Whirlpool Gold WDL785SAAM Review
Smarter than your average dishwasher
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Appliances are getting smarter, adding internet connectivity for diagnostics, remote control, and energy savings. The Whirlpool Gold WDL785SAAM (MSRP $949) debuts Whirlpool's 6th Sense Live smart platform, and only costs about $200 more than a comparable machine.
Best of all, it doesn't require a smart electric meter to automatically take advantage of off-peak energy prices, like the GE GDT550HSDSS. Instead, this Whirlpool dishwasher connects to a WiFi network to find out when electricity is least expensive. If you've pressed the Smart Grid button, the WDL785SAAM will run whenever its cheapest to clean your dishes.
Unless you're washing a lot of dishes or live somewhere with very high peak energy costs, the WDL785SAAM won't earn back its smart price premium any time soon. But that's not the point. Just as with any new technology, as smart appliances become more popular and useful, prices will come down. This is a peek at the future, and it's available today.
Design & Usability
Intelligence in disguise
You'd never know just how close to the cutting edge of appliance technology the WDL785SAAM is by looking at its exterior. It has a stainless steel door that’s capped by a plastic control panel, which is made of protruding buttons and indicator lights. The good news is that the buttons are responsive and satisfying to the touch. The bad news is that the blue indicator lights aren’t very bright, and they are barely visible against the dark gray plastic, even while lit.
The inside of the dishwasher is what some other manufacturers would call a "hybrid," featuring shiny stainless steel on all sides except for the bottom, which is occupied by a dull plastic screen and a filter. There is a pair of pegs on the door from which you can hang the cutlery basket. Although this frees up a great amount of space in the lower rack for your dishes, we found that pieces of food got stuck between the basket and the door.
As far as capacity goes, we were able to fit 11 place settings and a serving setting inside the WDL785SAAM. The upper rack can be raised or lowered, but you’ll have to pull it off its rails to make the adjustment. Other than that inconvenience, we found that the combination of movable tines on both racks as well as the aforementioned hanging silverware basket gave us plenty of flexibility.
Options galore, even before it goes online.
The WDL785SAAM has six cycles to choose from: Sensor, Heavy, Normal, 1-Hour Wash, Eco, and Overnight. Many of them are self-explanatory, but the Eco wash is actually more similar to a Light or Delicate cycle than an extra long, extra efficient cycle designed to reduce your utility costs. That honor goes to the Overnight cycle, which can take as long as four hours but minimizes water and energy use.
The usual set of wash options are included, such as Hi-Temp Wash, Sani Rinse, and Heat Dry. Notably, the WDL785SAAM has two intensity settings for Heat Dry, giving you better control over how much energy and time you want to spend on drying dishes. Press the Smart Grid button after connecting the dishwasher to your WiFi router and registering for Whirlpool's 6th Sense Live, and the WDL785SAAM will run only when energy is cheap. If you’re not using Smart Grid to postpone your wash, you still have the options of a 2 or 4 Hour Delay. You can even shut off the dishwasher’s sound if you don’t like hearing it beep every time a button is pressed.
We're testing the full suite of 6th Sense Live appliances, and will have a report on smartphone connectivity soon. We can tell you that for now, you're out of luck unless you've got an iPhone.
Normal and Heavy washes are slow, but do a respectable job.
The WDL785SAAM delivers a solid performance. Although a bit on the slow side, this dishwasher gave us good results overall. We’re always on the lookout for redeposit, which is when food gets washed off of one item and gets stuck on another. Thankfully, on the Normal and Heavy cycles of this dishwasher, redeposit was minimal.
We used tougher stains to test the strength of the Heavy cycle, introducing appetizing food stains such as burnt cheese, burnt sugar, and baked-on lasagna. The cycle took 3 hours and 18 minutes, and although the results were far from perfect, most of the grime was removed. As long as you scrape most of the heavier stains off your dishes before loading them, the Heavy cycle should be fine for greasy or baked-on food.
The 1-Hour Wash performed as advertised, and took only 59 minutes to run. Its overall cleaning results were only slightly worse compared to the Normal cycle, except on the milk stains, which were far worse. This is actually a common outcome, as most fast cycles on dishwashers aren’t designed to reliably remove this type of stain. The 1-Hour Wash uses less electricity and more water than the Normal. If you’re using the Normal cycle for most of your washes (as is recommended), the WDL785SAAM will cost about $27.04 each year to run, which is lower than average.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
A smart purchase if you want Smart Grid
Thankfully, the WDL785SAAM proves that performance doesn't have to be a tradeoff for innovation. It's not just a competent cleaner, but a peek at the future of connected appliances. You don't even have to wait for your electric company to install a smart electric meter.
If you'd rather stay rooted firmly in the present, you don’t have to look far: the Whirlpool Gold WDT710PAYH won our Editors’ Choice and is both cheaper and more powerful. Just don’t expect it to talk to your phone or decide when to run a wash.
By the Numbers
The Whirlpool Gold WDL785SAAM has a host of features, including smart technology. Since it’s one of the few Smart Grid dishwashers on the market, we were eager to put it through our standardized tests to see how it would do. We were pleased to find that although it is a bit pricy, this machine had a solid cleaning performance and great efficiency scores. As far as Smart Grid appliances go, this is not a bad choice.
Minor redeposit kept the scores from perfection
The Normal cycle on the WDL785SAAM did a decent job removing stains. Nothing came out perfect, mostly due to the very minor redeposit issue that this cycle has. In many instances, a plate or dish would have its original stains removed, but little specks of spinach would be stuck to it at the end of the wash. While not ideal, scraping the heavier food stains off of your dishes before loading them should avoid this problem.
The Heavy cycle did a better job than the Normal overall, but had trouble with the three extra-tough stains we introduced to this test. It handled the baked-on lasagna well enough, removing more than 99.9% of it, but a good amount of burnt cheese and burnt sugar got left behind.
The 1-Hour Wash cycle cleaned almost just as well as the Normal cycle, except when it came to dried milk stains. While nearly all the milk was removed by the Normal cycle, the 1-Hour Wash only managed about 97%, leaving very visible, chunky stains behind. Redeposit was also far more noticeable than in the Normal cycle.
Very low annual utility cost
The WDL785SAAM is a very efficient machine. Its Normal cycle only used 2.71 gallons of water and 0.74 kWh of electricity, costing only 11 cents to run. The Heavy cycle wasn’t bad, either, taking 7.35 gallons of water and 0.81 kWh of energy. The 1-Hour Wash cycle took 4.87 gallons of water and only 0.35 kWh of power, and only takes 59 minutes to run. In total, we estimate an annual cost of $27.04. With this dishwasher’s Smart Grid option enabled, we can see the electricity cost lowering even further.
The hanging silverware basket frees up space in the bottom rack.
We were able to fit 11 place settings and a serving setting inside the WDL785SAAM. There is one row of adjustable tines on the bottom rack and two on the top, and the detachable silverware basket can be hung on the door to create more room on the bottom rack. The top rack has two height settings, but adjusting it requires pulling the whole thing off its rails. Still, there’s plenty of flexibility to be had in this dishwasher’s interior.