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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Samsung DMR77 (DMR77LHS) Dishwasher review

Yes, we have been gambling on Samsung. But the apparent value of their appliances, combined with an impressive commitment to sales knowledge and service (at least in the Montreal area) have made the offer quite compelling. We felt that this machine was similar in quality to the best, (which in my opinion is Miele) that cost $1000 more, but actually had better performance features.

We are also aware of the mistakes that Samsung made with their first generation of dishwashers, manufactured by Maytag (Whirlpool) and the number of people who were disappointed in the reliability of these machines. Because we hesitated before buying the relatively unknown (to north America) Blomberg due mainly to a lack of information, I can certainly see how difficult it must be to come into a very competitive market where a psychological price barrier and consumer knowledgability might mean a compromise.

To start off, the DMR77 is not built by Maytag. Our unit was built in China, and I speculate that it is most likely built by Haier to Samsung specs and with Samsung electronics. Haier is considered a low-end price point brand here in Montreal, but they do manufacture "higher end" dishwashers in this price range, and available elsewhere. This is not a judgment on the quality of Haier, but it is hard to believe that a dishwasher that costs only $250 brand new can be any good (but it might be).

The apparent build quality of this dishwasher is impressive. First of all, there are no stray bits hanging off the sides, back or bottom of the machine, as plastic shrouds cover virtually everything underneath a very thin sound deadening layer. Connections for the inlet hose and drain are overbuilt. The tub is of very high quality stainless, and it appears that considerable effort has been made to maximize interior space. The door is of very heavy and rigid construction and closes like a german car door, which gives an impression of solidity and precision.

From a design perspective, the machine looks like a hybrid between a european and north American dishwasher. For example, this machine uses condenser drying, but also has a food grinder and an adjustable two-tier top rack very similar in design to a Maytag. The trade-off by having a grinder is that the machine is a bit louder (3 db more than the quietest Bosch or Asko).

I prefer this design to the Asko, which has a fixed stainless tube that routes water to the top rack, effectively making it non-adjustable not to mention a (slight) loss of interior space.

Installation, as with most dishwashers was fairly easy. However this machine is really at the limit for size, and I ended up having to drill new holes for water and drain in order to get the machine to fit properly under the counter. After the first trial installation, and finding it not that much quieter than the outgoing Kenmore, I decided it was probably a good idea to replace the previous plastic inlet hose with a new braided stainless one and also to cover up a few gaps with weatherstrip and add some sound deadening on the hard ceramic floor.

Once installed (the 3rd time) and properly leveled, we can safely say that the machine is pretty damn quiet! The machine is rated at 49 dB, which as I mentioned is not the quietest, and subjectively it does not appear to be that much quieter than our old Kenmore when next to the machine while it is running. However when out of the kitchen, it is not possible to tell it is running at all. With the Kenmore we would often find ourselves turning up the television in the living room, even though subjectively it seemed quiet. Having said that, if you must have the quietest machine, you might want one without a grinder as this seems to be source of a lot of noise.

We are still not completely used to loading the machine, but are quite impressed at its capacity. We use a 12 place setting service for everyday use, and run out of dishes before the machine is full. This means that there is plenty of room for coffee cups, assorted plastic containers and other cooking utensils. Samsung also thoughtully provides adjustability for most of the rack tines, and it is even possible to remove completely the two lower rack inserts. There are also a myriad of little clips to hold things down like spatulas and other items that might blow around during a wash cycle. To give an idea of the size of the tub, a 16 quart stock pot fits easily on the lower rack without interfering with the sprayer (with the upper rack in the high position). For this we give the versatility of the machine high marks.

Running the machine is very straightforward. As with our range, the dishwasher uses a "hidden" flat static touch panel, and there are no protruding buttons or mechanical switches. The lack of tactile feedback is compensated by musical beeps whenever a function is selected.

It has taken a bit of time to figure out optimal cycles to use. This machine has 6 cycles (Normal, Heavy, Delicate, Rinse, Quick and Smart Auto) with 3 options (Sanitize, Half Load and Delay Start). With our old Kenmore we found that the Quick or Econo cycle worked fine when we rinsed the dishes and it was relatively quick at 38 minutes, but Quick on the Samsung takes 1 hour, and the dishes came out wet! A look in the manual explained that the Quick cycle was the same as the normal but skips the dry cycle. Half load is limited to the upper rack, but it is not obvious how to arrange both plates, glasses cups and cutlery on the upper rack. We were also amazed at punching in Smart Auto and seeing 3 hours (!) showing up on the display! (This is a maximum, fortunately). For now Smart Auto, with its soil sensor, appears to work.

Because we are trying to save water, we are trying to break old habits and not rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I will now use the 10 minute rinse cycle after meals as it should take less water. However the dishwasher does tend to get smelly after leaving dirty dishes for more than a couple of days, so we may have to rethink the half load strategy and use the machine more frequently. This may not be a problem so much during the winter months.

This machine would have been disappointing if it didn't get the dishes clean, and it does an admirable job. We found that we do have to be careful about placement to make sure that surfaces come into contact with the spray arms as some residue can remain if we place things on top of the upper rack shelves. We have even tried lasagna baked on pyrex using the heavy cycle on the lower rack, and it removed everything. It is even good enough to get rid of stuck on bread dough from my Bosch mixer bowl, which I no longer have to hand wash. The glass test came out perfect, with no spots, film or apparent etching (using a rinse aid is essential).

What is really impressive about this machine is that it uses virtually NO soap. The manual says to use 15 gr (a tablespoon!) for a normal or smart wash, and an extra 10 gr (2 tsp) for the prewash in the heavy cycle. Because we calculated total cost of ownership, the soap cost more than offset the cost of additional water and slightly more electrictiy that this machine uses (when compared to a higher-end Bosch or Asko). This is no small consideration if you have hard or moderately hard water like we do. What I found interesting is the machine cleans without ANY soap...I found this out when a cutting board blocked the soap door from opening! I suspect that using soap is not really for its detergent properties but for sanitization. Yes the machine cleans that well.

Drying performance is good, but not as good as a heat and fan assisted machine and it does take longer. However this is the price of energy efficiency, eh? I think fan assist on this machine is a fair compromise to machines that don't have them (e.g. most European machines).

  • Large capacity
  • Uses extremely little soap
  • Effective grinder/filtration (no filter to clean)
  • Versatile loading
  • Build quality
  • Dual displays
  • Effective soil sensor (Smart Auto)
  • Might be difficult to install in tight spaces
  • Quick cycle dishes come out wet (useless)
  • No indicator light for end of cycle ("End" warning turns off after 5 minutes)
  • Not the quietest, nor the most efficient (but a realistic compromise)
Samsung offers a compelling dishwasher on its second try, and it would appear to be the best of both worlds. What remains now is to see if the machine is reliable or durable, as there is no data for this model. We did take a 5 year service contract, which I believe would be prudent if you consider buying this machine.


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Matt said...

The technician came out to fix the diswaher and put in a new float box. I think the part was $25 or so. Been working fine with no 9E error ever since. I did notice that the old float box had a buildup of slime in it which was probably causing it to stick. There is also a black hose connected to the box which had the same slime/bacterial material in it.

KristiMitch said...

Thrilled to find this thread! We have a stainless DMR77 model. We just finished taking care of our 9E error by cleaning out the float tank. We also had the problem with getting some water in the bottom pan and it then threw a LE error which thankfully we dried out with a chamois and a hair dryer. It is working again! You can add me to the list though of consumers that will never purchase a Samsung appliance again. We have replaced the rack clips 3 times in 3 years. When I spoke to Samsung customer service they told me they were not aware of any issues with the rack clips. I giggled and said they should do a search on the internet.

Kex said...

I'm left wondering what the float box is. I might want to look at that in mine, if it's such a cheap part. I'm about ready to invest in a maintenance manual and $100 worth of spare parts (including the broken clips) if I can "get my money's worth" out of this JUNK!

The whole family hates the thing. Our Samsung refrigerator has been nice though, and, although bought at the same time as the dishwasher (almost three years ago), has worked flawlessly. Our over the range microwave from Lowe's is decent. Not brilliant, but decent. It is too new for a reliability assessment.

Kex said...

Update Leo:

The code is not 6E2, but be2. It is, indeed, a "button error" code. There is a problem with the main push button controls.

The best case scenario is that this is caused by condensation. You'll have to open the door up to get inside it and inspect the control board, or even take it out and dry it out thoroughly.

If that doesn't work, it might need replaced. It's listed on Parts Direct by Sears for just under $140 (as of today, it's in the parts list for the door, but it's not shown on the diagram).

If it will not dry out and work, then I think you need this part: DD92-00008A

Collin said...

I recently purchased a dmr77 refurbished model and I noticed that my top rack doesn't have the notorious level adjusters. It looks like whoever refurbed it installed a top rack from a DMT400, which fits fine and instead of the level adjusters the rack has a second set of wheels that allows you to lower the rack a few inches. Much sturdier design.

Albert said...

FYI, I got the HE error on a
DMR57 after about 3 years usage. Replaced the heater and it lasted about 6 months and then the dreaded HE error again. Bought a used DMR77 that was about the same age and in about 6 months I got the HE error again. I think I've had enough with cleaning/ repairing these Samsung dishwashers. I contacted Samsung and they just want to send out a technician and tell me what I already know, but another replacement heating coil. No thanks. I think it is time to give up on Samsung dishwashers.

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