Laundry

Fisher & Paykel AquaSmart WL42T26DW1 3.1 cu. ft. Top-Loading Washing Machine Review

The Fisher & Paykel AquaSmart WL42T26DW1: a high-end washer with excellent stain removal performance.

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Introduction

Designed in New Zealand, the is as exotic as a Kokako bird in the US, where this washer's manufacturer has yet to become a household name (it's pronounced PIE-kel, not PAY-kel).

Found on sale for around $775, this Fisher & Paykel is best for those who want excellent stain fighting performance from a higher-end washer that's a little bit different.

In our scientific tests, it excelled at stain removal and ease of use. Its ten year motor warranty is also impressive, though not unprecedented. As for drawbacks, its overly-simplified control panel lacks a time display, dirt removal is subpar and the "AquaSmart" moniker is undeserved considering how much water this top-loader used.

Front

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Controls

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Drawer

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Interior

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Sides

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Back

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Electricity Use

Clothes washers tend not to use a ton of electricity. We weren't surprised that the Fisher & Paykel would add less than $5 a year to your electric bill.

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Water Use

Here's where things got disappointing. Though the AquaSmart uses less water than washers designed a decade ago, it wasn't appreciably more efficient than any other modern top-loader we've tested. In fact, it actually uses about twice as much water as many front loading washing machines we've tested. Fisher & Paykel's similarly-named EcoSmart top loader proved just as thirsty.

Cost Per Wash

Washes range in cost from 12 to 28 cents per cycle. That's fairly high, and driven by the unfortunately named AquaSmart's high water use.

Yearly Running Cost

When all is said and done, a year of operating the should cost you $61.56 if your water and energy costs are close to the national averages.

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Washing Speed

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Washing Performance

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Normal/Permanent Press Cycle

Fisher & Paykel calls this the “regular” cycle, and it had no problems when it came to lifting stains. Even tough oil and grease stains were no match for this cycle, which left our standardized stain strips closer to pure white than many other washers we’ve tested.

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Cotton/Whites Cycle

On the “Whites” cycle, the AquaSmart actually performed marginally worse than it did on the Regular cycle — with the exception of cocoa and red wine stains. Considering that it takes longer and costs twice as much per cycle to run, we’d stick with the Regular cycle for most washes.

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Delicates Cycle

The AquaSmart’s Delicate cycle isn’t going to get out any tough stains, but it will brighten your less-durable laundry without damaging it. Temperatures reached just over 84 degrees during a Delicate wash, which did a better job removing stains than similar cycles on many other washers we’ve tested.

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Heavy Duty

Again, the Heavy cycle performed just slightly better than the Regular cycle. Unlike Whites, Heavy actually uses nearly the same amount of water and electricity as the Regular cycle — only with a water temperature that’s five degrees warmer. For the added five minutes of cycle time, though, it may not be worth using.

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Quick Cycle

The Fisher & Paykel AquaSmart WL42T26DW1 has no “quick” cycle, unfortunately, and no way to configure an existing cycle to take less time. If you’re running short on time, it’s possible to push the “advance” button to skip the washer to the next step of the cycle, but be warned that performance will inevitably suffer. No cycle took longer than an hour, so that’s also good news for those in a hurry.

Dirt Removal

We add 25 grams of sand to a load of laundry for our dirt removal tests. After the laundry is washed, we measure how much sand ends up in a filter attached to the end of the drain hose. The Fisher & Paykel did a lousy job here, with between 14 and 20 percent of the dirt ending up in the filter — the rest staying behind in the laundry.

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Clothes Wear

The Fisher & Paykel AquaSmart WL42T26DW1 was very rough on clothes, leaving behind as many as 90 loose threads on our clothes wear test strips. Most washers only leave around 70 loose threads even after the harshest cycles. Even on the Delicate cycle, the clothes wear test strips were pretty well damaged.

Water Retention

Washers that don’t do a good job spinning water out of loads after a cycle leave laundry that’s still wet and susceptible to developing a musty smell. Moreover, they make it harder for dryers to do their job. The Fisher & Paykel AquaSmart did a very good job getting water out of loads on the Regular, Heavy and Whites cycles, but balked when it came to Delicate.

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Washing Cycles

While lots of washers in this price range tend to have some sort of sanitizing or allergen cycle in addition to other specialty washes, the sticks to the basics.

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Customization

Within each cycle, its possible to customize temperature and spin speed. Though there's no way to preset a custom wash, the default settings of individual cycles can be change. Just change a cycle's settings, hold the wash cycle's button for two seconds, and the new settings will be saved. Further instructions can be found in the owner's manual

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Additional Wash Options

Each wash can have fabric softener, bleach and a soak cycle added. There's also the option to run a wash in "high efficiency" mode, and a button that advances a cycle onto its next stage.

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Washing Options

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Detergent Dispenser

Detergent is dispensed through a funnel built into the side of the washer, underneath the lid. There are similar funnels for liquid bleach and fabric softener.

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Washer Door

The 's large plastic door covers the entire top of the washer. Although it's made of plastic, it's heavier than many glass doors we've opened. It also has a tendency to slam shut.

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Ease of Use

This is an extremely simple washer. Just press the button for the cycle you want and hit start. The "advance" feature is pretty cool, too, letting you skip through parts of a wash cycle if you're in a hurry. It's also easy to load and unload, since there's no agitator that clothes might get wrapped around. Just watch out for that big door.

Controls

Like the speedometer on your grandfather's Buick LeSabre, the 's control panel is laid out horizontally. The top tier is wash cycles and there's an individual button for each. Beneath are the wash options, which scroll through menus. It's extremely easy to use. Conspicuously absent for a washer in this price range is a timer that shows how many minutes are left in a wash.

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Efficiency

Assuming that your water and energy costs are around the national average, running the for a year will set you back more than $61 — most of which will be tacked onto your water bill. That's a lot of water for a washer that claims to be "AquaSmart." A similarly-priced front loading washer could save you $150 in water costs over 5 years — and get your clothes as clean.

Performance

While the Fisher & Paykel excelled at stain removal, it fared poorly when it came to dirt removal and clothes wear, leaving our test loads with debris left behind and some torn threads.

Features

Within cycles, you can adjust for temperature and spin speed. You can also add a soak cycle, a bleach wash or a fabric softener wash. There's also a cool "advance" feature that pushes a wash cycle forward to its next phase. Still, the lack of a countdown timer and certain specialty wash cycles is a noticeable absence in this price range.

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