Variant and hybrid designs


There are many variations of the two general designs. Top-loading machines in Asia use impellers instead of agitators. Impellers are similar to agitators except that they do not have the center post extending up in the middle of the wash tub basket.
Some machines which actually load from the top are otherwise much more similar to front-loading horizontal-axis drum machines. They have a drum rotating around a horizontal axis, as a front-loader, but there is no front door; instead there is a liftable lid which provides access to the drum, which has a hatch which can be latched shut. Clothes are loaded, the hatch and lid are closed, and the machine operates and spins just like a front-loader. These machines are narrower but usually taller than front-loaders, usually have a lower capacity, and are intended for use where only a narrow space is available, as is sometimes the case in Europe. They have incidental advantages: they can be loaded without bending down; they do not require a perishable rubber bellows seal; and instead of the drum having a single bearing on one side, it has a pair of symmetrical bearings, one on each side, avoiding asymmetrical bearing loading and potentially increasing life. This type of washing machine is popular in Europe, where space is limited, as a washer can be as little as 40 cm wide, and a full washer and dryer installation can be as little as 80 cm wide.
There are also combo washer dryer machines that combine washing cycles and a full drying cycle in the same drum, eliminating the need to transfer wet clothes from a washer to a dryer machine. In principle, these machines are convenient for overnight cleaning (the combined cycle is considerably longer), but the effective capacity for cleaning larger batches of laundry is drastically reduced. The drying process tends to use much more energy than using two separate devices, because a combo washer dryer not only must dry the clothing, but also needs to dry out the wash chamber itself. These machines are used more in Europe, because they can be fitted into small spaces, and many can be operated without dedicated utility connections. In these machines, the washer and dryer functions often have different capacities, with the dryer usually having the lowest capacity. These machines should not be confused with a dryer on top of a washer installation, or with a laundry center, which is a one piece appliance offering a compromise between a washer-dryer combo and a full washer to the side of the dryer installation or a dryer on top of a washer installation. Laundry centers usually have the dryer on top of the washer, with the controls for both machines being on a single control panel. Often, the controls are simpler than the controls on a washer-dryer combo or a dedicated washer and dryer. Some implementations are patented under US Patent US6343492B1 and US Patent US 6363756B1.