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New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-08-2006, 11:19 PM   #1
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New Groovy Washing Machine

Unpaid advertisement follows.

We bought a new washer recently and I think I'm going to start a fan club for it.

Background: We paid $600 four years ago for a Kenmore front loader (the same model is available as a Frigidaire, GE, and I think Mattel). It got a good write up from Consumer Reports, it saved water, etc. It worked fine for 4 years, then started to spew grease on our laundry--then it died. I went online to find out how to fix it and found a huge number of other dissatisfied customers. The seal over the main drm bearing starts to leak after about 4 years, soapy water gets into the bearing and it destroys itself. The bearing can be removed from the drum only with great difficulty, and the drum can be removed from the chassis only with great difficulty. Plus, on most machines the (aluminum) spider bracket that suspends the drum is in an advanced state of corrosion by 4 years. Bottom line: The machie wasn't designed well. and was not designed to be repaired.
Resigned to buying a new washer, I researched all the efficient ones-some had huge mold issues, some leaked through te door gasket, oters habitually ingested small socks into te pump, dstroying the machine or resulting in big leaks (not good for floors, per the "Wood Flor" thread).

While doing more research I found a machie made by the "Staber" company in Ohio. (http://www.staber.com). It's a small comapy and I think this is all they make. The drum spins like a front loader, but the clothes load in through the top (through a hatch in the drum). There's a lot smart about this--the drum is suspended by bearings on both ends (very good), and there's no potential for the door seal to leak, since the door is above the water. All the controls are simpe mechanical units, not a proprietary membrane switch monstrosity. Also, everything that might need to be replaced someday (motor, control board, belt, pump) is accessable from the front of the machine. It's easy to repair, and the company encourages folks to do their own repairs. It uses less water and electricity than almost any other regular-sized washer out there (it's popular with folks generating their own power).

Anyway, the machine was about $1200, which is more than I would normally have paid for a washer. I'll save some bucks on water heating and detergent, but mostly I like having an appliance that is not designed to be disposable. And, it gets the clothes clean.

Oh, the things that are the focus of my passion these days . . .

samclem
(who is not in any way affiliated with the Staber Corporation)



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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-08-2006, 11:34 PM   #2
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Sam,

I read about this machine a few years ago and had forgotten the name.

We will be needing a new one this year after our move to Florida and will keep it in mind.

Thanks for posting the info.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 09:29 AM   #3
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Interesting on two fronts...regarding the washer and because I have one of those kenmore front loaders thats about 5 years old, and so far no problems with it. I had it on its back last year to pull off the pump and make sure no junk was caught in it and it looked pretty easy to fix to me, although I didnt look at the bearings and suspension. One motor, one pump, two control boards, couple of hoses, a valve and a belt.

Shoot, and best buy was clearancing the 3.5cuft frigidaires a few days ago for $499 and my local bestbuy had a couple in stock...but I decided the old kenmore had at least a few more years left in it.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Sam,
Staber is pretty popular with folks living off the grid, because it draws small amount of current and the company can supply you a version which will work fine on a modified sine wave inverters.
The ability to fix is yourself is good, but some people complained about Staber customer service lately.
I looked into Staber before, and my next washer will be a front loader, but the current one doesn't want to die.


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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 10:01 AM   #5
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

I want a washer that will dry the clothes when finished- I always forget to move the soggy cloths over to the dryer...
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 10:03 AM   #6
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Very interesting....

but I saw one like this when I visited the Ukraine... it was a smaller model, but the exact same design... probably a whole lot cheaper also.

And the machine is a lot more expensive than the one I have... and I would not get the savings they talk about as I am lucky to do 8 loads a month so I do not see an advantage to pay up... but if I had a big family maybe so.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 10:05 AM   #7
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshac
I want a washer that will dry the clothes when finished- I always forget to move the soggy cloths over to the dryer...
I had that when in London!! It was great... put them in and just remove dried clothes!!
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 10:07 AM   #8
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

What's wrong with the old top loader circular tub-style washers ?

Are the new ones that much better or is it just the latest gotta have thing ?
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 10:33 AM   #9
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Anyway, the machine was about $1200, which is more than I would normally have paid for a washer.* I'll save some bucks on water heating and detergent, but mostly I like having an appliance that is not designed to be disposable.* *And, it gets the clothes clean.
I hear ya on the price, but I wonder what the payback works out to.

Did Staber give you any info on Energy Star ratings, KWHr per year, or gallons of water per load?

Anything that needs replacement or a service call over the years?
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 10:46 AM   #10
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster
What's wrong with the old top loader circular tub-style washers ?

Are the new ones that much better or is it just the latest gotta have thing ?
They're that much better, but it depends on how much you wash and how much utilities cost in your area.

My dad does two loads a week, and his town provides their own water and power for cheap. Not really worth it for him.

We do about 15 loads a week, we pay through the nose for water and power. Plus a costco size bottle of laundry detergent and bleach last almost a year for us...you only have to put in a tablespoon of each or so when you're washing with a gallon of water rather than 5-10.

Far gentler on our clothes...much less fading and fabric rubbing. basically unless I rip or stain something, they'll last forever. I still have some nice polo shirts that are 10-12 years old that look like new.

I can wash any item, no matter how delicate. If it can be hand washed successfully, the front loader on delicate will do an equally good and gentle job.

Problems some people have are overpriced, underreliable machines like the maytag neptunes..."mildew" smells from the washer as its a sealed system unlike a top loader that has an air gap around the hatch, but you can solve that by making your last load whites with bleach or by leaving the door open an inch.

Technically, because it has less moving parts and a more natural horizontal rotation, all other things being equal as far as material and manufacturing quality, a front loader should last longer than a top loader.

Justin - there are a number of washer/dryer combo's that do what you want. Not cheap, but decent compared to a washer/dryer combo. LG and Bosch make them. They wash and then use what is essentially a dehumidification process to remove the water.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 11:44 AM   #11
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I hear ya on the price, but I wonder what the payback works out to.

Did Staber give you any info on Energy Star ratings, KWHr per year, or gallons of water per load?

Anything that needs replacement or a service call over the years?
Well, the payback numbers would be all over the place based on the ingoing parameters. Here's a chart from the Staber site.
****************************
Agitator Washer Staber Washer

Initial Price $550 $1,199
Cost to Use
First 3 Years* $1,473 $543
Price After
3rd Year $2,023 >$1,742<
*Based on average of 8 loads per week with average utility rates, detergent costs, and average maintenance compared to a traditional top load agitator washer. Different numbers can be shown based on your rates and usage.
*****************************
I'm too lazy to crunch the numbers, but these costs seem high to me (I'd like to see the underlying costs they used. Maybe if you wash your clothes in Perrier water that you heat by burning $20 bills . . .) Still there's no doubt that the machine is very efficient. I'm lookign at the Energy Star tag: this model uses 180 kWh/year (there's apparently a model that uses 177 kWh/yr, but I don't know what kind of machine that is). The most energy hungry washer in this categry clocks in at 1298 kWh/yr. Based on 8 loads/wk and an electric rate of 8.03 cents per kWh (wow--anybody still only paying that much?), Uncle Sam says this machie would cost 13 dollars per year in energy if you heat water with electricity. So, compared to the most energy inefficient model, the machine woud save you about 70 bucks per year. Using real electric rates: probably a hundred bucks. A quick look at some web sites indicates indicates average top-loading washers use up to 40 gallons per load, and the Staber uses 16.5 gallons of water per load, which will save a bit for most of us if we're on city water or city sewer. Easier on septic systems, etc. It also uses only 2 oz of detergent per load, about 1/3rd the normal amount of a top loader.

Anyway, I suppose I'll be even in about 5 years compared to a top loader, after that it's money in the bank!!

No regular replacement items mentioned. In the past the machines had bearing to be lubed every year, but they've gone to sealed ones now. . .

MasterBaster,
The top loaders work as well as they ever did. But, the tumbling action of a front loader or Staber is a lot easier on clothes than an agitator (which twists 'em and tugs them under). Toploaders use a lot more water, energy, detergent.

CFB,
My Kenmore model that died was the one with the smalll-size door on the front, with all the controls just above the door (no top console at the back). They still sell them. Frigidaire and GE, too. I guess they'll probably make nice reefs.

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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 11:48 AM   #12
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Mine is the one with the controls on a top console at the back. Small crappy door. I think they're the same.

I forgot about the septic benefit...since we're on septic, if I had a top loader I could only do one, maybe two washes in a day. If I did 5-6 in a row like I do now, it'd overload the system. Plus the dramatically lower soap and bleach usage has a much lower impact on the system.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 11:53 AM   #13
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute n' Fuzzy Bunny

Technically, because it has less moving parts and a more natural horizontal rotation, all other things being equal as far as material and manufacturing quality, a front loader should last longer than a top loader.
Hi,

I got the Kenmore too. When I had it delivered 2 years ago the guy told me to put a drop of oil on the main bearing once a year.

I've looked at the manual but haven't gotten the gumption up to try it. Looks like pain in the a#* and a lot of disassembly to get there. Besides why wouldn't it be a sealed lifetime bearing anyway?

Anyone do it or think it's worth the effort?
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:01 PM   #14
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

At this point unless you know what you're doing, I probably wouldnt bother..you might do more damage than good. If the thing throws a rod now, i've gotten 5 years out of it of pretty heavy use, and its been moved twice. Heavy sucker btw.

I do know that sears will ALWAYS sell you an extended maintenance warranty at any time, so buy a 5 year one and then dont worry about it. Or just get a new one when that one croaks and call it even.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:22 PM   #15
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Well If you believe that tumbler washers do a better job of washing and use less detergent then maybe it's worth it to you. However I suspect that some of you here are seduced by the sleekness of the new models. If you choose to spend your money on appliances then more power to you.

Personally my last washer was a mid-grade Whirlpool agitator (circluar tub) super capacity washer with all the options that I bought two years ago.

I got it from my favorite volume appliance store. The cost including sales taxes delivery/setup and old unit haul away was $272.

My personal opinion is that the savings in interest/opportunity cost over a $1200 unit will pay for all the soap and water that I will ever need with lots of money left over. The washer works just fine and the clothes come out just fine. For what it's worth I also have polo shirts that are 10-12 years old that look new.

These type units seem to last around 10 years. When it goes I'll just replace it with a similar unit.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:24 PM   #16
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

CFB,
Yep, figured out the Sears service plan thang. For $200 (after the machine was already broken) they gauranteed they'd fix the machine or, if it couldn't be fixed for $500 in parts/labor, they'd give me $500 in credit toward another washer. I knew it couldn't be fixed for $500, so I was basically buying a $500 coupon for $200. It was supposed to be used only toward a washer, but after some animated conversation with the appliance dept manager they gave us credit toward a stove. (My wife says I threatened to return the old washer right to the front door of the store one night, and that they'd know it was mine because it would be on fire. I don't think I said that).

Anyway, the $300 credit took a lot of the sting out of the early demise of the washer, and it was totally legit. I thought there was a time limit on how old the machine could be.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:32 PM   #17
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

The only hole in that logic is that you can get a pretty good front loader for under $600 with good frequency.

No seduction here at all. My clothes started looking like crap at about 4-5 years when I used a top loader. Now they dont. Same quality stuff. The savings in clothing lasting longer and in low soap usage makes the payback for me.

However, fair warning that this is another one of those stocks/fixed income, mortgage no mortgage, apple/microsoft reciprocated diatribe deals. In fact, i've seen the washing machine one get pretty unpleasant.

With that in mind, if you're happy with what you're doing, keep doing it. If you have an open mind, heres some new data. if you want to convince me that what i'm having success doing is frivolous or wrong, good luck with that.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:35 PM   #18
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute n' Fuzzy Bunny
However, fair warning that this is another one of those stocks/fixed income, mortgage no mortgage, apple/microsoft reciprocated diatribe deals.
You left out less filling/tastes great...

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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:36 PM   #19
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Intentionally. I wanted to see you twist in the wind.
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine
Old 03-09-2006, 12:44 PM   #20
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Re: New Groovy Washing Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Well, the payback numbers would be all over the place based on the ingoing parameters.* Here's a chart from the Staber site.*
Thanks for putting up with that idle question, Sam. *Looks like they're claiming a payback within five years. *But eight loads a week?!? *Great Caesar's ghost!!

Let's put some Nords numbers on this situation.

The last price we paid for our used Whirlpool washing machine was $100. *Maintenance costs would be zero since it'd be cheaper to buy another used machine. *I'll conservatively estimate that we replace the machine every five years for $20/year. *And if we spent $200 for a washing machine then I'd make it last 10 years anyhow.

Thanks to my Kill-a-Watt Christmas present I know that the Whirlpool uses 0.26 KWHr/load. *We'll assume HECO's number of 16 cents/KWHr, although I suspect that 17 is a better number, for 4.16 cents/load.

We wash the laundry in cold water. *I have no idea on the water usage so let's go with the 40 gallons/load number. *The water company charges $1.77 per 1000 gallons to deliver it and another $1.31 per 1000 gallons to take it away, so that's $3.08 per 1000 gallons or 12.32 cents per load.

I have no idea how many loads we get out of a box of detergent but we seem to buy a couple boxes a year. *Let's say we spend $25/year on detergent unless someone comes up with a better number. *No bleach. *No fabric softener or even dryer sheets.

One load of tae kwon do laundry every week, one load of kid laundry, and one load of grownups laundry. *(Either me or spouse. *This is Hawaii!) *Let's go hog-wild and claim that we do 200 loads per year, although I bet a more precise number is 175.

$20/year + 200 loads/year x (12.32 + 4.16 cents/load) + $25/year = $77.96/year.

If we can get that Staber at $1200 (although I suspect we'll be paying for Hawaii delivery) then we'd have to keep it for 1200/77.96 = 15.4 years. *

Even jacking up our current costs by nearly 30% to swag $100/year barely reduces the payback to 12 years. *And we haven't turned on the Staber yet, which is presumably another 180 KWHr/year at $28.80/year. *

And all of this number-crunching ignores the opportunity cost of having to plunk down nearly $1000 extra up front, thereby foregoing the 6%/year after-tax return of investing the money in a small-cap value ETF. *$60/year is a big driver in this scenario.

Bummer. *I like cool technology, robust design, & environmental friendliness. *I just don't want to pay a gazillion bucks for the privilege.

But at least I have a new keyword to search on Craigslist while I'm looking for desperate fundraising relocating sellers.
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