Feel free to rub elbows with this Elite
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It’s easy to get pumped about the Kenmore Elite 12833 (MSRP $1759). How could you not, when it has exciting features like 360° PowerWash Plus and TurboZone? Even with that monstrous price tag, this dishwasher’s sleek exterior, adjustable interior, and raw cleaning power make it an attractive choice. In fact, choice is this machine’s greatest strength—everything from how you load it to how you run it can be tailored to your liking. Just make sure you wait for a sale.
At Reviewed.com, we take a scientific approach to evaluating appliances. This means standardized tests, careful measurements, and of course, tons of numbers. With an expensive dishwasher like the Kenmore Elite 12833, we were hopeful that it would perform well enough to earn its name and price tag. We were not disappointed.
When we ran the Kenmore Elite 12833's Normal cycle, we were pleased by the results. It removed over 99% of each food stain category except spinach, and redeposit wasn't an issue. However, it took a bit longer than we liked, lasting two hours and 16 minutes.
The Pots & Pans cycle showed us why this dishwasher is called “elite.” After taking three hours and 34 minutes to run, almost every dish came out spotless. Milk, tea, meat, oatmeal, egg, and sugar stains had been completely obliterated, while 99.78% of the spinach was removed. This near-perfection gave us a very positive impression, despite the lengthy cycle duration.
Even the 1 Hour Wash was impressive. It only took 68 minutes, but handled every stain better than the Normal wash did. The only exceptions were the dried milk stains, of which the 12833 only managed to remove 77.88%. Still, at half the duration of the Normal cycle, we can see using the 1 Hour Wash for quickly reloading on dishes and glasses during a party, or for cleaning dishes while you cook.
The Kenmore Elite 12833 is a beautiful machine, inside and out. The front is stainless steel, including the panel on top that serves as a handle for the door. Embedded in the center of that panel is an indicator light that turns bright blue when the machine is running, red during a drying cycle, and green when the cycle is complete. The Start and Cancel buttons rest on the far right, and since they match the stainless steel color of the rest of the door, they don't take away from the machine's professional look. Finally, resting on the top of the door, and hidden under the countertop when the door is closed, is a row of touch-sensitive buttons for cycle and option selection.
Something very cool happens when you open the Kenmore Elite 12833’s door. It feels heavier than other dishwasher doors, but that's because it uses a torsion hinge. Clever engineering allows the door to stay put at any angle, meaning it won’t shut on its own or slam to the floor when you open it.
The inside of the Kenmore Elite 12833 is also stainless steel, and it's just as pretty and practical as the outside. Perhaps by design, all the best features in the tub has a red trim to draw your attention. This includes the motorized spray arm, which Kenmore calls the 360° PowerWash Plus, and the four high-intensity spray jets in the back, which are used when you enable the TurboZone wash option. The top rack is adjusted by a handlebar, and can be raised or lowered like a jack. This means you can use it with only one hand, which is pretty convenient.
Other perks inside the Kenmore Elite 12833 include foldable tines on the top and bottom racks, a fold-out cup shelf, and a pair of stemware clips. In addition to a cutlery holder that can be split into three baskets, there’s a separate knife basket designed for holding steak knives. There are plenty of ways to make use of the space, and we were able to fit ten place settings and a serving setting inside this machine.
All of the Kenmore Elite 12833’s cycles and options can be selected by touch-sensitive buttons located on top of the door. There are six cycles to choose from: SmartWash, Pots & Pans, Normal Wash, 1 Hour Wash, China Gentle, and Quick Rinse. That’s enough to cover everything from a quick spritz for light soils to a deep clean for greasy cookware.
But for those who want even more control, there is a wide selection of options for customizing a wash cycle. As mentioned before, the TurboZone option activates the high intensity spray jets, while High Temp and Sani Rinse raise the water temperature for a better clean. Smart Dry will add a drying cycle to the end of a wash, and is chosen by default on most cycles. Top Rack Only and four or eight cycle delay top off the list. There’s even an option to disable the machine’s sounds if you don’t want to hear a beep every time you press a button.
The Kenmore Elite 12833 is an efficient machine. The Normal wash cycle is the cheapest cycle to run, using only 2.83 gallons of water and 0.71 kWh of electricity. The Pots & Pans cycle, though, holds nothing back, which might explain why it takes so long and does so well. It uses 8.43 gallons of water and 0.89 kWh of energy, but we’re guessing most people will only need this much cleaning power on rare occasions. The 1 Hour Wash took 6.35 gallons of water, but only 0.40 kWh of energy. In total, we estimate an annual running cost of $29.41, about $2 below average.
The Kenmore Elite 12833 was able to hold ten place settings and a serving setting. It also had plenty of adjustable parts, so even the tallest or most oddly-shaped of dishware could fit inside. The greatest racking feature of this dishwasher is the adjustable height of the top rack, which can be conveniently raised or lowered using only one hand. Other neat things like foldable tines and a cutlery basket that can be split into three parts make it easy to fully utilize all the space inside the tub.
The Kenmore Elite 12833 looks great and offers a ton of options, so we were really hoping its performance scores would match the heavy price tag. With the Normal cycle, we found very few instances of redeposit, which is when dirt is washed off of one plate and sprayed onto another. We were also pleased that it used less than three gallons of water. However, with a cycle time of two hours and 16 minutes, and scores that were only slightly better than other, less pricy dishwashers, the Normal cycle certainly didn’t feel "elite.”
And then we ran the Pots & Pans cycle. We use excessive amounts of soil on our tests, with the expectation that no dishwasher would be able to perfectly wash everything off. The Kenmore Elite 12833’s Pots & Pans cycle came extremely close, and nearly every dish came out spotless. Perfection takes time, though: about three and a half hours, in this case. If you need to use this powerhouse of a cycle, you should probably do it overnight or go watch a movie.
The 1 Hour wash clocked in at 68 minutes, only slightly longer than advertised, but it delivered a better cleaning score than the Normal cycle in every stain category except for milk. Both the 1 Hour and Pots & Pans cycles use more than twice as much water as the Normal, which could explain their stronger performances. Still, we estimate an annual cost of $29.41, which is below average.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
If you’re in the market for a high-end dishwasher, you really can’t go wrong with the Kenmore Elite 12833. On top of professional looks and plenty of adjustable parts to play with, it actually does a great job cleaning your dishes. This dishwasher is versatile, too: it has a very efficient Normal cycle that's perfect for everyday use without hitting your utility bill too hard, but when the situation calls for it, the Pots & Pans cycle can wipe out even the toughest stains.
While it did not score as well as the less expensive KUDE48FXSS or the Bosch SHE8PT55UC, we cannot conclusively say that the Kenmore Elite 12833 is strictly worse. Each of these machines offer something different, like a third rack or interior lights. That said, when it comes to high-end dishwashers, the Kenmore Elite 12833 is definitely worthy of consideration. Just be sure to keep an eye on sale prices.