The following article was contributed by Binyamin Katzman, specialist in the repair of American and European/Israeli appliances.
Appliances in Israel differ hugely from what most North American Olim are used to. It is evident from all the questions posted on various Aliyah oriented email groups that Olim are not sure what they should be buying, or whether they should be buying at all. Is it cost effective to bring your old appliances with you? To buy new appliances and ship them over? Or to purchase Israeli and/or European appliances once in Israel? This article aims to explore the pros and cons of European vs. American washers and dryers, and to offer some insight as to what you should be looking into when moving to Israel.
Advantages and Disadvantages
When deciding between the standard North American washers and dryers as opposed to the Israeli/European ones, it is crucial to be aware of the following differences between them:
Size: The American washers and dryers have the clear advantage here. Most are about 10 kg (22lb) and probably just what you have been used to if you are coming from North America. The standard European washers and dryers are 5 kg (11lb) but larger sizes such as 6 kg, 7 kg, and even 8 kg are becoming more common.
Time to run a cycle: Again, the standard American washers come out on top. They are much quicker, with a load of washing usually taking about 30 minutes. The European washers often take 1.5 hours or more. Drying time is also considerably less with the bigger and more powerful American dryers.
Eco (and pocketbook) friendly: European washers use much less water than the average American ones. Generally speaking, European washers use more electricity as they heat the water and run for a longer duration, but neither are high electrical consumers. With dryers it is slightly different and more confusing. An electric heating American dryer uses a lot more electricity than a European dryer, though many people opt to purchase American gas dryers to avoid this problem.
Do they heat their own water? While this may seem trivial it is worth keeping in mind that European washers heat their own water. Not only do they not need a hot water tap, they don't use up precious hot water from the Dud Shemesh (solar heated water tank), so you don't need to worry about doing the laundry on a Friday afternoon when the whole family will be showering! Of course the process of heating the water takes time and this is just one of the reasons why European machines take longer. Unless time is a major issue, the European ones are the clear winner in this category.
How well do they clean the clothes? It is widely believed and accepted that European washers do a better job of cleaning the clothes. This is mostly due to the position of the drum and how it spins one way or the other. There are people who, after using a European machine, will never go back to an American one because of this. My personal opinion is that there is a small difference, but that American machines still do a great job. I would however say that European washers have a slight edge here.
How well do they dry the clothes? There is no great science to drying clothes so European dryers have no advantage here. If anything, the bigger American machines usually have much more power and therefore dry considerably faster.
Let's be honest, the quality of new machines (American or European) has decreased from 10-20 years ago. Some of the best machines, in terms of quality, are the older Maytag and Whirlpool washers. If you can locate a used one it may very well be a great buy. (Other than these models, buying a used appliance is rarely ever a good idea).
In terms of new appliances, most of the American good quality washing machines will last on average 10 Years. The standard European Machines usually average about 5 years, sometimes less. If you go with the better European brands the average is closer to 10 years.
European washers to be aware of: From experience, most machines made in Turkey, China, Korea and East European countries are not wise purchases in terms of quality. There are exceptions of course, most notably when the machine is made by one of the better companies overseas in a cheaper labor country. The quality in this case is usually higher, though not quite as good as if the machine was made in its home country.
Average European washers: Most of the Italian models are average; they are decent but not usually high quality. In many cases there are numerous brand names which are made by the same company and are almost identical to each other, except for a knob or dial here and there. The average life of these machines is about 5 years.
Best European washers: The best models are usually from Germany and France. However, please note that many of these models are now being made in cheaper labor countries and the quality is not as good. Make sure to check where the machine is actually made.
In terms of American washing machines: The most common brands available in Israel with 220 volts are Maytag and Whirlpool. Quality-wise the traditional top loading models are the best. Most of the front loading models are more similar to the European washers in terms of quality and function. Please keep in mind that American and European whirlpools are not at all the same.
Dryers: While theoretically everything written above about washers is true, there is less need to purchase a high-end model dryer, especially if it is an electric one (gas dryers are a little more complicated). The reason is that a dryer is a much simpler machine than a washer and even the cheaper brands will usually last considerably longer than washers do.
One Final Consideration
If you are considering purchasing an American washer or dryer, or shipping in your existing one, you must take into account a few things:
- First and foremost is the issue of space. In many Israeli homes the space that is designated for the washer and dryer is not big enough for the larger American models. Do your homework before you purchase.
- For American washers you will need a separate hot water connection, often not standard in Israeli homes. If there is no hot water connection you will need to call a plumber to connect a hot water line and tap near the washer.
- For Electric Dryers you will need a special electrical outlet to be installed by a licensed electrician. For gas dryers you will often need a gas technician to bring the gas line to where your dryer is as gas dryers are generally not standard here.
Thank you to Binyamin Katzman (of Dr. Fix It Appliance repair- servicing the greater Jerusalem region) for this article. You can contact Binyamin on his facebook page or on 054 645 7994.