With a distinct difference in design and price, top loaders and front loaders have their own advantages and pitfalls. While top loaders are inexpensive and with ergonomic design, making it easy to load and unload clothes, front loaders are expensive, but with better wash performance. Let us look at key aspects of both types of washing machines to understand which would better suit your needs.
A front-load washing machine, as the name suggests has its door on the front side. So, to load and unload clothes, you need to bend over. For this reason, weak and elderly people may not be quite fond of a front loader’s design. To reduce the strain, you can install it on a stand. But, even then, the door has to be closed for the washing to start. In most options, you cannot open it in between to add clothes.
This is where a top loader has advantages. As its door is at the top, it is easy to load and unload clothes. Also, you can add clothes, laundry booster and any other additives in between the wash program.
You will notice that the drum as a whole spins when a front loader is in operation. But in a top loader, it is the agitator or an impeller at the bottom that drives the spinning. The drum too turns due to the inertia, but not as much as a front loader.
Further, all front-loaders have stainless steel drums. But, in a top loader, depending on the pricing, you get a plastic or stainless steel drum. In either case, the impeller is usually plastic.
Front-load washing machines are predominantly available in capacities ranging from 6 to 10 Kg. A top-loader is more versatile in this aspect available at a capacity ranging from 6 to 16 Kg or even more, making them an apt choice for hostels and places where a large group stay together.
Newer front loaders come as double-deckers with one stacked on top of the other. They have higher capacities of up to 16Kg, but are ridiculously expensive.
A front-load washing machine is more versatile in this aspect. It has a wide variety of wash programs, unlike top loaders. Almost all front loaders have an in-built heater. So, you can wash your clothes in hot water and disinfect them. In top loaders, this is however an exception. Most top-loaders don’t have an in-built heater. Just a few options from Whirlpool, Panasonic and IFB have in-built heaters and they are usually expensive compared to other top loaders.
A front loader has a wide range of wash programs like cotton, jeans, delicates, bedding, woolen, daily wear and so on many options to clean almost every type of fabric. A top loader is usually limited in this respect. It has around 7-10 wash programs which are basic. Also, the duration of the wash programs is short. As a result, it doesn’t clean the clothes as thoroughly as a front loader. Further, a top-loader does not wash large pieces of beddings thoroughly as it won’t completely immerse the clothes in water. They are also rougher on your clothes compared to front loaders.
A top-loader usually has a spin speed of 650-800 RPM, while a front loader spins at 1000-1400 RPM. As a result, clothes washed in a front loader will be much drier.
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Being a premium segment, front-load washing machines come with a variety of functionalities. They include pre-rinse, medic rinse, intensive, crease care, rinse hold, steam wash, hygiene wash, wi-fi connectivity and so on. As top-loaders are a budget-friendlier alternative, their functionalities are also limited. Most of them have a time delay function and also options for pre-rinse, rinse hold etc. But wi-fi connectivity, steam wash etc are not available in most top loaders.
Front-loaders conserve water and require just about 7-10 litres of water to wash one Kg of clothes. But they require a minimum water pressure, depending on the model, without which it doesn’t start working. Some models like Haier and Whirlpool has Near Zero Technology. But most other brands require around 1 bar of water pressure for proper functioning.
A top-loader on the other hand is a water guzzler. It uses around 16-20 litres of water to wash one Kg of clothes. So, a 6 Kg washing machine uses close to 100 litres of water. If you live in a place where water is scarce, you would be better off using a front loader.
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As most top-loaders don’t have an in-built heater, they don’t consume much energy. But the ones with heaters consume comparable energy to a front loader.
If you take a look at the BEE label on a front loader, you will notice that its energy consumption is just around 0.5-0.8 units per 6 kg load. But, when you look at the BEE website, you understand that this is measured when washing without hot water. When hot water is used and spin speed is set high, the washing machine may use as much as 1.5to 2.5 units per 6 kg load.
A top-loader on the other hand uses just around 0.06 units per 6 kg load, making it an incredibly energy-efficient appliance.
A front loader has a lot more electronic components. Also, it is quite prone to mold as water stays in the rubber seal making it an ideal breeding ground for mold. To prevent mold, you have to wipe the seal clean and keep the door open when it is not in use. A top-loader however does not have this issue as water does not stay in the rubber seal.
Top load washing machines have budget-friendlier pricing. They start from around Rs. 10000 and depending on the capacity and features, go up to around 25-30K. A top loader in the 30K price range comes with around 10 Kg capacity and a host of features. So, if you spend around 15-18K, you can usually get a good option with a 7-8 Kg capacity and necessary wash programs and features.
The price of a front loader starts from around Rs. 20K. Advanced options cost as high as Rs. 1 lakh. But, within a budget of around 35K, you can get a pretty good option with a 6-8 Kg capacity that has wi-fi connectivity and other necessary features.