Not what you're used to. That's what I wanted.

Jan 28, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Quiet, efficient, effective, and well designed baskets.

Cons:Different configuration of baskets and long wash times can be an adjustment.

The Bottom Line: Ease of use, quiet running, good construction and a different approach in the basket configuration makes it better than the norm.


MieleNovotronic G851SC Plus Dishwasher
Not what you're used to. That's what I wanted.

We bought the Miele Novotronic G851SC Plus for our newly purchased home, and it was installed before we took possession. That was in June 2003. We’ve been using it ever since. We were just coming off a bad experience with a Frigidaire dishwasher, and were skeptical of the old style (American) dishwasher.

I would definitely recommend the dishwasher. It’s quiet, efficient, effective and well designed. The fact that a knob, not push buttons, controls the wash settings makes it simple to use.

As to its drawbacks… the configuration of baskets (and therefore loading dishes) is different than American machines. I think that the basket set up is generally better and more specialized, but it is an adjustment. If you’re happy with the American configuration you may not want to switch. The wash times are also probably longer than your old machine’s.

Read on to see if your needs, your use, and your wants match up with this machine. More detailed information is outlined under subheadings that follow (Section I). I have listed the features and my explanations/rebuttals of these at the end of the article (Section II). So you go directly to what interests you if you prefer.



I.
Purchasing
I recommend going to a local miele dealer and looking at the machines to determine which model is right for you. I think the least expensive model didn’t have the flatware tray, oddly enough as it’s a solid Miele feature, and lacked Top Solo. I believe this model that we bought was the second least expensive. You pay more to have hidden controls, which we didn’t care about.

With this model you can pick the color of your control panel (the top section of the door, containing the knob, buttons and drying fan). Options were black, white or stainless steel. The door panel options are also black, white or stainless steel or you can have a custom panel made & attached. We made & attached our own custom panel (see “Custom Door Panel” in the Features section, below). This is a good option and blends the appliance nicely with our wood-fronted cabinets (not white, black or stainless steel.) The dishwasher is less obtrusive and for us the cost was less than to buy the $40 white or black panel.

You can view the control panel and learn a more about some of the features at Miele’s web site:
http://www.miele.com/usa/dishwashers/class/models/novotronic/G851SC.html

Ah, the Price
The most frequent negative about Miele’s in general is probably the price. Although in the dishwasher category, I believe it is possible to buy a more expensive dishwasher than a Miele Novotronic.

When we compared, this dishwasher was not significantly more than other high-end dishwashers in the American market with similar features. For a stainless steel tub, you’re approaching the upper hundreds anyway. But the Miele has more of the features we wanted. We liked the way it loaded, the configuration of the baskets, and that there were three levels instead of two. We believed this would give us more room. The gentleness & effectiveness of Miele appliances also convinced us that we could wash more items in the dishwasher than we dared put in before. (And as such we use this machine more often, but do less hand-washing than with our previous dishwasher.)

If the Miele lasts longer than other similar machines, then our investment will have been less expensive than other top-end models.

In Comparison to Other Brands
We shopped around, although given past experiences we were skeptical of other products and friendly with Miele products. We had a Frigidaire dishwasher (possibly the cheapest, worst made of all appliances) that just did not work. Our glasses went in dirty and came out greasy and filmy.

I read reviews of the Miele, in which the only consistent complaint was the price. And I read reviews of other machines. The Bosch brand was the only one that came close to the consistently glowing reviews of the Miele’s. But that had a few very negative reviews that scared me off. I felt I knew a bit more about the Miele since we have their fine vacuum. (My review of the still beloved vac: http://www.epinions.com/content_83006361220

Installation
Our home was being rebuilt when we purchased it (the house). Therefore it was very similar to new construction. The dishwasher was delivered before we moved in, or indeed owned, the house. The contractor in charge had his man (a plumber, presumably) install it. This plumber didn’t know how to install a Miele. This is one issue to be aware of. A plumber, who could presumably install a regular dishwasher, may be confused by the Miele. I’m not sure all that he did wrong, but it tilted back from the rest of the cabinetry, rather than sitting flush. Though the dishwasher ran and cleaned it was clearly not quite right. I believe another reviewer had a similar experience.

I have never installed a dishwasher myself. I have a friend who did and had a horrible experience that reassured me he would have been better off parting with his money than his sanity. But my husband and I did install our other two Miele appliances, the washer and dryer including an electrical adapter box, water hook-ups, etc. It certainly pays to know what to expect from the Miele, what it wants to do, what the features are to know what you’re going to have to do to install it. The plumber with no Miele experience lacked an understanding of the machine that we, and any other educated buyer would have. I believe this would help greatly, should you choose to install it yourself.

So we hired a real Miele installer/servicer to undo the previous mess-up and do a correct install. He fixed it up. One of the tasks neglected by the original installer was the leveling mechanism. Miele, thinking of everything, includes an unimpressive looking black plastic mechanism that is to be set under the notched feet of the machine. You can then turn something in the front of the plastic mechanism-- at the front of your machine--to turn and thereby raise or lower, the feet of the machine. I can’t see how you could reach them otherwise.

A Word About Service
Unfortunately, the shoddy initial installer in his perplexity, absconded with our manual , so we had none for these 7 months. I really like having a manual for the other Miele appliances we have. They’re short and to the point, as far as manuals go, but give you the needed information on the many keen options your Miele provides. We’ve just been guessing as to how much dish detergent to put in (we use the bottom line in the dispenser). And we stick to the Normal and Normal Plus cycles , unaware of the nuances of the others. It’s worked fine. I e-mailed Miele, however and in the same day they e-mailed me back a PDF version of the manual. What service!

Daily Use
The Miele’s basket configuration may be an adjustment for you. It’s different from the typical American dishwasher. The tines in the basket are closer together and many of the features in the basket can be configured in different ways, or removed altogether. This adaptability allows you to lay a large bowl (in my case one of those big, old fashioned, glass cookie jars) in the bottom, flat without having to wrestle it in between the tines.

For everyday dishwashing of the usual plates, bowls, glasses, silverware and the occasional pot I can use the standard configuration of the baskets. Although there are only two of us, we work at home, cook our meals from scratch and we do a load almost every day, usually at night.

Regarding pots & pans, we usually don’t wash them in the dishwasher as we use mostly Calphalon, which should not be washed in the machine.

Resources Used
We use Seventh Generation’s powdered dish detergent. As its chlorine & phosphate free, you use less of it, as you don’t use extra for a pre-wash. This is determined by Miele & described in the manual.

As for water use, we’ve used the dishwasher, our Miele washing machine and taken a shower without overextending our 89-gallon water heater. Miele lists the number of gallons used for each cycle at its site (just make sure you’re looking at the column for the model in question):http://www.miele.com/usa/dishwashers/class/models/Wash-details-novotronic.html

Loading It Up
Since the configuration of the baskets is different than American machines it may take some getting used to the Miele. And if you like the configuration of the American machines, you might not want to make the switch. I was looking for something better. I really hate those silverware baskets.

As our dealer & the manual suggested, we scrape off excesses of food, However, we only do this when there are big pieces, not with everydish. Otherwise, if there’s some food on but it’s small, we just load it in. On Normal and Normal Plus, we have experienced some trouble with the following:

• spinach, I think it’s so small and a bit sticky since its flat, that it has trouble rinsing away,
• with oatmeal cereal left to dry on (we now rinse these if they’re going to sit all day before cleaning)
• with baking dishes (Pyrex, etc) that would normally be hand-scrubbed with an abrasive sponge if hand-washed. I don’t think dishwashers can tackle this, really. My husband loads these in.
• long sinewy pieces of meat from the cat food sometimes do not get rinsed away from the dishes or fork used with them. If we scraped these off, as we should this wouldn’t be a problem.

Service/maintenance
Other than the poor initial install, we’ve had no problems and needed no service in the 7 months (since 6/15/03) of its use.

Longevity
So far, so good, but it’s not been a year in our care. According to anecdotes these can last 20 years. I don’t know if we’ll last in this house that long. If the Miele is still working, we may take it with us. What a great investment it will have made if it lasts that long!

To Sum Up
I can’t say it’s perfect (if only it would scrub the pans, or side-step Calphalon’s no-dishwasher rule), but it’s better than any other dishwasher I’ve used and has given us no problems. It’s easy on resources while cleaning most everything most of the time (exceptions noted in “Loading it Up). I believe that it will last longer that other dishwashers we could have bought for less. Longevity is important to me. I don’t want this to end up in a landfill in 3 years. The initial investment is worth it to me to lessen any negative impacts from my purchase.


II.
Features
I grabbed this list of features from the Miele website. I’ve appended my explanations:

14 place setting capacity
This would depend on your plates, and would probably fit the most if you were only using plates, glasses and silverware. You can pack the dishes in pretty tightly with the way the tines are set up. You can certainly fit a lot more flatware in Miele’s tray than you can in the usual basket. We don’t use 14 place settings every day. Most of us use some combination of place settings and other items. With our combination of dishes, small & large, utensils, silverware, storage containers and glasses we do a load almost every day.

8 wash programs
1. Pots & Pans—for tougher, dried on stuff
2. SaniWash—for heavily soiled and sanitization needs
3. Normal Plus—normally soiled with some fatty residues
4. Normal—normally soiled with light fatty residues
5. China & Crystal—for temperature-sensitive items
6. Economy—for lightly soiled items
7. Energy Saver—lightly soiled items as it doesn’t heat the water in the machine. (uses your household water’s temperature.)
8. Rinse & Hold—a pre-wash

Having been without the manual, we haven’t been very adventurous. But most of us live similarly from day to day and would probably find a cycle that we use most of the time.

We usually use “Normal” or, if a load is likely to be more stubborn, more dirty, we use “Normal Plus.” We have used “Rinse only,” which takes probably 10 or 15 minutes to complete. I like knowing that there is a China cycle for delicate items, although I so rarely use those items. The one thing you may not think about is that you may not have an entire, separate load of just the delicates. Like with laundry, I don’t always have a large load of delicates as to justify an entire load. Unless you have a large load of China & Crystal, it may be easier to do it by hand. Or if you have a half-load you could use the Top Solo function.

You can learn a little more about the wash programs, including number of gallons each uses at Miele’s site (just make sure you’re looking at the column for the model in question.):http://www.miele.com/usa/dishwashers/class/models/Wash-details-novotronic.html


4 wash temperatures
I’m not sure what this means, you can’t set the temperature, like you do on their washing machine. I believe this refers to the fact that different wash programs have an associated (and different) temperature. China, for example, may have a lower temperature. This may be explained in our erstwhile manual.

Single knob
A good old knob is used to select the wash program. Low tech, but works usually better than touch buttons. However, this is why the Novotronic has a front control panel.

(The Miele Touchtronic series has touch controls (buttons) on a front panel. And the Incognito has touch controls on a hidden touch panel at the top of the door.)

Top Solo function
Selectable with any of the wash programs: All the wash programs are set with the dial. The Top Solo function is a separate button you can depress. To use Top Solo, adjust the upper (really the middle) basket down, to allow more room. Your maximum height for the upper basket is 9 3/8”. (FYI Maximum height for the lower basket is 11 3/4”.) The Top Solo feature will exert water in only the top arm, under the upper basket. This would clean anything in the upper and silverware trays.

Separate cutlery tray
The cutlery tray is soooo much smarter than those silly baskets you get in American dishwashers. You know, the ones where the spoons spoon each other and keep the dirt on. And as you unload the knives and forks taunt you with their sharp ends. Forget it! The cutlery tray has little teeth between which you lay your silverware down. The teeth are closely spaced to keep your silverware on its side (as opposed to face down). So you can stash a lot of cutlery in there. And it gets clean.

This can be removed and carried to where your silverware is.

Adjustable upper basket
The upper (glassware, etc) basket can be cranked up or down. We don’t do this everyday, but we have used it when packing things in for the Top Solo mode.

Another nifty feature of the upper basket is that it has a squared C-shaped piece that extends from the bottom front left of the basket. This is a convenient handle for pushing the basket in and out. It also is a guide for the lower basket: If (after you have loaded the lower basket and are pushing it away into the dishwasher) a plate hits this then it’s too tall and would be hit by the upper washer arm during the wash. It should be reconfigured.

PlateGuard Plus lower basket
I believe this refers to the removable part of the lower basket that sits on the left (if facing the machine) side of the dishwasher. It comes up higher than the usual 6” or so sides of the lower basket, to hold large and small plates and bowls not only at the bottom, but from the side. The guard is L-shaped to accomplish this.

Flow-through heater
Probably refers to the internal water heater in this dishwasher. This allows water to be heated, and reheated during the washing cycles. This is typical of the thorough Miele appliances and ensures consistent and optimum temperatures to get the job done right.

Turbothermic drying system
Instead of drying the items by heating, Miele realized that introducing cooler air easily dries them. So basically this is a little fan on the front of the control panel that brings in cool air from outside the dishwasher to dry the dishes. It probably uses much less energy than a heated dryer. We use less energy still as, based on this same principle, we just end the cycle at this stage, open the doors and pull out the baskets. This gets the job done as well as the little fan and I can dump any water that’s sitting on the dishes. (You know how some things have a depression that will hold a small pool of water and when you take it out you soak something else in the machine.)

Molybdenum stainless steel interior with number one polish
Clean, non-staining stainless steel!

Built-in water softener
Water softener salt indicator

Having hard water, we have a household softener, but if you had hard water and didn’t soften it for the whole house, Miele will take care of it, thus ensuring your clean dishes.
If you did use this feature, it would tell you if you needed salt. As we didn’t need this feature, it told us we needed salt. The second installer turned this off for us, though I think we could have done it ourselves.

Child safety lock
We don’t need & haven’t used this.

Rinse aid refill indicator
Unless you use a rinse aid, this light stays on. This is a bit annoying but we just turn off the machine when we’re done using it anyway.

Intake/Drain fault indicator
Tells you when there’s a problem. I think this is probably like with the washing machine and if there is a problem the machine will do all it can to mitigate further damage by stopping itself.

46 dB (re1pW) operational noise level
Yes! It is quiet. As other reviewers mention, the noisiest part is when it drains the water. Our kitchen, dining room & living room are open to each other (like a great room) and there is no noise disturbance other than whooshing as it changes to draining cycle. It is quieter in operation than our Miele Washing Machine (1918) & Dryer (1520)

Can accept custom door panel
To purchase a standard panel in black or white would be $40, more for stainless. This is in addition to the cost of the machine. Or you can make, or have made, your own panel as we did (see.

My husband who is not a regular woodworker but who does read instructions (unlike me) installed a custom panel on our dishwasher. Since our house was being re-built, we got a sort of veneer piece from the contractor that was left-over. That was about 1/4 or 1/8” thick. My husband attached that to a plywood board and attached that using Miele’s mounting hardware. Before that, we didn’t have any panel and the door didn’t stay down on its own. The door panel and some inner mechanism, which you can adjust, hold the dishwasher door down. Conversely, the mechanism can be adjusted to assist closing the door. Now that our door is properly weighted by the panel, and adjusted by my husband, it never slams down and takes a finger’s touch to lift up.

414 kWh consumption per year
Um, I guess so. Since the house was new to us we don’t have previous consumption to compare it with.

Update function
Allows a technician to update the programming of the dishwasher to make use of new technological developments.

In addition to what Miele mentions, I’d add the following features:
ON/OFF switch
I love that Miele appliances (our washer and dryer have this too) can be turned off. No more sneaky power usage, no panel lights on.

Indicator Lights
Located on the front panel, these tell you when the machine is rinsing, drying or is over. I don’t find this very useful. As the lights are stacked in one “window” I can’t tell rinse from drying. More illuminating is the sound the machine makes when drying, a faint whooshing noise, as opposed to the even more quiet, repetitive sloshing noise.


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