Dishwashers are a great investment, saving time, water and energy in the home, and modern models are packed with features that offer perfect results every time.

  1. Specialist programs are common to all dishwashers, but in particular look out for time-saving programs that can complete a wash in under 30 minutes, glassware cycles that will be extra gentle on delicate items and economy programs that will take longer by using less energy.
  2. Noise has become a problem in open-plan kitchens where every appliance can potentially drown out conversation. Look for dishwashers with noise levels around the 40 decibel (dB) mark – normal conversation is 60dB.
  3. Delayed start functions allow you to set the dishwasher at a time that is convenient for you and you can help to save on electricity costs by taking advantage of off-peak tariffs.
  4.  Intelligent sensor technology that takes the guesswork out of choosing the right program is now available through the machine at all price points. Water washes through the machine and sensors detect both how dirty the dishes are and how large the load is. The machine then chooses the program, temperature and time best suited to get the dishes clean with maximum efficiency.
  5. Compact dishwashers are available for households that don’t have room for a full 60cm model. Chose from full-height, 45cm-wide slimline models that will hold around nine place settings or a built-in compact model that can hold around six place settings.


Place settings explained

The capacity of a dishwasher is measured in place settings. This rather quaintly refers to a dinner plate, soup bowl, dessert plate, teacup and saucer, tumbler, knife, fork, soup spoon and dessert spoon. Many of these are no longer everyday items and, importantly, a dishwasher that could only accommodate these items would struggle with pans, roasting trays, mugs, large bowls and extra-large plates.

Look for machines that have flexible loading systems, which include adjustable upper baskets that can be raised or lowered – even when fully loaded – to make more space for larger or more unusually shaped items. Collapsible baskets also create more space for lasagna-type dishes or larger serving bowls.

So while the place settings system is useful for comparing the capacity of different machines, also make sure you check out the flexibility of the dishwasher’s interior before you buy. It might seem extreme, but actually taking you standard dinner plates, baking dishes or wine glasses to the showroom and checking they’ll fit in the machine could save you a lot of frustration in the long run.

Energy and water saving

If you believe that washing up by hand is more economical than using a dishwasher the facts actually clearly dispute this.

Based on washing 12 place settings, tests show that handwashing uses 63 litres of water, while the average dishwasher uses 15 litres with many using even less. Quite apart from the environmental saving, this could also save you hundreds of pounds on your water and electricity bills over the long term.

To compare the efficiency of different models, refer to the energy label, displayed on all new dishwashers. The label is run by the European Commission and, as such, can be confusing. At its most straightforward, it runs from A to D with the most efficient being an ‘A’. However, as 90-% of dishwashers are now achieving an ‘A’ rating for energy it is difficult to differentiate between products.

As such, new A+++, A++ and A+ energy ratings are now the norm. A+ is 10% more efficient that an A-rated dishwasher, A++ is 20% more efficient and A+++ 30%.

Fisher & Paykel’s Double DishDrawer DD60DDFHX7 offers six place settings per drawer, which can run independently for half loads or together. Features include an ergonomic design, 39-minute fast wash and stainless steel drawer fronts (AAA, 12 place settings, 43dB, £1100).

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