Because I get asked all the time, I have done recent research and asked my colleagues, and read our previous articles, and here is what came out in the wash!

This Fisher Paykel model runs using 'smart drive' technology which results in the lower power consumption.

A few thing to note:

- These days you could run the machine in the middle of the day, bypassing the batteries altogether, leaving them full for evening and night-time use.

- Top loaders do take more water than front loaders.

- I never load the machine to full capacity. Full loads require higher start up currents.

- I only use it on cold water to further reduce power consumption and of course in the middle of the day when the sun is on the panels if and when possible

- my 5.5kg machine was about $750 new, and this 8kg one is about $1300 new.

- Enquire about getting one that has hot AND cold water connection, and with a setting where you can provide your own hot water rather than a unit that requires the use of a built in heating element.

- The 'Star Label' can be misleading if you're considering just the energy usage, and water consumption is not a problem for you. This is because the Star Label assumes that you are using electricity for the hot water; so washing machines that use a fair bit of water show a low star rating (due to all the water they are theoretically heating up).

- Most modern washing machines have a lot of electronics and need a sine wave inverter to operate. Don't run them on cheap dodgy generators!

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