Speed Queen AWNE92SP113TW Washing Machine Review
We put a Speed Queen to the test to see how well this cult-favorite washer cleans.
We've tested hundreds of washing machines, but we've never tested anything like a Speed Queen before.
That's not surprising: Speed Queen's bread and butter is commercial laundry—think laundromats, college dorms, and hotels. Those machines are designed to last a long time. They can stand up to wear and tear, and they're easy to fix if they do break. Even the company's residential machines—like the Speed Queen AWNE92SP311TW we tested—feature the same industrial-grade construction and go through the same rigorous tests as a commercial machine.
That's why the Wisconsin-based company has a cult following, made up mostly of buyers who feel let down by modern washing machines. In fact, every time we publish a review of another washing machine, we get e-mails and comments from Speed Queen owners who praise their washers.
We get it—they're exceptionally durable. But how do they clean clothes? That's why we decided to put a Speed Queen through the same tests as every other washer we evaluate. While we can't fault the AWNE92's all-steel transmission and five-year warranty, we can see why other companies moved away from the old-school design.
Design & Performance
One of Speed Queen's selling points is that its wash cycles don't take as long as those in modern machines. In fact, the timer for the Normal cycle says 29 minutes. In practice, we were surprised to see that estimate was overly optimistic. Our tests showed most Normal cycles took between 33 and 48 minutes to clean an 8-pound load of laundry. That's about the same as any modern front-loader.
What a more advanced front-load machine could also give you is a bigger drum to wash more laundry at once. The Speed Queen's small, 3.3-cu.-ft. drum is designed for laundry sprints—not marathons. By comparison, our top-rated top-loader can wash more than 50 percent more laundry in a single cycle.
Besides the Speed Queen being not up to, well, speed, the AWNE92SP also falls behind when it comes to stain removal. The tried-and-true technology this Speed Queen uses hit its heyday fifty years ago. Back then, the best way to get clothes clean was to rinse it with tons of water and stir laundry with a pole agitator. The major draw back of a pole agitator is that laundry has a tendency to "stall," or get stuck in one part of the drum. The end result is this:
This is one of the pre-stained strips we use to test soil removal. It folded over on itself and stayed that way throughout a wash, and a good portion of the stain stuck around.
Other washers don't have this problem. For example, the similarly priced Electrolux EFLS617SIW removed 27 percent more stains than this Speed Queen on its Heavy Duty cycle and 13 percent more stains on its Whites cycle. We got similar results from Kenmore, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool front-loaders
While we can't speak to the durability of those mainstream brands, they did clean better than the Speed Queen.
Those stains remain in spite of the fact that this Speed Queen uses over 40 gallons of water for the Whites cycle and over 24 gallons for the Normal Eco. We estimate that this washer will cost around $85 a year to run. That's average for a top-load machine, but almost triple what a more-efficient front loader costs. A lot of our readers tell us they don't care about the environmental impact of their appliances. But, maybe they'll care about the extra $275 on their water bills over five years of ownership.
They also may notice the fact the Speed Queen's aggressive wash cycles put more wear and tear on fabrics. For example, the mechanical action strips we use to test fabric wear had 36% more torn threads on the Normal cycle than the popular GE GTW680BS. On the Quick cycle, the Speed Queen tore more than three times as many threads.
Yes, the AWNE92SP has a lot of faults, but it's easy to see why it has a lot of fans, too. Unlike most modern washers, you can open the lid of the AWNE92 whenever you like. Even during a spin cycle, a brake system immediately stops the drum from turning. We still prefer that to gimmicks like Samsung's AddWash. The AWNE92SP also has a Spin Only cycle, an option that's sorely missed on most modern machines. And the waterproof control panel lets you customize a wash any way you want it.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Test Results Page.
Reliability and Warranty
Speed Queen's main stake in the washing machine world is reliability. The company claims that each of its washers can dish out 10,400 cycles before breaking down. In the home, that translates to about 25 years of use. Although we don't have 25 years to test this claim, we can be pretty certain that Speed Queen is willing to back up its claims.
Like all Speed Queen's electronic-control machines, the AWNE92SP113TW comes with a five-year warranty that includes parts and labor. That's five times longer than nearly all other washer warranties. There's also a 15-year warranty on the transmission, and a lifetime warranty on the stainless steel drum. You can read the fine print here.
Even more telling: Though this washer is designed for residential use, Speed Queen will still warranty it for three years if it gets put into commercial duty. By comparison, most other manufacturers would wash their hands of you if you installed one of their machines in a multi-unit apartment building.
Simply put, Speed Queen is willing to back its products up—and that's an attractive selling point for a lot of consumers.
There's a reason most cabbies and cops mourned the demise of the Ford Crown Victoria. It wasn't a particularly good car—it guzzled gas, rode on a decades-old design, and handled about as nimbly as a mattress. But it could take years of punishment on city roads. Drivers had grown accustomed to it, and mechanics found it easy and quick to repair.
That's kind of like the Speed Queen top-load washer. It doesn't clean as well as a more modern machine, and it's not as efficient as the best front-loaders, but that flashy new washer also won't have Speed Queen's five-year warranty or commercial design.
We can't recommend that tradeoff, which explains why this machine gets such a low score. That's because our priorities are stain removal, fabric handling, and efficiency. If your priorities are a long warranty and commercial-grade durability, however, the Speed Queen AWNE92SP113TW may be worth a look.
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