Updated 3/2017: Added new section on Energy Star and additional reference links.
Picking the right washer and dryer is a difficult choice. You have to realize how many different options and choices there are, as well as whatever price range you want to go after. It would be impossible to choose the right one without doing was solid research. There are a few different buckets that washer/dryers fall into, and we will talk about those today.
Front Load Washers
Firstly, you have your front loaded washers, these are like the ones you see in the laundromat. They have some benefits and some drawbacks, which we will talk about below:
The main benefit is water conservation. If you live in a place with strict water usage laws or you simply want to be more conscientious of your water usage/carbon footprint, this may be what you want to do. Front load washers can be found at most all home appliance megastores like Sears, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.
Do to the specifics of the design (which are a bit complex and we won’t get into here) the front load washer tends to last a lot longer than the top load variety. You will notice that the gears and mechanisms of top-load washing machines tend to wear out quicker.
Front loaders can also handle more weight and higher laundry load capacities (this is why you see them in laundromats, where people ritually abuse the capabilities of the machine in order to get the most for their quarters, and I don’t blame them).
The drawback to front load washer is price. They are almost always more expensive then the top loads. Some people also tend to dislike the fact that they have to bend down to load the laundry in. It is kind of a hassle (this is why I always choose the top dryer in the laundromat, no bending over).
Stackable Washing Machines
The stackable washer and dryer is an interesting use of the machines. It is perfect for smaller homes, for use in closets or tucked away in a corner. It doesn’t perfectly replace a full-out washer dryer since it’s always a bit underpowered. Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here’s the nitty gritty:
The main benefit is space. Washer/dryer combos are bulky by nature. If you have the extra space, then go for it, because a deluxe non-stackable combo will be more power, more staying power, and will be able to handle bigger loads. However if you only have a small laundry room (and don’t mind doing more/smaller loads) then it’s a good fit.
As I mentioned before, you are going to be sacrificing both power, load capacity and durability. Definitely not the choice if you are washing clothes are 10 kids, but if you only do laundry once a week, and don’t mind doing 2 or 3 loads instead of 1 or 2, it may be a good choice.
Because of the unique combination it’s also a tad big more expensive then getting separate washer/dryers of the same power. Although the different is usually not noticeable when shopping around because the separate units are more powerful, hence more expensive.
I would recommend doing your research before making a decision. The above article is a good primer, but I would check more thoroughly before making a final buying decision. We’ve referenced some sites below in the “References” section that could make a good source for research.
Note On Energy Star
A special update on EnergyStar rated appliances. With increased popularity of energy conservation, as well as the increased cost of energy, be sure to look for appliances that are energy star rated. They will be more efficient and save lots of money in the long run. Over several years energy bills can add up tremendously.
The above was just a taste of the research you can do to track down the best washer for your need. It all depends on many factors, space considerations, price points and budget, load capacity and durability. Take all those into account and you should be able to find a decent choice.