The domestic appliance market is always evolving and awash with choice, but how much of it adds up to good looks, saved time and financial efficiency?
Here is what’s out there in new rangy cordless vacuums, low water intake machines and white goods so beautiful and clever, you will want to steer visitors straight to the kitchen.
Cordless- filling a vacuum
Addressing the noise level of vacuum cleaners, as well as the standard tripping point of the great domestic disrupter, cordless vacuums lighten up the profile, weight and hazards of conventional cleaning.
Flying free, while supported by lithium batteries, there’s a trade off between power and running time, a nuisance that relegated cordless brands to wall hung crumb-collectors through the ‘noughties.
Today manufacturers have not only breezed past one hour at a single charge, but there’s good news too for a multi-level house of 1200sq ft or more.
The Athlet cordless from Bosch, new for 2016, offers the performance of a 2400w lead-locked machine and 75 minutes or cleaning per charge.
This is something of a blow-hard claim as they admit the real figure is closer to 60 minutes on Power 1 — top- sucking mode.
An in-house customer rating gave the machine 4.7 out of five stars, highlighting its power, cleaning talents and agility.
However, as with all machines not featuring cyclonic technology, the drop-off in real pull is inevitable without keeping the collection bin clean.
The 79db sound performance is a purr (smaller motor, smaller voltage and most cordless are whisper quiet) and you can charge in any socket wherever you drop the machine, upstairs or down.
€199 on sale at Harvey Norman (€229, off sale).
James Dyson always returns to his primary feature — consistent suction power through radial cyclones, but the engineering of his machines and the detail committed to dirt collection is equally impressive.
Two of the latest cordless Dysons, the DC59 and DC44 Slim are super light from 2.3kg (Miele’s latest Dynamic U1 Cat&Dog Powerline described as an ‘upright tank’ weighs 10kg).
With the balance of the machine suspended in your fist, the aluminium pipes and head can be lifted overhead in one hand.
We love the hygienic, drop down empty function, the quick hand-held conversion, and the re-designed brush head, but the docking station may annoy those dealing with one-room living and precious wall space. From €289.98.
The running time, however, seems mean at 20 minutes even with six of those devoted to a boost function.
There are 8 Dyson cord free machines, priced to a breathtaking €669.98. www.dyson.ie
What’s up in laundry?
The present shelving of water charges does not mean low water consumption in dishwashers and washing machines can be smugly dismissed.
Less water means less water to heat, and therefore will save you money.
However, I was alarmed to hear from my appliance repair genius that low water and low temperatures can leave machines smelly and clothes covered in cheery bacteria without the occasional 60° blast.
Read real, long term performance reviews for your potential machine, as streaks of skin prickling powder and perceptible stickiness are reported for even high-end brands.
Not good for those with skin allergies.
Base your choice on half load performance, not the stats’ on a full machine —the latest Which report on low water washers has a Don’t Buy list full of machine using less than 9.8l per kilo of laundry.
The latest must have in high end machines is an ‘add as you wash’ facility big enough to take a forgotten jumper or pair of jeans — something previously only enjoyed in top-loaders.
The EcoBubble range from Samsung features AddWash, a hatch in the porthole, starting at €770 for a white A+++ 8kg machine and rising to €1,800 for a 12kg model.
These machines should include child locks to prevent naughty experiments.
The energy efficiency of small loads is always an issue — add a fast wash and you can double your run cost per kilo.
Miele have just introduced PowerWash 2.0 with spin/spray and steam technology to cut down heating energy by 40% for that one hour partial load.
These machines also include Miele’s new CapDosing capsule facility to treat certain materials with extra care.
These machines will appear in the coming month in the €1,200 plus division.
Do looks matter?
Shaking off the all white tombstone face, large appliances have never looked so good.
If your machines (washer/dryer/dishwasher) are staged in your kitchen, then find something you can stand to live with.
If you don’t want to build the cabinet around the piece and integrate, then take a look at the blue/black glass, super-sized portholes of some washing machines.
These cabochons not only look rather fascinating, they are easier to load and unload and hide the twisted dirty contents too — great if you don’t have a place off the kitchen to put your laundry machines away.
White, brushed stainless steel or black — the colour of your kitchen or utility room will dictate how present your choice of appliances will be, but graphite for example could add €2-€300 to the base price, with no change of features.
Gorenje do an orange 8kg washer for €580 for the colour determined — find them on appliancesdelivered.ie, and the Electrolux EN3487A0H, is one of the few scarlet reds available in a fridge freezer, €979. Harvey Norman.
Stay with one brand for uniformity in dials and door fronts.
Slant fronts are very now in dryers and washing machines, but aesthetics must tally with ease of use, running costs and value for your budget.
Over-sized fridge-freezers — fabulous, but it’s the layout of those interior cubic litres that should count first and foremost.
Some advances fall into extra bells and whistles not belt and braces upgrades.
Getting the buttons off the front face of a dishwasher, less fussy, but not everyone wants to plumb their instruction into the often grubby edge of a door.
Tired of cranking open the door to release steam before it condenses on the dishes?
Look for bump-open automation or try Whirlpool’s 6th Sense, 3D-AirFlow system.
This machine drains the steam and the latest models virtually scrape the dishes with PowerWash, delivering a clean and completely dry load (even plastic) in as little was one hour.
ADP900/IX, €699. Harvey Norman.
The decibel (dB) reading for appliances is posted on their details and on the energy label, but expectations vary.
Understand what’s really quiet in performance before you buy and consider where the machine is placed in terms of potential nuisance noise.
Surrounding materials in the floor and furnishings will ‘soak’ up resonating and airborne noise.
* A fridge runs at a perceptible hum in the low 40dBs — relative peace (conversation is about 60dB) but this does not take into account the occasional cracking noise of the linear compressor’s frost-free action.
Even softly, the compressor and motor are running 60% to 80% of the time. Keep cooling pieces away from relaxation areas.
* Vacuum noise is influenced by the size of the motor and the assemblage of the machine. In general, cylinders are quieter as the motor is on the floor which soaks noise and vibration.
A bagged, cylinder with a rating of 70dB or less is quiet enough to listen to the radio while you work, or go for remote quiet with a battery charged robotic cleaner from iRobot, Roomba, Dyson or Neato.
* A washing machine under 50dB is at a hush while running with the exception of raised dB and inevitable thrumming frequency heard at the height of the spin cycle.
For example a machine like the Hotpoint BHWM1292 (€499) shows a db of 42db, which rises to still respectable 65dB during spin.
A heavier quality cabinet weighted to the floor, level and not touching wall surfaces with good drum balance is more likely to offer a low db number.
* The pulse of a modern dishwasher is almost inaudible between 40dB 50dB, but again, the better the build quality and insulation to the carcass, the better the number.
AEG Proclean machines offer an Extra Silent program of a whispering 37dB, ideal if your machine is near your dining table or you have to run it at night.
A red beam of light under the machine signals when it’s on. Easier to get and cheaper, try Beko for 48-49dB choices.
€350 plus machines are more likely to settle below 50dB.
Domestic machines, including dishwashers, dryers and most especially clothes’ washers, come wrapped up with factory settings.
Plumbed in and brought to life, they default to economy washes, 40° temperatures and the tinny, nerve poking assurance of a task completed with an audible alarm.
My Bosch Exxcel 8 never gave up, and we organised evening loads around some rumpled, cursing family member stumping out of bed to still that staccato cry for validation in a three beat MEEP-MEEP-MEEP.
Now, I’m sorry for the more sentient readers out there with a modicum of practical good sense, but having recently cranked my brain to new life, I have to share this pearl.
That blasted sound is just a setting and it can be turned off.
I hear cries of joy ringing down from the Four Faced Liar, bouncing off the Opera House and skipping out across the rolling rock-prickled tapestry of our ancient land.
What? It goes OFF? The MEEP can be stilled?
The vigil is at an end?
Why yes, and all you have to do is tap the make of your machine in letters and numbers into the fabulous box of light using, say, a search engine like Google.
Ask that pressing question- “how do I turn off the audible alarm in my washer/dishwasher/dryer/microwave...... FFS”.
Generally the instruction will be something ludicrous on reading — like turning the wash dial to the right three times while holding down the emergency door release and singing New York, New York.
Don’t question the nerd in Berlin who figured it out, (or damn the one who created it in the first place), or the branded PDF explaining the many mysteries of the dratted object — just do it.
You’ll be feted as the hero of the household for months to come.