Pros: Clothes are clean, quiet, holds a lot of clothes
Cons: AutoFill is not great, may not work well if overstuffed
My wife and I had to buy a new washer and dryer for our new house. Since laundry is on the second floor, I was insistent on going with the new high-efficiency top loaders as I read in Consumer Reports that the front loaders really do shake, rattle and roll enough to make the noise quite annoying. Also, my wife was insistent on getting matching washer and dryers (of course, even though it’s on the second floor and the door is closed most of the time…whatever) and we didn’t want to break the bank. We found this pair at our local appliance retailer and they offered us 0% financing and a $100 gift card if we bought the set (also had to get a refrigerator, which I will review later).
The washer is 4.1 cubic feet for basically washing anything you could want…King Size bed comforter has made it through this thing with no problem. The new design basically removes the old-school agitator, so you get a lot more space for clothes and items. In addition, this Energy Star appliance has a great PreciseFill option, which fills the water automatically based on the weight of the clothes I believe? This option is hit or miss and this I believe is why most people who review this washer may hate it. A lot of people reviewing the washer say their clothes are not coming out clean, half of them are still dry and it’s not effective at cleaning. I believe some of these folks (mostly elderly based on my discussion with a Home Depot employee on why they tended to be the demographic that returned these most) are not sure what to think of the HE Washer as a top loader. I think they may overstuff it, leading to too much weight and preventing the clothes to be actually agitated. This prevents clothes from the top being drawn into the wash properly, hence the clothes on top that are still dry. Although the agitator is very small, and I have to wonder of it’s efficiency, I believe it still does a good job at working the clothes through the wash (albeit a bit rough, which also concurs with Consumer Reports on stating the washer was a bit rough on clothes).
Whenever I do a big load, I set the water level on the Load Size dial to “Super” as that way the entire thing fills with water. My wife is happy using the “Auto Fill” setting on the wash load size as she says towels come out fine on that setting. The Rain Shower rinse setting does not seem to do too much except sprinkle water on the clothes as the drum turns slowly (this continues when you first start a load and the drum stops spinning once you open the top door). There are 11 cycles for the wash, 6 temperature settings (with the PerfecTemp system which allegedly adjusts the temperature of the water for the clothes in the wash…whatever). There is a third dial for “Options” which includes 2nd rinse (kind of waste for an Energy Star Appliance), extended spin, and Fabric Softener (which is poured carefully into the center of the agitator). The Fabric Softener switch must be switched on to have the softener put into the wash, which we have not used at this point. The clothes settings are fairly standard (extended soak, delicates, mixed loads, casual, etc.). The nice feature on this washer is the timer on the unit telling the time left (also on the matching dryer as well). It indicates if it is in Soak, Wash, or Rinse and time remaining.
The average wash cycle (one that you will use regularly) is around 40-50 minutes. I usually put detergent in, set it, and let it run for a few minutes. As the drum turns, the detergent gets mixed well and the clothes then go in and seem to get uniformly covered in the detergent. The noise from the washer is minimal…although when it is on the Spin cycle, you can really hear it rev up like an airplane. I believe it’s 700 RPM which is about 200-300 RPM faster than a standard washer, so the clothes really come out pretty dry after the wash, which leads to less time in the dryer, and therefore saving on energy as well. It does not make any vibrations that we can hear on the first floor, which is a big bonus which I believe is part of the AutoBalance feature they touted on the sales tag.
The drum is stainless steel and has holes in it that are polished enough to prevent clothes from snagging on them. Also, it’s a nice with a top loading washer that the smell of the front loader is no longer an issue as the water all heads into the drum and not around the seam, leaving a mildew scent in the laundry room. The construction seems fairly solid, although I have noticed some moisture creeping into the timer display on the washer (got the extended warranty based on some of the reviews online just in case). Consumer Reports said the washing ability for this unit was very good and most stains came out (when the unit was not overloaded I assume) as well as the fact the noise was minimal. It’s a good price for this washer (we paid $538) and it’s performance has been reliable and got the job done. I would recommend it as GE has a good repair history compared to Maytag, but be aware that overloading it may lead to some clothes not getting properly cleaned and then lead to a return and picking out a new set, as you have to get the matching dryer with it.
UPDATE 7/22/11: We have used this washing machine for over 2 years now and still have not had any issues. We probably do a load per day from towels to king size comforter to baby clothes. I will say the automatic water level setting is not great for all loads (IE King Size sheet set or a lot of clothes in the washer). So, it may not yield the water savings, but still gets clothes clean and spin cycle really dries them up to save on dryer costs. Still would recommend...but would be interested in seeing 2nd generation top loader as this was one of the first ones out for GE.