Front-Load vs Top-Load Washers

By Todd Fratzel on Appliances, Energy Conservation

Front Vs Top Load Washer Debate

Kenmore Elite Front-Load Washer and DryerIt wasn’t all that many years ago when the only place you saw front-load washers was the laundromat. Today front-load washers are showing up at every store and many homes. This has caused quite the debate among home owners and sales associates about which is better? Front-Load or Top-Load?

I think the debate is about over these days now that the benefits of energy savings and performance are known. Almost every front-load washer on the market today qualifies for the Energy Star certification. With an emphasis on the environment and energy savings these new front-load washers are making a big impact.

Big Energy Savings

ES_LogoBy far the biggest advantage to buying a front-loading washing machine is the big energy savings. According to Energy Star the average American family does over 400 loads of laundry each year. Traditional top-load washers use as much as 40 gallons per load while newer front-load washers only use 20 to 25 gallons per load. This results in a 40% or more savings in water use. The result is a savings of over 8,000 gallons of water yearly.

Front-load washers spin at a much higher speed than the older top-loading machines. Today’s front-load washers can spin as fast as 1,500 rpm compared to 600 rpm or less with the older top-loading machines which removes significantly more water during the spin cycle. As a result the energy (electricity or gas) needed to dry clothes is drastically reduced. Estimates from different sources estimate the reduced energy use by as much as 56%.

Less Clothing Abuse

Another benefit to front-load washers is the lack of an agitator. Older top-loading washers have an agitator that rubs, pulls and stretches clothing in order to clean it. Front-load washers have no agitator and which results in less abuse (damage) to your clothing. The bottom line is your clothing will last longer and look nicer.

Size Matters

Front-load washers can washer larger loads of clothing because there is no agitator. Front-load machines are much better for washing large items like blankets, comforters, jackets and other unusual items. Front-load washers are also built today so you can stack them on top of the dryer. This results in a significant space savings if your home needs the extra floor space.


Until recently the front-loading washing machines were significantly more expensive than the older top loading models. However, now that the demand for front-load machines has increased so much the gap between them is shrinking. In fact, we just purchased our first front-load washer and dryer set because the prices have come down so much. Today it’s not hard to find a complete set for under $1,500 where the used to cost $2,000 and up. The difference in price will certainly pay off in a short time period with the energy and water savings.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. Marcy Tate says:

    I have always heard that front load washers cause so many problems from leaks to trouble repairing them. I have a feeling that nowadays the machines have improved since front loaders are way more common now.

  2. Yosef says:

    I spent so much on repairs for a top loader – it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other these days, you’re right, washing machines have come a long way.

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