Dishwasher Buying Guide

With every good meal comes the inevitable cleanup. Luckily, appliance manufacturers design top-notch dishwashers to take the chore out of cleaning pots and pans. Now, let’s dive into our dishwasher buying guide!

If your dishwasher is in need of replacement, rest easy knowing that new dishwashers clean better and run quieter than those of the past. Ready to buy a new dishwasher? Roll up your sleeves and dive into our buying guide to determine the right dishwasher for your lifestyle.

In this dishwasher buying guide we will go over:

  • How to measure for a new refrigerator.
  • Pricing
  • Dishwasher Finishes & Options
  • How Dishwashers Work
  • Dishwasher Cycles
  • What is a dBA?
  • Features within a Dishwasher

How To Measure for a New Dishwasher

Take the following measurements when determining the size of dishwasher you need:

  • Height of space under the counter
  • Depth of space
  • Width of space between cabinets
  • Distance to nearest obstacle (to ensure space for opening the dishwasher fully and loading/unloading dishes)
  • Space under counter to floor

In general, dishwashers come in two width options: standard (24 inches) and compact (18 inches). Compact machines fit up to eight place settings and six serving pieces, whereas standard dishwashers clean 10 to 12 place settings and six serving pieces. 

Dishwasher drawers can be purchased as single drawers, and installed individually or side-by-side. Single drawers can be particularly useful for kitchens with limited space or in those that require handicap accessibility. Double dishwasher drawers can usually be installed into a standard 24-inch dishwasher opening without any plumbing, electrical or cabinet modifications. This configuration can be especially useful when a traditional dishwasher door interferes with a walkway or extends into a kitchen island when open. 

When a consumer wants a dishwasher but does not have the facilities for a built-in model, some manufacturers offer portable dishwasher models. Portable dishwashers plug into a standard 110-volt electric outlet and include a built-in fill hose connection that adapts to most kitchen faucets.

Dishwasher Price

Dishwasher prices range from under $550 for a basic model to roughly $1,700 for a model with all of the latest features, including a built-in water softener. Expect to pay more for dishwasher drawers or dishwashers with custom panels to make them blend in with the existing cabinetry.

Dishwasher Finish Options & Styles

Dishwasher Exterior Finishes

The most popular exterior finishes for dishwashers are black, white, stainless steel and black stainless steel. However, some manufacturers create more unique finish options. To learn more about finish options and choose the right one for your dishwasher, check out our Appliance Finishes Guide.

Dishwasher Interior Finishes

Most high-end dishwashers feature a stainless steel tub (interior), while many of the basic models feature a plastic tub. Stainless steel is less porous than plastic, and therefore less likely to absorb odors or stains. A stainless steel tub also helps dishes dry faster since it retains heat longer.

Control Panels

Many dishwashers feature electronic control panels on the front of the dishwasher door. However, an increasing number of dishwashers now offer hidden controls for a more seamless appearance. These controls are located on the top edge of the door, so you can’t see them when the door is closed. Some hidden control dishwashers offer small indicator lights on the front of the door to display how much time is remaining in a cycle. Other models shine small infrared beams on the floor or chime when the cycle is fully completed.

Handle Options

Dishwashers come with myriad handle options. While recessed and pocket handles offer convenience when it comes to cleaning, some consumers like bar handles, so they can hang a towel onto the dishwasher. Some panel-ready dishwashers come without a handle and include the option of push or knock to open. It ultimately comes down to the aesthetic and functionality you need in your kitchen. Take a look at the available handle options and talk to your salesperson about which is right for you.

How Dishwashers Work

The most common dishwasher cleaning configuration includes three separate spray arms, located at the bottom, middle and top of the machine. Some entry level models only have one or two spray arms.

Most dishwashers need a mechanism to dispose of any food that passes through the system. A few basic models feature soft-food disposers to eliminate small particles, but the majority of dishwashers utilize a hard food disposer. Typically, this disposer system features a blade that spins at several thousand RPM, pulverizing any food particles into easily disposable particulates. These particulates are then flushed out by a burst of hot, soapy water to prevent them from being re-deposited onto the dishes.

European-style models, such as BoschMiele and Electrolux, employ a slightly different approach to cleaning. These models use high wash temperatures (30-40 degrees more than comparable models) and increased water pressure. The increased water temperature and pressure offers a more effective wash cycle, able to cut through even the toughest baked-on grease. Due to the added heat and pressure of the European wash cycle, a hard food disposer is not required as food waste is emulsified into small particulates and washed away at the end of the cycle.

Dishwasher Cycles

Most dishwashers include a few standard wash cycles: normal, heavy and rinse & hold. Normal is the default cycle for everyday dish-washing needs. Heavy offers a longer wash time with higher temperatures – ideal for removing hard-soiled pans. Rinse & Hold is simply a short rinse designed for dirty dishes that will likely sit in the dishwasher a while prior to the wash cycle. 

Aside from the standard wash options, models offer several specialty cycles to enhance the performance and energy efficiency of the dishwasher, including the following:

Quick Wash: Handles lightly-soiled dishes at lower temperatures conserving time, water and electricity.

Half Load: Uses a fraction of the water and energy resources to efficiently clean a small load.

Auto Wash: Utilizes either a turbidity or pressure sensor to determine how dirty the wash water is throughout the wash cycle, then automatically shortens or lengthens the wash time accordingly for maximum cleaning results.

China/Crystal Care: Lowers water pressure and uses cooler temperatures for delicate cycles.

Sanitize Rinse: Based on NSF certification, the water reaches 160 degrees or higher for several minutes, providing a truly sanitizing environment for the dishes.

Steam Clean: Incorporates steam into the cycle for more cleaning power. Steam cycles can also be used for fragile loads.

What is dBA?

Depending on your home’s floor plan, you may be concerned with the noise level of your dishwasher. Dishwasher manufacturers use A-weighted decibels (dBA) ratings to measure how quiet (or not) a dishwasher is. DBA is an expression of the loudness of sounds as perceived by the human ear.

Dishwasher dBA ratings range from approximately 37 to 64. Here is a decibel scale for common sounds to help you interpret the noise level of a dishwasher.

Dishwasher Features

As technology changes, appliance manufacturers continue to find ways to streamline the cleaning and drying processes within dishwashers. The following features are just some examples of what today’s dishwashers can do. 

Smart Dishwashers

With a smart dishwasher, you can monitor cycles, use remote smart or even set notifications for when you need to buy or fill detergent and rinse aid. Many dishwasher manufacturers have phone apps, which connect to the appliance.

Anti-Leak Safety Feature

An important feature to look for when shopping for a new dishwasher is a safety drip pan. In case of an internal leak, water will be contained within the pan, shielding hardwood floors from damage. Many models feature sensors within the safety pan that, when activated, shut down the wash cycle of the dishwasher to prevent further damage.

Internal Water Softener

An internal water softener reduces fogging and etching to glassware. It also makes dish soap substantially more potent, resulting in better cleaning results. 

Automatic Detergent Dispenser

Load and go! Some dishwashers allow you to fill a reservoir with detergent, which is dispensed automatically depending on load size. Never guess how much detergent is needed again!

Drying

Many models include a heating element for drying, while others use a fan-assisted dry or simply air dry. Bosch dishwashers use a new solution to ensure perfectly dry dishes – a mineral called zeolite, which naturally absorbs moisture and emits heat. 

Dishwasher Racks

The majority of dishwasher racks are now constructed of metal and coated with nylon. The nylon-coated design is most durable against chipping, scratching and peeling. In some upgraded models, an extra coat of nylon is applied to the rack tine tips to minimize wear and tear. Vinyl-coated racks, though commonly used in the past, are now found only in the most basic of dishwasher models

Consider the types of dishes you use most. Do you need tines that fold down to fit pots and pans? Or bottle jets? Dishwashers come with adjustable rack configurations, and many manufacturers now include third racks in their dishwashers, which are great for silverware, cooking utensils, measuring spoons and other small items that don’t quite fit in the regular racks. 

When dishwasher shopping, talk to your appliance specialist to figure out what dishwasher features are right for your household.

We hope you have found this dishwasher buying guide to be useful and informative, and we appreciate the time you took to read through it. If you have questions that were not answered by this guide, please feel free to contact us.

Additional Buying Guides

Refrigerator Buying Guide

From built-in to freestanding, and French-door to side-by-side, we’ll help you find the best refrigerator for your home and lifestyle with this refrigerator buying guide.

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<ul><li>How to measure for a new refrigerator.</li><li>Types of Refrigerators</li><li>Refrigerator Price</li><li>Ice Makers & Water Dispensers</li><li>Refrigerator Trends</li></ul>
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Refrigerators go way back, but the first electric refrigerator was made in 1913. Refrigerator technology changes rapidly, and since refrigerators aren’t a common purchase, chances are there are more refrigerator options than the last time you looked. From size and style to smart features and the appliance finish, the options can overwhelm you. Keep your cool while shopping for a new refrigerator by consulting our handy refrigerator buying guide.

In this refrigerator buying guide we will go over:

  • How to measure for a new refrigerator.
  • Types of Refrigerators
  • Refrigerator Price
  • Ice Makers & Water Dispensers
  • Refrigerator Trends
Photo: @fitfoodiefinds

How To Measure a Refrigerator

First thing’s first – will it fit? Take the following measurements (in inches) and bring them with you to the appliance store.

Current refrigerator

  • Height from floor to refrigerator cabinet (with hinges)
  • Height from floor to refrigerator cabinet (without hinges)
  • Depth with doors (not including the handles)

Opening for new refrigerator

  • Height of the space from the floor to the cabinet above on left side, right side and in center
  • Width of the space from cabinet to cabinet (including trim)
  • Counter depth on each side of refrigerator
  • Depth of upper cabinets
  • Depth at bottom of cabinets (including trim)

Path into your home

  • Width and height of exterior doorway
  • Width and height of interior doorways through which the refrigerator will have to pass
  • Width of stairways

Download a visual refrigerator measuring guide. If you don’t want to take the measurements yourself, Warners’ Stellian offers an in-home premeasuring service for $129.99.

Other Refrigerator Fit Considerations

When choosing a new refrigerator, consider which direction you want the door to swing and any obstacles in the way of that door swing, such as islands or nearby cabinets. A refrigerator requires an extra inch at the sides, top and back for proper ventilation and air circulation.  

For refrigerator capacity, the general guideline is 19 to 22 cubic feet for a family of four. But it really depends on your shopping preferences. If you tend to grab groceries a few times a week, a smaller capacity could work. But if you buy in bulk, consider a larger capacity. And if you tend to stock up on frozen goods, make sure the freezer compartment can accommodate that.

Types of Refrigerators

Freestanding Refrigerators

Freestanding refrigerators are the least expensive type, and thus the most common. They protrude from the kitchen cabinetry, and are easy to move.

Cabinet-Depth Refrigerators

Cabinet-depth, or counter-depth, refrigerators feature more shallow depth allowing for the doors to align nicely with the surrounding cabinetry. This creates a sleek, seamless look.

Built-In Refrigerators

For a high-end kitchen, opt for a built-in refrigerator, which will be truly flush with your cabinets. Panels are often added to built-in refrigerator doors to integrate the appliance into the cabinetry.

Specialty Refrigeration

Often used to supplement the main refrigerator, specialty refrigerator options include under-counter refrigerators, beverage chillers and wine storage refrigerators.

Refrigerator Styles

Top Freezer Refrigerators

A classic design, the top freezer refrigerator layout positions the freezer at eye level. Wide shelves in the refrigerator allow easy access to items stored in the back of the fridge. Top-freezer refrigerators are best for:

  • Tight budgets
  • Small spaces (narrower than 30 inches and/or shorter than 70 inches
  • Frozen food lovers

Bottom Freezer Refrigerators

Most people open the refrigerator compartment 9-10 times more often than they do the freezer. By locating the freezer on the bottom, the refrigerator section is brought up to waist or chest level for maximum accessibility.

Many brands offer a choice of either a swing-door freezer or pull-out freezer drawer. The drawer design allows for easier access to the back of the freezer by minimizing the amount of bending needed. This refrigerator type works best for:

  • Fresh food lovers
  • Organizers
  • People who want to go green
Photo: @heartbeetkitchen

Side-By-Side Refrigerators

Side-by-side refrigerators feature two full-height compartments doors that open from the center – often with the freezer on the left and refrigerator on the right. This type of refrigerator is ideal for:

  • Kitchens with islands or narrow walkways
  • Families or bulk buyers
  • Stylish homeowners

French Door Refrigerators

Taking the “best of both worlds” approach, French-door refrigerators have become the industry’s fastest growing refrigerator style. The refrigerator compartment is at waist and chest level with the french doors (side-by-side) opening from the center.

Similar to the bottom freezer style, French-door refrigerators feature a freezer drawer design. Many models also offer the option of an external ice and water dispenser or an internal water-only dispenser. And if you really want to stand out from the crowd, many French-door refrigerators are now coming in four-door models. French-door refrigerators are best for:

  • Large families
  • Entertainers
  • Veggie lovers
Photo: @jk_designbuild

Refrigerator Price

When considering a new refrigerator, know that there is a workable model for any budget, whether it’s a second unit for keeping soda in the basement, or the built-in refrigerator of your dreams. Here are some refrigerator price ranges, depending on refrigerator type.

Refrigerator Finishes

Refrigerators come in numerous finish options, such as white, black, matte white, matte black, black stainless steel, stainless steel and classic bisque. To learn more about finish options and choose the right one for your refrigerator, check out our Appliance Finishes Guide.

Refrigerator Ice Makers and Water Dispensers

Many refrigerators include a factory-installed ice maker. For models that do not, one can usually be added. Ice makers and water dispensers require a quarter-inch water line to function. Depending on the design of your kitchen, you may have an existing water line. If not, the Warners’ Stellian installation and plumbing team can install one for you.

Ice makers offer myriad ice shapes to meet your preference, including crescent, cubed or diamond. In addition to internal ice makers, many refrigerators have implemented exterior ice and water dispensing. External dispensers are most commonly found on side-by-side refrigerators, but have recently been introduced on more French-door refrigerators as well.

When it comes to water dispensers, some refrigerators locate them on the interior. Refrigerators with water dispensers also include built-in water filters, which should be changed every six months. And when water can’t quite cut it, remember that GE Profile makes a refrigerator with a built-in Keurig.

Refrigerator Trends

The following refrigerator trends continue to heat up kitchens.

Glass Door Refrigerators

Glass panel refrigerator doors allow you to quickly see what’s inside the refrigerator without opening the door and wasting energy. Also, they don’t dent or scratch as easily as stainless steel or other metal finish options.

Matte Finish

Matte appliances provide a rich, warm tone while standing up to smudges and fingerprints. It’s no wonder more and more homeowners request this finish. The appliance line from Café comes in matte black or white with four customizable hardware options:

  • Brushed copper
  • Brushed bronze
  • Brushed black
  • Brushed stainless

Smart Refrigerator Features

As technology becomes more advanced, manufacturers continue to revolutionize refrigerators with smart features, such as:

  • Voice assistants built into the fridge
  • Ability to play music or watch TV from the refrigerator
  • Touch screens, on which you can jot shopping lists or write quick notes to family members
  • Built-in cameras to view refrigerator contents while on the go
  • Notifications for food expiration dates
  • Alerts for when water filter needs changed

When refrigerator shopping, ask your salesperson about smart features, as the technology is quickly evolving.

The Retro Look

Feeling like going back to the 50s? It’s becoming more popular to add a little retro flare to your aesthetic. You might add a pop of color to your kitchen or get a vintage look with specific brands. Whatever your style is, our Appliance Specialists will help you find the perfect fit.

We hope you have found this refrigerator buying guide to be useful and informative, and we appreciate the time you took to read through it. If you have questions that were not answered by this guide, please feel free to contact us.

How To Choose a Range Style

Now that you’ve figured out where to buy a stove, use these quick tips on how to buy a stove.

The fastest way to narrow your options – beside knowing your existing fuel type, is to identify your style.

Freestanding Ranges

The freestanding range is the most commonly used range style in homes, probably because it’s the most affordable and easiest to install. Featuring finished sides and a flat back, this range sits flush against a back wall.

>>Shop freestanding electric ranges

>>Shop freestanding gas ranges

Built-in Ranges

With the growing trend of decorative backsplashes, the slide-in range has become one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. Featuring unfinished sides and back, this style is designed to be built in between two cabinets.

The body of the range is typically 30 inches wide. The top of the range is slightly wider to prevent crumbs from getting in the crevices between the countertop and range. The oven and burner controls are located on the front of the range, just above the oven door.

Though similar to a slide-in range, the drop-in range has waned in popularity in recent years.

While a slide-in range touches the floor, a drop in range sits on top of a cabinet baseboard. Though a drop-in range looks more built in than a freestanding range or even a slide-in range, it’s also more difficult to replace because of its height and the limited selection of drop-in style ranges.

>>See built-in gas ranges

>>See built-in electric ranges

Professional (pro-style) Ranges

While it is the most expensive range style available in the industry today, the professional range is gaining steam in gourmet kitchens. Pro-style ranges take the performance and styling of a true commercial range and make it safe to use for a home cook.

The oven and burner controls are always located on the front, just above the door.  Professional ranges feature burners capable of reaching high temperature for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) offer flexibility in the cooking surface, allowing for the addition of built-in griddles, grills and other specialty surfaces. Large ovens generally boast convection capabilities and intensely high-temperature broiling.

Professional ranges generally come in a stainless steel finish. However, some manufacturers such as Viking and Dacor offer distinctive colors (i.e. beyond white and black).

>> Read more advice on buying a range in our Range Buying Guide.

>>See all our Appliance Buying Guides