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Product Review

Bosch, Kenmore clean up in dishwasher ratings

David Goldman/Associated Press

Tougher new rules have slashed the energy and water dishwashers can use to get the government’s Energy Star seal.

Dishwashers built since January must use about 9 percent less electricity and 27 percent less water to meet the federal EPA’s voluntary Energy Star standard. Cycle times even for energy-efficient models can be long. A unit needs time to recirculate the small amounts of water it uses to clean items while meeting federal standards for energy and water efficiency.

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But Consumer Reports’ tests of 77 dishwasher models show that doesn’t mean you have to live with dirty dishes or ridiculously long cycles. Better yet, some of the biggest energy misers are also well priced.

Bosch’s new Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC, $700, and Kenmore’s new 1328[3], $650, are among nine recommended models priced under $1,000. With a cycle time of 95 minutes, the Bosch was fastest in Consumer Reports’ tests after the noisier and less-capable Electrolux IQ EIDW5905J[S]. It’s also almost twice as fast as the new GE Monogram ZBD9900R[ii], which took three hours.

Testers slathered plates with egg yolks, peanut butter, raspberry jam, and other stubborn goo to see which made the clean-plate club. Consumer Reports’ results show that it’s easy to pay a tidy sum for so-so performance. You can also pay less and get more noise than you expected. Here are the details:

Middling choices at high prices. Paying $1,600 for Dacor’s Renaissance EDWH24S lets you choose between two handle styles. Its washing is top-notch, but you’ll find more features, better efficiency, and quieter running for far less. Viking’s Professional VDB450E[SS], $1,800, is also shy on features and only so-so at washing.

Less cost, more noise. Two new $300 dishwashers from GE and Kenmore are among six budget-priced models that are especially noisy. Most raucous of that bunch: the Hotpoint HDA3600R[WW], which also scored lowest among conventional machines.

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A new dud among drawers. Dishwasher drawers typically include upper and lower pullout compartments, letting you use only the upper one without needing to bend. But they’re high in price and typically low in overall performance. Subpar washing put Fisher & Paykel’s single drawer 36-inch DD36SDFTX1 at the bottom of this group. And despite the added width, it fits only nine place settings instead of the usual 10 to 12.

How to choose

Energy Star standards for dishwashers could add a wash-performance component as soon as January 2014. The Department of Energy, which sets the standards, bases them on lightly soiled loads. Consumer Reports has urged them to use much dirtier loads, as we do in our tests. Here’s what else to consider:

Look for convenience. Dishwashers that scored well for ease of use usually include adjustable racks and lots of flatware slots. Many also have fold-down tines, which let you fit large or odd-shaped dishes and other dinnerware. Stainless-steel tubs resist stains better than white plastic tubs.

Match your cleaning habits. Our picks clean well enough for you to skip prerinsing. If you do prerinse, skip extra-cost power-scrubbing modes. And sidestep noisy self-cleaning filters. More models now have manual-clean filters.

Check the controls. Some models include interactive touch controls, but the usual touchpads are fine if clearly marked. Also look for cycle-time and other visible displays if you opt for controls that are hidden when the door is closed.

Consumer Reports writes columns, reviews, and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and other consumer goods. Previous stories can be found at consumerreports.org.

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