Philippines Washing Machine Guide

Philippines Washing Machine Guide

Update 3-18-2020

I have finally been able to test the bad valves with a multimeter and they all measure 500 ohms of resistance. This is a good value and it is the same as the functioning valves. This result proves that I was wrong about my assumptions and forces me to now presume that it is the hard water causing our intake valves to fail. There could be some other mechanical issue causing the valves to fail so i should crack some of them open and get to the bottom of it.

Don't Overlook The Importance Of A Washing Machine In The Philippines

When we left the U.S. we sold our Maytag washer and dryer pair. We had owned that set for almost ten years. Neither unit ever gave us any problem in all that time. They were like new when we sold them. They were basic models and cost $700 for the set.

While our house in the Philippines was being built we were busy buying appliances and wares and the washing machine was a top priority right up there with the fridge. There were many choices, but just as many adjustments that we had to make to our expectations. 

The first little shock was in price. You can get full fledged American appliances in the Philippines, but they come at a premium and the selection is limited. I would have loved to purchase a stackable Maytag washer/dryer set, but the price is more than $3,000. A plain and basic Maytag washer was almost $1000 at that time. 

We decided that we could live without a dryer and focused on finding a full size U.S. style washer.

Choices Of Washing Machines In The Philippines

Every good size town has its share of appliance stores and many of then will carry very low priced washers. Some of these washers do not spin at all, but only wash. Other machines have separate tubs for spinning and washing:

You can pick these up for five or six thousand pesos (about a hundred dollars).

One thing to be careful about is the different usage of terms. Many times you will see a unit promoted as a combo washer/dryer. There are true combo washer/dryers available that are fully capable of completely drying your clothes. This type of unit generally cannot be bought for less than around P50,000.  Most of the time the term "dryer" simply means that the unit spins, but does not completely dry clothes.

Our First Washer Was The Electrolux 9kg Unit

I have to say that this has been a great unit overall. We paid P20,000 for it, which at the time equated to about $450.  Over time we have had to manage our expectations with these appliances, because they do cost more and are not, in my opinion, as reliable as what was available in the U.S. In hind sight over almost ten years I am thankful for this Electrolux unit because it has been a faithful workhorse through a lot of use and abuse.

There have been problems.

The first problem that we had with the unit came a few years after buying it. This was not the unit's fault, but maybe ours. The power co-op shut down the local grid as a preventative measure about a half day before typhoon Haiyan struck. Our washer was running when they did that. The power was out for several days and when they re-energized the grid there was a surge. We had neglected to shut off power to the washer and the power surge blew out the main control board.  The price for a new unit was P800 - less than twenty dollars. I installed the board - that is another good thing about this unit...repair is usually easy.

The next time tragedy struck it was double, but only half our fault this time.

The spring suspenders that allow the tub to move freely had worn out. This was probably our fault because we had a habit of tending to overload the tub beyond its working capacity. The replacement and labor was about P1700.

The water intake solenoid valve also failed at that time and this will be discussed in detail later (very important). 

Our Samsung 12kg Unit

It took a very long time to get the struts for the tub, so long that I decided to just buy a new washing machine:

That's our Samsung 12kg washing machine. It was advertised for P33,000, but we paid P26,000 for it. I have noticed that this is how this class of Samsung washer is promoted by every vendor that I have seen and I have seen many. Vendors advertise this 12kg unit at a retail price of around P33,000, but the actual sales price that they let you have it for is around P26,000.

I was so happy with our new Samsung. It looked so cool (stainless) and it was silent running.

But there were problems.

The Samsung has "wobble"  technology that performs the agitation for cleaning:

Beautiful, right? Yes, it's beautiful. But what do you see? Rather, what don't you see?

There is no finned central agitator, like I have been used to for my entire life and like our beloved Electrolux had:

In our experience the wobble wash does not do as good a job in washing as the central agitator. There is also an issue in draining, especially when washing blankets. There tends to be sediment that collects on whatever is being washed as the water drains, even though the Samsung spins extremely fast. 

There is just something about the central agitator that makes it superior to wobble. 

Samsung v Electrolux

In my opinion, the Electrolux just plain does a better job of washing clothes.

Even so, we used our Samsung without issue for a little more than a year and kept our repaired Electrolux in the storage room at the ready should anything go awry with the Samsung. 

Just outside of the warranty period something did go wrong with the Samsung.

The water intake solenoid valve failed just as it had with the Electrolux.

There are two issues that tend to cause a problem with the intake valves: hard water and solenoid electrical failure.
If hard water is at fault, then the unit will tend to fail open due to grit and gunk. This causes the valve to constantly leak water into the tub.

If the failure is due to the solenoid giving out, then the unit tends to fail closed. When electrical power is applied to the solenoid it activates an electromagnet that pulls back the plunger that is held in place by a spring. This opens the valve and allows water to flow. When the solenoid fails it can no longer pull back the plunger and the spring keeps the plunger in place fixing the valve in the closed state.

The solenoid can also be tested with a volt meter - a good thing to do before you accept one that you have purchased.

All of our solenoid failures (two on the Electrolux and one on the Samsung) have been of the latter type - solenoid failure. 

The Electrolux intake valve has two solenoids:

and the Samsung intake valve has three solenoids:

The third solenoid on the Samsung unit is for the hand wash basin that is built into the lid on the washing machine:

The other two solenoids are not for hot and cold water, as coming from the U.S. might expect. There is only one water intake. Those two solenoids are for the detergent and softener dispenser trays:

Our Electrolux washing machine is going on ten years old and we have spent about P4500 on repairs in that time. That brings its total cost of ownership to date to about P25,000.

Our Samsung washing machine cost P26,000 and we have spent P2500 to replace its solenoid intake valve. We have only had the Samsung for less than three years and it has cost a total of P28,500.

Now we use the Electrolux almost daily to do our washing, while the Samsung waits in the wings

We keep a spare solenoid intake unit for each washer. The two-solenoid Electrolux unit costs P1500 and the three-solenoid Samsung unit costs P2400.

One thing that I do like about the Samsung is the gravity water waste removal:

That tan flex pipe fits directly into the drain hole in the floor. No pump is needed to remove the water because gravity does the work. There is only a valve that closes to keep water in the tank and opens to drain it.

The Electrolux, on the other hand, requires a standpipe because it lacks the valve:

The gray drain pipe comes out of the bottom of the washing machine, like the Samsung, but then it winds its way into the blue stand pipe. A pump is required to remove water from the washer tub in this setup.

The last item to talk about and contrast between the two units is the control panel. 

The Samsung has a sleek and modern looking membrane button panel:

We have had no problems with our Samsung's membrane button control panel, but then we have not used the unit a great deal either. I tend not to trust the membrane buttons as much because they lack the reliability of the old mechanical button/switches and they cost a lot more to replace if they should fail.

The Electrolux has an old fashioned dial to select wash program and six mechanical buttons, only three of which I care about (on/off, water level and pause/start):

At this point it is just a matter of personal bias with me, but I prefer old fashioned dials and mechanical buttons. In some bizarro world the on/off button of my Electrolux might fail, but if that were to happen I would wager that it would be a lot cheaper to replace than the entire membrane panel that would have to be replaced if it was to fail - and the latter is also a lot more likely to actually occur.

My old Maytags had nothing but dials and you almost needed a monkey wrench to turn them. They just screamed quality. I think they each had only one or two mechanical buttons as well.

The Perfect Washing Machine For The Philippines

If I had to go out and buy a new washing machine today I would like to find an Electrolux. 

The sad thing is that I can no longer find anyone who sells them. 

But everyone sells Samsung. 

When I do get ready to buy a new unit these features will be the ideal that reality has to compete with:
  1. The unit will have to be equal to or greater than 12 kilograms in capacity.
  2. The unit must have a vertical finned agitator.
  3. The unit must not have a hand wash basin. The basin adds to the upfront cost and it also drives up the price of a replacement solenoid valve.
  4. The unit should have gravity waste water removal - no pump needed.
  5. The unit should have more old fashioned dials and fewer push buttons and domed tactile membrane buttons.
  6. Unit must have a rat guard! They forgot to install the rat guard when they delivered the Electrolux and we never found it. We never knew that we needed it until I found a rat resident who had constructed his nest inside the unit. The cats were happy.
  7. I would also order at least one extra solenoid valve because they are guaranteed to fail.
I have no problem with buying another Samsung washing machine if it can tick most of those boxes.

All of this leaves the burning question: "how do we dry our clothes?" We strung up a clothesline on our patio. Another plus for the Samsung is that it spins probably twice as fast as the Electrolux, so the clothes emerge somewhat drier and need a bit less time on the clothesline. Sometimes blankets come out of the washer so dry that they only require an hour or two on the line.

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