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Front Load Vs. Top Load Washers (Reliability / Price / Reviews / Ratings)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  August 26, 2020  |  10 Min. Read

Front Load Washers  |  Washers  |  Top Load

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It’s not easy buying a washer these days.

To complicate matters, researching top-load vs. front-load washers gives you only a user perspective and no clear statistical facts on efficiency, capacity, or repair.

In this article, you will learn the real differences between a front load washer and the two types of top load washers. Regular and hybrid.

best-front-load-washers-in-hanoverFront Load Washers at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

I will show you the reliability rates based on 35,256 service calls completed by our service department last year and updated reliability for eight months of 2020.

Then you will see the differences in efficiency, capacity, water extraction, and then a few top picks you should consider for price and features.

Let’s break the first myth by looking at the reliability of front and top load washers for 2020 so far.

Short on time? Get our free Washing Machine Buying GuideLearn More

Are Top Load Washers More Reliable Than Front Load Washers?

No, front load washers are more reliable than top load washers. Take a look:

Front Load Washer Reliability 2020
  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
LG Electronics 95 954 9.96%
GE Appliances 31 739 4.19%
Samsung 25 485 5.15%
Whirlpool 13 263 4.94%
Maytag 94 216 43.52%
Speed Queen 5 7 71.43%
Grand Total 263 2664 9.87%
Top Load Washer Reliability Reliability 2020
  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Maytag 23 255 9.02%
Whirlpool 13 195 6.67%
Speed Queen 23 87 26.44%
Amana 3 51 5.88%
LG Electronics 3 20 15.00%
Samsung 0 6 0.00%
GE Appliances 1 4   0.25%
Grand Total 66 618 10.67%

Not what you expected?

Front loads have had a bad rap since the original Maytag Neptune over 20 years ago. A front-load is now more reliable than the average top load washer.

Front Load Washer Problems

However, a front-load is harder to repair and more expensive to fix than a top load washer, especially replacing any part of the direct-drive motor.

Mold, Mildew And Odor Issues In Front Load Washers

ge-smart-front-load-washer-850-seriesGE Smart Front Load Washer With Antimicrobial Microban Gasket Coating For Mold Prevention

 

There are problems with mold to a certain extent, but it’s controllable. Mold, mildew, and odor are a function of standing water.

You want to dry the gasket and the back of the machines and leave the door open to dry any residual moisture.

Every month, just run the machine in a hot water wash as well. There are products like Affresh to help as well.

The new GE front load washers have Microban antimicrobial surfaces and a fan inside the drum to dry the residual moisture built into the machine.

What About Speed Queen Washers?

speed-queen-washers-at-yale-appliance-in-boston-1Speed Queen Washers at Yale Appliance in Boston

 

Despite being Consumer Reports’ best brand overall for 2019, it's amongst the most repaired brands sold at Yale over the last two years.

You have to remember CRs ratings are based on ten years of member surveys. It was a great machine, and still could be.

I would be skeptical for now, although they do have a 5-year warranty covering parts and labor.

A 5-year warranty is worth about $299 for almost any washer if you buy it separately.

Front Load Vs. Top Load Vs. Hybrid Washers

Top Load Washers

top-load-washers-at-yale-appliance-in-framinghamTop Load Washers at Yale Appliance in Framingham

 

Top-load washers haven’t changed much over the years. The agitator stirs the clothes and detergent to clean. Agitators can be tough on clothes, especially more delicate fabrics.

Front Load Washers

yale-appliance-hanover-laundry-displayFront Load Washers Side-By-Side, With Pedestals, And Stacked at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

Front-load washers use less water. The clothes wash in a shallow pool of water towards the back.

Have questions? Click here to check out our Learning Center.

Hybrid Washers

Whirlpool-Hybrid-Top-LoadWhirlpool Hybrid Top Load Washer

 

Hybrid washers combine the convenience of a top-load with the efficiency of a front load. At least they are supposed to.

The “impeller” or much smaller agitator is supposed to clean the clothes like a regular top load.

As much as I like the idea, I have never seen it work to clean clothes effectively for any manufacturer.

Size Differences

Front-load washer sizes average about 4.5 to 5 cubic. They can be as large as 5.8 cubic feet, but they are not popular due to their higher price.

Front-Load-Washer-Sizing-(1)Most Common Front Load Washer Dimensions

 

Impeller-driven hybrid top loads are about the same or roughly 4.8 cubic feet. Top loads average about 3.5 cubic feet.

Average-Top-Load Washer-DimensionsMost Common Top Load Washer Dimensions

 

However, the agitator's volume in a top load is about 0.8 cubic feet, so it is effectively about 2.7 cubic feet of actual capacity.

Washer Energy Efficiency Differences

Electrical Energy Efficiency

Top-load washers use about 348 kWh yearly.

Hybrid washers use about 212 kWh yearly.

Front-load washers use about 159 kWh yearly.

In Boston, with 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, there is a $22 difference per year to run a top-load versus front-load based on 1.5 hours usage per day.

Of course, front-load washers have greater capacity, so you will use them less or top loads more.

Water Usage 

The average top loader can use 40 gallons and up to 70 with hybrids about 17 gallons and front-loads using about 10-14.

For Boston, the average water and sewer bill is 17.77 cents per 1,000 gallons or .017 cents a gallon. The average front loader is about .21 cents per load.

The top load is about .51 cents per load as a rough average.

You would have to multiply the top load because the capacity is much smaller.

Short on time? Get our free Washing Machine Buying GuideLearn More

Washer RPM Spin Speeds Differences

RPM is significant for extracting water for less drying time.

Front loads are 1000-1400 RPM spin speed. Top loads average about 700 with Hybrids about 850 RPM spin speed.

When you add all this together, depending on where you live, there are significant savings between a front and a top load washer in water, electricity, and less drying time.

Especially when you consider a front load is 4.5-5 cubic foot and a top-load is far less at 2.7 cubic feet.

Washer Convenience

Stacked-and-side-by-side-GE-front-load-laundrySide-by-Side with Pedestal (Left) and Stacked Front Load Washers (Right) at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

Top loads have the advantage of not bending like a front load washer.

You can always buy pedestals for a front load washer, but pedestals cost about $500 per pair and raise about 17 inches off the ground.

Top loads still are better on your back than a front-load even with the pedestals.

Stacking Washers and Dryers

Almost all front-loads are made to stack with the dryer on top. There are a few exceptions.

Top loads cannot be stacked.

There are one-piece top load stacks from Whirlpool, GE, and Frigidaire, but they tend to have smaller capacity and are expensive.

Price Differences

Normally, an average front load will cost about $700-1200 depending on the features. A top load is $479-549, and a hybrid is about $1000.

However, as COVID-19 has affected product availability, you should expect prices to be on the higher end.

Have questions? Click here to check out our Learning Center.

Top Load Vs. Front Load Washer Features

Cycles

Maytag-front-load-washer-controls

Almost every machine in any configuration has enough cycles. The average machine has ten cycles and 11 options.

Auto Dispensers

Optimal Dose Dispenser MaytagOptimal Dose Detergent Dispenser In A Maytag Front Load Washer

 

Dispensing is a feature you should consider. You can add from 8-40 loads depending on the brand.

It’s not just a convenience. An automatic detergent dispenser will prevent you from placing too much detergent in a wash. 

GE Appliances Smart Dispenser In Front Load Laundry-1GE Auto Detergent Dispenser Drawer For Up To 40 Loads

 

For front loads, too much is a problem because you only need a capful.

All that detergent becomes foam and can create a problem with the motor and bearings. An automatic dispenser will prevent that future expensive maintenance problem.

Wi-Fi

samsung-smart-front-load-laundry-Smart Front Load Laundry

 

Wi-Fi has grown on me for laundry, unlike other appliances. It will alert you when the cycle is over, eliminating an unnecessary trip to the basement.

Steam

Samsung-WF45R6300AW-SteamSamsung Front Load Washer With Steam

 

Steam loosens up tough stains so they can be powered out. It’s almost a standard in front loads and only available in more pricey top load washers.

Speed

You now can wash a small load in about 15 minutes in most front load machines.

Top 4 Washers For 2020

GE Front-Load Washer GFW650SSNWW - $899

GE-Front-Load-Washer-GFW650SSNWW

GE Front-Load Washer GFW850SSNWW - $989 

Ge-Front-Load-Washer-GFW850SSNWW

Why You Should Consider A GE Front-Load Washer

These two washers are new with every feature available from the auto dispenser to Wi-Fi, speed, steam, a reversible door and the only front loader with an anti-mold package

It even has an overnight cycle to wash and dry an outfit for the next day. The difference between the two models is 0.2 cubic feet in capacity and the overnight cycle.

GE Smart Front Load Washer Review

 

Whirlpool Top-Load Washer WTW4855HW - $539

WTW4855HW

Why You Should Consider A Whirlpool Top-Load Washer

This top load washer is inexpensive for less than $600, easy on your back, and cheap to fix. The product has been working well since the 1950s

LG Front-Load Washer WM3900HWA - $999

LG-wm3900hwa-front-load-washer

Why You Should Consider A LG Front-Load Washer

It's been reliable since its inception. Their TurboWash 360 cycle can shorten any wash by employing six spray heads in the front of the machine. Their TubClean cycle is a nice reminder to sanitize your washer.

LG Front Load Washer Review

 

Front Load Vs. Top Load Washers: Key Takeaways

There is no one answer to what you should buy.

You should inquire about the hybrid washers by asking friends and checking reviews because the design seems destined to fail in washing your clothes.

Top load versus front load is complicated and is based on what you value.

Top load is cheaper to buy and easier to fix. You don’t have to bend, and you don’t have to worry about mold or any other dispensing issues.

However, with a front-load, you will be doing much less laundry with greater water and power efficiency.

It’s gentler on your clothes with less drying time and more updated features like auto-dispensing, steam, and Wi-Fi.

It ultimately comes down to whether you want a less expensive machine with less expensive repair rates - a top load - or a more modern machine with greater capacity and features - a front load.

What do you think?

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Washer Buying Guide with features, specs, and inside tips to all the brands, to dimensions and explanations of every washer and dryer type are included. Over 820,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

Washer Buying Guide

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WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST US?

A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

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