a never-ending contest among designers to try and duplicate the simple/gentle action of FL's....apparently with limited success.

FWIW...I had eight trouble-free years with HE/FL. (German-made Duet....transferred within the family...still working fine.) Now have Speed Queen TL because it's newer and fits my laundry-closet better.

Actually prefer the HE/FL if one has the room. Among any/all washers, I think FL tumble-agitation design is superior and always has been. I liked the totally-open drum, larger capacity, gentle agitation, and higher-speed spin-out. On-board heater's nice, too. Then, again, I'm perfectly happy with the I was with mom's two previous Maytags (very similar to SQ) from 19 and 37 years ago. Hope the SQ lasts as long.

This post was edited by Gwarstong on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 16:53

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 4:33PM
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