November 26, 2014

Universal Measurements for Washing Machines

AHAM, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, is developing a voluntary, uniform industry test procedure for product manufacturers to determine clothes washer drum volume which is expected to be finalized by the end of 2009.
This new procedure will result in standardized volume measurements that can be applied
across all washers—traditional and high-efficiency top as well as front loaders—and can be
used by the consumer to compare washer volume. It is possible that, if appropriate, AHAM will request government adoption of this measuring test procedure.

Manufacturers already follow the U.S. Department of Energy drum volume measurement procedures to calculate energy and water consumption. This is the same procedure used for ENERGY STAR and for calculating the data found on the FTC EnergyGuide label.

The Department of Energy drum volume procedure provides an accurate measurement for the purpose of calculating energy and water consumption. Because of the advancements in clothes washer technology and energy and water efficiency, the DOE method may not provide the most meaningful representation of useful volume to the consumer when making a purchase decision among various product choices.

As a result, manufacturers have employed different rating systems to provide meaningful purchase evaluation information to the consumer. With consumers continuing to demand the best performing products that are energy and water efficient, AHAM members desire a simpler uniform test method to determine washer volume which can be easily communicated to the consumer.

This AHAM effort of developing a uniform procedure is on a fast track and will be completed by the end of 2009.

Who Started it?

We are all so accustomed to having a microwave and dishwasher in the kitchen these days, but did you ever wonder who started it all?

In some cases the answer is Whirlpool, and they are proud of it.  Whirlpool introduced the first the countertop microwave and automatic washing machine. KitchenAid which is now owned by Whirlpool, brought us the automatic dishwasher.  Whirlpool also unveiled high capacity, front-load laundry units in the U.S.

Just a little bit of appliance history brought to you today by appliance.net.

More Consumers Choosing Energy Efficiency

The cost of running a household has always been the biggest part of most family budgets. As utility costs have risen, that cost keeps going up too. One way to decrease monthly utility bills is to use less water and energy on daily household tasks. More and more consumers are replacing their old, top-loading washers wih high efficiency (HE) front-loading models.  LGworld.com  reports:

While consumers have warmed to energy efficiency only gradually, the trend is increasingly evident with household appliances. Overall U.S. sales by appliance manufacturers fell to $23.4 billion last year and continue to slump as fewer homes are built in a tight economy, but energy-efficient models account for a growing share.

In a reflection of increased consumer demand as well as manufacturers’ innovations, 55 percent of the major appliances shipped to stores and distributors in the first half of 2008 carried the government’s Energy Star rating for high energy efficiency — up from just under 50 percent a year earlier, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Manufacturers don’t break out sales of Energy Star appliances separately, but they total in the billions. Sales of washing machines alone accounted for $3.6 billion in 2007, and much of that was in front-loading washers.

Demand for front-loaders at Abt Electronics, a major retailer in Glenview, Ill., is up about 60 percent this year, according to general manager Marc Cook.

“People come in and their first question is, ‘Should I switch to a front-loader?”’ Cook said. “They like the technology, and when you sweeten it by saying they’ll be using less water and energy, then it closes the deal in their mind.”

Front-loaders and advanced top-loaders typically use only one-third the water of a conventional top-loader, using sophisticated wash systems to flip or spin clothes through a reduced amount of water while also dramatically decreasing the amount of hot water used.

In addition, enhanced motors spin clothes two to three times faster during the spin cycle to extract more water, reducing moisture in clothes and resulting in less time and energy in the dryer.

Look for the label

What energy-conscious buyers need to know most is to look for the yellow Energy Star label, which means a product is among approximately the top 25 percent of all product models in energy efficiency.

Energy Star is a 16-year-old joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. It provides labels for qualifying products in more than 50 categories — from televisions to light bulbs to furnaces to clothes washers.

The label guarantees three things, according to program spokeswoman Maria Vargas: That the product is more energy-efficient than a conventional product — delivering the same or better performance using less energy; that it’s a cost-effective purchase that will pay for itself in five years or less; and that there’s no sacrifice in performance.

Shoppers should also check products’ EnergyGuide labels required by the Federal Trade Commission. The labels provide an estimate of the product’s energy consumption and show comparisons with similar models.

An Energy Star-qualified clothes washer uses 15 to 25 gallons of water per load compared with 30 to 35 gallons by a standard machine, saving more than 7,000 gallons of water a year. Combined with lower electricity costs, the government says the machine can save the user $550 in operating costs over its lifetime compared to a regular clothes washer.

Costs to consider

That can be welcome relief from increasingly burdensome household energy costs.

The average U.S. household will spend about $2,350 this year on energy costs, up from $2,100 in 2007, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, an energy information clearinghouse in Washington, D.C. Roughly a quarter of that is from appliances.

Of course, the added efficiency comes at a cost. Front-loaders can run $400 to $500 more than regular washers, with good-quality machines running $1,000 or more.

That’s not only due to the increased energy and water efficiency but also other innovations such as remote monitoring, use of steam for wrinkle reduction, reduced noise and vibration and bigger washing capacity.

“People want larger capacity, but they also want energy efficiency,” said Paul Dougherty, manager of a Grand Appliance chain store in Zion, Ill. “Two years ago they weren’t asking about that too often.”

Washing Machine Care From Whirlpool

Last year at this time, Whirlpool introduced Affresh, the tablet that cleans the inside of high efficiency washers, helping to reduce the musty smell that some washers get.  Now, Whirlpool introduces the Affresh washer cleaning kit. The kit includes Power Puck tablets and Grit Grabber cloths to more effectively remove and prevent odor-causing residue than using bleach alone. The Power Puck tablets use oxygenated bubbling action to penetrate and remove residue that can accumulate where it is hard to reach — behind the washer drum. The specially formulated Grit Grabber cloths give consumers added power to clean where they can reach by breaking up residue around the rubber door seal and detergent dispenser and locking it into the cloth.

“While not every washer will experience odor, it’s possible in all washers. Due to their efficient design, modern HE machines seal more tightly and use less water than older, less efficient washers which increases the potential for residue to build-up,” said Mary Zeitler, home economist for the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science.

Odor may occur when residue from detergents, lint, sloughed off skin cells and soil accumulates in areas of the washer where water cannot rinse. The new Affresh kit offers a comprehensive approach to odor-causing residue by enabling consumers to clean both around the washer door and hard-to-reach areas behind the washer drum. Use of the new Affresh kit should not replace routine washer maintenance recommended in the washer’s Use and Care Guide. Routine measures such as leaving the door open after each load and using only high-efficiency detergents in the proper amount can also help reduce the occurrence of odor.

The Affresh washer cleaning kit includes three septic system-safe Power Puck tablets and six pre-moistened hypoallergenic Grit Grabber cloths and is packaged in a reusable container to make routine maintenance a snap. It is available at retailers nationwide with an MSRP of $10.99. For more information, please visit www.affresh.com

Appliance Design Magazine’s Excellence in Design Winners Announced

Appliance Design magazine has announced the winners of its 21st Annual Excellence in Design competition.

Entrants were evaluated by an independent panel of three experts in the field of design. The products were judged by four criteria: aesthetics, human factors, innovation, and technical merits.

Products were entered into one of several categories. The winning entries, listed by category below, received recognition at one of three levels: Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

The Gold winners are listed below.  Note that three of our favorites here at Appliance.net are listed as Gold winners:

Electronics: Tatung VOIP Phone

Major Appliances/HVAC: Bosch Nexxt Laundry – Our Pick

Major Appliances/HVAC: Bosch Integra Dishwashers – OurPick

Major Appliances/HVAC: Indesit Moon Washer

Major Appliances/HVAC: KitchenAid Architect Series II Built-in Double Oven

Medical/Test Equipment: Gendex expert DC Intraoral X-Ray System

Medical/Test Equipment: Heath Decto-Pack Infrared Gas Detector

Medical/Test Equipment: Reichert TONO-PEN AVIA Applanation Tonometer

Outdoor/Leisure Appliances: Life Fitness X7 Electronic Adjustable Stride Cross Trainer

Small Appliances: One Touch Automatic Jar Opener -Reviewed here

You can see all the winners listed here.

Whirlpool Earns Third Energy Star Award

Whirlpool Corp. has been recognized with its third consecutive ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award. Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the award honors Whirlpool Corp.’s contribution to providing innovative efficient products that help consumers reduce utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Whirlpool will accept the award at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2008. This is the company’s ninth ENERGY STAR award win.

“Whirlpool Corporation is proud to again receive the ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Mike Todman, president, Whirlpool North America. “At Whirlpool, we believe that focusing on energy, water and the environment isn’t about narrowing the field of choices, it’s about broadening horizons. We continually strive for efficiency improvements while always keeping in mind that exceeding the expectations of the consumer is our goal.”

The company has been a long-term ENERGY STAR partner, helping create the guidelines for the Green Lights Program, the EPA’s precursor to the appliance ENERGY STAR program. “We are proud to recognize Whirlpool Corporation’s continued efforts with the 2008 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation. “Year after year partners like Whirlpool are examples of the benefits of a long-term commitment to energy efficiency. Their actions are leading the way in saving energy and helping to protect the environment.”

While other appliance manufacturers have been talking about sustainability, Whirlpool Corporation has been taking action for more than 30 years. The company is the global industry leader in developing high-performance appliances that help conserve the earth’s resources and allow homeowners to use energy and water more efficiently. It is the only appliance manufacturer that brings an “across the board” focus to energy and water conservation, from design to manufacture and distribution, to the end of the product life-cycle.

Whirlpool Corporation offers consumers the largest breadth of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. Its more than 700 innovative models include:
The Whirlpool(R) Duet(R) Steam Washer. The washer naturally steams away tough stains, from grass to grease, without pre-treating. This model also saves consumers 73 percent water and 77 percent energy, compared to top-load washers manufactured before 2004, and using the normal cycle.
The Whirlpool(R) Cabrio(R) Steam Dryer combines mist and heat in the dryer to naturally steam away wrinkles and odors, reducing trips to the dry cleaner and providing front-load laundry efficiency in a top-load configuration.
Energy efficient refrigeration combined with flexible technology options through the Whirlpool(R) centralpark(TM) connection. The refrigerator offers a plug-and-play platform right on the door, providing support to consumer electronics including a digital picture frame and digital music player without compromising on energy efficiency.
The Maytag(R) Bravos(TM) high-efficiency, large-capacity top-load washer. The Bravos system features an impeller wash system with Sensi-Care technology and a commercial-grade stainless-steel wash basket – providing the thorough, dependable clean of a front-load system in a top-load configuration.
The Maytag(R) EPICz(TM) high-efficiency front-load washer’s space-saving design, providing dependable performance features and commercial-grade components, is one of the most energy efficient in the industry. The washer received NSF International (formerly National Sanitation Foundation) certification for its sanitary cycle, which heats wash water up to 153-DegF.
The Maytag brand Dishwasher with a SteamClean option. SteamClean delivers enhanced cleaning performance on glassware for soil and spot removal.. Whirlpool Corporation was the first in the appliance industry to launch a steam option in dishwashers.
A new SteamClean option for Jenn-Air brand dishwashers. The SteamClean option enhances an existing wash cycle, such as the China/Crystal cycle, with improved soil and spot cleaning to produce an even more lustrous shine. In addition to steam, these models also have a new silent sound package, making an already quiet, energy efficient dishwasher even quieter.

Whirlpool works to exceed expectations with appliances that help building professionals create homes of distinction. For this purpose, the company developed – The Inside Advantage(TM). This targeted program offers Powerful Brands, Innovative Products, Targeted Services and Consumer Insight to support building professionals. By staying closely involved with the building industry, Whirlpool Corporation is able to help support sustainable construction that ultimately saves energy and natural resources while providing homebuyers with comfortable, efficient and healthy homes.

Inside a Washing Machine

We don’t often consider how our household appliances work, we tend to take them for granted.  But when I stop to think about all they do, I wonder about the mechanics of it all.  The site howstuffworks.com is so much fun. It has a wonderful way of explaining how our everyday world works.  Below is an excerpt from the section about the workings of a washing machine, you can read the whole article here.

If we take a look under the washing machine, you’ll see what makes it so heavy.


Motor and counterweight

Yes, that is in fact a block of concrete in the picture above. The concrete is there to balance the equally heavy electric motor, which drives a very heavy gearbox that is attached to the steel inner tub. There are lots of heavy components in a washing machine.

The washing machine has two steel tubs. The inner tub is the one that holds the clothes. It has an agitator in the middle of it, and the sides are perforated with holes so that when the tub spins, the water can leave.

The outer tub, which seals in all the water, is bolted to the body of the washer. Because the inner tub vibrates and shakes during the wash cycle, it has to be mounted in a way that lets it move around without banging into other parts of the machine.

The inner tub is attached to the gearbox, which is attached to the black metal frame you see in the picture above. This frame holds the motor, gearbox and the concrete weight.


Cable-and-pulley support system

The picture above shows just the black metal frame, without the tub or gearbox. The cable that you see on the left side of the picture is the other end of the same cable that you see on the right side. There are a total of three pulleys, so that if one side of the frame moves up, the other side moves down. This system supports the weight of the heavy components, letting them move in such a way as not to shake the entire machine.

But, if all of these parts are just hanging by cables, why don’t they swing around all the time?

A laundry machine has a damping system that uses friction to absorb some of the force from the vibrations.


Vibration-damping system

In each of the four corners of the machine is a mechanism that works a little like a disc brake. The part attached to the washer frame is a spring. It squeezes two pads against the metal plate that is attached to the black frame. You can see where the pads have polished the plate from movement during vibration.