Hidden dishwasher control image used with permission ©KB/Quirky KimUS10
If you have been thinking about possibly buying/replacing a dishwasher, a useful kitchen major appliance that can help make kitchen clean up a tad easier, then you might want to think about some factors that could influence the decision you ultimately make.
Service is always a factor to consider, as is availability of product in your area, installation specifics, capacity and layout, and truly must-have vs.want-to-have features, etc.
Keep in mind that choice of a stainless steel (SS) exterior is purely for looks, while choice of a SS interior is for more than best possible sanitation–it is also for better drying unless a rinse agent is somehow being used either separately in its own dispensing compartment or as part of a dishwasher detergent mixture.
Interior plastic tubs in dishwashers will hold moisture and contents typically will not get as dry unless a rinse agent is in regular use (evaporation is better off of metal than it is off of plastic).
You can compare dishwasher models in terms of many features, with decibel (dB) acoustics level being one of the most noticeable when any dishwasher model is in use.
Acoustic Scale for Sound aka Decibel Level
Let’s start by focusing on the noise level ratings, as many models of dishwashers would be eliminated in decision making by that one factor alone.
Many dishwashers are now being placed in more “open concept” type main floor kitchen settings where the kitchen is open to a nice “breakfast eat-in area” that often is large enough these days for eating all your meals at. That space often also continues to flow into a more open family/media room, making it even more important to consider noise levels when the dishwasher is cycling through cleaning and drying your dishes.
We’ll start by mentioning noise levels when the dishwasher is being “run” and then discuss cleaning, sanitizing and drying considerations in this particular two-part blog series.
As always, any content on this site is for infotainment purposes only and since manufacturers are constantly changing product specifications and models, you should always verify the most current details about any product with its manufacturer.
Dishwasher noise levels are rated using a logarithmic decibel acoustic scale for sound emitted when the unit is being run. Lower dB numbers are better than higher ones and the scale differences going up one number at a time are significant.
Many of the well-known appliance brands that mention quality features found in their lines will typically offer a dishwasher somewhere in the upper 40’s for a dB rating. A few have at least one model in the lower 40’s dB sound ratings, but realize a dishwasher rated at 49 or 50 dB will be almost twice as noisy as one with a 39 or 40 dB rating.
Meanwhile, older dishwasher models or those at a lower manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) point often will come in close to 59 dB which means their sound level likely would interfere with normal conversations. Drop down to 55 – 56 dB and there will still be noise, but it will not be as disruptive. Drop down to below 50 dB and then usually manufacturers will start to describe their dishwasher models as being in some sort of “quieter” mode.
Dishwashers around 46 dB will usually be acceptable in an “open” type of “eat-in” kitchen & family room area, but those around 43 dB or at or below 40 dB would truly fit the bill in the quieter sound range.
Typically manufacturers add sound dampening insulation to get the dB levels down. If any pump generates less noise in use that is a big plus. Also if there are sound absorbers to handle vibration noise, as well as having the tub able to absorb more noise, etc., the end result will be a total lower dB level for the appliance when in use.
Manufacturers typically charge a premium for lower dB home models. There is no standard for dB levels in the dishwasher industry. The industry does favor a manufacturer posting the dB level somewhere in the product details information, but that is NOT required.
Some Popular Dishwasher Brand Names
Dishwasher brand names you may be familiar with which might include a 49 – 50 or better dB level model include, but are not limited to, Asko, Bosch, Dacor (doesn’t publish sound data), Electrolux (which owns Frigidaire and doesn’t produce lower dB models under the latter brand name), Fisher Paykel (known for having popularized innovative DishDrawer™ model dishwashers usually with two separate drawers each with its own controls which can tend to have noisier sound levels and they do NOT publish the dB levels for those models), GE (offered as GE Profile, GE Cafe, or possibly their top line of GE Monogram models, but typically not the standard GE base models), Jenn-Air, Kenmore Elite, KitchenAid, Miele (doesn’t publish their sound data), Samsung, Thermador, Viking (doesn’t publish their sound data), and Whirlpool Gold. Just don’t expect to find the quieter sound model offerings in brands such as Amana, Frigidaire, Hotpoint, LG, Maytag or base GE or base Kenmore.
A mid-point sound level of somewhere around 45 – 46 dB is often considered a sound level that really qualifies as much quieter than other “standard” dishwasher models and will typically command a higher price point in the market place. Don’t let manufacturer wording or naming mislead you as a quiet level is closer to 39 – 40 dB and more of a true whisper quiet level is actually closer to 30 dB. No mass retail consumer oriented dishwasher at this time is actually going to have sound proofing be at that low level of 30 dB. You likely wouldn’t need a dishwasher to be at such a low dB level anyway. The quietest model you can probably currently purchase at retail will typically be 39-40 dB.
A large corporation such as Whirlpool, which owns not only that brand name, but also Whirlpool Gold (their higher end line under their base name) as well as more highly featured and priced brands such as Jenn-Air, along with KitchenAid, are starting to use more similar designs and features across their product lines, but including the higher end features more often in either their Jenn-air or KitchenAid models where they will have the lowest dB offerings in dishwashers. They also own the Maytag brand.
Sears sold brand of Kenmore Elite (and their lower price point Kenmore brand) feature appliances made by other actual appliance manufacturing firms to Sears chosen specifications. As a result, each appliance each year can be made by a different manufacturer. Recognizing that appliances can and do vary from appliance type and model from year-to-year, you need to do some digging to find out what model what year was made by which appliance manufacturer to what specifications. Sears & Kmart are as of the date of this blog post under the same ownership.
Other Important Dishwasher Features
What are perceived as even higher “premium” brands of dishwashers in the consumer retail market place will also have offerings with some lower dB ratings so it is then important to compare other dishwasher features to get the most bang for your buck for what you need vs. what you want.
Often with lower dB ratings, dishwashers offer more important cleaning and sanitizing functions as well. In Part 2 we’ll mention some other aspects of cycles and options to consider when it comes to those features.