Overview of frontload clothes washers
[Information first posted in the Appliances Forum by Rich (spambdamn_rich) on 23 April 2003 - thanks, Rich!]:
Frontloading washer summary:
Description: A front loading washing machine, or "front loader", or "horizontal access front loading washer", simply is a washer that you load the clothes through a door in the front of the machine, like most dryers. In all cases, a front loader has its drum's axis oriented in a horizontal position, rather than in a vertical position as in a "top loader".
Advantages of a front loader:
1) Capacity: There is no central agitator, so the front loader is able to handle more of a load for a given drum volume than a top loader with agitator.
2) Gentle cleaning: A central agitator tends to beat the fabrics, sometimes harshly with tearing. A front loader's action is more gentle. A front loader tumbles the wash in a pool of water, rather than swishing it back and forth in a tub of water.
3) Better cleaning: Most people feel that front loaders clean better than top loaders. This may be due to the reduced water volume and more concentrated detergent solution, as well as longer wash times and higher temperatures. The tumbling action, while more gentle than a top loader agitator, may result in a more thorough wash action on all of the load, versus poor turnover in a fully loaded top loader. A front loader typically has several rinse cycles, versus just one for most top loaders. Despite the reduced water volume, these multiple rinses generally result in better rinsing away of detergent.
Laundry cleaning is generally thought to be the product of three inputs of energy: Thermal energy (hot water), mechanical energy (agitation or tumbling), and chemical energy (detergent mixtures). A front loader can result in more even cleaning of full loads, and can maximize washing efficiency more easily and economically than a top loader, by heating a smaller amount of wash water for more thermal energy, extending the wash cycle time for more mechanical energy, and concentrating the detergent for more chemical energy.
4) Energy and water efficiency: Because a front loader uses about 1/4 the amount of water for the wash cycle, it uses less water, and requires less energy to heat that water. Overall, including the rinses, a front loader will use 1/2 or less as much water and energy as a top loader of the same capacity. Additionally, most front loaders feature substantially faster spin speeds than most top loaders. This means that more water is extracted from the laundry before it is put into the dryer. This in turn reduces drying times for further energy savings.
5) Better temperature control: Many front loaders feature internal water heaters to boost or maintain hot water temperatures. Contrary to popular opinion, hot water is the best for cleaning efficiency. Without a water heater, a front loader may lose about 1 degree F per minute. Because the front loader uses 1/4 the amount of...