Laundry

Whirlpool Duet WED94HEAW Review

Lackluster performance makes us question the high price tag on this new dryer.

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Introduction

Whirlpool recently launched several new products in the laundry category, one of which was the . This brand new dryer, which retails for $1299, is definitely an expensive endeavor on the part of the manufacturer. It certainly looks worth it: we were very excited to see the shiny white finish with stainless trim, fresh out of the box and ready for testing. Unfortunately, the actual drying performance proved to be somewhat lackluster; it doesn't appear to really shine over anything else in its price range—or under its price range, for that matter.

While the cycle list and extra features are certainly solid, those two elements by themselves don't really justify spending that much money on a dryer. Luckily, some retailers are already offering this at discounted prices as low as $1000. If the inclusion of steam-based features is a plus for you and you don't mind paying extra for a fancier design, go for it; otherwise, you might as well save some money and get a better machine that's been on the market for longer.

Design & Usability

To be, or not to be (a button)

Though it's not smashing through any stylistic walls, this manages to look very nice. The glossy white exterior gives it a higher-end look than traditional enamel finishes, and it's complemented well by lots of stainless steel trim on the door and controls. Also, the controls use vibrant blue indicator lights that really pop, making it exceptionally easy to read.

While we took issue with the flat non-buttons, everything else on the dryer works just fine. The visual element of the control panel is perfect: everything looks great, is easily readable, and stands out from the general white enamel exterior. However, instead of having actual buttons that depress when pushed, the uses flat sensor buttons—you push on them, but nothing moves. It's like a glorified touch screen, but without the smooth responsiveness that people come to expect from that kind of technology in this day and age. You may be fine with it, but after pressing the power and start buttons for a few cycles, we got rather sick of it. At the very least, the machine plays a catchy little tune when it turns on and off that somewhat made up for the irritation.

Performance & Features

Fat price tags don't always mean stellar performance.

With a total of ten different cycles to choose from, the manages to cover all the standard bases and then some. In addition to your typical settings, you've also got options that range from Towels to Sanitize cycles. The one feature that utilizes the dryer's steam hook-up is the Steam Refresh option, designed to remove wrinkles and light odors from garments.

Five different temperature settings and three dryness levels offer average gradations of customization for the . Additionally, you can set the dryer's damp dry signal to loud, soft, or mute, whatever suits your preference.

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A static reduce feature adds small amounts of moisture to the tumbling via the steam attachment.

While you may not get quite as many features as you'd expect for a dryer that costs over $1000, the still manages to provide an impressive slew of options. Rather standard features such as the Wrinkle Shield, a drum light, and a control lock are all included, but you also have an Eco Boost setting (to maximize energy efficiency) and a static reduce feature that adds small amounts of moisture via the steam attachment. While there's only one cycle that takes advantage of that steam hook-up, it's worth noting that you can turn on a specific Steam feature for any sensor-based cycle; this adds steam right at the end, just before the cool-down portion of a load, presumably to reduce wrinkling and to make ironing easier.

Perfect drying results eluded us at every turn.

We expected more from such a brand new machine. Perfect drying results eluded us at every turn. Not one cycle produced consistently dry materials, though Normal and Delicate did come close. The Quick Dry and Bulky tests were unusually poor, with our test items were still quite damp by the time these cycles finished. Run times were of standard length, a factor that's exceptionally disappointing when you consider that temperatures were fantastic; nothing ever got too hot, meaning clothes were handled very gently.

Conclusion

Flashing buttons and a sleek exterior, but not much else.

For a consumer willing to spend $1299 on a dryer, there's a wide selection of high-quality products available for sale. One of those products is the recently released , a brand new model that just hit stores about two or three months prior to our reviewing it. In this pricey little package, you'll find a strong selection of specialized cycles, a decent number of extra features (including quite a few that take advantage of the steam hook up)...and disappointingly mediocre drying.

For $1299—or as little as $1000, depending if you find the same online sales that we did—the lackluster drying is a pretty big issue. Lots of drying options and a very attractive exterior only matter if the core performance can hold up. We've looked at a lot of dryers that were simpler, less versatile, or downright uglier than the , but they cost less and dry more. If appearances are important to you, then consider this machine. If you're biggest concern is the best drying you can find on a budget, however, you'll want to keep shopping around.

Science Introduction

Looking into peak temperatures, cycle durations, and water retention rates, it's easy to see why this Whirlpool flunked some of its tests.

Cycle Speed

We ran tests to weed out slugs and hotheads.

These days, an average full-length drying cycle should really be finishing the job in—or right under—an hour. This seemed a little out of shape on that front.

As with their temperatures, the Normal and Quick cycles kept respectable times at 62 and 13 minutes respectably. The Bulky and Delicate cycles, however, could boast no such thing. The Delicate setting dragged on for an hour and 45 minutes; fortunately, it peaked out at 108ºF, which is a fantastically gentle heat. The Bulky cycle took over an hour, too, with equally satisfactory temperature performance.

Performance

Does the dryer dry?

Of the four basic cycles we tested on this Whirlpool, not one, not two, but all of them failed to remove 100 percent of the added moisture from our test loads.

Close, but earning no cigars, were the Normal and Delicate cycles, which both got to 99 percent of their original bone-dry weights. In a world where other machines that cost the same can do better, this just can't fly.

The Bulky cycle failed its test, and to a greater degree. It only removed 67 percent of the moisture from its test load. Worst of all was the rushed Quick cycle, which expelled only 44 percent of the water. Alas, all the great temperatures and run times amount to naught when placed next to damp laundry.

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