Speed Queen AWN542 Review

gardenspudsJuly 18, 2014

My new Speed Queen AWN542 top load washer arrived yesterday.

First of all, let me say, these washers are only found in a few appliance stores in my area, not Best Buy, Loews, etc. The customer service was beyond what I was expecting. Very positive experience, from purchase to delivery.

So far I've washed 3 loads of laundry- a medium colored load, towels, and darks.

If people remember, I am the one who had the bad experience with the LG Waveforce top load washer, which we purchased 3 years ago and broke twice. So I'm coming to my basic button Speed Queen from an LG washer with lots of electronic options, and a huge drum (I cannot remember, maybe almost 5 cu. ft. I want to say 4.7 cu ft). Before that, we were using a Bosch front loading machine that was in the house when we moved here 7 years ago. I "put up" with that one for about 4 years and hated it. One reason is because I'm a fiber artist and need to spin a lot of woolen items that I've handmade myself- and to spin out wool before I've made it into something. The front loader seemed to felt too many of my goods. I was used to old top loaders before the Bosch- I could do spin only cycles fantastically to get the water out of my wool (I wash in the sink). I wasn't real happy with the LG HE either even though it was a top loader- the plates on the bottom would move a lot before a spin only cycle- a little more movement than I like for my wool...

Back to Speed Queen. The sales woman did make sure that I would be okay with going down to a 3.3 ft. cubic drum. I said yes. We only have 2 adults in the household, and I rarely filled the LG drum, unless we had company and I had to wash a huge load of towels, or our queen sized quilt. I used to try to accumulate as many dirty clothes as possible for a decent sized load in the large LG drum- sometimes my husband would get frustrated because he would run out of white undershirts! I wouldn't realize it- but the white loads never look big enough to put in that huge drum...

I LOVE the Speed Queen. I am back to doing laundry the way I used to with my old top loader machines! (meaning smaller loads, but for just the two of us, it's nice to fill the machine instead of barely filling 1/8 of the LG drum!). I love the spindle in the middle- my loads didn't get off balance, which was a constant issue with the LG. The way the LG solves off balance loads, is to add more water and swish around the clothes again, then try to respin and balance. Sometimes it would do this 3 or 4 times a load- I think that HE machine used more water per cycle for some loads than the Speed Queen ever will...

I love the water level selection choice. I did run a small load last night, and was able to select just the right amount of water. I like the lid doesn't lock, so I can add something without waiting.

I didn't realize that this model had a fabric softener dispenser until reading the manual. It is in the top of the middle spindle. I don't use softener much, but do once in awhile.

I don't think the drum spins as fast as the HE machines- I had to increase drying time for my loads about 5 minutes in my dryer. But, I am hoping the lower, but sufficient spinning speeds on the SQ will protect some of my clothing and sheets. I have permanent creases in 3 of my sateen cotton sheet sets (the top sheet, near the top) after running them through the HE machines- one set in the Bosch, two new sets in the LG. I tried ironing them out, with starch no less, and can't get those creases out. They are ugly. I NEVER had this happen with and old top loader, and I suspect it is because of the high spin drum speeds in the HE machine (more water extraction, less drying, more energy saving). I'm all for energy saving, but I am frustrated that 3 of my sheet sets have been ruined in the HE washers...

I feel like the 3 loads that have went through the SQ are very clean. I have had a stain on one of my shirts for about a month, and when I folded it, the stain was gone! I thought, my gosh, Speed queen really is that good! Then I put the shirt away and realized it was a different shirt :) time will tell on this matter.

There are a few things adjustments I'll have to make switching from a fully electronic HE machine. The SQ doesn't have a "delay wash" feature. I won't be able to setup clothing and have it wash hours later. I'm not sure yet if my queen quilt will fit in the machine. The LG had an internal heater and could get super hot- that was handy for occasionally yucky laundry we won't need to discuss...

Noise level: This SQ is a little louder than the LG or the Bosch before it. There is an annoying "Hum" to my ear when it is filling (probably the electronic portion of the machine?). It probably wouldn't bother most people, my husband thinks I'm a little crazy that little sound bothers me- I'm sensitive to certain frequency of sounds. We have the machine in the garage, so I don't care how loud it is. It's about as loud as my old top loaders which we had in a laundry room with a door. Garage, laundry room, basement, none of these you'd need to worry about the sound. I would hesitate if this was in a living space with louver closet doors though...

Did I mention how fast a load gets done? I cannot believe I did 3 loads of laundry in about 4 hours! I NEVER did 3 loads in one day with my old machine!

Well, I'll update here as I use the machine right now. So far, I'm absolutely happy with my decision to go with the SQ. I do feel a twinge of guilt about not buying an HE machine because I live in the West and water is precious here. However, we've been doing such intense water conservation with the rest of our practices (we turned off our drip irrigation a couple of months ago and only lightly hand water the plants that "droop", we've lost a few), and with the water level selection option, it will be curious to see how much water I'm really using when the water bill comes. It may not change that much since the LG was constantly adding water to rebalance a load...


Edited to add: I forgot to mention how pleased I am to have an appliance made in the USA! I paid full retail for my machine, and it was more than the LG machine it replaced, but I am very happy to provide someone here in the US a job...

This post was edited by gardenspuds on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 20:09

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That's great to hear gardenspuds. Hope you get many years of trouble free service with yours.

Have my pair over a year now and also hope to get many years of good service. From the last manufacturer of true HEAVY DUTY laundry appliances made in the U.S.A. .

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:49PM
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Thanks triedandtrue. I edited my original message, because like you, I am so pleased to have a machine made that was made in the U.S.A. (can't believe I forgot to mention that in the original post!)

3 years ago I had considered Speed Queen, and went with the LG HE toploader instead- the three things that drew me in were the huge drum (which for a two adult household turned out not to be the right choice), the internal heater, and the fact that is was an HE machine. I rarely used the drum capacity, and only occasionally used the "sanitary" cycle. The rotor broke after one year on the LG, and last week, a motor part broke again, but after finding out it would be $100+ just to have someone to come out to diagnose, then more than that to fix (possibly a few hundred dollars), we decided to put the money into the SQ.

Wish I had chosen SQ 3 years ago... I'm not expecting any problems, and with the water level selection choices (they even have an water fill option for "mini"), I feel that I can keep water usage under control...

Another load done, and I'm so happy!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:20PM
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I am going to add my review to yours -- I have had the 432 model for a couple weeks now. I chose they 432 because I didn't really understand the difference between the 432 and the 542 but I did want the extra rinse option.

Anyhow, the good...
-The cycles are super fast. Every load of laundry I've done has been done in 30 minutes. Honestly, my dryer can hardly keep up with it!
-Love that the lid does not lock. I like to take a peek and make sure I've added enough detergent and the water level is high enough. (not sure why it stops agitating -- I could watch my 10 year old Maytag wash the clothes).
- It's simple. I wanted a machine that my 14 year old could use without getting into trouble.

Now for the not so good...
-Cycles are super fast -- but sometimes I wonder if it actually washed the clothes long enough. The rinse cycle is particularly short which some people may not like.
-It does not fill to the top. This was not a problem until I put a set of king size sheets in there. Could have used more water. I used the reset feature to add more but the manual does warn against doing this (could cause the washer to overflow - not sure how).

What I am unsure of:
-Still not sure why it says to put detergent in the washer, then the clothes, then start. I like to dissolve my detergent in the water before adding clothes. Is there some reason I can't do this?
- The Delicate cycle -- I only used it once and I wonder if there is something wrong. It barely agitates and spends most the cycle just sitting there soaking. Maybe its idea of delicate is not actually washing the clothes!

Overall, I am pleased but I'd rather have my 10 year old Maytag still working and have $800 in my bank account!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:22PM
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"It does not fill to the top"

This is to comply with efficiency regulations that did not exist back when your Maytag was made. You can easily change the fill level yourself. See YouTube for details.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:09AM
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I raised the water level on mine following the instructions on a YouTube video shortly after the washer was installed.
As far as the lid switch.There is a lever inside the right rear overhang behind the cycle dial. It is above the discharge hose. I folded a piece of cardboard and wedged it in; no kids around, so it is safe.
These machines can be modified pretty easily. I have also been thinking about modifying the hot water valve also. But for now I will leave well enough alone.
Besides those minor things, a blessing from God to own and operate.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:40AM
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The Delicate Cycle is working as it is supposed to. Agitate/Soak Agitate/Soak.

If you need a bit more agitation try the Permanent Press cycle.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:43AM
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Update to my review: I noticed a little bit of grey "gook" in a ring at the top of the washer drum after doing 3 loads. I took a rag and had to use a lot of elbow grease to get it off. I then remembered a thread somewhere here, and found that the drum is supposed to be cleaned out before using with an all purpose cleaner and rag. The installation guy didn't do this, and didn't tell me to do this.

The installation instructions do state this should be done before use to get rid of "shipping dust". Actually, I think it is probably "machine dust" or metal dust, from manufacture. I am not bothered by this, some of the tools I use in my wool hobby have had machine dust, and I had to clean before using.

Thankfully, none of my clothing in those initial 3 loads were soiled, including a white cotton summer blouse- it is as white as when I bought it a month ago. that was in load #2, a delicate cycle load.

Still loving this Speed Queen, and since I cleaned out the drum really good with a spray cleaner and rag, haven't had the ring at the top of the drum reappear...

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:06PM
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stir_fryi: That is so funny. You don't like the way the delicate cycle doesn't agitate much, and I LOVE this. The way detergent works is it binds with the soil and fats, and the water washes the dirt away. Agitation is good for heavily soiled items, but a good soak with light agitation for delicate items is all they really need. I am really happy with the delicate cycle, my clothing with very delicate fabric will hopefully last longer.

I am looking forward to trying the handwash cycle with my wool socks- which are labeled "machine washable", but I find they last longer with less pilling if I hand wash, but being able to "handwash" in a machine would save me so much time! I will monitor during the "Handwash" cycle, and if it's not much agitation at all, I may be able to use it for my handknit socks, shawls and sweaters! That would be heaven for me...

And about the way you add detergent and clothing- I think it is fine, I do mine the same way. They had to write the instructions someway- and had to just choose. For most people, it's probably just easier to just add everything, set the knob, and walk away. But it is best to add the detergent first, with or without water, so it's not sitting concentrated on fabric at the top of the load- some people might instinctively add clothing first and detergent on top. Most people aren't laundry geeks like we on this forum, my friends thing I'm a little weird for watching people doing laundry on you tube, and think it's strange that I belong to a laundry forum...

Just read the instructions- should have done that before actually doing my first load, it clearly states to clean the drum before use!!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:15PM
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And this is why so many folks have trouble with their appliances. READ THE "USE AND CARE GUIDE" FIRST!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 5:49PM
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markb- Yes, I should have read the manual first!

I feel like a fool for not doing this. I did read the manuals cover to cover when I moved into our house 7 years ago and there was a Bosch front loading HE machine- never had one of those before. Or when I got the LG HE top loader 3 yrs ago- read manual cover to cover before first use.

I didn't read the SQ manual first because of two reasons: 1. The delivery guy spent a good hour installing, and explaining the features of the machine in great detail. But he never mentioned cleaning out the drum first. 2. This is an "old school" top loader, and I'm old enough to have had a few of these machines in my life in the past- this SQ machine feels familiar. I was without a machine for over a week, and my husband had just come home from a week long trip- there was lots of laundry piled up, so I just took the plunge and put in a load as soon as the delivery guy left!

I made a mistake by not reading the users manual first! There is some good information in there, and while I now have the drum cleaned out, I could have had it cleaned out before even doing my first load!

So everyone, learn from my mistake, read the manual first!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:07PM
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I just bought the AWN542 after many positive reviews on this site and Consumer Reports (boy did they miss on their review). I second always read the manuals on whatever you buy so you can understand how the appliance works and what to do in an emergency.

I read the manual and cleaned the washer as specified in the manual. The was quite a bit of "factory dust" that was removed which I know is from the manufacturing process. I was quite happy to do it as the drum felt solid as I cleaned it as opposed to my current machine whose drum sort of flexes when touched. I must admit that the installer also told me to clean the washer before the first wash. He also adjusted the fill level at installation to max at the top row of holes. I guess buying at a local store (not a big box or internet) does have it's upside in service and price as I got the washer on sale.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:17PM
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