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Remodeling 101: The Ins and Outs of Dishwasher Drawers

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Apr 09, 2014 01:05 AM
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by Janet Hall last modified Apr 08, 2014

If you ask us, double dish drawers are the ideal dishwasher—together they offer the same capacity as a standard dishwasher, but with more flexibility and opportunities for space and energy savings. That said, they're pricey, and they're currently only offered by Fisher Paykel. Are they for you? Read on. Above: The interior of a 36-inch-wide dishwasher drawer. Image courtesy of Fisher Paykel. Why consider dishwasher drawers? Single dish drawers are a great solution for small kitchens and those with less demanding dishwashing needs. They typically occupy a small piece of cabinet real estate measuring 24 or 36 inches wide and a mere 19 inches tall. For standard-sized kitchens, it's worth considering d ouble dishwasher drawers that fit in a standard dishwasher opening. Each operates independently and when paired, they have  the same capacity as a traditional 24-inch dishwasher. But because each drawer operates on its own, you can wash small loads as economically as large ones. Water consumption (per drawer) is considerably less than a regular dishwasher, as is overall energy consumption. Each unit can also run a different cycle, so you can clean wine glasses on a delicate short cycle and dinner plates on a powerful longer cycle.  Dishwasher drawers also take up a bit less space than the traditional pull-down door. They can be a great solution when a standard dishwasher door blocks a walkway, extends into a kitchen island, or is too big to open in a tiny kitchen. Another benefit is you can insert dishwasher drawers into a floating island for a clean look.  How long have dishwasher drawers been around and what's their current status?  Fisher Paykel innovated the dishwasher drawer in the mid-2000s. The first to come to the market, they are the last standing. The other manufacturers who forayed into dishwasher drawers, including KitchenAid, Maytag, and Kenmore, have abandoned their efforts. Does this mean the death of dishwasher drawer? If the expansion of models and advancements in functionality are any indication, Fisher Paykel doesn't think so. Nor do we.   Above: Tall dishwasher drawers can accommodate plates up to 13 inches in diameter. Image courtesy of Fisher Paykel. What are the minuses? Some don't like the 13-inch limitations in height (big platters are a problem) for most dishwasher drawers. The good news: some of Fisher Paykel's latest models offer tall drawers. The new models also have a greater overall interior capacity, thanks to thinner insulation and other engineering advances, which have allowed a pair of drawers to hold the equivalent of a standard dishwasher. Another negative: in the early years of the dishwasher drawer, there was criticism about the repair record of Fisher Paykel. Our contacts in the appliance repair and sales industry confirm that the early models, like many new technologies, had some issues. We hear that Fisher Paykel has addressed the problems and that dish drawer engineering has improved dramatically: repair rates are down, and consumer ratings are up. As with all major appliances, be sure that the brand has service professionals available in your area. Above: Have a standard-size dishwasher opening? Most double dishwasher drawers can be installed into the standard 24-by-36-inch dishwasher opening without any modifications. This configuration can be especially useful when a traditional dishwasher door interferes with a walkway or extends into a kitchen island. Image courtesy of Fisher Paykel. Here's our roundup of Fisher Paykel models to consider: Above: Fisher Paykel's advancements in its line of dishwasher drawers include an increased interior capacity and a more flexible rack system. The Energy Star-qualified  Fisher Paykel Double Dishdrawer (DD24DCX7) in stainless with recessed handles can accommodate seven place settings in each drawer. Also available in black, white, and panel-ready, and with a straight bar handle (all of which change the price slightly); $1,199 (as shown) at AJ Madison. Above: Looking to maximize capacity? The Fisher Paykel Tall Series Double Dishdrawer (DD24DDFTX7)  can hold seven places settings in each drawer, and has added height on the interior of the top drawer to accommodate 13-inch plates and serving platters  (without effecting the drawer's exterior dimensions) . The bottom drawer can hold 11.5-inch plates;$1,399 (as shown with straight handle; other configurations available) at Abt Electronics.  Above: If you're remodeling and have the flexibility to customize your opening, consider the  Fisher Paykel Wide Series Dishdrawer (DD36S) , a single drawer model that is 36 inches wide and 19 inches tall. It offers a surprisingly generous interior that can fit nine place settings; $1,099 in stainless and $1,049 in a panel-ready configuration to integrate with your kitchen cabinetry at AJ Madison. Above: The  Fisher Paykel White Single Dishdrawer (DD24SCW7)  is a 24-inch-wide, semi-integrated dishwasher drawer that fits seven place settings and blends well with white cabinetry; $619 at Plessers. Also available in black, stainless, and panel-ready. Above: The Fisher Paykel dish drawer cutlery basket. Above: Fisher Paykel also makes a dishwasher drawer under the DCS brand (which they own). It features the same engineering, but with the DCS front. The DCS Semi-Integrated Double Dishdrawer features a tall top drawer to fit 13-inch plates. It handles 14 place settings in the two drawers combined; $1,299 in stainless (as shown) at AJ Madison.  Above: The pro-style bar handle on the  DCS Semi-Integrated Double Dishdrawer . Dishwasher Drawer Recap Pros: Double dish drawers offer the same capacity as a standard dishwasher, but with the flexibility to run smaller independent loads Energy savings Ergonomic functioning requires less bending to unload Space saving for small kitchens Cons: Cannot accommodate extra-large dishware So-so repair history Pricey Had any experience with dishwasher drawers? Please share you findings in the comments section below. Considering a dishwasher upgrade? See our dishwasher primer, Remodeling 101: How to Select a Dishwasher . Dishwasher drawers are great for compact kitchens; for some other small-space appliances worth considering, see  10 Easy Pieces: Favorite Appliances for Small Kitchens . Ready to start grilling? See Gardenista's World's Best Barbecue Grills . N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on January 18, 2008 as part of our Storage Ideas issue. 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