The Staber washer is a horizontal axis washer (commonly referred to as “front-loaders”) but with the unique feature of loading from top. It has all the advantages that come with horizontal axis washers: uses much less washer and electricity, no inefficient, clunky transmission, needs less detergent, and clothes last longer because they’re not whipped back and forth by an agitator. You can read more about the Staber here.
Recently, one of my site users bought a Staber and I asked him if he would share his honest first impression of the machine. He was gracious enough to write the following excellent report on his first impression upon receiving, unpacking, installing, and running his new Staber. If you’re considering buying a Staber, this report is required reading:
It came nicely packed, but after opening it, my neighbor said, ‘is it used?’. There were greasy fingerprints, dust, etc. Since I know you are into the Apple packaging thing, you can unnerstan what I’m talkin’ ’bout. It didn’t bother me much. I read that they test each unit, etc. which is comforting. I also would give the ‘fit and finish’ a B-. I like the overall look of the machine, but when you look closely, the sheet metal does not match up to the plastic top very well. Again, not a big deal to me.
I installed new filter washers because the old ones had started to fall apart. I tried to scrape the remnants out of the valve before hooking things up. I really should replace the valves, but was very excited to hook things up and blew it off.
With my wife’s help, we had it leveled on our uneven, poured-concrete floor in about 15 mins. The manual indicated that each adjustable foot also had a locknut, which it did not (design change?). Also, it stated that we should install the rubber feet onto the metal feet, but they were already on…
Following their advice to wash our clothes sans detergent a couple of times because of residual soap residue due to our old, ineffective washer, we threw a colors load in to use both cold and hot water on a warm cycle. I was amazed at how quickly it started to agitate due to the short time needed to add water. I’m not sure I get Staber’s logic when they state that it is gentler than traditional washers yet cleans better. Do they mean that it is tumbling rather than tugging on the clothes?
Anyway, it sounded like it was really agitating things nicely. Could be a little quieter, but not bad. I’m glad it isn’t near our bedrooms, tho. I made sure to be in the room when the spin started. I was surprised by the long duration of the spin compared to traditional washers, but their slower spin speed (750 rpm?) probably explains this. It does, as others have noted, sound like a plane taking off. I
didn’t time the dryer duration for this load, but the clothes did come out ‘feeling’ dryer than our old 10 Y.O. maytag POS’s spin.
I guess I’ll reserve judgement on cleaning ability until I wash one of our heavily soiled, kid’s clothes loads with detergent. Some of their pant’s knees and socks have mud stains that are still obvious after a dozen washings in the maytag.
So, I guess I’d say, ‘So far, so good’ at this point. I’m more hopeful now that I’ve interacted with it a little. I felt like we took a gamble buying it without actually being able to inspect it like one could in a bricks and mortar. A suggestion: why not use quicktime to create an image of one which you can inspect online?
Good suggestion on the movie! I’ll find one and add it to this post as an addendum. Also, if John has any followup reports on washability and usage issues, I’ll post those here as well. Or John can post it as a follow-up comment. 😉
UPDATE 12/13/2005: Here, now, by popular demand is the long-awaited Staber video. Be forewarned: it’s a 139 mb mpg file, could take a couple minutes to download on broadband, couple more if you’re on dial-up connection.
UPDATE 12/22/2005: I’m getting killed on bandwidth so the link in the previous update no longer works. But, never fear: The Samurai has come up with a mo’ bettah solution. If you want the video, just email me and I’ll send you the access link: samurai AT Fixitnow.com.
VERY useful report, John! I have been considering buying a Staber when I return to the U.S. in a couple of years, and your observations are just what I’ve been looking for. I am primarily interested in the mechanics, but at the price these things go for, a B- ‘fit and finish’ makes me more inclined to visit the factory or rely on more reports like yours. I second the suggestion for some video.
John here with a followup:
Glad you found it useful, rickshaw. I’m trying to post as much as I can because I couldn’t really find much impartial, first-hand information when I was looking.
Thanks for posting that video, Samurai. I don’t think that can be found on Staber’s site. The video states ‘up to 900 rpm’, but read their FAQ here for the actual speed of the spin for current models:
I was originally thinking of a picture which can be spun around and zoomed in on like you see on some retailer’s sites (Knowhatahmean?). I think it requires a video camera and software, etc. so I doubt I have the stuff to do it.
I will try and post a closeup of what I meant when I described the fit and finish and perhaps an mp3 of what it sounds like if there is any interest.
A couple of other things I forgot to cover:
It comes with a nicely written and diagrammed, printed manual with all wiring and parts diagrams, etc. You can download it from their site. I’d give it a B+ because it hadn’t been updated to reflect the ommission of locknuts on the feet and because I see nowhere stating belt-deflection recommendations. It just says, ‘check belt tension and adjust as necessary’.
Mine was delivered by a semi truck that had a lift. You’ll need a dolly or help to bring it from the truck into the house yourself or I think you can also pay extra to have it brought in, etc. It comes on a wooden pallet. We asked the truck driver if he could take it away and he did. It has a large styrofoam block supporting the motor to keep things from shifting around in transit. It has a large plastic bag covering it and is surrounded by thick cardboard with plastic straps holding it all together. They suggest that you unpack on the spot to inspect before you sign. A+ on packaging.
It comes with a 4 oz. sample bottle of Staber’s own detergent. FWIW, we like it. It has almost no scent (maybe a slight hint of lestoil-like scent), and the dried clothes have no scent at all, which we prefer. It states that you don’t need bleach, fabric softener, etc. but now that it is colder, I’ve noticed that there is some static cling, but not excessively so.
The Staber is definitely doing a much better job at cleaning our clothes than our old Maytag. I doubt that it is any ‘better’ at cleaning than a good-quality top loader that agitates vigorously and that has a fast spin… Too early for a final grade, but A+ so far
Bottom line, if energy conservation, self-service and ‘USA made’ are more important to you than up-front cost and having a washer that matches your dryer, I’d recommend it.
Other issues I’ve read about around the net, but can’t definitively refute or confirm at this time (boy, that sounds like a politician):
During spin, some have said that it can flex a wooden floor. Ours is on concrete. I’d like to eventually bring the washer/dryer upstairs to the bedroom level, but we have a well-built 1923 house and I know how to use a level; somehow I think it will be OK.
Warranty/service. I’ll try to post again with my experiences if I have any.
Out of balance loads. I read that some have had issues with only putting one item in and having to repeatedly run the rinse cycle as a result because the washer gets confused. We haven’t had to do 1 item yet. We do occasionally wash our large kitchen area rug by itself, so I’ll try and post my experiences.
Excellent followup information, John. Thanks! 🙂
John here again.
Everything is fine with the Staber. We love it and have noticed a drastic decrease in our water usage. Still feels great to have bought an american made machine, too.
The only ‘issue’ for us is that you cannot wash a large, heavy object by itself. We have a large, cotton woven rug for our kitchen floor (~ 9’X7′) which will cause the washer to freak out during spin. Since we only wash it about 5X a year, we can live with it, but I thought prospective buyers would want to know about it.
I spoke too soon on the problem we had with the large rug. This weekend, we decided to load the rug differently than we had before. We loaded it so that its weight was evenly distributed throughout the basket by spreading the rug out into a circle. Loaded this way, the Staber had no problems whatsoever.
Hi, John, thanks for the followup reports. Anything new to report?
I recently bought a Staber to replace a 6 year old Maytag Atlantis washer with transmission problems. The transmission is under warranty, but I couldn’t get two different Maytag repairmen to call me back. Goodbye, Maytag.
Some research found the Staber. It sounded good (only a couple people with complaints), but I couldn’t find anyone in my area that owned one. The attractive part to me was that it a simple design with few moving parts and I can buy parts directly from the factory by phone or website if I ever need them. Their owners manual includes service info and pdf documents on their website offer further detailed information. I like a company that doesn’t assume their customers are all idiots! I held my breath and ordered one. Delivery from the factory was about 2½ weeks. It arrives on a pallet and was well packed.
The top door is molded ABS plastic and there are some thin mold marks at the seams, a minor fit and finish item. I also noticed a greasy fingerprint from an assembler. There was a trace of water in the detergent dispenser, so it was obviously run once at the factory on a shakedown. Mine did have locknuts on the leveling feet.
This machine is much quieter when washing than the Maytag was. The motor is the mechanism, it rotates the drum, slowly stops, then rotates in the opposite direction to tumble the clothes in a small amount of water. A standard cycle is one wash (your choice, light-medium-heavy, 5-15 minutes), followed by two rinse cycles.
The spin cycle is definitely noticeable on the standard setting. As my wife says, “it’s liftoff time!”. On the delicate and permanent press setting the spin is slower and quieter. My laundry room has a wooden floor that is not particularly well built. The spin cycle does bounce the floor, but not much more than the old Maytag with a large load of towels. It seems that it is very important to level the Staber carefully so each of the 4 feet carries it’s share of the weight. Even on a wimpy floor, it hasn’t “walked” anywhere.
The directions suggest leaving the door up and drum doors open when the washer is not in use. Inspecting the bottom of the drum after washing a load shows little or no water left in the bottom of the outer stainless steel drum. I’m guessing their thought is that any moist air inside will be allowed to escape, reducing any chance of condensation on the electronics board on the back wall of the enclosure.
All in all, I’m happy with the machine. If you want “pretty”, you may be less than enthusiastic. If you want simple, functional, and bulletproof, you will be pleased…
I realized that I had originally posted all of this info years ago and wanted to offer up a follow up, long-term (6 year) report for those that may be interested.
Since we originally bought the washer, we moved across the country. I was really happy that I had held on to the foam block that prevents the motor from moving around in transit. It arrived with no issues whatsoever.
It has never let us down and has received no maintenance at all. I plan to replace the belt and grease the bearings soon as a preventive measure (anyone else done this before? Please share anything that you learned). We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 boys 13 & 10) and we use it constantly.
The only small down-side (as mentioned before) is when loading non-clothing items (pillows, blankets, quilts, rugs, sleeping bags, etc.). You must load them in a balanced way – meaning that if you put in a pillow, you must put another pillow across from it in the basket. If it’s a quilt or rug, put it in a circle so the load is balanced. If you don’t, you will hear a banging as it goes in to its first spin cycle.
The other possible down-side (if you’re not careful) is that small items (about 1″ or less) can fall down between the top of the washer and the basket. The basket is surrounded by a plastic bin with a drain in the bottom. If that happens, it can be tricky to fish it out. This has only happened to us once, but it meant that we had to fish the item out before we could run a load because it could have blocked the drain hole.
Looking back, I feel that we made the right decision on this purchase and hope to have it for much longer. I’ll try to remember to re-post in the future.
Thanks for that followup report, John! 🙂