What’s happened to the hot water valve in washing machines?

 This subject is more complex than you might think, and this article alone has attracted 326 comments before I had to close them. Many people dislike not having a hot valve on their washing machine. Most people probably don’t need one – yet others would be better off if washing machines still had them.

I’ve just spent a few hours updating my previously published thoughts on the subject (apologies for not being able to make it more concise). There’s also a lot of comments under this article, which anyone seriously interested in the subject may want to read before looking at my article – Should I buy a cold fill washing machine or hot and cold fill?

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Comments

  1. I think that a hot and cold fill washing machine is absolutely not necessary. It’s just a waste of money which the ultimate consumer pays. In the UK many households have a hot water boiler, which means that you pay for heating up your water anyway. If you use a gas boiler, It’s even worse. Using the hot valve is like using hot tab water for cooking or to boil water in the kettle. It doesn’t make much sense. A new cold fill washing machine heats the water even more energy efficient, I guess. In Germany and most other countries, a hot water connection for washing machines does not even exist. Germany has a very high quality standard. The best washing machines are Made in Germany (Miele, AEG, Bosh, Siemens) and if a hot water valve would be better, the Germans would definetely not miss out on it. Why do mainly the cheap crappy washing machines have that feature? Because the good brands know and do much better.

  2. Isabel: As my article points out there is a lot of truth in what the manufacturers say about not needing a hot water valve but only for washing machines in certain (albeit common) conditions, with a certain type of hot water water supply and using biological detergents and low temperature wash programs.

    However, Miele have previously published the following, which appears to contradict a lot of what manufacturers say about cold fill being better –

    “Hot water operation saves energy – saves up to 40% electricity

    The Miele AllWater washing machines, including the current model W 3841, offer a special contribution to environmental protection. They can be connected to a hot or alternative water supply as desired. Compared to cold water operation, using the AllWater washing machine with a hot water connection can lead to considerable annual savings in particular on electricity. Our example projects average savings for a 4-person household.”

    It must be pointed out that this washing machine is not currently available in the UK and may never be. The waters are very muddy regarding this whole issue. My opinion after researching and thinking about this issue is that a hot water valve should be fitted to all washing machines and customers should be able to select whether to use it or not depending on their type of hot water supply and their style of washing (e.g. lots of hot washes or only low temperature washes and ordinary detergent or biological detergent) because otherwise the washing machines are not flexible enough, and are designed only to work ideally in the majority of situations.

  3. With all the pushing and shoving in the UK to get people to fit solar-panels, I find it laughable that the “free” hot water thus acquired through solar heating cannot now be used to wash clothes! You use energy whichever way it goes…either to heat the hot-water tank or via the electric that’s used to heat water in the washing machine. Presumably the same thinking will start applying soon to dishwashers (though I don’t own one so won’t be bothered).
    I read somewhere that solar panels can get water up to around 30 degrees C, surely if that went direct into a washing machine it would be a pretty good starting point for lower-temp washes? I rarely wash things any higher than 50C. I think someone’s fallen a bit short on joined-up thinking here….the opportunity to utilise solar-heated water for washing clothes has been well and truly scuppered, so that’ll put a lot of people off installing solar. May as well go back to washing clothes in the bath-tub.

  4. Hello Chris: Dishwashers have long since been cold fill only. It’s been very rare for years to see a dishwasher that uses hot water. Again, as they now use so little water most dishwashers connected to a hot water supply would have finished filling well before the hot water started to run through. Plus with dishwashers you have the extra problem where connecting a hot supply would mean wasting lots of hot water on rinses (dishwashers have always only had one valve).

  5. avatar Stan Thomas says:

    When I plumbed my house I put the hot water cylinder next to the boiler and the washing machine(s) in the ground floor utility room. The hot water run from tank to inlet, including hose, is less than 1 metre and about 2 metres for the two washers. The hot & cold supplies are both via the cold storage tank in the attic, so the fill at the same rate. Solar panels provide a significant amount of water heating. Having done all this, I now find that all new washers have cold fill and heat it with expensive electricity. Makes me look stupid doesn’t it. But it makes that A+ rating even more stupid. I wonder if I’m determined enough to retro fit a hot fill to a new washer…

  6. I have solar water heating which, on a sunny day gets the temperature up to well over 60 degrees centigrade and I would save a lot of money if I were able to use a hot-fill machine.

    So who supplies them – both washing machines and dishwashers?

  7. Hello Richard: LG still do hot and cold fill washing machines the last time I checked (please double check yourself) There is a more comprehensive blog article on the subject here I want a washing machine with a hot water valve

    FURTHER COMMENTS?

    It would be better if from now on, all further comments on this subject could be added to the article above as it’s best to have them all in one place.

  8. Many thanks. I did actually read the article and found it very useful – but most of the washing machines and dishwashers I’ve seen advertised do not seem to mention the question of fill and I assume therefore that they only have cold fill.

    But I’ll take a look at LG.

  9. Richard: Please let us know what you find. When I first mentioned LG they definitely were one of the only ones left with a hot valve but I suspect things may have changed.

    LG don’t mention hot valves on their site and their new washing machines all seem to be using steam to wash with. The promotional video shows only one water supply.

  10. So far my research has not found any machines that have fill information listed and I infer from that there there are no dual-fill machines now on sale. The LG site certainly doesn’t mention dual fill.

    I will keep searching.

  11. I would prefer a cold fill only machine. I have a combination boiler, and the hot supply has to run for a long time for the water to be hot. Much longer than the fill time of the machine. This is wasting gas, heating water that will only sit in the pipes. The other problem with hot fill, is the pressure drop with a combination boiler to the hot supply. It is very annoying while having a shower, bath or washing up for the hot water to stop because the washing machine is at a fill cycle.

    However my Gran lives in sheltered housing where hot water is free, but electricity is not. I have thought about using a shower valve to supply water at about 40 deg to the cold fill.

  12. You make a very good point Gareth. Even combination boilers take a certain time to start delivering proper hot water and if the washing machine has all-but finished this water will have been heated up to just stand in the pipes and cool down.

    You might be interested in this article regarding your last point about supplying water at about 40 degrees (although 40 degrees isn’t too bad I would still think it wouldn’t be conducive to rinsing) – can you connect the hot water supply to the cold valve on cold fill washing machines?

  13. I don’t know how the manufacturers arrange things but I’d have thought it would have been easy enough to arrange for a machine to draw from the hot water supply only to start with and keep that water in a holding tank. Only if the water were too hot would cold then be called to reduce the temperature to an appropriate level.

    In the summer I get free hot water from my solar panels – up to near boiling on really sunny days – and it’s REALLY annoying that I then have to pay to heat up water using electricity just because no properly contrived mixing system has been installed.

    The point made by others here about “preferring” cold fill only is really a bit of a red herring. Dual-fill machines can be filled with cold only and those who choose to use cold only can simply turn off the hot supply. Those of us who wish to do the opposite with single-fill machines have no such option.

  14. Richard:

    The manufacturers design for the masses and if only a minority of people could really utilise a hot water supply they would never design for them. You can logically argue a case for doing so on environmental grounds though.

    The problem is that there’s no room for a holding tank. Also, dual fill machines won’t work on some programmes without a hot supply because they are designed for an expected hot and cold supply and some fill with hot only on hotter washes. With the hot tap off they would stall and abort with an error. They aren’t bright enough to think there’s no hot water so I’ll use cold instead.

  15. Washing machines that do have a hot water valve

    After phoning LG I can confirm that their washing machines do still have a hot water valve. If a hot valve is paramount to you then check the LG brochure available on their web site LG washing machines Navigate to a model, click the “brochure” link which will download a pfd brochure.

    Once open, look under the “Feature” list which is at the top and at the bottom of this list it should say “Hot & cold water inlet hose option”. If this model has one there will be a tick in the box next to it.

    But before you rush off to LG..

    Even LG said that their washing machines only use the hot water valve on 60 degree and 90 degree washes and they will not use it on 30 degree and 40 degree washes which are the ones most people use.

  16. Many thanks for this.

    I agree that the technology used in most washing machines right now seem not to be “bright” enough to know what to do if the hot water supply fails, but it should be perfectly possible to contrive such a thing by means of sensors and microprocessors that will measure the temperature of the water actually in the machine, and not simply admit an arbitrary amount from each source.

    Back in the late 1950s my parents’ sloping front Hoover Keymatic managed the job perfectly. If there was not enough hot water it simply got cracking and heated up whatever water it had in its drum, turning occasionally to ensure that the temperature was even. It never “stalled” – not did the two Keymatics that I subsequently bought and used when I got married and only reluctantly replaced with a more “modern” machine when they were no longer made.

    I did think about the holding tank space problem and dismissed it. As you say in various postings, the amount of water involved is only about a bowlful and there is plenty of spare space in the average machine – near the floor there is a volume that is more than sufficient. Bear in mind that the holding tank does not need to be any special shape, providing the water therein is circulated by a special pump; the cooling systems on cars are far more convoluted but they seem to keep their coolant at a constant temperature.

    Your comment about the commercial aspects of manufacturers’ production is certainly very sensible. However, many local authorities are now giving substantial grants to assist in the installation of solar water heating and this, along with the ever-increasing “green” lobbying, will surely mean that there will be many more solar systems installed and many more people wanting to use their “free” hot water! A wonderful opportunity for a go-ahead manufacturer.

  17. Oh, and thank you for the note about LG. Unfortunately they only have a brochure download facility for one of their models – the direct drive washer – the steam washer and the washer/dryer have no further information available.

  18. After much to-ing and fro-ing with LG’s help-desk, they have finally admitted to me that they no longer make washer-dryers or dishwashers – so the question of what fill they used to use is academic.

  19. Richard:

    All washing machines should behave the same as the sloping front Hoover Keymatic you mention from the 50s. Any program that fills with hot and cold water at the same time (which is most) would just to fill with cold and continue the programme if the hot water wasn’t available.

    When I said dual fill washing machines won’t work on some programmes if the hot supply is turned off I was referring to programs such as whites 90 degree washes (or the 60 degree wash on some models) where the washing machine fills with hot water only to give a kick start. These programmes would fail without a hot supply. However, it’s fair to say they should have been designed not to stall in such circumstances, which would be easy to do. The point is of course mute now because of the cold fill only situation.

  20. On a price comparison website I found, there was a listing of hot fill washing machines and the sites suggested that Electrolux still made them. The Electrolux site has no information so I emailed them a couple of days ago.

    They have not yet replied.

  21. Please let us know if they do reply Richard or if you find any others. I just reviewed an Electrolux washing machine Electrolux EWN 14991 W Time Manager washing machine review and it was cold fill.

    I don’t know about any other models but I would be surprised if they do make a hot fill washer. I can’t imagine anyone making both as it would severely affect the economy of scale, which is paramount to keeping prices down these days.

  22. Actually my memory served me false! It was hotpoint that they suggested made hot fill machines and it is Hotpoint who’ve not answered me. Sorry Electrolux!

  23. Hotpoint washing machines (bizarrely) still have a hot valve but they are cold fill. They come with a y-piece that you need to use to connect both hoses to the cold supply. I am assuming it’s a temporary make do and mend situation while they redesign them properly or something. It doesn’t make a lot of obvious sense.

  24. I agree. It would actually cause all sorts of problems since, typically, the cold supply is at a higher pressure than the hot and the cold would thus tend to simply run up into the hot system and eventually into the cistern.

    I have no contacts in this field but I would suggest that it would be very easy to devise an after-market mixing device that would take water from both supplies (starting with the hot) into a small catchment tank and adjust the mix until it was at the temperature required for the wash. If there was insufficient hot water available then it would get the mix to the hottest it could and then admit it into the standard cold-fill connection, where it would be heated to temperature in the usual way.

    Of course, there would need to be some kind of system to decide what temperature is needed and when, and at the simplest this could simply be a control that the operator used according to what was needed. At its most complex it could be a micro-processor that would adjust the temperature of successive fills to meet the differing demands of each cycle. I would imagine that these will be similar for different machines, although they will differ according to the programme selected. But such information is readily available, and, I feel quite sure, is these days stored on the machine’s micro-chip, a duplicate of which could readily be used to control the mixer unit.

    It does seem ironic that the needs of those who have solar water heating – an increasing number – are not considered as a potential market by a normally responsive industry..

  25. Like a growing band of truly green consumers I have a solar panel to heat my hot water. Even in February on a sunny day the tank can reach 60C.

    So we have lots of FREE hot water created without burning CO2 at the power station.

    Therefore it is essential we have a washing machine that can use the solar heated water:

    1) It should have a setting to tell it there is solar heating.
    2) It should fill until the temperature is at least 30C and pump out the initial cold water in the pipes.
    3) Then it can mix hot and cold to get the correct temperature.

    Its not rocket science, I am a software developer with a degree in electronics and I know that a solar friendly washing machine can be created. Give me a job and I’ll design it for you!

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