Q -- My old dishwasher is noisy and doesn't always clean completely. How welldo the new efficient, super-quiet models clean? What are some of the new convenience and efficiency features to consider? -- W. F.
A -- There are many new super-quiet dishwashers that provide very effective cleaning. Some models cost less than $40 per year to operate using an electric water heater and even less with a gas water heater.
The newest and most efficient features are electronic "brains" to select and fine tune the cycles automatically, super hot sanitizing cycles and high quality internal filters for better cleaning with less hot water.
The most energy efficient and quiet dishwashers use a two-pump system. By using two single-direction pumps instead of one large reversing pump, the water reservoir can be smaller. This cuts hot water usage by 40 percent, to only 5.3 gallons on the normal cycle.
Two-pump systems are inherently quieter. One single-direction pump, with a quiet quick-start feature, is used for the high pressure washing spray. Another small quiet pump is used to drain the water after each cycle. Two-pump systems do not require the extra valving of a single reversing pump.
Insulation level is important for efficiency and noise reduction. Several of the well insulated, single-pump models are quiet, too. Multiple layers of asphalt/felt/foil insulation or fiberglass batt wraps are effective. Motors and pumps mounted to the base pan instead of the tank also reduce noise.
One new efficient model uses sensors and a computer chip (Intellisense) to automatically measure how dirty the dishes are. It determines the minimum cycle time for cleaning and drying. It even remembers the last time you washed. If it has been more than a day, the chip assumes the food is dried on and uses a slightly longer cycle. The cycle also can be manually selected, like light/china, for example.
Many of the European designs offer a super-hot sanitizing cycle. The water is heated by an internal heater to 165 degrees for a minimum wash cycle of 24 minutes. A final 7-minute rinse is also super-hot.
High quality filters and built-in waste grinders improve cleaning. Multilevel spray wash systems, up to four levels from two rotating arms, require shorter wash cycles. One model uses two mini arms on the ends of the regular arm to ensure that every dish gets sprayed.
Write for Utility Bills Update No. 849, a buyer's guide of 21 quiet and efficient dishwasher manufacturers, listing number of pumps, water usage, spray wash system, cycle/options, rack material, features and prices. Please include $2 and a self-addressed envelope, and send your request to James Dulley, The Buffalo News, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.