Which washing machine should you get? A top loader or a front loader? A lot comes into play when making this decision such as space, layout, water consumption and capacity.
SPACE & LAYOUT
In our previous 3 large caravans (all 22.6) we’ve had top loading washing machines and they worked really well for us. At first I was hesitant to change to a front loader, but I’m so glad I did! The top loader did a great job, but it used a lot of water and took up too much space for our liking. We had ours located in the ensuite under the bench. Our washing basket used to sit on top of the bench and our rubbish bin sat on the floor in front of the cupboard door that was hardly ever opened as the washing machine was behind it.
With our current van we went with the NCE wall mounted 3k washer/drier machine and absolutely love it. Because we chose to wall mount, we gained enough space in our ensuite to add a slide out rubbish bin, a large cupboard that holds our dirty clothes basket and a lot of other things plus a smaller drawer. We have nothing on the floor anymore as the rubbish bin is hidden and we gained bench space that we can use for our air fryer and thermomix etc. Sure, we had the same bench space with the top loader but every time we wanted to use the machine, what was on the bench would have to come off.
WATER CONSUMPTION & CAPACITY
We found the top loader would use 50+ litres for a medium wash and 70+ for a full wash. You could do a wash and then stop it before it drained the water and add more clothing, and you could also fill the machine with water from a river or lake etc outside, but generally speaking, it used a lot of water. We could wash all the bedding in 2 loads in the top loader but as yet haven’t tried it in the front loader. I think we could do it over 3-4 loads but we prefer to use laundromats for the big stuff where possible.
The NCE uses less than 9 litres on a quick wash, which is the only cycle we use when off grid. I always do an extra spin cycle as it doesn’t do it very well on the quick wash. I can’t remember how much it uses for a full wash, but it’s not much! We can do 3 (quick) loads of washing and use less than 30 litres of water. To do a similar wash in the top loader we would use almost double the water.
People often ask how noisy the wall mounted machine is which is a fair question! It spins quite fast, the van definitely moves and it is a little loud, but it only last for about 2 minutes on the spin cycle and is not an issue at all. If it gets out of balance, it can be quite loud but the machine re-balances itself which is pretty handy! The top loader also used to be very loud and jump around a lot on the spin cycle if there were heavy items like towels or jeans and the machine was imbalanced.
As a drier, the NCE is very handy, but doesn’t work like a traditional drier. It’s more of a ‘finisher’ and has a 1kg capacity. As a test, we tried drying a hoodie straight after being washed and it took 10 hours which was fine as we were plugged into power. Generally, we use it more to finish things off if they don’t quite dry completely, or for small items. It was a Godsend when we were at the Gold Coast Holiday Park for a few weeks visiting family and it rained every day! We would hang the clothes on the Slide n Dry Pegless clothesline under the awning to partly dry and then finish them off in the drier for the remainder of the day or at night. As we were plugged into power, it was simple. Would I suggest a washer drier to everyone? No. I don’t think it is necessary, but it has definitely come in handy for us on a few occasions.
As I mentioned before, this didn’t start out as a comprehensive comparison, it was originally going to be a comparison of water consumption. Because of this I have no idea how much the top loading machines draw. In our last van we had 720w of solar and 400ah in lithium and power was never an issue – and that’s all the current power info I have on the top loader. But I can throw a few stats at you about our front loader from the load that I’ve completed right now. We have to keep in mind that the solar was pumping in and we have 600ah of Enerdrive lithium BTec batteries. On a quick wash while the water is being pumped in, it draws between 14 and 22 amps. During the washing part of the cycle it draws about 7. This is looking at the common loads so anything else that is drawing power is included (nothing else large was running). At the end of the cycle not even 1% of our battery was depleted. From our very rough calculations we figured out that it uses about 10 amps per hour on average.
After reading this post and watching the video, I hope you have a bit more of an idea on what washing machine will best suit your caravanning experience. No matter what you choose, I’m sure just getting away in the caravan will be enough to make you smile!