Part 4 of my in depth look at what all the different ratings on washing machine eco labels mean (Links to the other parts at the bottom of this article). This article covers the last three sections on the labels, spin drying performance, water consumption & Noise levels.
Spin drying performance
Again this is an unhelpful rating from A – G without any perspective because it doesn’t say how much more or less water is extracted, only that one gets “more”, which may or may not be worth bothering about. To get the top spin efficiency rating most washing machines need to spin at 1600, however, cheap budget washing machines in my opinion shouldn’t be spinning so fast because they don’t have the quality of parts needed to cope. The suspension, the out of balance prevention software, the strength of the casing and durability of all moving parts needs to be of good quality to stand up to such high speeds. Therefore buying a cheap budget washing machine with an A spin efficiency rating could mean getting one that’s noisy, bounces around and just doesn’t last very long. You’d have been far better off buying a B rated washing machine of higher build quality and reliability.
I’ve never been convinced about the need for so many different spin speeds, and the real difference between neighbouring spin speeds is often pretty insignificant as described and shown in these links – Are washing machine spin speeds a con? | Washing machine spin speed efficiency figures and drying costs (looking at the difference in energy costs when tumble drying laundry spun at different spin speeds).
Capacity (cotton) kg Water consumption
This is a more direct figure. It shows the exact amount of water used by the washing machine during (presumably the 60 degree cottons wash). You can clearly compare the amount of water used. However, just because a washing machine uses less water it doesn’t mean it’s a better buy. What if it cut down the water usage to get a "healthy" figure but it doesn’t rinse very well as a result?
Rinse efficiency doesn’t appear to be tested, only wash efficiency. Which? – washing machine reviews constantly point out that most modern washing machines are either "poor" or "very poor" at rinsing I can only assume it's a consequence of cutting back drastically on the amount of water used. If rinse efficiency is part of the washing performance test then Which? tests are at odds with the results because Which? don’t think modern washing machines rinse well at all (Why can’t modern washing machines rinse properly?)
At the end of the day if water usage is of paramount importance to you then you can use this figure to compare the amount of water used. Don’t forget to compare like with like: An 8Kg capacity washer may use more water than a 6Kg machine but still be much more efficient because it’s washing more laundry.
Noise – Washing & Spinning
This part of the label is very useful, but it’s not compulsory so many washing machine ECO labels are blank here although hopefully that’s changing. If it is blank though, the chances are the manufacturer isn’t particularly proud of how quiet their washing machine is.
The problem with these figures is the same as the problem with the A to G ratings. You can see that one washing machine is quieter than another because it has a lower decibel rating, but unless you know what the difference between 75 decibels and 73 decibels you can’t make a proper judgement. You can be certain that the 73 decibel washing machine is "quieter" but not how much quieter. You can’t even know if the difference is discernible to you in any way that would cause you to find the 75 one unacceptable.
Another consideration is that these washing machines are tested in laboratory conditions. I don’t know if they have laundry in when they test (If you do please let me know). I know that by my logic they should have wet laundry in because the laundry makes a big difference to the noise level. Two different washing machines could sound the same on full spin without laundry, but the second could become much noisier when wet laundry is added to them both because it has a flimsier cabinet, a back panel that rattles, suspension that's not very quiet or efficient at smoothing out the tub movement etc. etc.
At the end of the day, a high quality well built washing machine is going to be much quieter than a cheaply built one. (Washerhelp forum conversation discussing decibels and washing machines)
Finally, regardless of its decibel rating the noise level of a washing machine will vary considerably according to the environment it is installed into.
Related articles –
- Part 1: What do the energy labels on washing machines mean? Energy Efficiency Ratings
- Part 2: Energy Labels: Energy consumption kWh/Cycle
- Part 3: Washing performance ratings on eco labels
- Eco-labels suggestion
- How designing for eco labels can be misleading
- Do we really need to dump our old inefficient appliances to save money and the world?