You won't see these products at KBIS. LG, Samsung, and Whirlpool are all forgoing booth space at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show this month in favor of showing off their high-tech appliance offerings at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Products editor Lauren Hunter caught up with them there, where all three brands debuted new products, features, and concepts for the laundry room.
Heat Pump Clothes Dryers
Cost savings associated with energy efficiency is among the most interesting capabilities of high-tech home products. Connected thermostats, lighting controls, and the advent of Smart Grid-ready appliances all play into that. In the laundry room, both LG and Whirlpool debuted heat pump clothes dryers to keep the ball rolling.
Similar to heat pump water heaters, which extract heat from the surrounding air to bolster water heating capabilities, heat pump dryers recirculate their own excess heat so the appliance can deliver the same amount of drying power with considerably less energy input. Whirlpool's Duet dryer with Hybrid Care (above) is ventless and uses up to 70% less energy than a standard dryer, while maintaining a standard 60-minute drying cycle. The technology won a CES Innovation Award this year. LG's heat EcoHybrid pump dryer (left) boasts up to 53% energy savings and is also an award winner, taking home an Energy Star Emerging Technology Award over the summer. Of course, with high technology comes higher price tags. As heat pump dryers start to roll out, look for price points of at least $1,500.
Washing With Convenience
Samsung's innovations at CES drew attention on the washing machine side of the laundry pair. The Active Wash unit (right), coming in spring 2015, features a built-in sink that makes soaking and pre-treating more convenient. According to a rep at the Samsung booth, 70% of homeowners don't have a sink near their laundry appliances, but 70% want to be able to pre-treat clothes when needed. With Active Wash, users can lift the washing machine lid and take advantage of a shallow basin that fills from a built-in jet connected to the water line. When pre-treating is done, the basin tips backwards so the water and clothing all go directly into the tub for normal washing.
At LG, new washing technology comes in the form of a Mini Washer (left) built into a unit the size of a standard front-loader pedestal. The unit does not need a separate water line and runs all the same cycles as a full-size washer, but only holds about 4 pounds of laundry. The compact size is ideal for washing small loads of delicates or baby clothes, or when there's simply not enough laundry for a full load. The best part? The LG Mini Washer does not have to be purchased as part of the LG Twin Wash system (also debuted at CES). Buy it as a standalone product to add to your existing laundry appliances. Pricing information is not yet available.
Standing Steam Capabilities
Dry cleaning alternatives were also part of CES laundry introductions, including Whirlpool's Swash 10-minute clothing care system. The standalone appliance dry cleans one item at a time in 10 to 15 minutes with the help of a Tide cleaning packet popped into the top of the unit (think of it as Keurig K-Cup for the laundry room). Swash retails for about $500 and the Tide packets are about $7 per dozen.
LG's new Styler appliance, coming in the first half of 2015, is a larger unit that uses steam and deoderizing features to refresh garments. A hang bar fits up to four garments and shakes during a cycle to ensure wrinkles come out and stay out. (The photo at right shows two units side by side.) The Styler also features a pressing panel to give trousers a sharp crease in 30 minutes without pulling out the iron and ironing board. Because the Styler has no connected water line, users must fill a water basin to take advantage of the steam function. It can also run without steam for garments that need to be kept free of moisture, but the steam-free cycle takes longer.