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Kenmore Built-in Dishwasher
Kenmore Built-in Dishwasher

How to Buy a Dishwasher

By Steve GrahamSHOP.COM Associated Content Writer

Dishwashers save time and water and often save energy. A sturdy dishwasher should stand up to daily use for 10 years or more, so choose wisely and consider your options. The first decision is size. If the perfect dishwasher doesn't fit where you need it to go, it's not so perfect. But there are plenty of other considerations and extra features to seek out. Here are some basic guidelines to help you wisely buy one of the only appliances you will likely use every day.

The Basics

Step 1Lifestyle: Find a dishwasher with settings and designs that match your dishes and lifestyle. If you bake a lot of casseroles, a pots-and-pans cycle is a must. However, if you don't expect to use a delicate china setting, for example, don't pay extra for a dozen different settings. If you have tall wine glasses or large dishes, take the measurements to the store and find a machine with appropriate space between racks.
Step 2Water Temperature: The dishwasher should use 140-degree water. If you don't want to crank up the water heater, find a dishwasher with a water pre-heating option.
Step 3Energy Savings: Look for Energy Star dishwashers, which are at least 10 percent more energy efficient than standard machines. They also use less water than older models, and may be eligible for local rebates. For further savings, find a model with a timer you can set for times when there is less demand, possibly lowering your electricity bill.
Step 4Sprayers and Filters: Smaller sprayer holes can spray the dishes harder and faster. Also, look for a model with a self-cleaning filter to grind and get rid of the food particles. Other models have manual filters that need to be cleared regularly.
Step 5Volume: Don't overlook the decibel level of the dishwasher. Saving a few dollars by settling for a louder machine could be a poor choice if you want to quietly relax after dinner or if you have scheduled the wash cycle after bedtime. Also, look for thicker insulation around the dishwasher to muffle the noise. Note that food disposers grind the food and make the dishwasher noisie

The Lingo

Dirt Sensor: A built-in device that can adjust the water usage and the length of washing cycles based on the amount of grime on dishes. Note that these sensors don't always work perfectly.
Rinse and Hold Cycle: A good option if it takes two or three days to fill the dishwasher, this cycle reduces odors and grime before running a full cleaning cycle.
Sanitizing Cycle: An additional option that runs with water above the standard 140 degrees. It may be unnecessary and won't necessarily make dishes cleaner.

The Experts

Consumersearch gave the Kenmore 24-inch built-in dishwasher top marks for being a quiet model with excellent value. At under $700, it lacks some of the bells and whistles of more expensive models, but it ably cleans the dishes, which is the most important feature.

The Brands

Bosch is best known for high-quality, high-priced appliances, but the company's reliable dishwashers start at less than $500.
GE focuses on mid-range models, most of which have the clever new SmartDispense feature. Load up to 40 ounces of detergent and the machine will dispense it as needed.
KitchenAid has an attractive range of options with both front controls and top controls (which are hidden when the machine is closed).
Whirlpool's range of economical dishwashers are all Energy Star-qualified and have a tall tub that allows for larger dishes and more oddly shaped items.
ASKO is a luxury brand that focuses on style as much as functionality, with several sleek designs and custom panel options.
Frigidaire offers a wide range of options and cycles, even in its less expensive models, and large utensil holders, which are handy if you always seem to run out of room for spoons.

The Price

$: High-quality dishwashers don't need to be expensive. You can find reliable, durable models for less than $500. The Whirlpool DU1010 dishwasher is an excellent value. It is Energy Star-qualified and has extra capacity for large dishes.
$$: Mid-range dishwashers typically have more options and extras, and may be quieter and more efficient. The GE Profile dishwashers are among the best-selling dishwashers on the market.
$$$: Above the $1,000 threshold, dishwashers start to offer fantastic features you may not have dreamed of. The ASKO D5000 series has the largest loading capacity on the market, 12 wash programs, nine temperature settings, and a four-level, adjustable rack system.