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What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

Posted by luvmylg (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 13, 07 at 10:12

I have seen the Cabrio and others that have the little agitator at the bottom of the drum, but I have never seen one work so I can't for the life of me understand how you can fill it up as you would a traditional TL washer and that little agitator manipulate clothes to the point of cleaning them.
My next question is what makes them "HE". They still fill the tub as TL's have always done. I think they spin faster now. Do they still have generic water settings or does the washer automatically dispense the water? How fast do they spin now? I was plagued w/unbalanced loads when I owned a TL (laundry room sounded like Falluejah) does that problem still exist? Do they have heaters or sanitizing features?
For those that purchased the more expensive TL's, being that the high end TL's are basically as expensive as a Fl what made you decide on the older technology coupled with the fact that the water usage is still high and I know that there have been some serious issues w/reliability on the Cabrio.
I think I will go and check out one this weekend, kind of curious about the features on it now.
No I will not be "turned to the dark side of the force...I have searched my feelings; the Top Loader is not my father".
ROFL....a little Star Wars humor this morning.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

Kenmore Oasis running a load of towels
Note that this is probably a cycle specific for towels, which uses more water to insure the heavy terry-cloth items are properly flushed. The occasional water spray that occurs from the left rear is a pumped recirculation of the wash water, not a fresh water fill. Fresh water fill comes from the center rear, or through the various dispensers.

Here's another shorter clip showing a more typical fill level. Kenmore Oasis Normal Cycle

IIRC, the TOL Oasis spins up to 1050 RPM. It does have auto-sensed water level.

Oasis/Cabrio/Bravos mechanicals are based on Fisher & Paykel, which are largely very reliable agitator-type machines. Any reliability/repair issues on the Oasis/Cabrio/Bravos are likely related to specific changes done for those models, such as redesigned controller boards. I've heard there is a known problem with a component in the motor (positional sensor) not being properly snapped in place, which sounds like a factory assembly issue instead of a true reliability/break-down issue. Typical growing-pains of a new model when it hits the masses, and I don't doubt it'll all be worked out. I have two F&P agitator toploaders, one a 1999 model, the other a 2004 model, with the same type of motor, and have had no trouble with either.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

luvmylg, in a traditional top loader, the movement of the clothes that produces most of the cleaning is a vertical movement. The agitator pulls clothes down from the surface into the water, where they force other clothes up to the top. More clothes are then pulled down, forcing those clothes up, etc. This "turnover" is how the cleaning effectiveness of a top-loader is usually judged. To make this work, the clothes have to be more or less floating in the water. That requires a lot of water.

In a wash-plate machine, the movement of the clothes is both vertical and horizontal. For the wash plate to move all of the clothes, the clothes need to be in layers on top of each other -- not compressed, but not floating like they would be in a traditional TL. The amount of water has to be just right -- not too much, not too little. As it happens, the amount of water required to make this work is less than what a traditional TL requires for the same size load. That's the main efficiency gain of a wash plate TL. (The new models have other things, like high-speed spin, but that's not unique to the wash plate design. In fact most of the early TL machines had higher spin speeds. I think that the spin speeds dropped in the '60s because the first wash-n-wear fabrics got badly wrinkled at high spin speeds.)

As far as reliability, I think you are confusing the Cabrio with the ill-fated Calypso, which was a good idea but a badly executed design. From what I've read, the Cabrio is about the same as most other current models in reliability.

Why choose a high-end TL? Well, for one thing, my DW won't get within fifty feet of a FL. She insists that every FL she has ever used has damaged her clothes. Another reason is no vibration problems to speak of. A third is it's a lot easier to load and unload. and a fourth is that I feel pretty comfortable that I could service a TL by myself if need be; I don't get that warm fuzzy with FL's because of tub bearing and suspension issues. But it's really a personal preference. She and I both have bad memories of FL's from the '60s and '70s. We're comfortalbe with the TL design.

A few months ago, when our old DD Whirlpool was on its last legs, we bought a GE Harmony set. It's been very impressive so far. It has actually reduced considerably the amount of time we spend on laundry. And although it's a TOL model, the price actually compared favorably with TOL Whirlpool, Fridigaire, or LG models.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

I got my Cabrio HE back in March. It was the third machine I got, I had problems with the two FLers I had. You seem to be under the mistaken impression the HE TLers do a deep fill like traditional machines, they don't. They use much less water than a traditional machine, and automatically adjust the water level to suit the size of the load, like a FLer. My Cabrio He (with the exception of the delicate cycle and bulky cycle which use more water) adds just enough water to cover the cloths. This keeps the cloths down in contact with the wash plate so they can be circulate through the water. I still watch (I have the glass lid model) the wash action sometimes, I find it fascinating to watch. It looks like there is an agitator when it is motion. The cloths circle down through the center and up the sides. It is probably hard to picture. If you are a patient person, you can go to Whirlpool.com and watch a video of the Cabrio HE so you can get some idea how it works. Do not ever load the machine like they show in their video (dumping cloths from a basket and smashing them down in the machine) because your cloths with come out tangled. You need to place the cloths in piece by piece (except small items) around the wash plate. For me , this has virtually eliminated wrinkle problems. I only had a balance problem if I do something stupid, but even then, the machine does not vibrate or make noise, it tries to fix the unbalance and if it can't it puts up the unbalance code ub. Then you just move the items around and press start to finish the load. This has only happened a couple times. It has a number of cycle options with addons to fit just about any need. You do not have to set water level as it determines this itself.

I paid just under $850 for my Cabrio HE. The FLers were more expensive, I cannot remember exactly how much, plus I originally purchased a stand for the first FLer. In the end I paid about $500 less.

As for why I bought this...well I got a FLer, and I could feel the vibrations on the second floor even after a pro had come in to level it (not an installer). I wanted something that would use less water, but not rattle the pots on my stove. This is the answer! I also was unimpressed with the FLers rinsing, and its inability to remove lint and rabbit hair (yes, I have a rabbit, and she sheds like an animal 10X her size!). The Cabrio HE rinses much better, for the first time in a decade I can use a single rinse on every load without getting a rash! It also removes lint and hair much better! (As I type this my rabbit is sitting in my lap trying to get to the keyboard!)

I know that some people are unhappy with their Cabrios, of course that goes for virtually every machine out there! I recommend purchasing your machine at a store you know you can trust. Make sure they will exchange it if you are not happy. And , why take chances, get the extended warranty. If you have a Lowes by you, their service is great, and a five year warranty is $99. That is where I got mine. I will buy all my appliances from them from now on, and recommend them to all my friends. By the way, Lowes is running some specials right now, I believe there are rebates on some machines, and gift cards with purchase, as well as free delivery and haul away (they always seem to offer that on purchases over $400).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot spin speed. I think high spin is 1000rpm. Cloths dry a lot faster, even using the lower spin speeds. It is very efficient at removing the excess water. I should also mention that the settings are very flexible. You can make it do just about anything you might need.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

I've had the GE Harmony set for about 3 years and I couldn't be happier. I'm not exactly sure what makes it an HE but I know I use a lot less detergent than with my old traditional TL and it also uses a lot less water. It somehow "weighs" the load and uses the appropriate amount of water. Larger loads, such as comforters or coats, have preset buttons and use more water. I know the newer Harmony has the sanitizing cycle but I have the older model so I can't comment on that. In a nutshell, it seems to me that the HE TL's offer most of the same features as the FL's but without the headaches that many of the FL owners complain about. I had some limited experience with the Kenmore HE3 (had to borrow my friend's for a few weeks after mine broke). I actually had the HE4 on order but I was so unimpressed that I cancelled the order and went with the Harmony. I have no idea how high the rpm's are but my clothes comes out practically dry but don't wrinkle in the dryer. Even the hand washables don't wrinkle and I have to hang dry those. Not sure if you're looking for a new machine or just curious, but I would definitely recommend the Harmony.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

My Cabrio does use a fair amount of water, but I can wash at least twice the amount of clothes in a single load.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

Dadoes is right. The Cabrio is based on Fisher & Paykel's Top Load washer and should be very reliable as a consequence. The motor position sensor that he's talking about is pretty much identical to the equivalent Fisher & Paykel part, so the problems that some people are seeing must be due to initial manufacturing startup problems. This kind of thing is very common with a new product, and I would expect that all issues like this have long since been resolved.

As far as how the Cabrio works, the Cabrio wash drum has air filled flotation chambers underneath its base, that float the drum up when the washer is filled with water. While it's filling, the Cabrio pulses its motor, and looks for a drop in motor current to indicate that the drum has floated. At this point the Cabrio knows what the water level is because it has an internal water level sensor, so it can infer the size of the wash load. It then goes on to add the appropriate amount of water for this load size.

Once the water level is set properly the impeller starts to agitate back and forth. This back and forth motion pushes clothes up through the middle of the drum, which then pushes new clothes in from the side. This creates a torroidal motion with the clothes rolling from top to bottom.

The cleaning action comes from two things, higher detergent concentration, because with less water, the ratio of detergent to water is higher, and the fact that the clothes rub against each other as they roll around. This rubbing action is similar to what you would do if you were cleaning clothes by hand.

Also, as each garment travels across the impeller, it's lifted up slightly, and free water is then sucked through holes in the impeller taking particulates and pet hair with it, trapping them underneath the bottom of the wash drum. They are then flushed out when the water is drained out at the end of the wash cycle.

As for reasons to buy an HE TL over an HE FL, HE top loaders typically have hanging spring damper suspension systems that make vibration much, much less than an equivalent FL. Some people have problems bending over to load and unload a FL. Also, TL's in general have rear mounted controls which are out of reach from small children, and lastly, TL's generally have shorter cycle times than equivalent FL's.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

washer_man: Interesting writeup of how the Cabrio/Oasis does what it does. I've been comparing this to how the Harmony works, and there are some interesting differnces. Not saying one is better than the other, just different.

The Harmony measure the size of the load by having the wash plate do a few strokes through the dry clothes, prior to the first fill. It measures the resistance of the clothes to the motion of the wash plate (by measuring how long it takes the plate to stop after a pulse), and computes the size of the load from this. (That's why the Harmony does better if you press the load down into the tub a bit. Not a lot; just enough to press out large gaps in between the items.) After agitation starts, it still pays attention to this resistance, and if it decides that there is still too much, it will add a bit more water. A time or two I've seen it do this twice. The final water level is remembered and it fills to the same level for the rinse.

The Harmony has three different wash actions that it uses. The main action is to agitate with the wash plate, similar to the Cabrio although the rollover is in the opposite direction (items pulled down at the center, forced up at the basket wall). A few times per wash cycle, it will spin the basket and load up to a couple of hundred RPM, stop, spin in the opposite direction. A third motion is to do agitation strokes with the basket coupled to the wash plate. It doesn't do this on all cycles; I noticed it the first time I ran the "blanket/comforter" cycle. I'm not sure how it decides when to do this.

What kind of motor setup does the Cabrio have? The main motor on the Harmony is a big stepper motor, which is a positively ingenious idea. It can turn the wash plate or tub at any speed, in either direction. And it's very quiet. There is a separate motor for the pump, which only runs for draining. (The pump is kind of noisy; it's the one noise issue the Harmony has, although it's not too bad.) The fastest spin, according to the service manual, is 1040 RPM, and with that big tub the clothes come out nearly dry.

Ours is the 9360 with the water heater. It does work, athough it takes a long time to heat up the water (about 45 min.) on 120V power.


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RE: What makes a TL HE? How does agitatorless work?

The Cabrio has basically the same type of motor that the Harmony has. It's a flat, large diameter motor, that drives the washer directly without needing any kind of separate transmision. It's also very quiet like the Harmony motor.

These kinds of motors give washer designers lots of flexiblity, because they are directly controlled by the computer in the washer control, so the agitator/impeller speed and rotation angle can be custom set for each wash cycle, and even for each wash load size.

Fisher & Paykel washers also use the same motor. In fact, Fisher & Paykel actually manufactures these motors and sells them to Whirlpool for the Cabrio.


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