If you are in the market for a new washer, you are probably trying to learn about every style and option available to you. You can find a ton of information on this in our washing machine buying guide, but in this article we'll explore direct drive washing machines in detail.
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What is a Direct Drive Washing Machine?
These machines feature direct drive motors, which are connected directly to the tub. The other, traditional type of motor is the belt-driven motor: a belt connects the motor to the wash tub.
Here's what a belt-driven front load washer looks like from the inside:
The belt connects to a motor located on the bottom right of the image.
And here's an example of a front load washer with a direct drive motor from the inside:
As you can see, the motor has been integrated into the rear of the tub - no belt required!
What does this mean for you? These washers have fewer moving parts, shorter wash cycles, and generally have better efficiency. Belts and pulleys prone to wear and tear are eliminated from the equation as the motor is connected to the tub and spins it directly.
Some direct drive washing machines use brushless motors as well, which decreases noise. Many direct drive washers come with additional stabilizing and vibration control technology to keep your washer quiet and running its best.
Direct Drive Washer Pros & Cons
In general, you can expect the following from a direct drive washer:
Generally quieter performance and less vibration
Solid manufacturer parts warranties on the motor, since it lasts longer/the most common points of failure have been eliminated (the belt and the transmission)
Larger tub sizes
Higher final RPM spin speeds - so your clothes spend less time in the dryer
Potentially better out of balance performance (although you should always strive to avoid overloading and unbalanced loads)
Depending on who you ask, the downsides are debatable.
Some people argue that the electronic controls used in direct drive systems are a point of failure to consider. Rebuttal: The vast majority of washers today are using electronic controls. Electronic doesn't necessarily mean less reliable. The electronic controls used in select Speed Queen washers (the gold standard of reliability in laundry) are more durable than the mechanical controls used in their lower-tier machines! (Source.)
Repairs can be more expensive if they happen. Rebuttal: The point of using direct drive motors is that repairs are unlikely. Many manufacturers offer longer warranties on the motor. To keep repair costs as low as possible, we recommend warranty service from your local appliance store (like ours!) with factory-trained technicians. Although of course, a more reliable motor doesn't mean that other components won't need service at some point.
- Typically more expensive up-front than belt-driven machines. Rebuttal: Since many mid-range to high-end washers are direct drive, the cost difference will only be noticeable if you have a very limited budget (around $450 or less).
Direct drive washing machines are available in both front load and top load washer models to meet the demand in both categories. Let's take a closer look at two different direct drive models, one top loader and one front loader from LG and Maytag, respectively.
Front Load Washer with Direct Drive - Maytag MHW5630HW - $899
If you are looking for a front load washer and want direct drive technology, the Maytag MHW5630HW might be a very good fit. This affordable machine is priced at $899 MSRP and is packed with lots of quality features in addition to its direct drive motor. This model has Maytag Commercial Technology, which includes a 10-year limited parts warranty on the direct drive motor and stainless steel wash basket. You'll also get one year parts and labor.
At 4.5 cubic feet of capacity, this front load washing machine is a great size for most families and households of four or more people. Maytag kept fan favorites like the PowerWash cycle and Steam for Stains for this 2019 upgrade to the highly rated Maytag MHW3505FW. The PowerWash cycle uses extra wash action and water heated with the washer's built-in internal water heater for an extra boost to fight tough stains.
This front load washing machine is also Energy Star rated and now includes a 12-hour Fresh Spin option that tumbles clothes after washing to help prevent odors. It has a premium look and great features inside and out for a great price - a star among direct drive washers in the front load category!
Click here to read over 145 real customer reviews of this product!
Top Load Washer with Direct Drive - LG WT7800CW - $1,099
If you are more interested in a top load option among direct drive washing machines, the LG WT7800CW is one to consider. This model hits a higher price point at $1,149 MSRP in white but has the features package to back it up. It is also Energy Star rated and features an extra-large 5.5 cubic foot capacity tub. It also comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty, a 10-year motor warranty and a Lifetime Warranty on the stainless steel drum. The SlamProof lid is a must-have if you've ever bonked your head on your top load washer's lid!
TurboWash technology cuts wash time by around 20 minutes compared to previous LG washers by combining the rinse and spin stages of various cycles, without sacrificing wash quality. LoDecible Quiet Operation makes it a good option for laundry spaces near bedrooms or other living areas, too! TurboWash 3D incorporates an impeller that spins independently from the drum, creating a whirlpool wash action that's super effective!
A premium washer can make laundry a much easier chore. This direct drive washer is a great upgrade for your home!
Click here to read over 45 real customer reviews of this product!
We'll quickly compare both of these direct drive washing machines in a few categories to help you explore their differences:
Look & Feel: Beyond just the issue of top load vs front load washers, both models have a premium feel with glass windows and a mix of dial and touch controls with an LED display. LG's slam-proof lid is a great feature in top load washers.
Warranty: Both models have very similar warranties covering the direct drive motor for 10 years. The LG model comes with a longer "lifetime" warranty on the wash basket compared to the 10-year warranty on the Maytag model.
Noise & Vibration: Both machines come with vibration reduction technologies, and the LG model also comes with LG's LoDecibel quiet operation feature. Either option would be a great choice for upstairs laundry rooms!
Cycles & Options: These washing machines are fully featured in this department, too. Both have a quick wash option, although LG's is arguably better, and the Maytag model has steam cycles. The Maytag model has 8 wash programs to LG's 14. If you like to customize your wash cycles, you may prefer the LG model. If you prefer a simpler set of programs and Maytag's PowerWash cycle, you might want to look into the Maytag model.
Capacity: Obviously, LG wins out here with a full extra cubic foot of capacity. The LG model also has a shallower depth, so it may be a better choice for smaller laundry spaces. Check out our washing machine buying guide for more tips on finding the ideal capacity for your needs!
Price: The front load washing machine from Maytag is less expensive than the LG model, partly due to the different array of features and the capacity differences. We recommend looking out for appliance packages and appliance rebates as a way to save money on your purchase.
Direct drive washing machines are a great option for people concerned with reliability. Unfortunately, many appliances today do not last as long as the models from 20 or 30 years ago. If reliability is what you value the most, you may want to look into commercial washers for home use or Speed Queen washing machines, which are built to last 25 years!
We hope you enjoyed this discussion of direct drive washing machines and our review of two different models. Please leave us a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!
Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in November of 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy as of the publication date noted above.