Buying a new washing machine is a big decision – especially since there are so many varieties to choose from these days! Semi-automatic washers might be a good choice for you and your family (especially if you have concerns with the water supply in your area), but if you haven't used one before you might be wondering how they work, and how they are different from fully-automatic machines.
Read on to find out more about semi-automatic washing machines, including the advantages and disadvantages of semi-automatic washing machines.
What are semi-automatic washing machines?
Semi-automatic washing machines represent a halfway point between hand-washing (where you do all the work!) and fully-automatic machines that can do the whole job for you. A semi-automatic washing machine requires manual input at various stages of the wash cycle – so, you will have to add or drain the water, for example. There are two main types of semi-automatic washer – single-tub and twin-tub.
Single-tub: These are designed to wash and spin your clothes in one tub. They have an outer layer, and an inner layer that is punctured with holes so the water can drain out during the drying process. Single-tub machines can be simpler to operate than twin-tubs, and often take up less space.
Twin-tub: These are a more common type of semi-automatic machine. They feature two tubs next to each other: one for washing and one for spinning. The clothes, therefore, need to be moved from tub to tub halfway through the cycle.
How do semi-automatic washing machines work?
Most semi-automatic washers are top loading, but the internal parts usually contain one of two mechanisms – either an agitator or an impeller.
- Agitator: This takes the form of a central spindle with blades attached to push the clothes in alternating directions and in and out of the water – moving them much like you would do when washing clothes by hand.
- Impeller : This design has a rotating disc at the base of the drum that causes a 'whirlpool' effect, with the water propelling the clothes round.
How do I use a semi-automatic washing machine?
Using a semi-automatic washing machine is easy! You add Surf excel Matic and water to perform the wash, and then additional water for the rinse. For single-tub models, after the wash, you drain the water from the tub and start the drying spin. Twin-tubs require you to move the wet load to the second tub to spin-dry. At the end of the cycle, the clothes should be hung out on a washing line or an indoor rack to dry completely.
What are the advantages of semi-automatic washing machines?
- Money saving: There's a definite advantage when it comes to cost, with the average semi-automatic washing machine price between 10,000 and 13,000 rupees – and some models are available for less.
- Water efficient: With semi-automatic washers you add the water yourself, so you can measure the exact quantity needed and avoid waste. This is particularly helpful if your water supply is restricted to certain times of the day: you can save up water from earlier in the day and use the machine at your convenience, instead of having to relying on a constant supply, as is the case with fully-automatic machines.
- Economic: Similarly, any power shortage will be less of a problem when using semi-automatic machines, as you can stop and start the process at any point. Fully-automatic washers also consume more energy throughout the cycle, costing you more in the long run.
- Adaptable: Semi-automatic washers do require you to oversee the cycle, but this has its advantages as well. You can add in clothes at a later stage, or start another load of washing while spin-drying the first load if you’re using a twin-tub model.
Rinse water can even be re-used for another wash load. Semi-automatics also allow you more control over how you treat different fabrics, as you can determine the speed, water level, and length of the wash cycle.
What about the disadvantages?
- Time-consuming: It's true that semi-automatic washers do take up more of your time and are less convenient than fully-automatics. With a programmable washer, you simply set the cycle and leave the machine to do the work.
- Water usage: Though you control the water usage for a semi-automatic machine, these washers need a minimum amount of water to work. Some front-loading, fully-automatic machines are designed to use less water per load; so, these new fully-automatic machines might be more water efficient than a semi-automatic machine.
- Treatment of clothes: Regardless of whether you have an impeller or an agitator in your semi-automatic model, these top-loading mechanisms can tangle your clothes, and are generally rougher on fabrics. They might not always be the best solution for washing delicate items.
- Electrical awareness: When moving loads between tubs on a semi-automatic machine, you may need to disconnect the power cord to reduce the risk of getting an electric shock. This would only every happen, however, if the wiring was not properly earthed in your home, so it is an avoidable hazard. Semi-automatic washing machines are clearly better suited to some lifestyles rather than others, so choosing one mostly comes down to the amount of time and money you are willing to spend on the weekly washing! If you're trying to keep to a budget, a semi-automatic will cost less both up-front and in your monthly bills. But if you have a busy schedule, a fully-automatic washer may be worth the extra expense. It's worth making a washing machine comparison as well, as models do come with different capacities and extra features that could be useful for your family.