Now, admiral is not a well-known name, but it is actually a brand name used by Whirlpool appliances. Whirlpool uses a bunch of other brand names including Roper, Danby, Kenmore, Estate, etc. My theory is that by selling under different brand names at different stores, they avoid price-matching claims because the names do not match even though the underlying appliances are the same. Thus, as far as I know, only Home Depot sells Admiral appliances in the US.
All my research for this purchase was done online. I visited the websites of Home Depot, Lowes, Abt Appliances, Best Buy and Amazon.com for comparison shopping. I found the cheapest washer, the model I bought, at Home Depot, for $298 + taxes. The cheapest dryer was at Abt (about $40 cheaper), but I decided to go with the matching dryer from Home Depot for $380 + taxes. The dryer at Abt was also a Whirlpool brand (Roper), but because of the brand name difference, I could not ask Home Depot to match Abt's price. Very clever! Most other stores were more expensive by at least $50 or so.
Actually, if I had had the time to do actual store to store shopping, I could have saved a little bit of money on each of the appliances, because Menards had the equivalent Roper-branded products in the store for $285 (washer) and $340 (gas dryer). Unfortunately, Menards does not have a good website that allows you to look at prices of all their store products. Their website only allows you to look at their weekly sale sheets. Oh well, they lost a sale because they couldn't be bothered to be part of the 21st century!
The washer is quite highly rated at Home Depot (4.4 out of 5 stars with 162 ratings), but that was not the only reason I went with that washer. My laundry room is somewhat cramped and the corner in which my old washer was placed can only take a top-loading washer. I can not buy one of these new-fangled front-loading washers even if they had been available at a good price. I have never been a big fan of front-loading washers, so it turned out to be just as well.
The washer and dryer were delivered and installed in my house on Friday, and I have now done 3 loads of laundry on them. In this review I will concentrate on the washer, and I will post a separate review of the dryer later.
Home Depot did not charge anything for delivery or installation of the washer. They made me buy a new set of water hoses because they said they will not use old water hoses for the installation, but ultimately, they just gave me the hoses, new in their packaging, and used the old hoses for the installation. It was a wasted $20 purchase!
The delivery and installation were quite quick, but they made a little bit of a mess in the laundry room because they did not drain the hoses properly before they disconnected the old washer. Some water in the hoses spilled on the ground, but it has now drained and dried off, and there are no new leaks, so the rest of the installation seems to have been done properly.
The washer is all white except for the instrument panel. The powder blue background of the instrument panel really does not do anything for me, but I did not get a choice on the issue, so I have to live with it!
The washer is all white with three knobs placed on a powder-blue instrument panel on top of the washer. The tub is made of porcelain enamel. The inside of the tub is speckled with white, black and gray. One knob controls the size of the laundry load (small, medium, large or super). It has 4 positions, and is not continuously adjustable. The other knob controls the water temperature during the wash. It can either be hot, warm, cool or cold. Cold means that no hot water is used during the wash. The other three temperatures are a mixture of hot and cold waters, with hot using the most hot water and least cold water (yes, even hot means a little bit of cold water mixed in, according to the user manual). The rinse temperature is always cold, so I don't see the point in repeating it in the knob's settings, but I guess they want to be consistent.
The load size and temperature controls knobs. The repetition of the rinse temperature as "cold" on all four positions of the temperature control knob is a little redundant, but some interface design consultant probably got paid big bucks to come up with that idea!
The third and biggest knob, on the right hand side of the instrument panel, is the cycle control knob. There are 3 cycles possible: normal, permanent press, and gentle. You can set wash times of up to 18 minutes if you choose a normal wash, wash times of up to 10 minutes if you choose permanent press and wash times of up to 6 minutes if you choose gentle. The spin cycle time is also different between the three options, with normal getting a longer spin time than permanent press, which in turn is longer than that of gentle.
The cycle control knob looks complicated, but is jut three separate cycles around a single knob. The wash times and spin times are different between the different cycles.
The cycle control knob is the standard "push to adjust and then pull to start" kind of knob. It is very smooth and can be turned in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction when pushed in. The other two knobs are simple selector knobs and snap to the different presets on the instrument panel. The user manual mentioned an extra knob that enables you to turn on or off an extra rinse cycle, but it must be a cut-and-paste error, or the user manual covers another washer that has that feature. In any case, if I want an extra rinse, I have to do it manually with this washer.
The agitator is a large white plastic tower in the middle of the tub with "propellers". The tub also has a liquid bleach dispenser. The user manual mentions that in some models, the top of the agitator has room for liquid fabric softener. My washer does not. I don't use liquid bleach or fabric softener, so it did not matter much to me.
The inside of the washer. The agitator is somewhat large and the overall opening of the tub is narrow in relation to it, so sometimes it is difficult to get large handfuls of clothes out of the tub without getting them snagged on the agitator.
Once the washer fills with the appropriate amount of water, it starts running if the lid is closed. There is obviously a switch that senses the state of the lid, and does not start the washer if it the lid is open. The switch is not located obviously (my old washer had an arrangement where a small protrusion on the lid pressed down on a switch on the body of the washer, signaling the washer to run. I could press the switch down with a finger and keep the lid open to see what was going on if I wanted to), so I could not look too clearly into the washer while it was running. You could still open the lid about 2 inches and peek in, but I could not open the lid any wider.
The washer is not super quiet or silent, but it is not overly loud either. Since I have a separate laundry room and it is in the basement of the house, I don't really care, but even if you have an apartment, the noise should not be objectionable. Before the rinse cycle (as well as before the final spin cycle), the water is drained from the tub. During this draining, the tub does not spin, so the clothes in the tub tend to settle down in the bottom of the tub just before the tub starts spinning. I think the spin would be more efficient if the spin started during the drain so that the clothes are deposited in all parts of the tub instead of just the bottom, but in spite of this inefficiency, the clothes came out of the final spin quite dry.
The tub uses some kind of active braking system at the end of the spin cycle to stop the tub because the tub does stop quite suddenly and somewhat noisily at the end of the spin cycle or if the spin is interrupted by the opening of the lid. This could cause some problems as the washer ages since I am sure a normal spin-down of the tub without any artificial slow-down will lead to less wear and tear on the washer overall.
The loads I did in the washer all came out quite clean. I did two loads of colored clothes (at a wash temperature of cold), and a load of whites (at a wash temperature of hot). I also adjusted the sizes of the loads, and all the controls seemed to work fine.
The washer comes with an installation manual, a user manual and a product registration card. You have to return the product registration card to be notified of recalls, etc. You get a one-year limited warranty on the washer, and the store you buy it from will be happy to sell you extended warranties if you want them. The user manual is quite basic, and is in both English and French. I did not even open the installation manual.
Would I recommend this washer to others? Based on my limited experience with it so far, absolutely. It is really a basic washer with not a lot of fancy features (which probably never get used), and the price is unbeatable. Obviously, its durability is an unknown at this point, and that really can not be determined for the next few years. If you are in the market for a basic top-load washer that seems to get the job done and is economical, I think you should give this one some serious consideration.