Electro Kitchen » KitchenAid

Dec 1, 2010

Performance And Energy Equally Crucial When Replacing An Old Dishwasher

Those who make, sell and service appliances may not always agree on everything, but on one subject opinion seems to be unanimous. Significant improvements over the last decade in dishwasher energy consumption, water usage and performance make it well worth replacing an older model. Dishwashers purchased before 1994 use about eight additional gallons of water in each cycle compared to today’s ENERGY STAR qualified models.

Those thinking about replacing a dishwasher, no matter what brand they have in mind, should consider these tips on what to look for from the experts at KitchenAid, the brand that introduced their first home dishwasher in 1949. “Water efficiency and energy savings are very important, but so is performance, because those savings could be diminished if your dishes aren’t getting clean,” notes Katie Hesemann, manager of the KitchenAid brand’s cleaning category. “Understanding what today’s dishwashers offer and knowing what to look for to get the best performance will help ensure that you’re happy with this kitchen essential for years to come.”

KitchenAid Dishwasher

KitchenAid Dishwasher

Filter-Based Or Disposer-Based?

Understanding the difference between filter- and disposer-based systems is important, notes Hesemann. A filter-based system requires periodic, manual cleaning of a filter that captures food particles from re-depositing on the dishes, while a disposer-based system requires no filter cleaning because it finely grinds food particles and flushes them out of the system after each cycle. A filter-based system operates more quietly with less water use than a disposer based system, but the trade-off is having to manually clean the filter.

Regardless of which system you prefer, Hesemann suggests asking the following questions to ensure that your new dishwasher will offer consistent, high-performance cleaning:

What Type Of Filter Is It And How Often Must It Be Cleaned?

On filter-based systems, take a close look at the filter, how it works and the ease of removing and cleaning it. Find out how often it must be cleaned. Our latest Superba® Series EQ Dishwashers offer an efficient three-piece bottomless filtration system with a coarse filter, microfine filter and a filter screen that only require cleaning every three to six months depending on use.

Food soils are disposed through the bottomless filter and out the drain system helping to improve cleaning performance. Another important mechanical feature to ask about on a filter-based dishwasher is whether it utilizes a baffle between the filter cup and recirculation pump. The baffle helps maximize efficiency and prevent clogging by redirecting water and particles.

A filter-based system requires periodic, manual cleaning of a filter that captures food particles from re-depositing on the dishes, while a disposer-based system requires no filter cleaning because it finely grinds food particles and flushes them out of the system after each cycle.

What Type Of Wash Arms Does The Dishwasher Have?

When a dishwasher is using less water, the design of the wash arms is important to help maintain high cleaning performance. Look for pressure-optimizing wash arms that maximize the use of less water with small spray jets that concentrate wash pressure versus larger round spray jets on wash arms that may not offer the same high pressure. Other wash arm considerations include their construction and how they spray water. Models with at least four stainless steel wash arms can spray high volumes of wash and rinse water in precisely angled directions.

Is There A Drying Option?

While it may not always be important to have completely dry dishes immediately when the wash and dry cycles end, there are times, when entertaining for example, when dishes and glasses must be ready to go for parties or dinner guests. Note that not all dishwashers offer the choice of heated drying so inquire about whether this option is available. KitchenAid dishwashers have a “Heat Dry” option with a dedicated drying element that offers users the choice between high-performance drying or additional energy savings.

How Quiet?

A soft whisper is measured at 30 decibels (dBA), while the ambient sound in a library is 40 dBA and moderate rainfall is 50 dBA. Kitchens are not the closed off rooms of the past, and now that they are often open to other living areas, quieter operation has become an important, but sometimes confusing proposition. Understanding dBA measurements relative to what the human ear hears can help.

One thing to note is that our ears perceive an increase in 10 dBA as twice as loud, while an increase in 3 dBA is much less noticeable. For example the difference between 40 dBA and 43 dBA is subtle and should not be a determining factor in your overall decision. Look for features that offer sound dampening solutions including variable speed motors that reduce speed to adjust for lightly soiled loads, alternating wash zones and insulation blankets in dishwasher construction.

Loading Flexibility

Flexibility in loading and spacing of tines can sometimes be an afterthought, but because they can impact performance these factors should be considered, says Hesemann. Wash and rinse water need room to work and greater space between dishes delivers the better the results. So make sure that tines are well spaced. Check that the dishwasher allows room for larger pots, pans and dishes and look for tubs and racks that are large and spacious. Are there fold-down tines to adjust for different sizes of pots, pans and dishes? Is the upper rack adjustable so that tall plates can be placed underneath when necessary? Additional loading features that can help maximize loading flexibility include an djustable, third upper rack for utensils and culinary tools; a generous silverware basket that avoids crowding; cup and stemware holders in the upper rack; and a mesh pouch for smaller items.

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