Pros: - Quiet - Efficient - Stainless steel interior - Simple controls - Countdown timer
Cons: - Lower reliability - Larger cabinet opening required for installation - No control lock out
We recently purchased a new Bosch SHU432C06UC Black front "Distinctive Design" dishwasher from Sears.
One thing I didn't think about before purchasing a Bosch was the dimensions of the product and the slot I would be putting it in. In my mind I was thinking "it's replacing an existing dishwasher, so it shouldn't be a problem." Well, here are some things to consider.
First off, most dishwashers are placed to the right of the kitchen sink. In our house, it's to the left. This can present a problem since the hot water feed line must be longer than usual to reach the intake point on the dishwasher. For the Bosch, the hook up is at the front of the machine. The Bosch conveniently provides channels in the base of the unit to guide the intake water line and the power lines. Remember that the Bosch is a solid box of a dishwasher and is completely enclosed from top to bottom, so if those channels weren't there, there would be no way to get the lines to the front to hook them up. "Regular" dishwashers are pretty open on the bottom, so it's easy to fish a supply line and electrical line under those machines.
Next, you need to consider counter height from the finish floor. Sears requires 34 inches. We had recently replaced a failed wood veneer floor with a new floor. The old floor was about 3/8 inches think. Our new floor is 5/8 inches thick. We had 33 and 7/8 inches of space from the floor to the bottom of the counter. After I bought the Bosch, I found out that it likely would not fit. Thankfully, the area under the dishwasher is unfinished, so it would have plenty of space if I could just get the thing in. The installer from Sears said we might be able to lift the countertop the extra 1/8 inch to get the Bosch in. We had to remove a trim piece on the side and loosen a screw, but once we did, the countertop raised up easily, and we propped it with some shims.
The next thing to consider is the clearance from the front of the cabinets and the front of the toe-kick to the back of the wall. The Bosch needs something like 18 and 7/16 inches from the toe-kick to the wall to fit the machine. As the installer was getting ready to remove our noisy Whirlpool, he noticed that the hot and cold supply lines for the kitchen sink ran behind the dishwasher, outside of the wall, about two inches above the floor. He said the hot water supply line would block the Bosch, and there was no way he could install it. I had never considered the clearance inside the cabinet, and I asked the guy what I should do. He suggested getting a plumber to run the lines closer to the wall. The cold water line was close enough already, and he said only the hot water line was in the way.
The installer said the replumbing was something he could not, by contract, do. I have CPVC supply lines, and he said, based on other projects I had done in the house, that I might just be able to do the work myself. I really wanted the dishwasher installed that day since it was supposed to be a Mother's Day present for my wife (albeit a week early, but that's another story). I opted to take on the project myself. Unfortunately, he couldn't hang around to install the dishwasher. He said he might be able to reschedule for the following week. However, he said that he felt I could probably complete the installation on my own. So I had him leave the new dishwasher with me, and I proceeded to attempt to install it on my own. He told me I could always reschedule the Sears installation if I chose to, so no harm, no foul. To repair the plumbing problem, I was prepared to cut the pipe and install new pipe that would not interfere with the dishwasher. However, when I measured, I discovered that although the Bosch requires 18 and 7/16 inches of space from the toe kick back, it actually has a slight "cut out" at the rear base of the machine. That meant I only needed 16 and 7/16 inches. The extra space was enough for me to not have to replumb my kitchen sink. I did have to trim a 2x4 that the builder had used to support the hot water line. But once I cut that down to size, the dishwasher fit.
Another item to remember or consider. You might need to get a new hot water supply line. The one we had was long enough for the Bosch, but if it hadn't been Sears would have charged me $45 for a new one. Although the line I had was long enough, I discovered a small leak in it and replaced it. I found a new supply line at Home Depot for $13. You might want to buy one before hand just in case. You could always return it unopened. You will need a supply line with a 3/8 inch compression type connector on one end. The supply line I purchased was in a packet that included adapters so that the 3/8" connections could be increased to 1/2 inch if needed. Also, be sure to get a line that is at least 60 inches, if not 72 inches, long. At Home Depot, these supply lines were available in the appliance area, but just ask for help from Lowe's or Home Depot employees.
After all of that work, I proceeded to do the install. It was more work than I thought it would be, but I was successful. In the end, the dishwasher was installed properly, balanced, wired, and plumbed. It worked fine on it's first run through.
We bought the Bosch SHU43C06 black washer from the "Distinctive Design" series. It's the basic model with the rather "old style" push button controls. However, I must say that it is EASY to use. Press the On/Off button, select a wash cycle, and that's it. Some of the more "new fangled" models we looked at from Maytag and Kenmore had LOTS of buttons and options, which can get confusing and which we probably wouldn't need. Ours has these cycles:
- Power scrub wash
- Basic wash
- Quick Wash
- Rinse and Hold
It also has the sensor that indicates when the rinse aid needs to be refilled, and a sensor to indicate that the dishes have been sanitized.
One feature my wife and I really like is the countdown timer. It tells you how many minutes are left in the entire wash cycle. It doesn't tell you what part of the cycle the machine is in, but I don't find the lack of that feature to be any loss at all.
Although I like the basic push button design, I discovered that my two and a half year old son can easily change the wash cycle by pushing another button. He did this the first time we used the machine, but I was able to change it back by just pressing the right button. Since there is no lock out feature, we'll have to train him NOT to touch the buttons. The higher end models with the buttons on the top edge of the door, would be nice. However, most of those models do not have the countdown timer on the front, which is a feature we really wanted (you can get the countdown timer and top edge buttons in the REALLY high end model).
Our base model had the basic lower level dish rack with the one piece flatware holder. The holder does have flip down lids that enable you to segregate your utensils to keep them from nesting. The top rack is manually adjustable, but you have to remove the rack to adjust it. The top rack has two set of fold down tines, which would enable you to place a large bowl like a mixing bowl in the upper rack. There are also two fold down shelves to hold cup lids and the like. I can attest that NONE of the lids we laid there got blown off during the wash cycle! The next higher level model from Sears has a nicer upper and lower rack, but it costs a bunch more as well. Another note, the top rack, even in its lowest setting, does not allow 10 inch dinner plates. However, we have yet to have a need to wash that many dinner plates, so again it's no loss for us.
Despite all of the reports I read from people whose dishes never dried or took forever to dry, ours seem to come out dry every time. Bosch uses the "Condensation Drying" method, which is why they have no heating element in the base. I can attest that all of our dishes were dry at the end of the cycle. The plastic items did have some water on them, but they did with our old dishwasher as well. We just stuck them in the dish rack for a little while to completely dry them.
Everybody says Bosch is the quiet dishwasher. Ours is VERY quiet, but you can still hear it working. The model they had hooked up in the store was so quiet you couldn't hear it. It was the same model that we bought, and I suspect that the background noise in the store drowned out the little bit of noise that did come from the Bosch. However, we have no trouble talking on the phone or listening to TV when the Bosch is running. In fact, when we're in the family room, which adjoins the kitchen directly, you can't hear the Bosch running unless it's draining water.
Cost to Own
Bosch dishwashers require rinse aid to work well. The rinse aid helps the drying process, and Bosch says that if you don't use it, you will regret it. Thankfully, Costco carries Jet Dry in large, inexpensive bottles. I think over the course of a year, we might spend an extra $10 - 12 on rinse aid with the Bosch.
We use the Electrasol tablets, and they seem to work well, but the salesperson insisted that if we used powder detergent, we could probably use less since we could adjust our usage levels as needed. However, I have about 10 canisters of the tablets left (they were on sale at a surplus store, so I bought a bunch), so I will be using the tablets for some time. As a side note, the most recent (at this time, May 2003) issue of Consumer Reports says that the Wal-Mart brand powder is the best buy out there. Just make sure whatever detergent you use has enzymes.
I can't say that we've seen any noticeable drop in water usage or electricity, but I am keeping an eye on that since the Bosch uses less of both than most other dishwashers. Of course, we've only had the dishwasher a short while.
Where to Purchase
In our area, Sears was the only vendor carrying the Bosch line. So outside of online purchases, Sears was it. However, Sears will match any price, online or not, so use that to your advantage when shopping. Also, Sears' satisfaction policy means you can return the dishwasher and exchange it for another if you find it's not as quiet as you had hoped.
We opted to get the extended warranty from Sears. Despite Bosch's superior Consumer Reports' rating, it still ranks toward the bottom with reliability. Had there been a model ranked just as quiet but more reliable from a competitor, we might have purchased it. However, there is not. Plus, Sears will come by annually to inspect the machine as part of the agreement. As an added benefit, for the first three years of the agreement, Sears will repair or replace the door if the machine become dinged, dented, or scratched. With a toddler in the house, that's money well spent. I am not normally one to purchase extended warranties, but Sears will let you cancel the agreement at any time in the first year (even after you have had your free annual check up). Since quietness was what we wanted, we felt the Bosch was the best deal, so I felt it was worth ensuring that the product would last at least five years.
If you have any questions, post a response, and I will attempt to address them as best and as quickly as I can. Thanks!