Front load washers: is larger cap. really better?

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Jun 25, 2014

Most conventional top load washers range between 3.2 and 3.5 cubic feet. For the majority of customers replacing a washer more than 7 years old, this represents an upgrade from the past, when washer capacities ranged from 2.7 to 3.2 cubic feet. Some specialty-sized washers (such as apartment or compact) have smaller capacities.

Front-load washer capacity is determined by an IEC (International Electrotechnicial Commission) rating. In essence, the IEC rating indicates the overall capacity that a top load washer would need to have to be comprable in size. Since front-load washers can be loaded more tightly, they can handle larger loads with a smaller wash basket. Compact front load washers range from 2.0 to 2.5 cubic feet, and most high efficiency washers range from 3.1 cu. ft. (IEC) up to 4.7 cu. ft. (IEC) which represents a significant upgrade from conventional top load washers.

As a rule of thumb, to accomodate a king-sized comforter, a washer capacity of 3.8 cu. ft. (IEC) or greater is required. For a queen-sized comforter, approximately 3.5 cu. ft. (IEC) or more is needed.

I read this, and got me thinking... to get a balanced load you need to stuff the wash drum full of clothes, so why would any home need more than 3.8 cu. ft. capacity?

Not only are the 4.3+ washers huge, the baskets are bigger, making it harder on the washer to balance and get those G-force water extracting speeds....

So when shopping for a FL washer, would you say the smallest drum with the highest RPM is the best for durability and best for a balanced spin?

If you had two washers, and both had unbalanced loads, the washer with the smaller capacity would vibrate LESS than the larger drum, since the load will be further away from center of rotation?
I hate our front-load washer. The wife agrees that we'll never buy another.

Originally Posted By: Vern_in_IL
I read this, and got me thinking... to get a balanced load you need to stuff the wash drum full of clothes,

No you don't. Even if you were to stuff it full of clothes, once they get wet, they will all be sitting near the bottom of the drum anyway due to gravity.

Modern frontloaders have anti-vibration mechanisms that will detect if the drum is vibrating too much and will stop and reshuffle the clothes and then start spinning again.
I have 4 cu.ft. Version of LG, it stops when the load is not balanced. Like Quattro Pete typed, it re-starts after reshuffling the load. If it is too bad (extra large items like blankets etc) it stops fully.
I have been using front loaders for 25 years. Not a single complaint. They do clean well, easy to dry even without a dryer. Easy on water.
I would never buy or use a top loader.
If you close the door once you are done, it sure will. Leave it and the detergent drawer open, drain the water periodically from the drain pipe, it will never need 'cleaning' and it will never stink/form mildew.
Originally Posted By: LT4 Vette
Didn't some front load washers have mildew problems ?

Yep. There are numerous ways they can develop mildew. It's best to keep the front door ajar so air can circulate and dry out the internals. Some people install a small fan in the back vent. Finally today's FL have a sanitizing wash setting.

Other issues;

#1 Buying a FL that does not have an internal heater to compensate for a Hot Water heater that's too far from laundry room.

#2 Uneven or weak sub floor (second floor esp) causing balancing issues. Very common in US homes with the prevalence of poor quality framing and use of OSB.

#3 Aluminium spiders that corrode.

#4 Never use fabric softener (mold) and use on HE detergent.
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We have two Samsung front load washers-one at home and one at our lake house. Both are the same model-about 5 or 6 years old now. Both were the largest capacity Samsung available when we purchased them, around 4.6 cubic feet. We've never had a problem with them being balanced-they have the VRT system that seems to work. Even with everything off to one side of the drum it still keeps itself balanced. Surprising, because when they spin on high they make some serious RPMs.

With the size of the drum we can easily do all of the bedding on our king size bed at once, along with the white load. We can also wash our heavy king size quilts, and it will spin them almost dry. After my mother passed last summer I brought home a number of queen size quilts she hand-made a few years ago. I was able to wash two queen size quilts at a time, and it spun them dry enough to lay out over my Bowflex for a couple hours to finish drying.

It's large enough that we only need to do a single load of whites/bedding and a single load of dark clothing on a normal week. With our prior top load washer that was 4-5 loads each week. At our lake house we can toss in armfuls of clothes and towels and it handles them just fine.

When we switched to our current washers we also realized about a 400-500 gallon per month water savings over our older top loader. Since we're in a rural area our water can be a bit more expensive, and at about the 4 year mark the water savings paid for the cost of the new washer.

I make sure to leave the door slightly open to allow air circulation when the washers aren't in use. We've never had any mildew or odor issues whatsoever.
They're the bee's knees. Wife ran our well dry with our old top loader washer, doing six loads in a day or something manic. Never a problem since.

Got a scratch 'n dent maytag neptune from sears. Is a model known for blowing circuit boards. We just unplug it in thunderstorms. Would get another.

When I use a top loader I marvel when jeans come out with a thread stuck to a wad of other clothes, and the auger too. Everything's soaked. And it takes forever to fill, even if it finishes in the same time or faster. Who puts up with this?
Originally Posted By: LT4 Vette
Didn't some front load washers have mildew problems ?

I just got a new Frigidaire 3.9 cu ft front loader. They are easier on your clothes and get more water out. It has a clean cycle you can run once and awhile to clean the machine. They have done a lot of work to reduce vibration during spin. I prefer a front loader.

The old agitator top loaders are being phased out because they use too much water.
not quite fair comparison.. most people are comparing practically antique top loaders to $$$$ front loaders.

Front loaders do have some advantages, but the newest top loaders are also decent.
I've had 2 front loaders and a Whirlpool HE top loader without an agitator. The top loader is the way to go. If you have an oddly balanced load, I have found that the front loaders can't spin. Also, the door should always be left open when not in use to prevent mold and rust issues, if you have a small laundry room this could make it tough to do with a front loader.
We recently got the top of the line Samsung top loader last summer and had an older model "traditional" top loader washer before that. Night and day difference. The joy of just being able to wash king size comforters and not having to go to the laundry mat was worth its weight in gold. With no agitator in the middle, it doesn't beat up the clothes as much and the delicate cycle will let us wash "hand wash only" clothes with no problems. Water use...WOW. This thing weighs the clothes and then puts the correct about of water in it. No tub full like the older models. Really like this washer and noticed the water bill has been lower as well.
The whole subject of machine capacity is something that should be much clearer than it really is. I remember when U.S. machines were rated by weight, but somewhere along the line, they changed to volume. And now there are different volume measurement methodologies (IEC and DOE) that make things less clear than ever. Probably even less so in the case of some front loaders that advertise 4+ cubic foot capacity....
We have a big us made bosch front loader. It spins really fast and holds a lot of material, so it can not only clean the materials well, but also get them much dryer so there is an efficiency gain in the drying cycle too.

Ours has never quite balanced right, or I should say, it balances, but it does make some noise and have some vibration when up at 1200rpm.

We do cloth diapering, so we use ours a lot. No issues with the machine, with mold/mildew, etc.
Our washer would occasionally have a small puddle of water on the floor (I think wife would pour a little water, tell me, and tell me we need a new set).
So we recently bought a new washer & dryer. I wanted to get front loaders (washer & dryer) this time but wife wouldn't go for it, and she's god when it comes to these kind of things.
Anyway we got a LG set. So the washer has a diamond glass top, dryer diamond glass front.
Cost me 26-hundred for the pair. A lot of do-dad features, runs quiet and works well. I guess as long as she's happy, I pay, get to live, eat, so I don't say any more. I gave up trying to understand her years ago.
Now I'm waiting for her rip the seal on the fridge, throw a couple ice cubes at the base of the fridge, let it melt, tell me it needs replacing. Then she'll pick that too.
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