Dishwashers have become a common appliance in most homes. They provide a convenience factor that just about everyone has come to rely on. Choosing the right one can be confusing with so many on the market, but take your time and get it right. The right dishwasher will save you money in the long run.
There are a plethora of models and features to choose from, but you can easily narrow your search down by figuring out which features you require for your lifestyle. You can start by looking at ratings to find out which brands and models rank high. From there, decide what is important for you.
Some models will "hand wash" the most delicate of crystal while scrubbing away at a lasagne pan. Not a bad feature!
I think a tall tub is a must. This allows for tall pans and platters to be easily loaded, washed and unloaded along with a "regular" load of dishes. It really makes a difference and cuts down on the extra hand washing that actually uses a ton of water. The outside of the unit is the same size, but the technology and design has been improved to allow for more interior space.
Stainless Steel is another feature I wouldn't pass up. It's just so much more durable than plastic. Be sure the arms are also stainless, as they are sturdier and have larger holes on them with a better water pressure so you don't have to use as much water to clean. Stainless on the exterior is the most popular finish and provides more of a professional look, but it will run you a few more bucks: about $150-$200 more.
Touch pads are a big trend now instead of dials on the mid-range and higher-end models. Many of them are hidden on the top of the door so they are invisible when the door is closed. They provide less moving parts and are easier to service, too. If you use a cabinet panel on the front of your dishwasher, the hidden touch pad is great to completely disguise the appliance (see picture below).
The noise level has come down dramatically too. The industry understands that we live in our kitchens and great rooms and we don't want to put off washing dishes until we go to bed. Most models have become so quiet that it is possible to run a load while socializing in the same room. Some are better than others, so look for the lowest decibel rating you can find with the features you need.
Energy efficiency overall is good on new models, but take a close look. All of the energy costs are posted on the floor models and this should play into your decision-making. Over time this will make an impact on both your wallet and the environment. The average life of your scrubbing machine is nine to 12 years, so efficiency will make a difference over it's lifetime.
Two racks or Three? For most people I think the third rack only makes sense if you use a ton of utensils. It will eat up some extra space you may need more for pots and pans or platters. It's a neat feature, but assess whether is practical for you. The more practical rack feature may be the adjustable top rack, where it raises up or down depending on how you need to allocate your space to accommodate the load.
Dishwasher drawers are becoming very popular, as well. They are really the same size as a tall tub can be effective in washing smaller loads (one drawer) or larger "regular" loads (2 drawers). Also, they can be installed up high so you don't have to bend over to load and unload.