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Dishwasher Buying Guide

A comprehensive dishwasher guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new dishwasher.


Getting Started

Dishwashers save time and energy to help accomplish all other chores around the house. There are few different types of dishwasher to choose from; undercounter/built-in, portable and dishdrawers. The majority of dishwashers come in white, black, biscuit or stainless steel. A few manufacturers allow you to attach a customized panel to the front.

Dishwashers with a stainless steel interior can get to a hotter water temperature quicker, usually provide the machine a longer lasting life and are easier to clean than conventional porcelin or plastic interiors. Dishwashers are insulated with fiberglass batting on three sides and the top. Some have a layer of foil over the exterior of the tub to further reduce escaping heat and noise. Quieter models have additional insulation on the exterior of the tub. Select models include insulation on the door panel, access panel and kickplate to further reduce noise.

Dishwashers with the Energy Star label exceed the minimum Federal standards for energy consumption for dishwashers. Products with this rating benefit the environment and cost less to operate since they use less energy than those without it.


Did you know? Today's dishwashers are about 95% more energy-efficient than those bought in 1972. Also, today's dishwashers use 4-8 gallons per wash (european models use 4-6 gallons). If you were to wash the same amount of dishes by hand, you would normally use 17 gallons of water or more.

Type

Built-In
Full-Sized Dishwashers are usually built into (undercounter) your kitchen cabinets but can also be portable/convertible. Most full-sized dishwashers are standard in size (34" high / 24" wide / and 24"deep). Some European brands, however, are slightly narrower and shorter. This blends your dishwasher with your cabinets. Built-In dishwashers must be wired to a 120 volt circuit breaker by a licensed electrician.
Portable
These dishwashers are typically free standing with casters that must be rolled to the sink for operation. A tap adapter must be used to connect two hoses to the sink faucet. One tap for filling the dishwasher with water and the other for removing wastewater from the machine. The electrical cords and hoses connected to the dishwasher store neatly behind the unit. These units can be converted into a built in unit by removing the exterior walls and rollers. These are ideal for apartments, older homes as well as mobile homes. Portable dishwashers require a grounded 120 volt outlet and a three pronged plug.
Dishdrawers
The latest dishwasher style is the "dishdrawer" available either as a single drawer or a double drawer. Each drawer can be operated independently.

Features

Adjustable Racks
Many dishwashers have racks that can be adjusted in some way. Most often, Tines can simply be folded down. Adjustable racks make it easier to fit your entire load into the dishwasher.
Auto Clean
An electronic sensor monitors the rinse water and adjusts the cleaning until your dishes are clean.
Automatic Temperature Control
A control that automatically balances water temperature. It adds the correct amount of hot and cold water to ensure the proper temperature. This way, the detergent dissolves properly.
Child Lock
This indicates that the dishwasher has a locking feature that will prevent children from opening it or changing programs.
Cycles
Each cycle differs in the number of washes and rinses. Select models will vary in washing speed, water pressure and water temperature.
Delay Wash
This feature enables you to set the dishwasher to turn on at a later time. For example, you can set the timer to turn on while you are asleep when energy use rates are lower.
Hard Food Disposal
Dishwashers with hard food disposals are able to grind solid food into particles that are small enough to fit through the filter. By doing this, food particles will not be re-deposited onto your dishes. This feature also eliminates the need for rinsing dishes thoroughly before washing.
Integrated
Describes a dishwasher that accepts a custom front panel. Fully intergrated means the controls are completely hidden and the panel covers the entire front. Partially intergrated means the control panel is visible and the custom panel covers the lower portion of the door.
Plate Warmer
A feature that allows you to warm your dishes should you choose to serve food on warm plates.
Rinse Aid Dispenser
This feature applies to the rinse aid dispenser located on the inside of the door. During the cycle where the rinse aid is needed, this option sends electricity to the switch, which in turn opens the dispenser and measures the amount of rinse aid needed for the wash cycle. Rinse aids improve drying results and help prevent spotting and filming.
Sanitary Wash/Rinse
Dishwashers that offer this option use water heated over 150 degrees or higher to remove bacteria from your dishes.
Tall Tub
There is no separate access panel above the toe kick. The front is an uninteruppted door - one panel.

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