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Large or major appliances are considered durable goods meaning a product that does not quickly wear out and is expected to last for at least three years. In fact, the average appliance life is 8-12 years from our experience. Therefore, the average consumer shopping for a new appliance have not purchased one for many years, even decades. For this reason, many people in the market for any type of durable good are not well acquainted with the products they are looking to buy.

Logically, you want to know want to make an educated decision on a major purchase. A basic understanding of the types, features, benefits, and estimated costs associated would go a long wat towards giving you an good start. In this guide, we attempt to give an overview of the different types of kitchen and laundry appliances that are available today. And to explain what the diffences are, what the advantages or benifits may be, and the estimated price ranges.

We hope you enjoy reading this guide, but as always, feel free to contact us for any further assistance - our appliance experts are factory trained and many have decades of experience.

Dishwasher Buying Guide

Getting Started: Dishwashers come in three standard widths - 18 inch, 24 inch, and 30 inch. The majority of units sold are 24 inch built-in dishwashers. Apartment size 18 inch wide dishwasher models are often installed where space is at a premium. Dacor has recently introduced a new 30-inch Dishwasher that provides extra capacity for large families.

Dishwasher Types:

Fully Integrated Dishwashers

Fully Integrated Dishwashers continue to gain popularity because of their sleek, clean look. The controls are on the top of the dishwasher door leaving only a solid panel and handle on the front. Some newer variations have small displays on the door.

Fully Integrated Dishwashers are available in Stainless Steel, Black, White, Bisque, and also Custom Panel Ready. Nearly all manufacturer's now offer Fully Integrated models.

Average Price Points: $300 to $2,800

Bottom Line: Fully Integrated provide a sleek, clean look in your kitchen. Often, there is a slight premium for this style.

Fully Integrated Dishwashers

Full Console Dishwashers

Full Console Dishwashers are the oldest and most traditional dishwasher style available. In fact, if your dishwasher is 5 years old or older then you most likely have one. The control panel is at the top of the dishwasher door - usually about 4 inches high.

Full Console dishwashers are available in Stainless Steel, White, Black, Bisque, and Custom Panel Ready.

Average Price Points: $230 to $2,400

Bottom Line: Full Console models are still popular and are available in a wide range or price points and finishes.

Full Console Dishwashers

Semi or Partially Integrated Dishwashers

Partially or Semi Integrated dishwashers are a sort of cross between fully integrated and full console models. These models have the controls on the top while also having a panel or display on the front of the door.

Available in Stainless Steel, Black, or White finishes.

Price Points: $600 to $1,700

Bottom Line: Semi integrated dishwashers are another attractive alternative style.

Semi or Partially Integrated Dishwashers

Custom Panel Ready Dishwashers

Custom Panel Ready Dishwashers accept a wood panel to match you kitchen cabinetry. Available in both fully integrated and full console varieties. Matching appliance handles or matching kitchen cabinet hardware may be used as a means to open the dishwasher.

Average Price Points: $270 to $2,600

Bottom Line: Popular option in kitchen remodels. Often preferred because it blends the dishwasher in with the cabinetry.

Custom Panel Ready Dishwashers

Dishwasher Drawers

The DishDrawer was originally designed and manufactured by Fisher & Paykel who is still the most popular brand in this category. Recently DCS, Kitchen Aid, Maytag, and Jenn Air have added dishwasher drawers to their assortments.

Dishwasher Drawers are available in both single and double configurations. Double drawer units allow the two drawers to be used independently. These may be used to replace a standard 24 inch wide built-in dishwasher as well.

Dishwasher drawers are available in Stainless Steel, White, Black, and Custom Panel Ready.

Average Price Points: $600 to $1,600

Bottom Line: Dishwasher drawers offer a great deal of installation flexibility and ergonomically superior design.

Dishwasher Drawers

Apartment Size (18 inches wide)

Apartment size dishwashers are 18 inches wide as compared to the traditional 24 inch wide full size dishwasher. These are available in both built-in and portable styles. 18 inch wide dishwashers are often used in city apartments due to space constraints.

New styles and options in apartment size dishwashers have become available in just the last few years. Nearly every style and type - fully integrated, full console, panel ready - are now available.

Apartment size dishwashers are available in Stainless Steel, White, Black, or Panel Ready.

Average Price Points: $330 to $1,449

Bottom Line: Many styles, finishes, and quality levels are available in apartment size dishwashers. Whether redesigning a kitchen or replacing an existing unit, you are sure to find one that fits your needs.

Apartment Size (18 inches wide)

Portable Dishwashers

Portable dishwashers are on wheels and do not need to be built-in. Often used when the cost of modifying kitchen cabinetry is not in the budget or when there is simply no room. Portable dishwashers can be left freestanding or be kept in a closet, rolled out, and hooked up to a kitchen faucet and sink when needed.

Portable dishwashers are available in 18 inch and 24 inch widths and in white and black finishes. GE makes a convertible model that may be built-in in the future.

Average Price Points: $500 to $600

Bottom Line: You will not find a great deal of selection within portable dishwashers, however, there are some good choices when portable is your only option.

Portable Dishwashers

Clothes Washer Buying Guide

Clothes Washer Types

Traditional Top Load Washers

Traditional Top load Washers have been the staple of American washing machines for decades. Laundry is loaded through a door in the top of the unit and a load size (or water level) is selected. There is an agitator in the center of the tub which facilitates the movement of the clothing through the water - this is the action that cleans clothing.

A majority of top load washers are 27 inches wide and offer capacities adequate for large families. These capacities range from 2 to 4 cubic feet.

Average Price Points: $300 to $600

Bottom Line: New traditional top load washers offer great value, cleaning, and capacities. However, entry level front load washers price points are rapidly falling.

Traditional Top Load Washers

High Efficiency Top Load Washers

A newer style of top load washer mimics the traditional top load washer in look and feel but uses a different agitator that offers many of the advantages of front load washers. Most of these units have achieved Energy Star status from the U.S. Department of Energy, a testament to their engineering and efficiency.

The use of a different agitator type allows these machines to use less water and energy while, at the same time, being gentler on your clothing and getting them cleaner. These units can also spin at a faster rate, removing more moisture from your clothing and reducing drying time and cost. Also, the smaller agitator and larger tub size allow these models to offer capacities up to 5.9 cubic feet.

Average Price Points: $450 to $1,100

Bottom Line: Great choice if you like the benefits of front load washers but prefer the form and function of top load washers.

High Efficiency Top Load Washers

Front Load Washers

Front load washers are superior to traditional top load washers in four major ways - capacity, cleaning, clothes care, and conservation.

Capacity: the average front load washer capacity is 4 cubic feet and sizes are available up to 4.7 cubic feet. Large enough to fit a king size comforter and generally 25 to 30 percent larger in capacity than traditional top load washers.

Cleaning: Front load washers offer superior cleaning action with better stain removal.

Clothes Care: By design, front load washers have a gentler washing action resulting in less wear and tear on your clothing. This is one feature that is often ignored but studies show that the average value of a load of laundry often exceeds the cost of the washer.

Conservation: Most front load washers are Energy Star rated and use about half the electricity and water of traditional top load washers. The spin speeds are also significantly faster, removing more moisture from clothing, reducing drying time and cost.

Price Points: $500 to $2,000

Bottom Line: Front load washers have become extremely popular because they offer significant improvements over traditional top load machines. The additional expense up front is often recuperated in energy costs, longer lasting clothing, and time savings over the life of the machine.

Front Load Washers

Compact Washers

Compact washing machines come in a number of different varieties. What is important is that compact washers are generally 24 inches wide or less, fitting into spaces where other washers will not.

Compact washers may be permanently connected to a water supply or truly portable and on casters (wheels) so that they may be stored when not in use.

Compact washers are available in both front load and top load configurations. Front load can often be stacked with the dryer for further space savings.

Average Price Points: $300 to $850

Bottom Line: There is a wide variety of compact washing machines that will fit almost any space you have available.

Compact Washers

Laundry Centers

Laundry centers are one piece units with a washer on the bottom and a dryer on the top. This is often an simple solution when you would like to fit a washer and dryer in a narrow spot. Laundry centers are available in both top load and front load washer types.

Stackable Laundry Centers are generally available in two widths - 24 inch or 27 inch.

Average Price Points: $900 to $1,400

Bottom Line: An excellent and often inexpensive choice when you need to fit a washer and dryer in a narrow space (such as a utility closet) with no assembly required.

Laundry Centers

Combination Washer/Dryer

Combination washer dryers are front load one piece units that wash, drain the water, and then dry. These are an alternative when you do not have space or the necessary requirements for a stand alone dryer.

Average Price Points: $800 to $1,600

Bottom Line: A good laundry option for those who previously could not have had a washer and dryer in their home.

Combination Washer/Dryer

Clothes Dryer Buying Guide

Clothes Dryer Types

The are two major types of clothes dryers available:

Gas Clothes Dryers
Gas Dryers use either natural gas or liquid propane (LP) for power. Gas dryers generally cost $50 to $100 more than electric dryers. However, they are often more efficient to operate over time. It is important to note that Gas Dryers also use standard 115 volt electricity.

Do I have a gas dryer?
Check your current dryer - if you see gas lines attached to the dryer or the dryer uses a standard outlet for electricity you have a gas dryer.

Average Price Points: $400 to $1700

Gas Clothes Dryers

Electric Clothes Dryers

Electric dryers use 240 volt electricity for power. The plugs used are much larger than a standard outlet making them easy to recognize. It is important to note that electric dryers do not include a plug because there is multiple outlet configurations. The correct plug type may be installed onto any currently available electric dryer.

Do I have an electric dryer? Look for the electrical connection to your current dryer. If you see an over sized plug then you have an electric dryer.

Average Price Points: $350 to $1600

Electric Clothes Dryers

Notable Features of Clothes Dryers

  • Capacity: Capacities vary from as low as 2 to as high as 8 cubic feet. However, capacity should not be a determining factor - dryer capacities are designed to match the corresponding washer. If capacity is important to you, select the washer size that fits your lifestyle and rest assured the matching dryer will work perfectly.
  • Moisture Sensor: Moisture sensors inside the dryer eliminate over drying. Over drying clothing not only wastes energy, it also damages the fibers of clothing.
  • Stainless Steel Dryer Drum: Stainless steel drums will not rust, chip, stain, or hold odors.
  • Dryer Rack: A great tool to dry delicate or large items in your dryer. Great for drying shoes, delicate sweaters, etc.
  • Steam Generator: Steam incorporated into drying cycles reduces wrinkling. The high temperature of steam effectively sanitizes and removes odors from clothing. And, cycles for completely dry clothes can refresh clothing by removing odors and wrinkles.
  • Extended Tumble: A specially designed option that will intermittently tumble the clothing after a dry cycle ends. Great for reducing wrinkling of dry clothes when you are unable to immediately remove clothing from the dryer.

Dryer Accessories

Front-Load Laundry Pedestals: Front load washers and dryers have available pedestals that improve access while at the same time supplying additional storage space.

Work Surfaces: Many manufacturers are producing work surfaces that will fit on the top of a front load washer and dryer. These are great for folding clothing, working on stains, etc.

Laundry Towers: Laundry towers are becoming increasingly popular and are designed to provide additional storage space in a laundry room. May be used with any type or brand of laundry products.