Dishwashers — Portable or Built-In?

Dishwashers are now a standard convenience in most homes. They’re great time savers for families who cycle through many dishes each day, and for people with busy lifestyles. The U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates a dishwasher can save you more than 230 hours of personal time every year. And no one wants dirty dishes piled in the sink and cluttering the kitchen counter, waiting to be hand-washed.

There are many types of dishwashers on the market today to suit every lifestyle, household size, and budget. Here are the types to choose from:

Freestanding Dishwashers

Freestanding dishwashers are the most popular and can be placed anywhere suitable in the kitchen. They have a finished front, sides and top — the top often a cutting board or a countertop material to give extra food preparation space. Most importantly, they have wheels, so you can move them to the kitchen sink when it’s time to do the dishes. They also come in a variety of colors, the most common being white, black, grey, silver, and stainless steel. Some manufacturers offer customized cabinet facing so the dishwasher can blend in with your cabinetry.

A freestanding portable dishwasher connects to your kitchen faucet and drains directly into the sink. You won’t be able to use the sink or run water until the dishwasher finishes its cycle, unless there are bypass valves that allow you to run water. However, an advantage of the freestanding dishwasher is you can take it with you when you move, since it’s not permanently installed into your kitchen. This is a good type for renters who want to own a dishwasher no matter where they live.

Portable freestanding dishwashers can also be converted to under-the- counter units, although it may not look as seamless as built-in dishwashers, and the front section won’t match the rest of the cabinetry. The wheels will have to be removed, and permanent plumbing connections will have to be installed. Portable units with top-mounted controls that load from the top can’t be converted unless a hole is cut into the countertop to provide access.

Freestanding dishwashers are available in full-size, slimline, and compact models, making them good options for almost any kitchen.

The standard full-size model is 24 inches wide, 34 inches high, and 24 inches deep. It’s ideal for households with four or more people and can load up to 16 place settings. A place setting is how dishwasher capacity is measured. One place setting is: 1 plate, 1 knife, 1 fork, 1 teaspoon, 1 cup, 1 saucer, 1 soup bowl, 1 soup spoon, 1 dessert bowl, and 1 dessert spoon.

The slimline freestanding dishwashers measure 18 inches wide, 34 inches high, 24 inches deep, and can load up to 10 place settings. They’re ideal for smaller families, and small or narrow kitchens.

Compact freestanding dishwashers are usually half the height of a standard dishwasher, about 16 or 17 inches, but their width and depth are similar. They can load about 6 place settings. Some are small enough to be placed on a countertop, and measure around 17 inches high, 22 inches wide, and 20 inches deep. The countertops can load about 4 place settings. A built-in hose connects them to the kitchen tap. Countertop dishwashers are suitable for single-person households, while the compact portable dishwashers are better for 2-person households with limited space.

Built-In Dishwashers

As the name implies, built-in dishwashers are installed to fit perfectly beneath kitchen counters and between cabinets for a seamless look.

The tops and sides are unfinished, however, and these types can’t be used as freestanding appliances. Because they’re permanently installed into your cabinetry and plumbing, you can’t take them with you when you move. On the plus side, built-ins conserve valuable floor space in the kitchen, and are more convenient to run — no moving a portable to the sink and hooking it up. And, you can use your sink and faucet while the dishwasher is running a load.

There’s a choice of finishes for the front of a built-in — stainless steel, black, or white. However, you can also choose to hide the dishwasher behind cabinetry, either as fully integrated or semi-integrated. The integrated is fully hidden behind a cabinet door that matches the rest of the kitchen decor, whereas the semi-integrated will have a visible control panel at the top of the dishwasher. The integrated dishwasher’s control panel is located inside the door at the front of the dishwasher. Both integrated and semi-integrated dishwashers give a modern, minimalist look to kitchens.

Built-in dishwashers come in the full-size and slimline sizes, although some full-sizes are as wide as 28 inches. They all have adjustable legs to make sure there are no gaps when installed into the countertop.

The cabinets surrounding built-in dishwashers muffle the sound, making them quieter to run at night, or for having conversations at the kitchen table. The fully integrated dishwashers with their hidden controls are more child-proof from curious fingers, and more adult-proof as well from accidental pushes that can alter the rinse cycle or start the machine.

Drawer Dishwashers

Also known as “dishwasher drawers”, or “dishdrawers”, these dishwashers come in one or two-drawer models that slide out for more ergonomic loading. They’re built-in with permanent plumbing and are not available in a freestanding model. 

The single drawers measure between 16 and 18 inches tall, 23 inches deep, and are available in 24 or 32 inch widths, These require custom cabinetry. The double drawer stacked size is comparable to a full-size dishwasher and will fit into a standard dishwasher cabinet opening. You can choose between white, black, and stainless-steel finishes, or panel ready for a custom cover.

There are multiple design options for drawer dishwashers: single drawer, 2 single drawers side-by-side, and 2 drawers stacked together. The single drawer, or top drawer in a 2-drawer configuration, is installed at counter height for minimal bending while loading or unloading. This is ideal for the elderly, or those with limited mobility.

The drawer style dishwasher is a space saver in comparison to front door dishwashers. You can control how far out the drawer opens, which is perfect for small or galley kitchens. 

Since each drawer has its own set of controls, you can also run independent loads. One drawer can be washing delicate glasses, while the other drawer is washing heavy-duty pots and pans. Or, you can fill one drawer while the other’s washing a load, so dishes aren’t sitting in the sink. For smaller washes, you can use a single drawer — each one does 7 place settings.

Cove Dishwashers

Cove dishwashers are built-in state-of-the-art integrated appliances manufactured by Sub-Zero. They’re a standard full-size dishwasher, panel-ready for custom cabinetry, or stainless-steel panels with handles to coordinate perfectly with other Sub-Zero-Wolf products. Sub-zero is known worldwide for its quality kitchen appliances, and with a Cove dishwasher you’re getting the industry’s best service, along with the highest performance standards.

For top-of-the-line appliance repair and maintenance, call C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or complete our online service request form.

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