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Why are today's automatics so much slower than twin tub washing machines?

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johncrossley

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People who remember twin tubs will be aware that the wash cycles only used to last a few minutes. OK, you had to transfer the clothes from the washing tub to the spinning tub. Automatics don't have that hassle. But automatic washing programmes seem to be getting longer and longer. Yes, you can use the quick wash facility, but that often leads to worse cleaning results. I don't remember complaints about twin tub washing results even though the clothes were only being washed for a few minutes.
 
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Baxenden Bank

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I cannot comment on twin tubs, but I have owned three washing machines.

The first had both a hot and cold feed and was quite quick at washing - I can't remember the exact details (probably about 30-45 minutes) but I remember often doing a wash (and hanging it to dry indoors) before setting off for a short break holiday.
The second only had a cold feed. The wash time was substantially longer (90-120 minutes) so I wasn't able to do the pre-holiday thing and I wasn't at all impressed with it's performance either - it didn't seem to put enough water in to slosh things about.
I bought my third machine recently so I have my comparison of models to hand. Across 11 models from 3 brands, the official washing cycle times for a 40 degree wash range from 105 to 314 minutes. In practice the model I bought (Bosch) does a wash and spin in 60 minutes rather than the stated 225 minutes. It clams to do a quick wash in 15 minutes but I haven't tried it. As an aside, it puts plenty of water in to slosh things around and it hardly moves even on a 1,400 rpm spin.
 

johncrossley

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Twin tubs are still popular in India (known as semi-automatic washing machines). This video from Ariel India shows the maximum wash cycle to be 15 minutes, with a maximum of 5 minutes for the spin drying:

 

Peter Sarf

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As I understand it the longer time the clothes spend in soapy water the cleaner they generally get. That is why Automatics have got slower over the past decade or so. In tests machines that produced the best results tended to be slower. It might also be that a slower wash is imperative if washing at the lower temperatures recommended these days. Since the machine is automatic one can go away and leave the machine to do its thing so taking longer does not waste the operators time. Apparently slower machines make more use of the water that was heated up so more ecological. But I find that a bit of a convoluted argument.
 

johncrossley

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Since the machine is automatic one can go away and leave the machine to do its thing so taking longer does not waste the operators time.

That is mostly the case, but not always. Sometimes people want to wash something urgently.
 

mikeg

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Two words:. Energy efficiency.

My washing machine has an eco cycle that delivers better performance than the other, but also takes three times as long and consumes half the electricity. I believe it doesn't heat the water straight away and also uses less water, for longer.

Generally to get the same performance with a shorter cycle you need more water. Which also has to be heated, so a double whammy in terms of cost as if you use twice the water you'll use nearly twice the energy heating it. I grant you the motor may use a little more on eco mode, but the lion's share of a washer's energy consumption is accounted for by the heating element.
 

johncrossley

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Why does a brand new washing machine in the launderette only take about 25 minutes to do a wash?
 

RuralRambler

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My wife was moaning about this a few months ago. I'd "treated" her to a new washing machine and she was saying all the cycles take so much longer. She was saying some kind of wash that is the most common used to take an hour or so, and now takes close to 3 hours. She did some research, and yes, it's all about the energy efficiency apparently.

Her old one used to take in hot water (straight from our tank) - that water wouldn't have been used otherwise (we don't have baths in the morning!), so there was no need for the old washer to heat up the water. Now, the new one only takes in cold, so it has to heat it, using power, whilst at the same time, we have a tank of hot water which isn't used.

Seems the new washing machines assume everyone has instant hot water boilers.

Looks to be a case of 2 steps forward, one step back. Such a shame the newer models don't have quicker cycles you can choose where you can accept lower energy efficiency, i.e. to give the customer a choice. (No, it doesn't, she's contacted the customer service dept to ask for alternative cycles that do the same job more quickly and told "no").


Why does a brand new washing machine in the launderette only take about 25 minutes to do a wash?
Will probably be fed by a hot water system (makes sense to have some kind of boiler or tank which feeds multiple washing machines) or won't be as energy efficient, i.e. each will have higher powered heaters within them.
 

mikeg

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Launderette Washing machines typically require more power than is available through a 13A socket. When I was in halls the ones our halls had ran on three phase presumably with the elements between phases. Wouldn't be surprised if they reached temperature pretty much instantly.
And yes probably less energy and water efficient but a launderette would likely take that in return for increased patronage.
The driers actually ran on gas with electric being used only for the motor
 

JamesT

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My wife was moaning about this a few months ago. I'd "treated" her to a new washing machine and she was saying all the cycles take so much longer. She was saying some kind of wash that is the most common used to take an hour or so, and now takes close to 3 hours. She did some research, and yes, it's all about the energy efficiency apparently.

Her old one used to take in hot water (straight from our tank) - that water wouldn't have been used otherwise (we don't have baths in the morning!), so there was no need for the old washer to heat up the water. Now, the new one only takes in cold, so it has to heat it, using power, whilst at the same time, we have a tank of hot water which isn't used.

Seems the new washing machines assume everyone has instant hot water boilers.

Looks to be a case of 2 steps forward, one step back. Such a shame the newer models don't have quicker cycles you can choose where you can accept lower energy efficiency, i.e. to give the customer a choice. (No, it doesn't, she's contacted the customer service dept to ask for alternative cycles that do the same job more quickly and told "no").

I think Combi boilers are increasingly popular, so many people won't have a tank to run off so the washing machine may as well heat its own water. The washing machine doing it also presumably allows for better control, rather than getting cold water at the start from the pipes then having to cool down the supplied hot water to the correct temperature.

I bought a LG washing machine about 2 years ago and it does seem to have a reasonable selection of different programmes. There's one labelled "Speed 14" which as per the name will wash a small load in 14 minutes. It can also load additional programmes through an app, at least of which appear to be quick. Though some washes do take ages, the hygiene wash I do towels on takes over 3 hours, but I'll usually set that one in the evening with a delay so it finishes in the morning ready to hang up.
 

HSTEd

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I think Combi boilers are increasingly popular, so many people won't have a tank to run off so the washing machine may as well heat its own water.

Surely, if anything, a combi would be better than a tank.

A combi boiler can provide hot water on demand and ultimately will heat the water with gas firing rather than electricity, which is cheaper.

I expect the real reason is that hot water filling requires extra pipework and equipment in the washing machine and was thus value engineered away to reduce the up front list price of the washing machine.
 

WesternLancer

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Surely, if anything, a combi would be better than a tank.

A combi boiler can provide hot water on demand and ultimately will heat the water with gas firing rather than electricity, which is cheaper.

I expect the real reason is that hot water filling requires extra pipework and equipment in the washing machine and was thus value engineered away to reduce the up front list price of the washing machine.
I think the delay in hot water to the point of consumption (due to combi firing up time and length of pipes to the machine) might make this less than ideal.

A relative urged us to consider getting a Miele washing machine after he had got one and been very pleased with it, despite the premium price. We got one 23 years ago. It's worked perfectly for that whole period ("The quality remains long after the price is forgotten" has certainly applied in this case). I noted that even then Miele washing machines were cold fill only, and I doubt they are primarily driven by value engineering things out - however, that is an interesting point that you make.
 

swt_passenger

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I‘m fairly sure my old dual feed machine was far enough from my hot cylinder that it was nearly full on the contents of the pipes. So I expect it had to heat the initial fill water anyway, even at lowest temperatures, but anything at the highest end of the range would need bringing up another 60 deg or so. But the latest machines apparently uses even less water as well..
 

pdq

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Hot/cold fill machines are still available: eg https://www.ebac.com/washing-machines/our-range/ As mentioned above, these are only really useful if the machine is right next to the hot water tank.
This video https://www.ebac.com/wm-which/ is quite interesting as well - Ebac reckon that most machines take ages because they are designed to remove severe stains that most of the time are not present - in order to get a Which best buy. Obviously a bit of salesmanship going on, but I see the point he's making.
 
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LWB

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A relative urged us to consider getting a Miele washing machine after he had got one and been very pleased with it, despite the premium price. We got one 23 years ago. It's worked perfectly for that whole period ("The quality remains long after the price is forgotten" has certainly applied in this case). I noted that even then Miele washing machines were cold fill only, and I doubt they are primarily driven by value engineering things out - however, that is an interesting point that you make.
My next door neighbour was a CPO on a Trident sub. He told me Miele were the only make the Navy would consider in such applications.
 

WesternLancer

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My next door neighbour was a CPO on a Trident sub. He told me Miele were the only make the Navy would consider in such applications.
I'm assuming they require the washing machines to outlive the sub? :lol: or at least want to minimize service call outs....
 

DelayRepay

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This video https://www.ebac.com/wm-which/ is quite interesting as well - Ebac reckon that most machines take ages because they are designed to remove severe stains that most of the time are not present - in order to get a Which best buy. Obviously a bit of salesmanship going on, but I see the point he's making.

I think this is a good point. My machine takes 2.5 hours for a standard wash (and there are various buttons such as 'stain removal', 'intensive' and 'extra rinse' that extend that further!)

I also have a 'quick' button which reduces the standard wash to about 45 minutes. It doesn't change the temperature, it just doesn't cycle as long. It works fine for day to day washing. I only use the longer cycle if something is particularly dirty.

I think your choice of detergent makes a bigger difference than the machine cycle - and this is probably the only product where I think branded ones are better than supermarket own brands.
 

PeterC

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Mine has a 30 minute "quick wash" but that is recommended only for half loads. As a full load is 2 or 3 hours tht is still an advantage in time and electricity although must add a penny or so to my metered water bill

I usually use the quick wash for shirts and the full wash for socks and underwear.
 

WesternLancer

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Increasingly that is the case.
or as I call them 'no hot water at all when boiler broken' systems (due to absence of a tank and the ability to supplement supply with an immersion heater). :lol:
 

gswindale

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Not old enough to remember twin tub machines, however my issue with modern appliances is why does my washing machine's 1:21 cycle take longer than the dishwasher's 1:30 cycle?

We moved into our current house about 6 years ago and pretty much the first thing we did was to replace the old warm air heating system with radiators etc which needed a new boiler. Due to the size of the house, our plumber recommended a traditional boiler and hot water tank setup rather than a combi boiler like he had installed in our previous (somewhat smaller) house
 

Trackman

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Mine has a 30 minute "quick wash" but that is recommended only for half loads. As a full load is 2 or 3 hours tht is still an advantage in time and electricity although must add a penny or so to my metered water bill

I usually use the quick wash for shirts and the full wash for socks and underwear.
I use quick wash all the time (30mins) or sometimes for dirty clothes use the acrylics setting (set at 30c) which is 60mins, then I would put two of those gel packs in. Higher the temp, the longer the time I've found.

I remember twin tubs and indeed a twin tub style washer and a stand alone separate little spin drier upright thing.
Only operated one once but I knew how it worked by hooking up water plugs to the sink taps, and there was a separate setting and pipe to drain off the used water off.
This occurred a very long time ago as my friend was drunk (they deny!) and spilt a 2L PET bottle of beer over a rug at a relatives house I was looking after whilst they were on holiday.
It came up a treat!
There is no way on earth you could get that rug into a modern washing machine these days, and if you did it wouldn't look the same afterwards.
 

dgl

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Launderette Washing machines typically require more power than is available through a 13A socket. When I was in halls the ones our halls had ran on three phase presumably with the elements between phases. Wouldn't be surprised if they reached temperature pretty much instantly.
And yes probably less energy and water efficient but a launderette would likely take that in return for increased patronage.
The driers actually ran on gas with electric being used only for the motor
Depends on the machine vis-à-vis laundrette machines.
At work our main/guest laundrette uses machines that take a hot and cold fill and a hot wash with pre wash takes about 35mins, on the other hand our (housekeeping) machines are cold fill only and take about the same time to do a fast hot wash, noting that they use up to 7kW. Noting also that the machines are of the same type, just ours have no coin slot and can be programmed.
Dryers run on propane, either from bottles for our machines or from the bulk supply in the main laundrette.

As for home machines, the time taken to heat the water is indeed why machines can take longer but I understand that's a better way of doing things in some respects.

Our Haier Hatrium has a 1hr fast 40 degree wash for a 50% load (although that's only at 1200rpm spin, though you can put it up to the maximum 1400rpm but it takes 3 mins more) and changing the spin or temperature to lower settings shortens it further. The standard cotton wash does take a while but given it's a 9Kg machine that's not really an issue. What I do really like is the lack of a thermal door lock, as it means you can stop the machine (at least early on in the program) and the door can be opened nearly immediately.
I will say for what is a Chinese designed (I would assume) and built machine the quality is excellent and as it has a direct drive motor is unfathomably quiet.
 
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