Efficiency vs Reliability/Longevity

Mech e

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2019
385
NorCal
www.dtengineer.com
Carried over from the Hearth Room.

QUOTE="SpaceBus, post: 2467147, member: 62498"]
Coincidentally Formula One also had this issue with super high strung qualification engines, swapping engines or chassis every race, etc. New rules mandating fewer changes, repairs and other alterations led to more durable designs. This is the way with all things.
[/QUOTE]
I wish that were true for consumer products. Modern large appliances overall are terrible in terms of reliability and longevity, but are touted as more efficient. Every modern large appliance I have purchased in the last 15 years has failed within 7-10 years. I have had to repair or replace all of them, sometimesmore than once. They are more efficient when running, but with that has come more complexity and the longevity has suffered. Buying new appliances every 7 years or so is neither green or efficient.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
That's got to be frustrating. We did a major appliance upgrade to EnergyStar appliances about 11 yrs ago. Refrig, stove, washer + dryer, and dishwasher. No complaints. Not a single repair yet, knock on wood. One thing I always try to find out before purchasing is what units have the best service record, are the easiest to repair and have the least number of repairs reported. I will usually buy that item even if it doesn't have the most efficient rating or as many bells and whistles. Reliability is important! The same thing guided my choice for a heat pump system in 2006. It's still working fine, with the only service being filter changes.
 
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Mech e

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2019
385
NorCal
www.dtengineer.com
That's got to be frustrating. We did a major appliance upgrade to EnergyStar appliances about 11 yrs ago. Refrig, stove, washer + dryer, and dishwasher. No complaints. Not a single repair yet, knock on wood. One thing I always try to find out before purchasing is what units have the best service record, are the easiest to repair and have the least number of repairs reported. I will usually buy that item even if it doesn't have the most efficient rating or as many bells and whistles. Reliability is important! The same thing guided my choice for a heat pump system in 2006. It's still working fine, with the only service being filter changes.
That is a great approach. Where are you finding reliability data? Consumer ratings rarely give any long-term reliability information.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
Consumer Reports has data on some units. I usually do a Google search on "xxxx with best repair record". There will be many listings. You have to sift thru the results. Some are just adware or paid articles, but others are decent.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, a couple of the links in the google search will show up appliance repair companies that post their experiences to help out customers.
 

Fat wood

New Member
Sep 12, 2020
14
Va.
Carried over from the Hearth Room.

QUOTE="SpaceBus, post: 2467147, member: 62498"]
Coincidentally Formula One also had this issue with super high strung qualification engines, swapping engines or chassis every race, etc. New rules mandating fewer changes, repairs and other alterations led to more durable designs. This is the way with all things.
I wish that were true for consumer products. Modern large appliances overall are terrible in terms of reliability and longevity, but are touted as more efficient. Every modern large appliance I have purchased in the last 15 years has failed within 7-10 years. I have had to repair or replace all of them, sometimesmore than once. They are more efficient when running, but with that has come more complexity and the longevity has suffered. Buying new appliances every 7 years or so is neither green or efficient.
[/QUOTE]
So true. When I bought a new washer. I told the salesman it lasted 7 yrs. She looked at me and said, 5 to 8 yrs is tops. It doesn't really matter what brand. Heck remember when maytag washers lasted easily over 10 yrs! A friend of mine has wolf and viking appliances . High end but the repair man lives at his house. You pay and pay but quality and longevity is long gone, how sad.
 
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Mech e

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2019
385
NorCal
www.dtengineer.com
Talk to an appliance repairman. They often have recommendations based on their own experience of course.
Before we retired our Maytags, our repairman always told us to hang on to them as long as possible. He said the new units were all poorly designed, except Speed Queen, which is what we purchased.

Our top-of-the-line and very energy efficient Whirlpool refrigerator quit at 9 years. I troubleshot it to the motherboard, which was no longer available to purchase as a replacement part. I found a bad 5 cent capacitor on the board and replaced it to solve the problem. Most people would have taken the refrigerator to be recycled and buy a new one. Saving energy is great, but the parts and complexity required to achieve the efficiency numbers are false economy.
 
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Fat wood

New Member
Sep 12, 2020
14
Va.
One thing new washers improved on is water efficiency and spin speeds. Which reduces drying times thus saving energy. Do you remember how heavy old appliances were?? Without gadgets or over designed electronics just simple buttons. People pay for all these extended warranties. We live in a throw away society, " It's cheaper to buy new" we are constantly told. Are you really saving: resources, environment? If only everything was well made and durable like my Fisher.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
I have a Staber washer. Its a US built commercial grade washer. I paid a premium when I bought it 28 years ago. It was super efficient long before Energy Star started rating washers. Its a top loading horizontal axis so no need to worry about seals like regular horiztonal axis machines. There are not a lot of moving parts in it. Its got a stainless steel drum barely shows any signs of wear. They supply an extensive manual that shows the owner how to replace every part if they ever need to. Its an appliance not a piece of art. It has a couple of round mechanical switches and a mechanical timer, no LEDS or LCDs. No delay timer or buzzers and bells. The brand new ones look like my 28 year old one. At one point they started offering a stainless steel case although unless someone was using one in a corrosive environment they are just paying for the looks.

Definitely not a fancy website https://www.staber.com/washingmachines

The problem is that it is not a great business model. Consumers buy on price and features, few are willing to pay for longevity. Staber sells and ships direct to cut out the middleman so its not an impulse purchase. Folks would rather pay less for a fancier looking unit and ignore that its was highly likely was built offshore with components that are just good enough so that when it breaks its out of warranty.
 

andym

Feeling the Heat
Feb 6, 2020
338
Hicksville, Ohio
No one expects their new vehicle to last 10 years without at least minor repairs. If new appliances were a little more repair friendly would change things. Between google and youtube it's not real hard to repair and lot of common problems. Unless it turns out to be electrical. Then it becomes and question of 'is this 8 yr old fridge worth a $200 motherboard?'
One alternative solution is to buy used appliances that are already 10 years old. If they make it that long, they will most likely keep working for a number of years!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
Agreed. Zero Waste movements across the country are pushing for more user repairable appliances. The built-in obsolescence of some of these units is a crime. This is another good reason to talk with the repair guys and look online at what shops are repairing the most and the least and what they think about working on them.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
The other big issue is parts availability. One of the great things about the "old Sears" Craftsman brand is that parts seemed to be available for decades. I fixed up several discarded Craftsman power tools that had been left on the curb that just needed one part that I could order and have in a few days.

I kept my moms GE washer running for 30 years because I could get transmission part for it about 10 years in and an agitator part about 25 years out. I had long since moved out and I think she was sick of looking at it and bought a new one.

A general observation is that if it has a computer in it, new computers are rarely available and its most likely a throwaway. A lot of offshore stuff has minimal if any parts inventory shipped with it. If its fails under warranty, they tell the consumer or the store to dispose of it and send them a credit for the current model.

Of course the value proposition for repair is not there. An independent serviceman will starve charging a rate of $50 per hour and once he does a truck roll he is into it for 2 to 3 hours. Appliances as a percentage of wage have dropped substantially so its less of investment to a typical family so they just will buy a new one if the repair cost is big percentage of cost.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I hear you with appliances. When we moved into our new house 4 years ago we had to buy all new appliances to fill it, we wound up with an LG fridge with a new design with a linear compressor. Essentially the linear compressor is just a piston that is moved back and forth by electromagnets, cool I thought, and was supposed to use up to 30% less electricity. A year after we bought it the icemaker quit working, ended up being a plug in the door, but in the process I found out that LG has quit making that compressor and there is a class action lawsuit against them for the poor design, the check valve at the outlet end of the compressor has a design/metallurgical issue and eventually fails causing a loss of cooling. So far ours has been good, but I'm waiting for the day that I come home to a fridge full of warm food.

That being said I look for simple appliances, our natural gas stove is like this, even if the igniter fails I can still light the burner with a match, although the oven won't fire without the electric igniter.

What's interesting to note though is items like Solar PV equipment come with standard or extendable warranties up to 25 years, I wonder what the different methodologies in design are that lead to this long life? Especially considering items like microinverters experience fairly rough service in terms of exposure to moisture, temperature extremes and fairly high energy throughputs.

This topic could probably be it's own sub-thread. What I'm really wondering though is if someone will come out with and enforce a universal protocol for communication of smart devices, such that different brands of equipment can operate together, say a Tesla Powerwall with a Mitsubishi heat-pump, this would allow appliances to shift their consumption to times when more or cheaper energy is available. Much in the same way there are standards for WiFi, Blue tooth, etc.
 

DBoon

Minister of Fire
Jan 14, 2009
1,217
Central NY
I have a Staber washer. Its a US built commercial grade washer. I paid a premium when I bought it 28 years ago.
I remember this from my early Home Power magazine subscription days - was considering one of the new Speed Queen front loader washers with just knobs and dials but I'll have to look into the Staber horizontal axis top loaders as well.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,658
Nova Scotia
That's got to be frustrating. We did a major appliance upgrade to EnergyStar appliances about 11 yrs ago. Refrig, stove, washer + dryer, and dishwasher. No complaints. Not a single repair yet, knock on wood. One thing I always try to find out before purchasing is what units have the best service record, are the easiest to repair and have the least number of repairs reported. I will usually buy that item even if it doesn't have the most efficient rating or as many bells and whistles. Reliability is important! The same thing guided my choice for a heat pump system in 2006. It's still working fine, with the only service being filter changes.
So what brand did you go with?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
So what brand did you go with?
GE for the fridge, Electrolux for the convection oven, Bosch for the DW, and Frigidaire for the Washer/Dryer ( Made in Sweden by Electrolux). This was back almost a decade ago. Not sure what qualifies in today's market.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,941
SW Virginia
The whole "disposable society" concept might make more sense if we were better at recycling the broken units, recovering embedded energy and materials - more of a cradle to grave approach.
I'll do a lot to try and keep something out of the landfill but it's frustrating how unserviceable some things are.
One positive; if you're willing to try and fix something, there's a lot of great info on the WWW about how to do it. It always impresses me that even those that make money doing something will share how they do it on youtube or elsewhere.

BTW: Staber's, I recall reading that they were used on submarines.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
The whole "disposable society" concept might make more sense if we were better at recycling the broken units, recovering embedded energy and materials - more of a cradle to grave approach.
I'll do a lot to try and keep something out of the landfill but it's frustrating how unserviceable some things are.
One positive; if you're willing to try and fix something, there's a lot of great info on the WWW about how to do it. It always impresses me that even those that make money doing something will share how they do it on youtube or elsewhere.

BTW: Staber's, I recall reading that they were used on submarines.
Indeed. Ideally our model would be more cradle to cradle where reuse and recycling were part of the product design. Regardless, we need much more producer responsibility in the world. Europe has already started on this path more than a couple decades ago and it is going to be increasingly important for our manufacturers to fall in line if they want to compete globally.

I am a local fixer at our repair clinic. Covid has shut down local activity in 2020 but we proceed online now via zoom with an international crew. It's been quite educational.
 

Mech e

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2019
385
NorCal
www.dtengineer.com
BTW: Staber's, I recall reading that they were used on submarines.
My son got out of the Navya couple years ago and pulled duty in the laundry (he was the only one) on his first patrol aboard an SSBN. He said the machines were built by Erdo corp.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,941
SW Virginia
My son got out of the Navya couple years ago and pulled duty in the laundry (he was the only one) on his first patrol aboard an SSBN. He said the machines were built by Erdo corp.
After writing that I went out to see if I could find a credible reference and I couldn't so the info is either wrong or outdated.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
My guess that since its US built it may have slipped into a GSA contract. On the other hand it does vibrate and rumble quite a bit on spin so it would not be acoustically quiet which usually is important to subs. I know that when its done spinning, the clothes are almost dry and it takes a while to get used to the sound it puts out during spin. On occasion I have had to wash synthetic hiking gear and didnt have time to dry it so I just put it on direct out of the washer. Natural fibers do need drying. I have never owned a dryer and just hang the clothes on a line in either my basement in the winter near my boiler or an unfinished room on my second floor in the summer.