Pros: Cleans well, less wrinkling, drier, custom cycles, numerous presets, worth every penny!
Cons: Cost, noise level, very sophisticated machine might be hard to use at first
So, now I've had my machine for a little over two years (actually, two years, two months and three days to be exact) and I bet you're wondering how it fares!
Let me say I still LOVE IT. It still works the same as the day I bought it and I've never had a repair issue in the two years time. The touch screen is just as sensitive and the wash loads still take the 30 - 50 minute time frame. The silly thing is still loud and obnoxious but I've realized the clear window on the hood is a great thing when you have a toddler. Why? Because he can actually WATCH what happens inside the washing machine without opening the hatch!!! This is the most amazing thing because it allows me to fold a load of laundry while he's entranced by the filling washing machine. GREAT!
Anyway, my clothes are still coming out nice and clean with no issues at all! Fantastic.
Have you ever had one of *those* years when everything you touch turns to crud? One of those years when everything that is precisely two days out of warranty, breaks? I'm having one of "those" years. Our well breaks. Our septic tank clogs. Our pool pump breaks. Our furnace breaks. Our washing machine breaks. You get the picture. So, a few months ago when the motor on my previous washing machine decided it didn't feel like working anymore, I realized I needed a new washer.
So then I thought to myself... Hey, I've always wanted a nice washer. Fancy. Eco-friendly. Monstrously huge... that kind of washer... but I was never tempted to lay out the money because the washing machine we had worked perfectly fine. This was just the excuse I needed to buy myself something I had been coveting for a while (even my hubby couldn't argue that). I pretty much knew what I wanted -- a large, modern washer that was a top-loader (I really didn't want a front-loading one because I've heard horror stories involving mold and mildew) but had no agitator. I did, however, encounter a problem because there were only a few top-loaders on the market that didn't have an agitator...
Enter the GE Profile Harmony Top-Load Washer
At the time I started shopping for my washers, there were two different GE Harmony machines on the market -- the older model and this one, which was conveniently priced a few hundred dollars more. Now, however, GE has made your life easier (and more expensive) by simply having this version of the Harmony for sale; the model number is WPGT9360EWW. The GE Profile Harmony Top-Load Washer has an estimated retail price of $1049, but I have found it for around $950 if you search around the internet. As for me, I went into one of those Appliance City (scratch and dent) stores and paid a cool $600 for a brand new machine (with only a small scratch on the side) including a four year extended warranty (parts and labor) with onsite service. If you take away anything from that speech, it should be that you can find this washing machine at heavily discounted prices if you don't mind a scratch or two. Trust me when I say that the scratch has not impacted the performance of the machine in the slightest.
Well, now, you must be wondering what makes this washer worth close to $1100?
*4.0 cu ft capacity
*"HydroClear Lid" -- essentially a clear lid that allows you to see your load inside the machine
*HydroHeater -- increases wash temperature
*LCD touchscreen in both English and Spanish
*Can be programmed with corresponding dryer to make laundry easier
*Hydrowash system -- agitator-less motion cleans clothing
*Many custom cycles -- can choose cycles by color, fabric, garment or special
*Stainless Steel wash basket
*Automatic water levels
*RighTemp Water Temp system -- multiple temps
*Stain Inspector Stain Wash
*Auto Balance suspension system
*Digital Stain Guide
*Two colors -- white and dark gray (platinum)
*Good Warranty -- 1 yr entire (including labor), 5 yr suspension/main electric control/washer lid/cover, 10 yr tub/transmission, lifetime product basket
There are many other specific items that I didn't include in this laundry list (like specific cycles), but you can find them on GE's website (here: http://products.geappliances.com/ApplProducts/Dispatcher?REQUEST=SPECPAGE&SKU=WPGT9360EWW&SITEID=GEA&TABID=2). I'm not being lazy, I'm being efficient. You all don't need to hear about every one of the hundred cycles in my review.
Ease of Use
I will say this -- at first glance, this is one intimidating machine. I transferred from a simple, manual control washing machine (that had about three settings -- regular, delicate, permanent press) to a digital, LCD touch-screen with about a million potential settings. Reading the manual is extremely helpful. It walks you through choosing the best settings for your clothes and adapting preset settings to create your own customized wash. I think that's the best part of the machine. Yeah, you can choose from one of the hundred (or so) preprogrammed wash cycles... but you can also customize your load by choosing the soil level (four levels), temperature (five levels), changing the wash action (handwash, delicate, normal, vigorous) or setting a special mode like delayed start, extended spin, extra rinse, presoak or changing the End-Cycle Signal Volume. Then, the machine even allows you to save up to six of these custom cycles (like I have one called "Aidan's Clothing") so you don't have to repeat the process next time you do the wash. Surprisingly enough, even with the number of wash settings this machine has, I have created six of mine that I use almost exclusively.
Does the machine have a learning curve? Yes, definitely. My mother, who is one of the most anti-technology people on the planet, died when my father bought her the GE Harmony. She's had it (the older model) for years (two or three) and STILL refuses to learn how to create her own cycle or use a preset one. She just types everything in, every time she does laundry. It's amazing. However, even I (someone who is techno-savy) took about a month or so to get comfortable enough with it to actually create a custom cycle... but every day I use it, it seems less and less intimidating (ie: easier to use). I will say that, even though my mother doesn't like the touch-screen interface and preset cycles, she still loves this washing machine.
If you noticed (bravo for you), I never mentioned selecting any sort of fill level because you don't have to. Just throw the clothing into the machine, put in the detergent, pick your settings and close the lid. The washing machine automatically fills the basket with the requisite amount of water -- it's part of that whole good for the environment thing. One thing that drives my mother (not me) insane is that due to this type of machine you are completely unable to run an empty load. I'm not sure WHY you would want to run a washing machine with no clothing inside, but my mother likes to do that... and she can't on this machine. Someone once told me it is to clean out the washer, but I would have to assume this machine is advanced enough that you don't have to waste water to clean it. Oh, also... the new high effeciency washers do not fill up to completely cover the clothing. Many people are startled by this, but it's all part of the whole "better for the environment" deal. It fills enough to wash your clothes so don't worry if the machine doesn't look "full."
You'll also find an automatic detergent/fabric softener dispenser at the top of the machine. I like that option so I don't have to use that stupid Downey Ball or throw the detergent into the load before I add the clothing. Some people have complained that this type of dispenser has left spots of either softener or cleaner on their clothing, but I haven't found that to be true with the GE. The cleaner is released into the water while the machine is filling up and the softener is released later. It's never posed a problem! The bleach release is on the side of the washer and releases into the tub once it's filled.
How does the machine clean?
First off, the capacity of this machine is absurd. I can easily fit about 1.5 times the amount of clothing that I could in my conventional washing machine (3.0 cu ft) with much less twisting and warping. I can even wash bras in this top-loader without stretching them horrendously out of shape. My old machine would warp my bras so badly that the underwire would occasionally break free (ruining the bra) -- this occured because I'm simply too lazy to put my bras into a bag, and even if I did they would still become twisted around the middle agitator. But this GE is fantastic -- the clothing barely comes out wrinkled (unless I overload it... which is hard to do). I can't say the machine is entirely without fault because occasionally a long-sleeved shirt of mine will form a knotty bond with a pair of pants, but it happens only rarely... and usually a stern talking-to will make my shirt and pants understand that inter-clothing relationships are taboo in our society. On the whole, however, my clothing has retained its shape better and come out of the washer less wrinkled than with my old Whirlpool.
I usually use Aidan's clothing as a good indicator of how clean the machine can get our laundry (since he's the one who has a hard time getting food into his mouth), and I must say it does an admirable job. No matter what the wash temperature, our clothing comes out clean (no soapy residue) and smelling nice. Even without pretreating, many stains will be gone when I pull the clothing out of the machine. My darks don't fade as much as before and my whites are actually whiter (I think it dispenses the bleach better than my old washer did). In addition, this thing washes everything. It can do everything from sneakers, bedding (I can fit my queen-sized comforter in there... saves me $30 at the laundromat), and pet beds, to lingerie, bras and handwash. Let's be honest: my clothing is cleaner, less wrinkled and drier when I pull them out of the Harmony than my previous washing machine... and that's what I paid good money for.
... and as far as cleaning the machine, just wipe it down with a damp cloth or some Clorox Wipes to remove the dust. The screen is cleaned easily with water or Windex. The only difficult area to clean is where the lid connects with the washer, but it's not impossible.
Balancing Act: This doesn't happen in machines with agitators, but occasionally this washing machine will be thrown "off-balance" because of how the clothing is being washed. Some have recommended that you put "heavier" items in first (ie: jeans, then shirts then socks), but I've found that doesn't really help. Sometimes it'll just happen if you're doing a large load of heavy items, even if you loaded it "correctly." I just throw my laundry in willy-nilly and it usually works just fine. The good thing is that you don't have to do anything to fix it, your machine will stop and take a few minutes to adjust itself then it will resume, no worse for the wear.
The Dimension of Time: One thing I really like about the machine is it has a digital timer that tracks how long the load will take to finish. Unlike GE's corresponding dryer, this timer is actually accurate (unless it has to rebalance itself). Though I have heard complaints about the wash times, I feel it comes close to the time that my old washing machine used to take (unless you are talking about the high-temp wash). It'll take anywhere from 30 - 50 minutes for one load of regular laundry -- not bad, in my opinion.
It's a bird... It's a plane... No, it's a washing machine!: One of the only beefs I have with this machine is the fact that the manufacturer advertises its "quiet operation." Quiet for whom? The deaf? While the actual washing isn't that loud (unless it gets unbalanced), when the machine drains the water and spins the clothing... I swear it sounds like a plane landing. The first few times I had that happen, I called my mom to ask if hers made the same sound. It did. Apparently, that's just the way the machines are... it's funny, but it certainly isn't quiet. If Aidan's sleeping, I'll have to close the door to the laundry room because of the noise level coming from my airowasher.
My dryer is trying to outwit me: One of the bonuses that comes with buying this washing machine is that it has a matching dryer (for an added cost, of course). Not just looks-wise, either... the two machines can actually be linked together so that when you transfer your load from the washer to the dryer, your wash's info is transmitted as well. This should mean that the dryer pops up with the recommended dry-cycle for your load of clothing. It does, but most of the time it's wrong and I have to change it anyway (Ie: the "Dress Shirts" cycle on the wash will produce a "high-heat" dryer mode... what's up with that?). It is nice, however, to have this convenience when it works.
Because this thing is so complicated, I can't say I've used everything. I've never used the "stain inspector," which chooses the exact wash needed to help get rid of a certain stain (ie: you spilled grape juice on your jeans, you can choose "grape juice" and it will preset the wash for you), but it seems handy (especially with kids). The "Stain Guide" is handy if you don't know how to get certain stains out (ie: chocolate or blood) because it will give you pretreatement information (but only for the washing machine). I can't really talk about the "hydroheater" or "right temp" systems because I can't guage how close to accurate the water temperature is. I will say that the "hydroheater" seems silly -- it might sound nice to be able to do a super-heated wash every now and again, but it takes about 2 hours to finish one load of laundry. Why? Because the heater has to stay on the whole time. Though I will say that if your child has lice or some other childhood issue, it would be handy to wash their clothing/bedding/stuffed animals in a cycle like this to kill the buggers.
The machines are fairly large, but incredibly good looking. A lot of my friends have commented on how they look very modern (they're white, though... not the dark gray). The clear window on the top seems like a silly addition, since I have no need (or want) to watch my clothing get washed. As far as installation goes, it went fairly standard. You have to hook the water up correctly and plug it in (my husband and father did it), but it didn't seem difficult. The only additional thing you need to do is attach the cable from the washer to the dryer (if you bought the corresponding one), but that's pretty easy. The manual is comprehensive and easy to read. I like the fact that the warranty is the best on the market for its class of machines (that's actually a major reason that I bought the Harmony over its competitors). Neither I, nor my parents, have had to call for service in the time we've owned it (and my mother has used it heavy-duty for two to three years).
I am a little disappointed that GE choose to get rid of the model priced at $700 and replacing it with one that costs almost $400 more and has very few added options. This model has the clear lid (big deal) and HydroHeater for the really hot temperatures, but in essence it's the same washing machine as the previous model (just with a jacked up price tag). That being said, am I disappointed in my washing machine? Absolutely not. My clothing comes out cleaner and less wrinkled than before, and my laundry takes less time because of the additional capacity in this model. The custom cycles are a great addition, as is the stain guide and the automatic water levels. The warranty is heads-and-tails better than it's competitors -- Whirlpool and Kenmore only offer a 1 year warranty.
Before buying this, I fully researched the Whirlpool Cabrio, Kenmore Elite Oasis (which is the EXACT SAME MACHINE AS THE CABRIO as both are made by Whirlpool), and the Whirlpool Calypso (which has been discontinued) before settling on the GE Harmony... and I must say that I'm still very pleased with my choice. The GE Harmony washing machine is everything I could hope for in a washer. It cleans a wide variety of laundry items well, is energy-efficient, conserves water and has a number of handy settings that simply make laundry day that much easier for this tired mommy. I've had the machine since September and my laundry day goes by in a breeze. I don't even feel bad about washing a smaller load, since the water automatically adjusts to fit. It blows away our traditional top-loading Whirlpool and it gives me the piece of mind that I don't have to contend with mold and mildew problems that seem to plague some of the popular front-loading designs. It has it's quirks (like the noise level) and it's learning curve, but I can't honestly think of one bad thing to say about the GE Harmony Washing Machine.
The only potential negative (for some) is the learning curve required to use this machine to its full potential. It's extremely easy to use if you like to just punch in your settings for each wash, but if you want to customize and streamline doing the laundry it might take a bit to acclimate yourself to the machine... after the initial warming period, however, it's a breeze to use. Remember, this is a sophisticated machine with a ton of options so try to avoid getting overwhelmed at first!
If you're looking for a high-efficiency washing machine with a large capacity, I encourage you to give the GE Harmony a look -- it won't disappoint you. I give it Five Stars and a If-you-wanr-cleaner-clothing-and-a-more-efficient-design Recommendation!!!
*Clothing is less wrinkled going into the drier
*Dries the clothing well (no more sopping wet pieces)
*Will rebalance itself automatically
*Automatic dispenser makes using detergent, softeners, bleach and pretreats a breeze
*Clear window allows you to see wash
*Automatic water levels
*Stain Inspector specifies a wash cycle to best clean a particular stain (and will tell you how to pretreat it too)
*LCD touch screen is easy to use
*Tons of wash cycles preset
*Can create and save up to six custom wash cycles
*Communicates to matching drier to make wash easier
*Digital clock is accurate
*Attractive washing machine (white and gray)
*Four cubic feet of capacity makes this puppy HUGE
*Comes with both English and Spanish interface
*Worth every penny
*A little learning curve before you become proficient in using it
*Must leave the lid open to allow air to evaporate when done washing
*Sometimes maching drier chooses some dumb settings for your clothing
*Fairly large -- might not fit in everyone's space (43.1 in x 28.2 in x 27 in and 135 lb)
*With a MSRP of $1049, is pretty expensive for a washing machine... but you can find it cheaper
*This is silly but I wish the machine had a water filter because our well water is so dingy!
By the way, I've also recently reviewed the matching GE Profile Harmony Dryer.