A new invention could make washing machines significantly lighter, which will not only save on fuel and carbon emissions during shipping, but also make the machines easier to install.
It would entail replacing the heavy weights inside washing machines with empty water tanks, and these tanks wouldn’t need to be filled until after they have been delivered and installed.
Tochi Tech Ltd, a small company working in partnership with researchers from Nottingham Trent University, came up with the revolutionary concept. Read on to find out whether we think it’s the future of washing machines, or an idea that still needs a bit of work to succeed.
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What’s the big idea?
Washing machines typically include weights to keep them from moving around too much during fast spin cycles. Around 25kg is usually added in the form of concrete or steel. This makes up around a third of the total weight of the machine.
If these weights could be replaced by lightweight plastic water tanks, this proportion of the machine’s weight would be removed until the machine was installed and ready to be used. This would cut both the costs and the emissions related to shipping the millions of washing machines sold each year in the UK.
Is this the future of washing machines?
Like many of the best ideas, this one is so simple that it’s almost unbelievable it hasn’t been tried before. However, there are a number of things that will need to be perfected before you can buy a washing machine that makes use of this innovation .
The first question is one of space. Because water is less dense than concrete or steel, you need more of it to provide the same ballast effect. Manufacturers will have to be willing to sacrifice space inside their machines for these larger tanks.
Which? washing machine tests
During testing, our expert panel assess each washing machine that comes through our doors to see how smoothly it vibrates during spin cycles. Using water instead of solid weights would introduce an interesting new factor to this equation.
It’s relatively easy to understand how a solid block of concrete will behave when it’s vibrating, but a vibrating fluid is far more complex. There could be real issues for stability and noise if the tanks aren’t filled to the brim and the water is allowed to slosh around inside. A leak could also have disastrous consequences, although this risk is already present in washing machines to a degree.
If this innovation makes it to market, we’ll be ready and waiting at the Which? test lab to assess whether those washing machines are up to scratch.