OY! No good washer options in current market!

kmicklesonMarch 29, 2011

Warning: Piss and moan alert!

I'll start by saying I settled on a top load, 'direct drive' Whirlpool WTW4950XW--to be delivered Thursday--the newest incarnation of the WTW58ESVW. Latter (and I suppose current one) is complained about here for having no manual load size choice; that the auto fill sensor transfers to full load if you open the top to add an item, yada yada. And of course my ordered machine is excoriated by some for being horribly noisy, others say it's quiet. Yet others say it's all about leveling.

Consumer Reports recommends *some* of the Whirlpool Cabrio's, (& Kenmore 2800 which is made by Whirlpool), but many reviews hate them.

My old time repair guy had recommended staying away from electronic ones, going for 'direct drive'--easier and cheaper to repair (tho this may be cuz he doesn't do continuing education in electronics), tho most these days come with cheap 5 year parts & service contract. Guy in store of course calls my repair guy out of touch with advances in electronic improvements. Reviews hate HE ones cuz they leave clothes tightly wrinkled or don't provide enough water.

Meanwhile, the one thing most agree on is they wish they had their old washer back. Maybe I should have just kept my 13 year old Whirlpool and paid my repair guy to endlessly repair it instead of figuring the cost-benefit ratio was against me. At least I'd help this clearly frugal guy stay at least occasionally employed.

Whoever the smart-a** was who posted about ocd and Asperger's hasn't shopped for a washer recently. Like I said, OY!

Just out of curiosity, has any consensus evolved here on a washer *most* people really like that doesn't cost $1000?

Karen

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dadoes

I'm wondering where you got your info.

Per Whirlpool's site and other sources online, WTW4950XW is a Cabrio-style HE-impeller machine, although it's dubbed H2Low instead of Cabrio. It's not a "current" version of WTW58ESVW (or WTW57ESVW) which is a deep-fill agitator unit.

It's also not direct-drive ... it's belt-drive, a different mechanical design than the original Cabrio ... which were/are direct-drive, although different than the agitator direct-drive units.

Look up the parts lists at Whirlpool's site, under Owner Center - Manuals & Literature, to see the difference between WTW58ESVW and WTW4950XW.

Did you perhaps make a typo in citing WTW4950XW as the machine you purchased?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 5:10AM
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kmickleson

Oh boy. Thank you, dadoes. Here's what happened:

At Pacific Sales, the manager had on floor a washer, WTW58ESVW, which was being sold with a companion dryer only (as they were the last of these models) WGD5700VW for $900 the pair. It was an agitator model which looked like a 'simple direct drive' unit, tho, to tell you the truth I'm not enough of an expert to know what exactly does or does not qualify as 'direct drive'. This WTW58ESVW is no longer on Whirlpool website, but does have a thread in this forum, I believe, about it.

He told me the current model to REPLACE that one was WTW4950XW, so I said OK and ordered that one. From the picture, the 4950 looks like the floor model 58ESVW. Now I don't know what to do. I can cancel the delivery today, but then I'm back to the drawing board.

I wanted direct drive thinking it was an old style agitator, no electronics machine, and hence (possibly) fewer repair problems. I'd prefer one which had manual water level choice. Can you suggest a few options? Preferably Whirlpool or their Kenmore versions? With 4.3 CF capacity? Or another decently comparable brand?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 11:44AM
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totsuka

There is nothing wrong with rejected the new, highly electronic machines, especially if you don't buy an extended warranty.

Direct Drive vs belt drive. I would think the belt drive cheaper to fix, but look at a repair blog to confirm.

I just ordered the WP 4.0, WTW57ESVW, so I don't have to buy that HE soap and it's easier to fix. It has a water sense system too so it will adjust the level plus it has the traditional agitator. The new t/l HE machines don't and rely on the clothes beating against themselves.

It is frustrating trying to pick a washer these days.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 12:19PM
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dadoes

WTW57ESVW is the only "old-style" direct-drive agitator model still listed on Whirlpool's site. It's equivalent to WTW58ESV.

There are only a few of this style machine left available.

Roper RTW4440VQ, Kenmore 400 (2942), Estate ETW4100SQ and ETW4400WQ. These are all 1-speed machines that use intermittent agitation for a delicate cycle.

Perhaps others can be found in-stock at stores.

A way to determine by examination which are direct-drive machines: Try turning the basket by hand for evidence of a brake. The newer belt-drive units don't have a brake (they also have a lid lock), so the basket should turn fairly easily.

Otherwise the only source for a Whirlpool-family direct-drive machine is the used market. If you want one really badly, I have a 10-years-old near top-of-the-line Kenmore 90 fully refurbished with almost $200 in parts ... but you'd have to come to Texas to get it and pay for the parts and my time ... and I'm not sure I want to sell it.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 1:23PM
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kmickleson

Well, I stopped the order on the WTW4950X. Realized I'd misunderstood him to suggest this was a replacement for the WTW58ESVW. So now I'm back to square one.

Is your reluctance, dadoes, to sell the old Kenmore because you think it's really a good machine, or because you figure it'll be in high demand as a collector's item? ;~)

I'm overwhelmed now, not knowing which way to go. I wish there was a universal review site where you could put in the features you want and come up with those highest rated of all with those features. No such luck. Maybe I'll post a question about people's approach to researching this without going nuts.

Totsuka, the WTW58ESV gets mixed reviews at epinions, but then so do many others.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 4:54PM
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badgergrrl

Karen,
Not sure if you've been reading this board for a long time, but you will find if you aren't careful that you will develop a severe case of "analysis paralysis." You can literally get nauseated from the sheer volume of opinions and options.

The only almost unanimous choice around here is a Miele, but that is out of many people's budgets. Second thing almost everyone agrees on is an onboard heater. After that, though, it's a free for all as far as what brands are better than others. One person's dream machine is another person's lemon. Keep in mind when reading user reviews on Consumer Reports, AJMadison, etc., that lots of people are, well, dumb and don't know how to properly do laundry. In contrast, most on this board are amazing, and can talk (type?) your ear off about machines, detergents, techniques, etc., but we're dorky like that.

You may also want to check out the boards at automaticwasher.org, another group of fabulously nerdy laundry/machine people. They tend to be heavy into SQs over there, though. They will definitely be able to give you more information about the direct drive vs belt drive issue.

Btw, I am one of those who would never, ever wish I had my old TL back. I love my FL. And, no, it doesn't leave my clothes wrinkled and, imho, the amount of water is fine. It was an adjustment using different amounts and types of detergents, but I'm adaptable.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 5:38PM
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dadoes

I have four of the direct-drive style machine. The aforementioned Kenmore. A 1992 KitchenAid and 2005 lower-end Roper that are usable but need some clean-up, and a 2005 Kenmore 400 that needs repair and clean-up. And a 2003 top-of-line Whirlpool Catalyst that will be refurbed for a friend. As I mentioned, these machines are plentiful on the used market. I've seen any number on CraigsList for example, some offered by appliance servicers, some even with warranty.

What is to know about them? Whirlpool produced the design from the early 1980s and is in the process of phasing them out ... thus very few such new machines are available now. Major mechanical parts should be available for some years, as there are millions of the machine still in use, although cost of parts will increase as Whirlpool steers them toward obsolescence. They were produced under the Whirlpool, Kenmore, KitchenAid, Roper, Estate, and Inglis brands ... and later Maytag, Amana, Admiral, and Crosley after Whirlpool bought Maytag.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:01PM
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kmickleson

Thanks, Badgergrrl, for the sweet note. I indeed have a case of that analysis paralysis--so much so that I just got a speeding ticket while on the way back from picking up my dogs from the groomers! I was totally frustrated and distracted!

Why onboard water heaters? My house one is right next to where the washer is. And I note that many have mentioned how their onboard WH's don't get hot enough. I guess that's just an adjustment.

I couldn't find 'SQ' in the FAQ on acronyms. What does it mean?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 7:10PM
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dadoes

SQ = Speed Queen, a brand name.
Speed Queen Home Laundry Products

On-board water heaters are helpful on low-water HE washers because of the low-water design. Such washers only use enough water to saturate the load to dripping-wet, then a couple/few gallons more to provide a wash solution to keep soil in suspension and keep the items saturated as they tumble. The physical mass of the machine parts and clothes will absorb much of the heat of the smaller amount of water involved. Even if the household water heater is located immediately adjacent to the machine and provides 120F to 140F incoming water, the temp may immediately drop by 15F to 25F at the start of the wash, and continue to cool throughout the wash period. Onboard heaters on some machines may only function on specific cycles (such as Sanitary, Heavy Duty, or Whitest Whites), or when specific options are selected such as Hot wash temp or the heaviest soil level ... but at least the option and benefit is available when needed/desired.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 7:49PM
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caryscott

Excellent explanation on the heater by dadoes. If you don't wash much in hot then there really isn't much advantage to having one. They do love the hot washing on here but it isn't something I do very often so it was a feature I had no use for. Singleton but I checked with friends with active young kids and none were washing in hot - I always suggest looking for a unit with a heater to folks and usually get the same reaction: I don't wash in hot why would I want that? To each his\her own, don't get more machine than you will use.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 7:30AM
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totsuka

It is about trade off's when buying appliances. A high use product like a washer needs to clean well, robust, quiet and cost effective. I wish my washer/dryer were located in the garage instead of inside the home. I could have kept my soon to be gone WP Duet HT and compared it to the new WP TL WTW57ESVW. We don't really get a good "side by side" review of the TL vs FL for cleaning and long term cost from the online reviews. I tend to like "less is best" when it comes to something that will take a beating 4 or 5 times a week.

I think you should go to a store that gives you a 30 day no questions asked return policy. Buy what you think suit your needs, beat the heck out of it for 28 days, and see how it works. If you just are not happy, call them up and out the door it goes!. That is what I'm going to do with this new TL machine.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 7:35AM
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badgergrrl

You want to get one with an onboard heater. While you will find people that say they don't need it or their wash is fine without it, as caryscott mentioned, I'll bet you dollars to donuts the people that complain about their machines (either doesn't clean well or smells "moldy") are, by and large, those without the heaters....

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:01AM
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kmickleson

Well, I got so crazed in this research process I decided to let my local repair guy look at my old Whirlpool tomorrow and see if he can repair it enough to buy me more time to think through what I want to do.

Totsuka, did you see the reviews at the link below before buying your new washer? I don't in any way mean to be negative, as I'd like the machine too for your same reasons. But everything I've seen makes it sound pretty junky.

Thanks, dadoes, for the great explanation of the water heater. Indeed, I rarely if ever use hot water--retired single, no kids, so will at least think twice before choosing that. Badgergrrl, what would the HW heater do to reduce mold smell on FL'ers? I thought keeping the door open and maybe wiping the gasket worked for that?

So it's back to the drawing board :( Searching endlessly for a TL washer with ability to choose water level manually, or as an unliked second, ability to add items without making the auto sensor not work. I re-start by once again looking at dadoes' short list of available direct drive ones. Sigh.

Here is a link that might be useful: Whirlpool-WTW57ESVW

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 4:37PM
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dadoes

A few HE-impeller toploaders have onboard water heating, but I don't know of any agitator machines that have it.

Fisher & Paykel's agitator toploader (there's only one model) has both auto-sensing water level and 5 manual selections. The lid locks during operation, but the cycle can be paused to unlock and resumed. Adding a forgotten item largely has no effect on water level sensing. It's direct-drive, but not the same kind of direct-drive as Whirlpool, and spins up to 1000 RPM. The original Oasis/Cabrio/Bravos design uses F&P's SmartDrive motor.

WTW57ESV and WTW58ESV are the same mechanical design as all other Whirlpool direct-drive agitator machines for the past 25 years ... same as the other available models I listed. Adding the auto-sensing water level function was the last "revision" on the way to discontinuing them.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 5:21PM
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kmickleson

Dadoes, do you know who makes the Kenmore TL 2800? (I know it's not agitator, but have been reading reviews and someone suggested it was made by LG.)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 6:54PM
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dadoes

The first 3 digits (before the period) of Kenmore model numbers indicates the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the catalog or stock number online at Kenmore.com is not the full correct model number. However, doing a wildcard search at SearsPartsDirect.com for 28002 comes up with 11028002010. 110.28002010 is Whirlpool. The parts breakdown reveals the new belt-drive design that's taking the place of the direct-drive agitator models. It's being used for both deep-fill agitator machines (such as the WTW4950XW that you ordered and canceled) and some of the Oasis/Cabrio/Bravos HE-impeller machines.

Perhaps you can confirm the model number on a display machine if you have a Sears store nearby at which to see it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 7:37PM
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dadoes

Ooops. My mistake. WTW4950XW is not an agitator machine. But the belt-drive design IS being used on other models that have agitators.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 7:43PM
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kmickleson

Thank you. (By the way, you are a real goldmine here and I appreciate your knowledge and expertise.) So far in my new research mode, that one (the Kenmore 2800) is on my short list.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 8:54PM
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caryscott

"I'll bet you dollars to donuts the people that complain about their machines (either doesn't clean well or smells "moldy") are, by and large, those without the heaters...."

I have yet to see any evidence that demonstrates that hot washing prevents a machine from developing mold and my guess is despite your bold prognostication neither have you. We are all just guessing. If your guess is that its' hot water that is keeping your machine mold free - you might be right. My guess is that its allowing air circulation, using an all natural detergent and not using fabric softener - I don't have a problem to date so maybe I'm right. Lots of fabric softener users without mold have weighed in so that probably isn't the answer (though maybe using fabric softener is only advisable with an on-board heater and frequent hot washes - any takers?).

If an on-board heater is what you want and need terrific but don't tell me what I need or predict an outcome on nothing more substantial than your half-baked intuition.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 2:24AM
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westvillager

Dadoes is on! Between he and posters like caryscott (and often shrivastava) who challenge questionable perceptions, plus badgergrrl's sanity check, there is nothing left to say other than good luck. You're armed with GREAT insight.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 2:34PM
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dadoes

I have it on good authority that there has been a revision on the WTW57ESV toploader to redesign the auto-sensing water level function. Instead of filling to full-level if the lid is opened during the sensing process, it'll fill to the next higher of several discrete levels. It won't fill higher if the lid is not opened until after the auto-sensing process is finished. As a safety factor to prevent clothes or machine damage, the designers must assume that more clothes are being added if the lid is opened within a short period after starting, which is the reason doing so causes it to fill higher.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 3:38PM
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