Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
Hi,

I'm looking for suggestions for washing machines for off-grid living. We are both absent during the best power-generating hours.

I've been looking at the http://energystar.gov site and sorting by both energy-factor and KWH. The LG WM2301 seems to come to the top of the list and I can find them. Some others near the top of the list are hard to locate. The WM2301 is energy-star rated at 119KWH/year. I think I'm leaning that direction, but it has a computer and will require some standby power yet doesn't seem to have a function to delay the wash cycle until the batteries are expected to be floating. I guess I'm wondering how bad I'm going to want that capability...

Anyway, I'm sure there are some other factors I haven't thought of that will be immediately apparent to those more experienced with off-grid living.

Thanks as always!

Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    How much time do you have? If you are willing to trade time for energy and water efficiency then consider a wringer type washing machine :http://www.lehmans.com/store/Appliances___Practical_Appliances___Electric_Appliances___Home_Queen_Wringer_Washer___FW2181?Args=

    They can be built to run on electricity or on a gasoline motor. The real savings come from the ability to use water (and hot water) very efficiently. When we do laundry, we start with one load of whites,,, wring those, then add a load of darks that are not real dirty,, wring those and finally add a load of work clothes. Wring those,, drain the machine of ~8 gallons or so of water. Add fresh water,, rinse the whites,, followed by the darks followed by the work cloths. That water then becomes a wash load with a bit of added soap for another round if we have one. So three tubs of water do as many as 6 or 8 loads of water.

    The wringer also gets more water out than a conventional spin cycle,, but maybe not as much as a new horizontal machine.

    The trade off is time. Each load has to be handled more,,, the above 6 loads takes about 2 hours,, but as you are hanging out round one,, you are letting the machine rinse load two and so forth. Susan just budgets a morning to do laundry when the drying conditions are right.

    We use an old Eatons Canada Viking that came with a Brigg&Scrapiron engine,,, I replaced it years ago with a honda. Works great,, after almost 50 years!

    Tony
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Staber washing machines are a popular washing machine for off grid. They dont use much for power and they use very little water. It also used to be important that they would run on modified sine wave inverters but with the current inverter technology, thats less important. They are designed to be repaired by the owner if and when they break. There is no standby load as they use mechanical timers. They get clothes about as dry as possible. Unless things have changed they are not listed on the Energy Star ratings even though they are competitive with the best Energy Star models.

    You need to order them and have them delivered as I dont think they have any stocking dealers.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I've heard some not so good things about Stabers,, although I can't confirm where.

    T
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I second reading nothing but bad reports on Stabers ... never have read one report of a happy customer and all say stick with energy-star rated name brands as its mostly hype on the energy saving of Stabers when and if they work
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,624 admin
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I "third" the reading and research on Stabers as being a very weak implementation (lots of leak and repair issues).

    I am on-grid (Grid Tied Solar)--so I have more power and city water than you may... I am pretty happy with the Fisher Paykel washer. The one I has includes a delay (minutes to 1/2 a day)... However, when it is On (or in Standby) it uses 4-9 watts of electricity. I do turn my washer and drier off with a power strip to kill the standby loads.

    They are pretty energy efficient (~0.25 kWhrs per load each--last I remember for both the washer and natural gas drier). The washer has a 2.5 hour soak cycle--so I turn it way down to "gentle" to beat our clothing less.

    If you have water issues--I don't know if you can find what older washers had (even Kenmore had it as an option)--the "soapy" water was directed into a drum and reused.

    The horizontal drum washers use much less water--but I am a bit worried about their long term reliability (the tub to door seals seem to be a weak spot--issues with leaks, mold, and sock munching on some brands).

    For drying--look at an Extractor--relatively cheap and fast... Much less water so clothes air dry (or drier) much quicker.

    Clothes dryer: propane vs. electric (and extractor)

    For the Wind-Sun forum of laundry (only more so)--this forum was a fun read when I was looking for new washer/drier.

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/laundry/

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Might be stating the obvious here, but you can be even more efficient with washing if you do cold only washes. Or alternatively if you're absolutely wedded to the idea of hot washes, then find a machine that supports hot fill and use solar hot water.
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Interesting indirect comments on Stabers, I have had one for about 10 years with no issues, have run into several other folks who have had them for as long or longer and they love them. I have verified the water savings and power usage. Not a lot that can go wrong, two bearings a belt, motor and pump driven by a variable speed drive with a mechanical timer. About the only problem I have heard of was someone running one on a square wave inverter with low voltage problems.

    If you scan Home Power articles over the years, there are a lot of folks who have Stabers. Beats the hassles with Maytag Neptunes recalls a few years ago, it was pretty pathetic that Maytag had to buy them back and give the customers coupons to buy top loaders. I still see them for sale for cheap now that the settlement is long since over and the owners have decided that the smell of mold is not something they like from their washing machine. By the way the settlement only applied in the US, buyers in other countries just got to live with it.

    So name brands have their issues too.
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?
    peakbagger wrote: »
    If you scan Home Power articles over the years, there are a lot of folks who have Stabers. Beats the hassles with Maytag Neptunes recalls a few years ago, it was pretty pathetic that Maytag had to buy them back and give the customers coupons to buy top loaders. I still see them for sale for cheap now that the settlement is long since over and the owners have decided that the smell of mold is not something they like from their washing machine. By the way the settlement only applied in the US, buyers in other countries just got to live with it.

    We bought a Neptune when they first came out, entirely to get the water savings over our old top-loader. Yes, the mold is there but we don't do the volume of wash a big family would so though we can see the mold on the drum seal, we can't smell it nor does it affect the wash. Slightly unsightly is all, if you open the door and look.

    But I have had to replace the main circuit board once and the wax motor that locks the door (at the same time, it's what takes out the circuit board).

    It has a problem with the "hand-off" between the Magnum inverter and the generator so we have learned to do the entire load on either one but not to change mid-load.

    And no, I would not buy another. The water savings are great and it was the best at the time but others have joined the water saving club since we bought this.

    Phil
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Thanks for the tips.

    My wife is not interested in actively attending to the laundry with a wringer-style washer. Additionally I would worry about her feeding a finger through the wringer. Is it less dangerous than it looks?

    Good point on the hot water inlet. I hadn't thought of that and am not sure if the model I am interested in is cold fill or not. We wash in cold water but it would suck to have an electric element as the only source of heat when warm/hot cycles are required.

    I had noted both the recommendation of, and frustration with the Stabers.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Fingers are not subject to getting crushed in the wringers,,, the way the wringers work, is they run with tension springs,,, and if the tension is to great (too thick) they pop open. You can get a pretty good squeeze but I have never heard of anyone getting hurt.

    Tony
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,276 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I have a Frigidaire "Gallery" series washer and have steered 7 of my customers to them for offgrid. Zero problems going on 6 years. The gas drier is excellent as it uses an igniter that goes out after ignition. One load W/D is about .3KWH. Sears also sells a Kenmore version of the frigidaire.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 718 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I have a staber and absolutely hate it. It is to expensive and doesn't work very good. Mine actually shakes so bad it cant spin the laundry out this has been caused by it shaking the screws loose that hold it together. It also went threw a spell were every time the pump would kick on fire would fly out of the control board. I just think they are over priced and dont really do any thing that great?

    I would highly recommend a good energy star rated front loader from your local appliance store.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Wow,,, fire comes out of the control board. I thought it bad when my wringer would backfire out the carb when it had a B&S motor on it. Honda power cured that!

    T
  • jacobsjacobs Solar Expert Posts: 72 ✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?
    icarus wrote: »
    Fingers are not subject to getting crushed in the wringers,,, the way the wringers work, is they run with tension springs,,, and if the tension is to great (too thick) they pop open. You can get a pretty good squeeze but I have never heard of anyone getting hurt.

    Tony

    When I was about 3 years old, I managed to get caught in a wringer. It squeezed my hand and arm before it released but no damage to me.....almost gave my mother a heart attack though.

    60 years later.....we still own that same Maytag wringer.


    We presently use a 1980's Whirlpool with the Suds Saver option. I removed the original non-working AC motor and replaced it with a DC motor. I've never measured the amount of water it uses but you reuse the wash water.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Here's a brief report about our front loader HE washer: http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=3384&highlight=sears+washer

    Auto start can be dealyed for 1-9 hours in (odd) two-hour increments.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    According to LG, the washer we were looking at does have a hot-fill option. I've taken a chance on it, and will report back with my findings in a couple weeks when it gets here.

    Thanks for all the suggestions.
  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    We've had the LG WM2301 in place for a week now, so here's the report.

    + Clothes come out clean and nearly dry.
    + A normal load takes 120 watt-hours (.12KWH)
    + Wash can be delayed by up to 19 hours (didn't see that in the spec on lg's web site.)
    + Takes a hot fill.
    + Very quiet.

    - Draws about a watt when powered off. (I've not yet checked standby for delay, expect it will be more)
    - Looses it's place in the wash cycle if power is interrupted. I had read an account of another LG washer not suffering this phenomenon.

    All in all we're very happy with it. The detracting factors aren't that much of a big deal, and I would expect to have to engineer my own in order to get the perfect off-grid washer.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    Since clothes are nearly dry, that would suggest a high spin speed. Do you notice vibrations from unbalanced loads?
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
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  • bentherebenthere Solar Expert Posts: 113 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I've read that it has some sort of load balancing mechanism.

    I think it actually works as the load may seem out of balance at the beginning of the spin, but balances out within a couple seconds.

    Edit to add: There is a spin speed selection, and we do spin them at top speed.
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Washing machine suggestions for off-grid living?

    I'm quite pleased with our GE washing machine. "King Size" capacity, stainless drum, and is energy star rated.

    I filled it with towels, put it on an extra heavy wash cycle, and super sized load to get worst case numbers.

    Total power consumed was 0.25 KWH, or 250 WH.

    Nothing special about this washing machine. Bought at a local store (Lowes), parts readily available, inexpensive.

    Pics and details of my testing here: http://www.alpharubicon.com/warlord/altenergy/altwashclothes2manytoyz.htm
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