Electrolux really put a lot of thought into the design and function of this machine. Before diving into the review, here’s a good dealer video that highlights key features of the Electrolux IQ and Wave models. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkSLf69hSLk
Recommend this product?
I prepared this review in categories so you can skip to the segments that interest you most. Categories are: Capacity, Cycles, Likes/Dislikes, Design/Use, Environmental Benefits, Price, Consumer Satisfaction, New Habits & New Products
Capacity: Wow, I really appreciated the generous capacity this machine has for a base model. 4.7 cubic foot! If you like to put off laundry until you have enough for a ‘full’ load or like the idea of washing your bedding at home, you’re going to love this washer.
Cycles: Cycles are: Deep Clean/Sanitize, Heavy Duty, Whites, Fast Wash, Normal, Casual, Colors, Delicate, Hand Wash, and Spin Only. There are 5 soil settings, 5 spin options and 4 extra options called prewash, add steam, extra rinse, extra spin and eco friendly. The machine also offers Delay start, My Favorites, Lock Out (for safety) and a Chime alert when the machine has finished. A timer clock displays start to finish cycle times and will change as each additional feature is selected (if that feature requires added time). The machine also includes a Complete Clean cycle that is not included on the displayed controls.
Likes/Dislikes: Electrolux did a good job of creating cycle commands in relationship to appropriate sorting. I also like the ability of selecting individual cycle functions. Example- I never could justify a full cycle to rinse bathing suits. Like my old machine, I can start a cycle, let the suits rinse a few minutes then cancel and put the machine on spin. The Fast Wash is unique to Electrolux and something worth considering. The fast cycle finishes a load in 52 minutes. This feature can make a significant difference to an end user in overall time dedicated to the chore of laundry. Example: The average turnaround on an old top loader is 45 minutes. Except Electrolux, other HE front loaders are quoting 75 - 85 minutes. If you need more cycle time on an Electrolux, no problem but without the choice, a 4-5 load job goes from 4.5 hours up to 6.5 on average. Something to think about. The machine has a pause to add items or cancel if you change your mind about a cycle or settings. The only time you can’t get immediate access to the tub is when running a Deep Clean/Sanitize cycle. The machine has an internal heater that boosts the water temperature up to 152 degrees. For safety reasons, the machine will take your command but won’t unlock the door until the water cools to a safe temperature. The Sanitize feature is presented to be an authenticated rating so I encourage persons needing protection from contagious conditions, dealing with auto immune disorders, renting out a room, running a bed and breakfast or care taking someone in delicate health prone to infection to fully explore this feature. I could see the benefits of the Perfect Steam feature for the dryer but skeptical about the feature on the washer. If the machine already has water and soap, what’s steam going to do? Well, much to my surprise this cycle restored the bottom of my white socks to white. And it did it without bleach! Don’t know who figured this one out, but thank you. I do have a couple of things I have ding Electrolux on with this machine, but nothing I can’t live with. I don’t like not having a button for the Complete Clean cycle. The Complete Clean cycle is a good idea. It is the washing machine version of what self clean does for your oven or vinegar bath does for your dishwasher. The goal is to get rid of surface build up. On the Electrolux IQ, the machine is supposed to alert you after so many loads. I have super hard water where I live so it would be in my best interest to run this feature more often than factory settings to remove hard water deposits. But Electrolux didn’t make it easy here. As I understand the manual, per factory settings, the cycle will present itself when ‘the machine’ factory setting tells it to. But it won’t tell the user until they make an attempt to use the machine. I honestly can’t imagine anyone getting this surprise that would be willing to delay doing their wash in favor of the cycle because it’s a really long cycle. The prompt gives you the option to skip it but if you don’t let the machine run the cycle when it wants to run it, to get the prompt back you have to go through a sequence of programming using ‘other’ buttons on the machine to get the display to bring the cycle command back. There are too many programming steps to remember, so it’s one of those features you’re forced to always refer back to the owner’s manual if you need to use it more often or when convenient. This cycle was never mentioned by the salesmen because they don’t even know about it. I read owner’s manuals and that’s the only place you’ll know it’s even there. Great feature, but like other makers; it needs to be more user friendly. I do have an idea that might get around pulling out the manual (unless there’s a power failure). I’m going to walk through the programming sequences to pull up the cycle and then select favorites and see if I can save it on favorites. Another thing unfriendly for the user is the detergent tray playing tug of war when trying to remove it from the machine. Opening to add products works like a dream, but if you want to remove the drawer itself, they put the release too far back. It’s hinged on both sides made of thick plastic so it’s super stiff. The divider insert can’t be removed until this tray is out that would allow more space for leverage. I actually ended up calling the installers back thinking something was wrong only to find out I’m too weak! Overall, a very poor design unless you’re a man or darn good thumb wrestler. If you are one needing help opening jars or child safety caps, best to personally test it at the store and see if you have the strength to depress it.
Design/Use: Hands down, Electrolux wins it in cabinet design. My previous washer was a 3 cubic foot compared to this one being 4.7, yet this machine is the same side to side, but takes less space front to back. Per the installers, the only machine designed to fit flush to the back wall of the laundry area. I really like everything being a hands free push to open. You can have your arms full of laundry or be toting a basket and can open the door without having to set anything down. Just bump the door with your hip and the door swings all the way open and flips the interior light on as if to say “go ahead, fill me up”. Is that trick, or what? Same with the pedestal drawers. You can push them open or close with your foot. Nice touch!
Environmental Benefits: Welcome to the future. The Electrolux IQ can use as little as 4.5 gallons of water with an average of 15 depending on load size. That’s a huge difference in what a traditional top loader requires which is around 30 – 40 gallons depending on the machines capacity. When washing, you won’t see the contents sloshing around in a lot of water. As things toss about, they mostly look wet. It’s because the tub is mounted in the cabinet tilted towards the back so fill water stays away from the door. This design allows opening the door during a cycle. Along with taking a tiny amount of water, the machine also uses a tiny tiny amount of soap. No doubt, these are not our Mother’s machines! Like your dishwasher these machines require a low suds detergent. And because they use so little water, the detergent has to be calculated at a much different ratio. The HE detergents are highly concentrated but also formulated to properly release out of fabrics in relationship to the water volume difference. In addition to using less, these detergents are also formulated to be kinder to the planet. I was so impressed with HE detergents I started using them over a year ago in my old top loader. Yes, you can use them in any machine because more water has no consequence. But you won’t want to use a traditional detergent in an HE machine because less water changes everything. To give you an idea of how efficient these machines are if you could use the same powdered soap you would only use 1/16th of a cup compared to a full cup in an old top loader. But the clean to rinse ratio would be totally off so this information should not be taken as a way around HE detergent. The machines are higher performance working with the new detergents. Both machine and detergents are kinder to your cloths because they don't clean by friction.
Price: Front loaders are about triple the investment of a traditional top loader. Yikes!!! Since I started looking a year ago, the price of this machine dropped about $300. The lowest price I found November 2010 was around $1,100. The lowest ticket price I found when I purchased February 2011 was $849 (on sale) and by shopping smart, I paid an adjusted price of $679. Now that more HE top loaders are on the market, it’s cutting into the front loaders market so competition may keep prices down but they still fetch a hefty price compared to a traditional agitator model. Electrolux machines are sitting on the high end of the price spectrum along with a few others. To save money, year 2011 is the last to take the Obama tax credit for energy rated appliances. Check all details to be sure what you are buying will qualify. A sale is an obvious way to save and if the timing is right, you may be able to buy a floor model. Selling floor models is at the discretion of the store, but as long as the machine is new and you understand what you see is what you get, why not? Floor models are still new merchandise, so they should come with the same warranties before the store took it out of the box. If your credit is good, a really great way to save is taking advantage of special financing promotions. Many times the offers not only save money with little or no interest, but have an added savings bonus included. I took advantage of a sale, financing incentive and buying a floor model to get my machine at the price noted here.
Consumer satisfaction: I did my best to study up on the complaints found in blogs about front loading washers. There are 3 key issues to consider before buying a front loading washer. 1) Washer location, 2) Consumer Habits, and 3) Product requirements.
About Location: Do you have the space for one? Electrolux built their machines with an almost zero clearance requirement so these are the best machines for fitting into the smallest of laundry areas. But all front loaders require some dry out time and the best way to air out requires leaving the door open. Do you have enough room for this? If so, will it bother you if you have to look at it? Carefully consider how this will impede your use of function and space if your machine has to go in a tight area or high traffic area. All manufacturers make front loaders very attractive so removing laundry closet doors might work for some homes, but if the laundry area is in a high traffic zone, will an open door be in the way? Carefully think it over and measure everything before deciding.
About New Habits: These machines require us consumers to develop some new habits. Most important is leaving the door open after use until all the moisture has had time to evaporate. I did my own test wiping everything dry as a bone and then closed the door. 12 hours later, the inside looked like a rain forest. Obviously water was trapped where I couldn’t see it. Front loading machines have water seal tight doors so if the doors are leak proof, that works both ways. It is very important to treat them as we would a shower. We would never dream of sealing off our showers or bathrooms after using them. Same goes here. To play it safe, the machines should be provided with lots of air circulation to assure all visible and non visible moisture has had ample time to evaporate (figure 24 hours) before shutting the door until next use. If you like to do a load every day your play safe would be always leaving the door open. It's little stuff like this that will help you decide the right model for you.
About New Products: Another new habit is using new laundry products. Like dishwashers when they made their debut, all HE machines require low suds detergent. It is not wise to buy a HE machine and try to outsmart the chemists that have done all the calculations and math to outfit these machines on cleaning performance and fabric care. And in case you haven’t looked yet, HE top loaders also pour the water short, so you won’t escape the use of these products selecting that model type. In searching for a machine, I saw a lot of people posting ways to get around using HE soaps in their HE machines. I do hope anyone reading this review will leave that chemistry to the pros and just go with the HE soaps as recommended. The manufacturers warn using non HE detergent risks damage to the machine. I have a better warning. If you use traditional soaps, you work against your HE machines performance instead of with it. Traditional detergents can’t properly release from fabrics without a large volume of water so this residual soap is going to get left behind and build up in your fabrics over time. Study up like I did and you’ll learn the new formula’s had to go through a complete makeover to assure optimum cleaning during a wash and rinse in order to make an HE machine a reality. If you like a particular brand, write to the company and press them to make an HE formula. It really is a job for the chemical engineers.
Fabric softeners are another challenge. Currently, traditional fabric softeners are under attack. They were already on target as unfriendly formulas to the planet and green choices are limited making everyone on their own as to what they want to do about this. Per web posts, fabric softeners are gumming up front loaders. Truth is, traditional fabric softeners will gum up any dispenser and did manage to do this in my old top loader so the issue has nothing to do with the new machines, but I do wonder if the new machines using less water would give cause accelerating the problem? The whole concept of fabric softener is to put a film on fabrics that make them feel soft. This product coats everything it comes in contact with and once it dries, it leaves behind a residue and over time it will build up. When this happened on my top loader, it required a lot of boiling water for me to remove it. The important point is not to avoid an HE machine because of gummy fabric softener that’s going to get a makeover anyways.
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Amount Paid (US$): 849.00