Front Loader Comparison Test – LG, Whirlpool, Electrolux and Miele
We’ve chosen from most of the top bought manufacturers for this shootout:
- Whirlpool Duet Washer (WFW9750WW) and Dryer (WED9750WW)
- Electrolux WaveTouch Washer (EWFLS65IIW) and Dryer (EWMED65HIW)
- LG Steamwasher (WM2501HWA) and Steamdryer (DLEX2501W)
- Miele SuperCapacity Washer (W4842) and Dryer (T9802/T9822)
Now, lets be clear. The marketing force behind each one of these series is significant. Every single company has some “leading consumer publication” stating their unit is the #1 pick and advertisements that claim an “industry first” this or “industry exclusive” that. Let’s pull back the fancy wrapping here as we tell you what we’ve come to know about these machines as we’ve sold and installed them over the past few years.
LG SteamWasher (WM2501HWA) and SteamDryer (DLEX2501W) – 4th Place
This LG laundry unit looks the part and with several different finish colors to choose from, it’s a interior designers dream machine. That doesn’t mean it will be your dream machine, however.
It’s feature set looks the part: The LG SteamWasher is 4.2 cu.ft. with many, if not all, of the same functions as the Whirlpool. It’s got the anti-vibration system, an “allergen” cycle, “TrueSteam” technology which: “generates real steam to reduce wrinkles and odors, and practically eliminate the need for ironing.” Key word: Practically.
The SteamDryer sports a Sensor Dry system, as well as the various steam functions: SteamFresh, EasyIron, and TrueSteam. Now, let us pause here to say something about steam within the dryer.
We have three different brands in our line-up that are all touting steam as an innovative feature. Originally, dryers were designed to REMOVE moisture from your clothing. So why are we putting moisture back into them? These companies would tell you its for a special cycle to “refreshen” your clothes, “virtually eliminating” (that means eliminating not) the need for ironing. So, your late for a party and you throw a wrinkled shirt in on the “refresh” cycle. In 15 minutes you come back to see that, indeed, your clothes smell fresher, they even feel fresher, but the wrinkles are still there. So what exactly is the point of the cycle?
The idea of putting steam within the dryer more than likely came from an advertising agency, not an engineer. They’ve now taken the dryer, a previously uncomplicated machine, and complicated it. Now you’ve got one more thing to go wrong in the next few years, a feature you probably wont even use at that. Once its marketing use has run its course, new and amazing “steam” functions will probably disappear into the night.
LG has been at the top of the Consumer Choice reports many times. How that has happened is truly a mystery to us, and probably to many in the appliance community. LG’s are made in Korea, and like so many Korean companies we’ve come in contact with they tend to have spotty customer service. If the unit breaks, getting it fixed may not be easy. We have seen customers end up returning the units with the complaint that they just couldn’t get it fixed. You would think the lure to this unit must be the price, but with an MSRP of $1,299, it sits only a hundred dollars behind the Whirlpool. One thing LG does do well is market its products, but its not enough to carry this unit.
Pros – Cheapest of the bunch, barely. Lot’s of color choices. Brand recognition.
Cons – Spotty Customer Service, Korean Made, Steam “Practically” Worthless
Whirlpool Duet Washer (WFW9750WW) and Dryer (WED9750WW) – 3rd Place
The Whirlpool Duet Washing Machine has slightly more room than the LG, at 4.5 cu.ft. It retains virtually the same features as the LG, just named slightly different. Direct Inject Washing, Smooth Spin Technology, NightQuiet, and 6th Sense options. Sounds different right? But its the same.
Here we also have a FanFresh Option, which basically circulates the air within the washer after your load is done, keeping the clothes odor free for up to 10 hours. This is for the people like me, who tend to wash their clothes and forget about moving them to the dryer. This is a good and welcome feature in these Whirlpools.
The Whirlpool dryer has one downside for gas customers: It only is sold in Natural gas. This becomes a problem for customers in places like South Florida or the islands, where Liquid Propane is sometimes the only option. The unit can be converted, but must be done on-site and by taking the unit apart. We don’t know about you, but we don’t want to buy a product, certified working from the factory, to then have someone we don’t know take it completely apart in our house. It just doesn’t make any sense for them not to offer this unit converted from the factory.
Consumer Reports does say Whirlpool has the lowest repair rate for Washer/Dryers, but we don’t put much stock in what they say. If you want real consumer reports, just search around the various online forums. You’re bound to find a group of people who currently own the product and are talking about it.
Pros: Price, can be stacked, comes in colors.
Cons: No LP without on-site conversion, Steam Gimmickry
Electrolux’s WaveTouch Washer (EWFLS65IIW) and Dryer (EWMED65HIW) – 2nd Place
The WaveTouch control system is probably the second best of the bunch, just behind the Miele. It feels solid, with a lot less buttons to wear out than the Whirlpool and very simple and straight-forward menu. And hey, if Kelly Ripa can use it, you know you can figure it out.
These machines have the largest washing capacity of the bunch at 4.7 cu.ft. Electrolux claims these Eco-Friendly washers are 83% more efficient and use 56% less water, based on Energy Star Savings Calculator. But more efficient than what, I’m not sure. These units also touts the fastest washing and drying times, 18 minutes for each. Ooops, the phone just rang and a Whirlpool rep, telepathically alerted to what we just wrote, is now politely reminding us that they have the “fastest” washing time at a record 17 minutes.
Eventually, each brand will reduce their quick wash time by one minute each month to try to one-up the other until we end up with a 30-second quick wash cycle in which absolutely nothing is accomplished. But hey, its fast.
Short washing and drying times are all well and good, but if you’ve got truly dirty clothes or clothing that has been soiled with anything, we doubt you’re going to get them clean in 17 minutes. Or even 18 minutes. This is why most wash cycles have always been 35-45 minutes, and in all probability, always will be. That is not to say quick wash cycles don’t have a place. Say if you’d just gotten back from the beach and wanted to wash beach towels that just sat in the sand. Or perhaps you have items that aren’t really dirty, but you want them cleaned anyway. The quick wash cycle would work. But how often is that?
These units truly are good, and in all probability they have better build quality than the Whirlpool or the LG. One big problem they do have is the price. These units are the most expensive of the bunch.
Pros: WaveTouch controls, built in N. America, Stackable, Large Door Openings
Cons: Price, More steam…
Miele SuperCapacity Washer (W4842) and Dryer (T9802/T9822) – 1st Place
To us at least, the Miele continues to set the benchmark in laundry appliances. For many years, Miele was focused on building only commercial laundry machines, designed to be both efficient and reliable. When Miele first introduced the Super Capacity line it was largely based off its commercial laundry units. They have been building laundry equipment since 1901, and when everyone is going one way, they seem to go the other. Never has this been more evident than now. For example, Miele is the only manufacturer of the bunch that does not use Steam in it’s machines. Yet, we’ve found the cleaning results to be consistently superior to anything else on the market.
The SuperCapacity Washer and Dryer comes with the typical wash programs and 12 Master Care programs, each specifically tailored for different types of material. For example, there’s a cycle for denim. A comforter program, which vents your comforter for 12 minutes before releasing the detergent. In the hand wash cycle, you can do a good portion of the items you otherwise would take to the dry cleaner.
This unit is the smallest of the bunch in terms of capacity, at 4.0 cu.ft.. Every once in a while, a customer will walk in and talk about how they don’t want to switch to a front-loader because they are smaller than top-loaders. This is simply not true. Most top loaders do not have a capacity greater than 4.0 cu.ft. In fact, its probable that if you are switching from a top-loader to any of the units reviewed here today, you would be gaining room.
Miele also touts a 90-day money-back guarantee program. Meaning if you don’t like the unit, for any reason, they take it back. Another thing about Miele that we think is a step above is their software updates. Once in a while, they post a bulletin stating that if you have such-n-such model to please call Miele and make an appointment for them to come out and flash your machine. There is never any charge and for the trouble, the usually end up GIVING you something for free. Such as this current bulletin, giving away $125 worth of free laundry detergent. All this, so they can make sure your machine is working at its maximum efficiency. It’s hard to argue against that.
The are some downsides to the Miele laundry units. They are the only units of the group that are not stackable. And they will not fit under a counter lower than 40” high.
Pros: Easy Controls, Master Care Functions, Best Cleaning Results, Beautiful Honeycomb Drum
Cons: Limited Colors (White or Espresso), Lowest Capacity of the Group, Will not fit if counter is less than 40” tall.