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Front Load vs. Top Load Washers: Which Is the Best for Your Business?

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

In the world of washing machine installations and purchases, there is one debate that is hotly discussed. That is the difference and usefulness of front load vs. top load washing machines. Both machine types have serious perks and pitfalls, but only one will be ideal for your company.

If your business needs to install a bunch of new washers, you need to know what to expect from each type. Only then will you be able to make the right decision for your company.

The differences between front load vs. top load washers

The first thing that we need to explain are the main differences between front load and top load washers. We’ll go from the obvious (loading) to the less obvious (repairs):

  • A front load washer opens from the front, while a top load washer will open from the top. This is the most obvious aspect difference the washing machines have.

  • You can typically stack front loading washing machines, but you can’t stack top loaders. You can’t open up a top loading washer if you have another machine on top! This makes front loading machines more space-efficient.

  • Front load washers are designed with smaller loads in mind. If you need a big load, look for a top loading washing machine. There are exceptions to this rule, but that’s a good assumption to make.

  • You can get pre-stacked washer-dryer combos as long as they are front-loading. Some also offer a top loader washer with a front loading dryer, but they are somewhat uncommon. Most of the time, both the washer and dryer will be front-loading.

  • In general, front loading machines are going to be smaller in size. This goes back to the space efficiency issue.

  • Front-loading machines are more prone to breakage. Top loading washers will last longer and require less repairs overall.

  • Top loading washers are more affordable. Front loaders will cost more, but we’ll get into more on that soon.

The pros and cons of front load vs. top load washers

Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at the full pros and cons of front load vs top load washers on a deeper level.

Top load washers

Top load washers are typically larger and more reliable. If you want something that will last a couple of extra years, then a top-loading washer will be that option. Many people also find it to be slightly easier for loading.

The downside is that top-loading washers can be very pricey and can also eat up space. You can’t stack them, so if you are short on space, this may be a bad choice. With that said, you can find pre-stacked units that have a top-loading washer and a front-loading dryer.

Another major downside of top load washers is that they tend to be prone to vibrating against the floor—sometimes violently so. Over time, this can lead to damage done to the floor beneath the unit. You may want to invest in a protective container to minimize the damage.

Front load washers

Front load washers are great for people who want to maximize space in a laundry room. They’re stackable, so you can put a pair in a closet. They’re ideal for smaller apartments that have a need for space consolidation. Most are also slightly more energy-efficient and water-efficient, too.

The problem with front loading washers is mostly about load size and reliability. Front loading washers are more prone to breakdown, to the point that their warranties often are shorter. This can make them more expensive over time. This makes their already-high price tag a pain.

Another major issue people have about front loading washers deals with the higher chance of mildew piling up in the washing machine. If your clients don’t know how to properly do laundry or are already prone to leaving clothes there, this could turn into a problem.

The price of front load washers vs. top load washers

Washing machines are great for almost any apartment building or community, but let’s face it. Price is always going to be a factor when it comes to your washing machine installation. With that said, front-loading washing machines are typically more expensive than top-loading washers.

Depending on the washer models, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 more for a front load washer versus a top loader. With that said, there is one reason why you may still want to buy a front-load if you are tight on money: water and energy efficiency.

When is it cheaper to get a front-loading washer?

Most people avoid front loaders when they see the price tag, but there are moments when you will see amazing savings from them. It’s important to make sure that you figure out whether or not you fit in that demographic.

If the area where your company is located is prone to drought or has an abnormally high price of electricity, then having a front-loading washer makes financial sense. What you pay upfront will likely be given back to you in the form of savings.

Which lasts longer, front loading washers vs top loading washers?

Front loading washers will last 11 years on average, while top loaders will last for about 16 years or so. Overall, the average lifespan of a washing machine is going to rest around 14 to 15 years with regular maintenance. So, regardless of what you choose, it should be there for a long time.

With that said, low-end front loading washers can be a handful when it comes to both maintenance and repairs. The most common issues people have with front-loading washers are slipped drums and musty odors coming from the washing machine’s area. This is especially true when you have clients washing dingy floor mats or similarly mildew-prone items.

Top-loading washers tend to bear the weight of the loads more evenly and are less likely to have their rollers slip out of place. Because of how they drain, they are also less likely to become filled with mildew.

Which is better, front or top loading washers?

Truth be told, each kind of washing machine has its own group of businesses that tend to work best with it. We’ll break it down so that you can pick the situation that is best for your company and your company’s clients.

You should get a front loader if…

  • You have limited space to place a washer in your building. This can include situations like placing individual washers in apartment units in a closeted area, or having a single petite laundry room for guests at a hotel. In these cases, you want to maximize the space outside of the room, and that includes hiding your machines.

  • Your utility bills are exceptionally high or you’re in a city that mandates water conservation. Front-loading washing machines are generally the more environmentally-friendly option, and can help curb water usage in the city. You may also need to stock up on high-efficiency detergents.

  • The loads you’re doing are small to medium in size. Large batch loads tend to fare better with top loaders. If your clients have smaller loads, then front loaders will suffice.

  • You have a need to stack laundry machines. These are ideal for people whose businesses need rows and rows of laundry units.

  • Your budget has a little wiggle room. Front loading units are generally more expensive than their other counterparts. If you are okay with more frequent maintenance visits or are open to splurging, then a front loading unit makes financial sense.

  • The people using it are generally responsible. People who are over the age of 22 generally can use a front-loader, though even younger groups can, too. We do not advise them for college dorms.

You should get a top loader if…

  • You have more space and are okay with not having a dryer stacked on top of it. While there are units that have top loading washers that are stackable (with the help of some structural assistance), this is usually not the case. Regardless of stacking, top loaders generally require more room.

  • The batches of laundry you need to do are larger than a typical small family’s batch. Top loaders, particularly extra large ones, tend to be better for laundry rooms found in hospitals, hotel rooms (for sheets in an area accessed by staff only), or other large-batch areas. These will make it easier for your employees to get their cleaning done with fewer batches of laundry to do.

  • Your utility bills aren’t that high and water is plentiful near you. Areas where water is readily available and electricity prices are low will not have the pressure of conservation on your budget. As a result, a top loader won’t break the bank when it comes to monthly bills.

  • You have a need for a more reliable machine. Top loading machines are built to be more rugged, which is why they tend to be the go-to for business purposes. If you cannot stand the idea of a breakdown, then a top loader is a better choice for you.

  • You are low on budget for upfront costs. Affordability is the name of the game with this type of washing machine. That’s why it’s often a quick purchase for companies that are just starting to bootstrap things.

  • The clients who use your machine may be reckless with the equipment. While having in-unit washers of any type in apartment buildings can be good, some demographics can make this a pain in the neck for repairs. For example, college dorms and student housing may have students who find it funny to wreck washers. Top loaders are sturdier and are less likely to fail when improperly loaded. Theat makes them the smarter option.

Can there be a happy medium between front load and top load washers?

Currently, there is no washing machine on the market that has both a top and front loading mechanism. However, that doesn’t mean you have to fully accept either a front loading set or a top loader set.

You can buy a top-loading washer and a front-loading dryer set that stack up on top of each other. Or, you can buy them separately. You can also get a smaller top-loading washer, if that’s more along the lines of your needs.

Are there any laws against front load or top loading washers?

In most parts of the country, there are no specific laws or guidelines about what type of washing machine you get. However, there may be guidelines for specific development areas related to water or energy consumption that can dictate what you can and cannot buy.

Before you install washers or dryers in your area, we strongly encourage you to look up local zoning laws and building ordinances. In most cases, the worst restriction that you may face is the requirement for all new washers to be declared energy-efficient or high-efficiency.

What should you do if you cannot figure out which type of washer is right for you?

The battle of front load vs. top load washers never seems to end, does it? Believe it or not, you are not alone in feeling split when it comes to washing machine purchases. This is doubly true when it’s a commercial endeavor where you need to think about profitability.

Every situation is going to be different, especially when it comes to differing business layouts. What works in a 200 square foot room is not going to work in a room that’s the size of a closet. On a similar note, what works for industrial groups won’t work for individual clients or small families.

If you are not sure which machine style works best for your layout, it’s okay to reach out to someone who would know. Most of the time, customer service agents at companies like Smartomat make it easier for you to work out a good layout and also pick out the perfect models for your needs.

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