While some cycles ran a bit warm, the Whirlpool WED8500BW (MSRP $999) produced consistently dry clothes at the end of every sensor-based cycle.
Traditional, functional, highly usable.
Aside from the number of cycles available, the 8500 is visually identical to the steam-free Whirlpool WED8100BW: The white, glossy finish gives it a clean look that should fit well in most laundry rooms. The black indentation on the door doesn’t add much in terms of practicality, but it does add some visual flair.
Though the gray control panel is quite reflective, the white text with blue and green highlights popped out enough for us to be able to read it without a problem. Consumers with poorly lit laundry rooms or less-than-perfect eyesight may have to do some squinting to read everything, however.
In terms of usability, there’s not a thing wrong with this machine. The door opens and shuts without a fuss, and the lint trap’s mesh is quite firm, making it easy to clean. Buttons on the control panel have just enough give to make them satisfyingly responsive, while the cycle knob turns smoothly without feeling flimsy. On the whole, this is a very accessible machine.
A bit warm, but with strong results.
With an average run time of one hour and five minutes, the Whirlpool’s Normal cycle took a little longer than average. Between the long time and high peak temperatures of 151.2ºF, Normal is actually the least effective cycle we tested. That said, it still got clothes completely dry; you’ll just want to make sure you don’t use this on any fragile fabrics.
Delicates also got a bit warm: peak temperatures got up to 138.2ºF, definitely warmer than ideal. On the other hand, this cycle only took about 57 minutes, which—unlike Normal—is shorter than average. With 99 percent of the excess water taken out of our clothes, that leaves just a smidge of moisture behind, helpful for ironing.
After just 13 minutes and reaching temperatures of 116.5ºF, the Whirlpool’s Quick Dry cycle got our four-pound test load 51 percent dry. At first glance, that may not sound so great, but consider that this cycle is meant for loads about half the size of ours. Leave a full load in longer, or dry fewer clothes, either way you’ve got yourself an effective quick cycle.
The most impressive cycle tested? Easy: the Bulky Items setting. In just one hour and 15 minutes, and with temperatures reaching 145.8ºF, our large test comforter had 83 percent of its excess moisture removed. While that’s not perfect, it’s far above average. What’s more, we dry our comforter without taking it out and flipping it around halfway through—the procedure recommended in the manual and ignored by most consumers.
Great end results, but a little too much heat.
As was the case with the other dryers in this series, the four cycles that we tested all gave us nearly perfect results. Normal and Delicate got things completely dry, but ran a touch too warm. Quick Dry only got out half of the excess moisture we added to our four-pound test load, but keep in mind that Whirlpool says this cycle was designed for loads half as large as what our standardized test requires. While Bulky failed to remove all excess water, it got out more than most machines we test.
The lengthy list of available cycles was what really impressed us about the 8500. While there were no steam-specific features, the steam hookup did allow for the inclusion of the Enhanced Touch Up cycle, which—you guessed it—uses steam to remove wrinkles and light odors. The rest of the cycle list covered all the standard bases, and also had specific cycles meant for active wear and sheets, as well as a sanitize option.
Otherwise, in terms of features, the 8500 did nothing to improve over its cheaper sibling, the 8100. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though: four dryness levels and five temperatures settings will give you plenty of control over your laundry. A set of three features—damp dry signal, EcoBoost, and wrinkle shield—are pretty standard.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
A balancing act of price, performance, and perks.
True, Whirlpool’s WED8500BW electric dryer didn’t offer substantially better drying performance than its cheaper 8100 counterpart, or even the cheapest model in the series, the WED8000BW. By that same token, however, the $999 MSRP isn’t substantially more money to spend to get more cycles and the addition of steam. With most retailers offering this machine for about $800, it’s a versatile appliance that offers a few extra perks for not much more money.
Meet the tester
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.
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