Finding the right dishwasher can be a daunting experience. Dishwashers come in many different sizes, types, capacities and the seemingly countless features are often tempting, but not essential. Considering that the average dishwasher will last about 9-12 years and the cost can vary from $200-$2,000, it’s important that you do your homework and evaluate, not only your current needs, but your future needs as well.
Here are a few tips to help you start the selection process:
Size & Type
The standard dishwasher is 24” wide, 24” deep and 34” tall. It is important to measure your opening rather than assume you have a standard size dishwasher opening. Variants like the number of flooring layers and countertop thickness can affect the size of the dishwasher your kitchen can accommodate.
Smaller kitchens have several space saving options:
- Compact dishwashers measuring 18” across are available.
- New to the market are double drawer models, which can operate separately for greater efficiency and energy savings.
- For those with really limited space, a portable dishwasher may be your best option. Portable models hook up to your kitchen faucet when in use and can be stored out of the way when not in use.
A family of 5 is going to need a dishwasher that holds many more dishes than those with just 1 or 2 people in the household. For those with bigger families a tall tub dishwasher could be your best bet. Tall tubs maximize the interior space, yet maintaining the same exterior dimensions as standard dishwashers, by using thinner insulation, smaller bottom motors and concave doors. Some tall tub options also have a third drawer for utensils, which eliminates the need for the utensil basket on the lower rack.
Dishwasher capacity is measured by the number of place setting that can fit in the washer. Choosing a machine that matches your capacity needs will help you save on long term water and energy costs. Here’s a quick capacity range reference:
- Compact dishwasher capacity: 8 five-piece settings
- Portable dishwasher capacity: 10 five-piece settings
- Standard dishwasher capacity: 12 five-piece settings
- Tall tub dishwasher capacity: 16 five-piece settings
Manufacturers have made great strides in improving energy efficiency during the last few years. To make sure your dishwasher is as efficient as possible, look for one that has the Energy Star label. These washers are required to use 25% less energy than the federal standards.
Dishwasher features vary dramatically from model to model and, while they can reduce the time you spend on your dish routine, they also drive prices up. Prioritize your feature list before you head to the store so you are less likely to be dazzled into a higher price point by unnecessary features. Here are a few features that make a big difference in performance and ease of use:
- Built in food grinders– May be a good option for those that are in the habit of taking dirty dishes directly from the table to the dishwasher, as it eliminates the need to prewash your dishes.
- Soil Sensors– This feature measures the amount of soil in the water and automatically adjusts cycle times and strengths according to the amount of dirt in the wash water.
- Stainless steel tubs– Stainless and plastic tubs seem to have about the same durability, however stainless tubs decrease the drying time since the entire surface heats up during the dry cycle.
- Delayed start– Enables you to program your dishwasher to start at a later time so you can run it during off-peak energy hours or when you know your family will not be running the shower, clothes washer or other needs demanding high water amounts.
- Noise insulation– This may be a priority if your kitchen is open to your living room area. Some manufacturers claim their models are almost silent.
Once you’ve selected the best dishwasher for you, it’s time to install it. Depending on your level of experience you may be able to install it yourself, but we’re just a phone call away if you need help. Please remember, if you’re moving or repairing pipes, fixtures or faucets, a qualified plumber may actually save you money and frustration, as water damage can occur quickly and be costly to repair.