Fisher & Paykel EcoSmart WA42T26GW1 Washing Machine Review
Fisher & Paykel's entry-level washer has a unique design, but poor performance.
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Just because something is different doesn't necessarily make it better, and the Fisher & Paykel EcoSmart is proof. With an MSRP close to $1000 but easily found on sale for under $600, it is certainly different from any washer we've ever tested. It just isn't any better than most of them.
Washers tend not to use lots of electricity, and the EcoSmart was no exception. In total, it would add about 42 cents to your yearly electric bill.
Though it's marketed as an energy-saving washer, the EcoSmart used more water than most top-loaders. On most cycles, it guzzled around 22 gallons of water. When washing delicates, it used a whopping 42 gallons.
Cost Per Wash
An energy efficient washer tends to cost less than a dime per cycle. This one's "Time Saver" cycle cost that much, but a regular wash would cost 14 cents and a delicates wash would cost 22 cents.
Yearly Running Cost
While Fisher & Paykel claims that the EcoSmart would cost $21 in an average year of washes, our calculations took into account a variety of wash cycles used each week. We found an average year with the EcoSmart would set you back $57.92 in total.
Unfortunately, this machine doesn't have the chops to match its cycle speeds, leaving us unimpressed.
Rushing to finish the job doesn't always produce the happiest results, as you can see.
Normal/Permanent Press Cycle
We were pleased to see how quickly the EcoSmart finished washing our test loads on the normal cycle. We weren’t so pleased, however, to see that other washers that took just a little more time also did a better job removing stains.
The EcoSmart has no cotton cycle, so we set the regular cycle to run with hot water. It really struggled, which brought down its overall performance rating. Similar washers removed more stains from test loads on their delicate cycles than the EcoSmart did on regular with hot water. That’s really disappointing.
The EcoSmart did pretty well on delicates, removing stains more thoroughly than many other washers we’ve tested. It didn’t do that great a job protecting clothes from damage, however. While some of the mechanical action strips we use to test clothing wear emerged almost unscathed, others were as damaged as on the heavy duty load. That’s a sign that the washer didn’t adequately move the load around, inadvertently protecting some parts of the load while subjecting other items to the full force of agitation.
Heavy Duty Cycle
On the EcoSmart, heavy duty wasn’t so heavy after all. Most stains hadn’t shifted any more than they did on the regular cycle.
Quick Wash Cycle
One bright spot amidst the EcoSmart’s otherwise mediocre performance was its quick wash cycle — a regular wash, with the “time saver” option turned on. In just 24 minutes, it removed stains almost as well as the regular cycle. If we owned this washer, we’d use the time saver option on most washes.
Most front loaders have a problem removing dirt and debris from loads of laundry, but the EcoSmart is an extreme example. About 80 percent of the sand and dirt we added to our test load remained in the washer or in the towels and shirts we washed.
Clothes ended up pretty worn after a few spins through the EcoSmart, though wear was uneven. This indicates that some clothes were subjected to more agitation than others.
When a washer spins the water out of clothing, that means less work for your dryer to do. The EcoSmart was about average when it came to water retention, though loads emerging from the delicates cycle remained thoroughly water-logged.
In addition to regular, heavy duty, delicate and permanent press cycles, the EcoSmart also features an allergy wash that rinses and soaks more thoroughly.
Cycles can be customized for temperature, water level, spin speed and soak cycles. The EcoSmart also dedicates a preset button for one "favorite" custom cycle.
Additional Wash Options
Washes can be delayed either one hour, three hours or nine hours. The "Time Saver" option significantly reduces how long you'll be waiting for a wash.
Like most traditional top-loaders with tall agitators, the EcoSmart's detergent dispenser is inside the agitator. Fabric softener can be put in a recess on top of the agitator.
The door, which takes up the entire top surface of the washer, is made of sturdy but lightweight plastic.
Ease of Use
Controls are straightforward enough for anyone to use. Open the door and the washer's body is sloped so clothes can easily slide into the drum.
The EcoSmart has a water-resistant control panel with plastic membrane buttons for wash cycles and options. LED indicators show how far into a wash cycle the machine is, but there's no numerical display. That leaves you guessing as to how much time is left, and precludes counting down every load of laundry like it's New Year's Eve.
With a mix of cycles, we couldn't replicate the energy efficiency of the manufacturer's own EnergyStar tests. In fact, although the washer is named EcoSmart, it's one of the thirstiest units we've tested.
The EcoSmart proved gentle on stains and tough on fabrics, which is the opposite of what we wanted to see. Cycles didn't take very long, but they didn't do an effective job removing stains or removing debris.
An easy-to-use control panel and thoughtfully-chosen cycles are appreciated, but the lack of a countdown timer is noticeable in this price range.