Your old workhorse of a washer has been dutifully cleaning your family’s clothes for 20 years. But this is the third time in a year that it’s broken down. You’ve decided it’s time to get a new appliance. You’re hoping that it will have more washing options, use less water and energy, and also be quieter to run.
If this was the old days, your only choice would be a belt-drive washer. This connects the washer drum to the transmission and motor using a belt that runs through pulleys. The motor runs in only one direction, using solenoids to spin and agitate the drum. Because the technology is at least 30 years old, it’s well-understood and easy to diagnose in case of problems. But all those moving parts increases the chance of break down.
Nowadays, you can also choose direct-drive washers, which puts the motor directly under the washer drum, eliminating the belt, a separate transmission, and many other moving parts. Fewer parts means fewer things that can go wrong. The motor can reverse and has variable speeds, which saves energy, and allows a gentler cycle that’s safer on delicate fabrics. Direct-drive washers also run more quietly, making them more welcome inside the home, and can also be slightly narrower, a plus if space is an issue.