There is a big difference between the cheapest and most expensive washing machines on the market – and buying a new one presents something of a financial dilemma. Canstar Blue research has found that Australian consumers spend an average of $893 on front loader washing machines and $696 on new top load washers. With typical prices ranging from around $500 to more than $6,000 for the top of the line models, it seems there are quite a few Aussies opting for cheaper models. After all, they just wash clothes right?! What’s the difference between a cheap and expensive washing machine?
Let’s face it, washing machines aren’t exactly ‘sexy’ and you are probably more tempted to spend your money elsewhere. So is it worth buying a cheap washing machine? In this article we review some of the cheapest washing machines in Australia, highlighting some of the strengths and downfalls that a cheap washing machine can have.
Cheapest Top Load Washing Machines
The cheapest top loaders are generally small in capacity and retail for around $600, but can be found for less than this at sales time.
Euromaid 5.5kg – HTL55
Despite what the name may suggest, Euromaid is an Australian brand focused on budget-friendly appliances. The HTL55 washing machine features quite a small capacity – just 5.5kg. Households of more than two people may want something larger – say 8kg or more – to get their washing duties done. It has eight washing programs with a heavy duty function along with time delay and a pause button. It also features an LED display control panel with a remaining time indicator and a clear lid so you can see how your cycle is going. It also features a 750RPM spin speed.
- Energy efficiency rating: 1.5 stars (consuming 565kWh/yr)
- Water efficiency rating: 3 stars (consuming 81L/cycle)
- RRP: $550
Esatto 6kg – ETL6
With a slightly larger capacity than the Euromaid, 6kg is still quite small relative to other washing machines, and would generally be suitable for a single or a couple. Once again larger households may find value in buying a larger washing machine. The Esatto features six washing programs, including a quick wash function. It also has an anti-crease function which is handy for those on the go… or those with pesky business shirts. Its controls are button-based and it features a 700RPM spin speed.
- Energy efficiency rating: 1.5 stars (consuming 544kWh/yr)
- Water efficiency rating: 3 stars (consuming 86L/cycle)
- RRP: $599
Simpson 6.5kg – SWT6541
Simpson is another established brand somewhat catering to the budget end of the price spectrum. Once again you’ll find that if you want the cheapest washing machines, you’ll have to put up with a smaller capacity – in this case, 6.5kg. The Simpson model features 11 wash programs, as well as time delay, a pause button and a time remaining display. The control panel is accessible even if the lid is up. It also features Simpson’s agitator wash action and a durable lid stated to whistand a basket full of wet towels. It runs on both hot and cold water inlets.
- Energy efficiency rating: 2.5 stars (consuming 440kWh/yr)
- Water efficiency rating: 3.5 stars (consuming 79L/cycle)
- RRP: $639
Cheapest Front Load Washing Machines
Some familiar faces dominate the rankings for the cheapest front loaders – Euromaid, Esatto and Haier. It’s a similar story to the cheapest top loaders in that if you want to spend around $600, you’re generally stuck with a small capacity machine with limited features.
Euromaid 5kg – WM5PRO
A cheap front loader with a 5kg capacity is the Euromaid WM5PRO. It has a couple of handy features that may convince you to part ways with your money. It features a smart delay function to better suit your lifestyle, with auxiliary functions and other options also available. There are 15 programs in total, including cold washing and quick washing. It has a 1200RPM spin speed.
- Energy efficiency rating: 2.5 stars (consuming 375kWh/yr)
- Water efficiency rating: 3.5 stars (consuming 60L/cycle)
- RRP: $599
Esatto 6kg – EFLW6
Users may benefit from the 1kg larger capacity than some other low-cost competitors, but generally speaking with Esatto you get much the same type of deal as with other brands. However, this model features 16 wash programs all controlled from a single knob and an LED display. It’s a cold water-only model, features time delay, a pause function and a time remaining display. It features a 1000RPM spin speed.
- Energy efficiency rating: 2.5 stars (consuming 322kWh/yr)
- Water efficiency rating: 4 stars (consuming 61L/cycle)
- RRP: $609
Haier 7.5kg – HWF75AW1
Haier packs in everytthing you would expect from a washing machine as well as additional load capacity. It features 16 different wash programs to choose from, all operated on one dial. It also boasts a long lasting anti-bacterical treated door seal and detergent dispenser. In addition, you’ll find a wave drum design stated to provide a gentle wash and a 1200RPM spin speed. It features a delay end as well as a speed up wash option, ideal for busy households.
- Energy efficiency rating: 3.5 stars (consuming 334kWh/yr)
- Water efficiency rating: 4.5-star (consuming 63L/cycle)
- RRP: $649
Is a cheap washing machine a good move?
It’s quite evident that the cheaper models tend to use quite a large amount of electricity every year. This is especially the case with top loaders. You’ll also have to consider that many of these models have small capacities and will probably need to be run more frequently than a larger washing machine. This means that you’ll need to look past the cheap purchase prices and instead consider the ongoing costs.
Using two of the models above – the Euromaid top loader (565kWh) and Euromaid front loader (375kWh) – as examples, it’s quite evident that their relatively high electricity consumption could add up in the long run.
- Average length of ownership for a top loader in our survey was just over 9 years
- Average length of ownership for a front loader in our survey was almost 8 years
When you consider the total approximate energy consumption over these time periods, the Euromaid top loader would use 5085kWh, and for the Midea front loader it would be 3000kWh.
- Using the metric of 33c/kWh, which is quite a modest figure, the top loader would cost around $1,677 to run over 9 years, while the front loader would cost $990 over almost 8 years.
Keep in mind the fact that electricity prices are probably going to rise in these time frames, and you’re looking at ongoing costs eclipsing the purchase prices by quite a margin. Water consumption is less of a consideration because water by the gigalitre is quite cheap – especially in metro areas. However, if you own your own home or you’re renting your house out to someone, it might pay to keep track of water usage to make sure it’s not wildly abnormal. Keep in mind that front loaders generally use significantly less water than top loaders, so if you’re mindful about water then it could pay to go for a front loader model.
All of this begs the question: Is it better to spend more on a more efficient appliance? More efficient washing machines usually command a higher price tag, and it could take several years to recoup your costs by way of reduced energy bills.
Given the lengthy times of ownership displayed above, customers stand a good chance of making back their money, however it may just not be enough to justify spending $1,000 or more upfront. What you can’t put a price tag on is the increased features and usability some more expensive models afford. In any case, you’ll have to weigh up for yourself whether a cheap washing machine is truly ‘cheap’.