ASKO - How to choose between a top loader vs front loader

How to choose between a top loader vs front loader

One of the key choices when it comes to choosing a new washing machine is whether to go for a top or front-loading machine.

Design wise, front loading machines offer more flexibility – you can wall mount a dryer directly on top, or they can be placed under a benchtop leaving a handy spot to fold laundry, store detergents and other laundry staples. Top loaders, however, require a lid’s worth of clearance space above them, meaning you lose valuable room in your laundry.  While top loaders do hold slightly more washing per load, the real deciding factor will come down to efficiency and cost – so here’s the breakdown.

Which machine is quicker?

While most models will have a quick wash option, top loaders will do an equivalent cycle in less time. This is due to the washing being constantly immersed in the water, unlike in a front loader. That said, this can result in more lint being generated due to the friction of fabrics during the cycle.

Which is more energy efficient?

Front loaders have the edge in this department  – and they also use less detergent. Why? Front loaders have a horizontal drum which uses gravity to tumble your washing. Unfortunately, this does mean you can’t add to your load mid cycle. If you’re a fan of cold water washes however, top loaders have an advantage here – though it is negligible.

What’s cheaper?

When it comes to ticket price, top loaders are generally cheaper. However, front loaders are cheaper from an energy and water consumption standpoint and most consumers will make back the difference inside a year.

The deciding factor here will be how often you use your machine – if you’re constantly pushing through a load of washing, you’ll quickly pay off the more expensive front loader, but if your washing machine is in action a couple of times a week at best, you may find the upfront costs not worth it.

As a rough guide, here are the approximate costings of running a top or front-loading machine – on cold and warm washes.

Source: South Australian Government – you can access figures for various machine sizes here.

In short, if you run 10small (5kg) cold loads of washing through per week, it’ll cost you around $20.80 per year in a top loader, and $26.00 in a front loader. But if you’re a warm washer, you’re looking at $384.80 pa for a top loader, and $192.40pa for a front loader. That’s a lot of savings over the average lifespan of a washing machine – and many of us are washing a lot more than 10 small loads per week!

In terms of water costs (and being an eco-conscious consumer), the front loader is the clear winner, using almost half the amount of water on an equivalent sized load, across most machine capacities. 

Quality counts

The ticket price on a washing machine is often a big part of the decision making process, but given a high quality machine can last years longer. With less maintenance and repair costs and more efficiency factors designed in, it’s worth comparing the energy and water costs. When you factor in more time before replacement is required, longer warranties and lower operating costs (as well as less wear and tear on your clothing), you’re likely to find that higher up front cost are quickly absorbed by lower usage costs.