Round and round and round

Washing machineMy washing machine is a Hoover, which is about 15 years old. It’s been pretty good over the years, though in that time I reckon the service people have been called out perhaps 4-5 times (twice that I recall for blockages which I later learnt to fix myself).

Now however the spin cycle is making a helluva lot of noise, and vibrating way more than is healthy. It’s dying.

Given it was only earlier this year I replaced the fridge (and pondered afterwards if I shouldn’t have paid for the old one to be repaired, though my conclusion is I did the right thing), I did call in the repairman to see if the washing machine could be fixed.

As is always the way with me (it happened with the fridge, and also the old car), I ended up paying a fee ($95) to be told it would cost something like $600 to fix, because the parts for a machine this old are expensive to find. You can get a (cheap) brand spanking new machine for not much more.

So I’m in the market. I’d want another front-loader, for space reasons. In fact, I’m looking for one with more-or-less the same width and depth as my current machine, so with a bit of luck the dryer (which doesn’t get much use, and is still going strong) will still fit on top, without having to muck about with mounting it to the wall.

As it happens, my friends at Lasoo don’t really track many washing machines… though they did reveal that Myer has 15% off until the 21st, and Betta has some specials too (though they don’t list specific model numbers, silly people).

A quick look around Myer showed some of the contenders, in various price ranges:

…though I wouldn’t just automatically pay the Myer price. The Bosch model for instance is available for $929 at the Good Guys, and Shopping.com shows one mob have it for $895.

I didn’t bother listing the star ratings above, because all of the above rated exactly the same: 4-stars for energy, 4.5-stars for water. (Except the LG, for which I can’t find an energy rating.)

Electrolux in general gets some flak from readers in Choice over reliability, but this specific model was rated a Best Buy in August 2009, despite it not having a proper cold wash cycle.

The Choice reliability survey put Bosch as the highest-rated brand (97%), leading the other contenders by a significant margin. My sister has a Bosch and agrees all her Bosch stuff has been very reliable. I looked at the Asko because Marita and Justine have one, and I really like the inner-spring system which makes the spin cycle virtually silent, and with no vibration at all. Very clever.

That said, the Asko is also the most expensive (by a significant margin) and has the least capacity. That particular Asko model didn’t score well with Choice for rinse performance. (Myer also stocks a Miele, which looks nice but which is probably too expensive. They also had Simpson; I’m not sure why I didn’t look too closely at those.)

Any views? Who’s got what? And would you buy it again?

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23 Replies to “Round and round and round”

  1. Daniel,

    We have an Electrolux Front Loader. Forget shopping at Myer etc, go to http://www.appliancesonline.com.au, or you could also try http://www.theelectricdiscounter.com.au They deliver to your door, and will even take the old one away.

    Ours is about 18 months old now and so an older model but the equivalent appears to be the EWF1481. Expensive but works very well, lots of diffrent choice with cycles and stuff, and VERY quiet… apart from the spin cycle, which sounds like an A380 taking off! But when it finishes, the clothes are VERY dry! We also got our dishwasher from them as well. Never shopping retail again. We’re in the market for a fridge soon but the only reason we will go to a retail store is to actually physically look at the unit… we have no intention of buying retail because it’s much easier to get one on line.

  2. I had a Bosch front loader for a few years, then gave it to my Dad when I went overseas and as far as I know it’s still going strong. It was a very reliable machine.

  3. I have an Asko. I don’t know how much it cost, as it came with the flat, but it is about 15 years old now and very reliable. Doesn’t appear to use much water, which can lead to poor rinse performance if it is overfilled. eg – Queensized doona cover and two queensized sheets all together is too much for it. I am on my own, so the small capacity doesn’t bother me. May be different for family requirements. Very quiet, which is great for me in a tiny flat. I would definitely by the same again for myself.

    Based on the Choice recommendations, I chose the Bosch for my Mum. It performs very well on most criteria, but it leaves clothes and bedding very very crushed. If you don’t like ironing, this is a problem!

  4. +1 for appliancesonline.com.au

    they deliver, install and remove the old machine…FOR FREE (depending on the suburb, i guess)

    i got a simpson (it was the cheapest one they had) and it works fine – only thing i wish it had is a countdown display as i can never guess where in the cycle it is

  5. Only thing I can add to this is to avoid the LG if you can. I had an LG front loader, which is still working (now with Mum, as we replaced with a mega sized top loader), but after about 12 months use, the digital display began to flicker/dim/half light up and though that isn’t important, it was annoying and sometimes hard to read.
    Also had an LG microwave that ended up landfill within 2 years of it’s life.
    I know things aren’t built to last, but you don’t want to spend $764 only to have to fix or replace sooner than later.
    Good luck!

  6. Oh, one more thing Daniel. AVOID FISHER AND PAYKEL. I have no idea about their washing machines, but we once had an F&P Dishwasher, it was the biggest pile of… well, you get the point. It make it my mission in life to bad mouth them at every opportunity for inflicting that abomination on the planet.

  7. All good comments, thanks!

    I actually have an LG microwave, which is about 2 years old, and okay so far, and a F+P dishwasher (it was in the house when I moved in 4 years ago) which has been fine as long as I’ve used Finish tablets for it — my recollection is I tried another brand at one point and it didn’t like them. The fridge I bought was also F+P — again, fine, though I’d swear its logo is very slightly lopsided…

    If money were no object I’d go the Asko; with the springs cutting the spin cycle vibrations, it might well be good for the floorboards in the longterm. But I’m leaning towards the Bosch, and will have a go of my sister’s one before buying.

    I didn’t research where they’re all made. From talking to the repair guy, it sounds like even the traditionally Australian-made products like Electrolux are imported these days.

  8. I have to agree with the comments about LG and Fisher and Paykel.
    My aunt had a Fisher and Paykel washing machine some years ago and it died (several times) not long after purchase and required several repairs whilst still under warrantly.

    When I was in Adelaide last year I had an LG front loader in the appartment I was staying in. Using proper front loader detergent and otherwise following instructions, my clothes ended up like they had been through the wash 100 times after only a couple of washes!! (Front loaders are supposed to be better on clothes than top loaders) Not sure if the appliance was the problem or the water, or a combination of the two.

  9. i bought a Whirlpool for ~$650 from Good Guys. 4/4.5 stars from memory, so far it;s excellent.

    i think you should try and buy Australian.

  10. Even if you had the money, I wouldn’t go Asko – their service record is not great (as I discovered after buying ours). Our Asko was bought second hand from Trading Post. It washes well but does a few odd things (the electronics aren’t perfect).

    Searching the web indicates that Miele are much better than Asko for similar price. Bosch doesn’t sound too bad.

    Jon

  11. I am much less familiar with appliance brands and reliability here in Australia. I have a secondhand LG 4.5 KG top loader here. It works alright for now but I might want to upgrade to a larger capacity front loader someday. Most American and Canadian household appliances are quite different from those here. Front loaders are not common and most of our machines are much larger. American style Whirlpool and Maytag machines can last close to 25 years and wash well but they are not very water efficient.

    All American machines have both a hot and a cold water connection and never contain an internal water heating element. Here I have noticed that many but not all front loaders only have a cold water connection and do all of the water heating in the machine. Not only would this make the cycle take longer but electricity is more expensive to heat water with than gas or in Daniel’s case solar heated water. I would imagine that the machines with the hot water connection only use their elements to boost the temperature if needed. Almost all of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating water. The motor and timer use only a relatively small amount of power compared to the energy that heats the water. I would consider this point while shopping and possibly look for a machine that has the hot connection too and relies on water heated for free by the sun (in your case). This hot connection is not usually mentioned on the internet pages describing the machines and you have to actually look at the back of the machine in the store to see if it has one water inlet hose or two. Good luck with the shopping.

  12. I’ve had a Whirlpool for the past 10 years and it’s still going strong. Got it for $800 at the Good Guys.

    When shopping for whitegoods, I recommend E & S Trading in Blackburn: I bought a bunch of stuff from them and found their staff really helpful and pricing v.competitive.

  13. PS: Fisher and Paykel are variable. Their fridges are excellent and I bought one which I’ve been really happy with. Their dishwashers are said to be awful and apparently the two-drawer ones have (or had – might have been fixed) a history of causing fires.

    Don’t worry about where they’re made. It’s all a global economy nowadays anyway, and a Chinese made machine will have steel made from Pilbara iron ore and Queensland coking coal, copper mined in Chile by BHP, etc etc.

  14. Fisher and Paykel washing machines are brilliant. They use little water, little electricity and are quiet and clever. Very easy to service. Mine has been going for 16 years. My parents’ is a similar age.

    But they’re top loaders so they won’t work in a cramped laundry such as the one in question. Fisher and Paykel does make one front loader but I haven’t looked at it in detail.

  15. i have a bigger version of the LG model you listed. has been good so far. i specifically chose it because it is one of the few models that have hot and cold inlets, so as we have gas hot water and maybe solar in the future, we save that way. also many models wont let you override recommended settings and wash in cold only, but the LG does. i can fairly much override all programs if you want.

  16. MikeyS, Sure, it’d be nice to buy Australian. Which ones are made here? Don’t know. None of the manufacturers make it very easy to tell where their stuff is made. I believe F+P’s Australian factory closed down recently.

    By the way, Simpson don’t appear to have a web site at all. And Whirlpool don’t give me a good feeling: their web site directs me to a product chooser which is broken — keeps giving me an error. Listing all their frontloaders shows the best they have in energy ratings is 3 stars.

    Jed, happily the Choice report does document which machines have hot and cold connections. It also talks about which machines can do a true cold wash (at about 20 degrees), as some only have the option to heat to 30 degrees or higher, which as you say, may be just wasting energy. The Choice report also indicates the power costs over 10 years.

  17. My F&P (made in NZ) will add enough hot water to a cold wash to get it to 20 degrees so that the detergent works properly. I think any colder than that would be wasting detergent. Either way, with solar hot water it costs me and the planet’s resources nothing.

  18. We have a new ASKO front load washer, and so far it has been fantastic. Hardly rattling the windows in our 110 year old weatherboard home during its spin cycle.
    Our old ASEA (now ASKO) washer was purchased second hand in 1984, and finally gave up the ghost early this year. We never had it looked at until death. Never needed it.
    I can’t complain about the rinse being poor as has been mentioned. But I don’t use a lot of detergent. I tend to under-dose and still get great results. Farmer’s and mechanic’s overalls are a fair test too! Baby clothes get an extra rinse, but that’s just habit on my part.
    Very water efficient, which we need with extremely limited water supply over summer.
    Connected to the cold supply, and will heat the water to 95c if you feel the need. I’ve never used it at anything over 30c, and then only for particularly nasty greasy overalls.
    We also had an ASEA dishwasher (also purchased second hand) for about 20 years before it totally died. It was easily repaired the twice it needed repairing. Just springs on the door each time.
    I’d heartily recommend ASKO products; last for ages, and then totally die. No faffing about. Suits us as it’s a PITA to cart something all the way into town for repairs because no-one makes long distance house calls ;-)

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