Washing Machines Using Off Grid Power

When you move off the grid, you naturally want to have appliances that will use the least amount of power, get the job done, do it well, and be durable. This is the same for a washing machine. You want one that will use the least amount of electricity, use the least amount of water (for those times when water will be scarce), extract the most water out of the clothes during the spin cycle (so it won’t take so much electricity/propane gas to dry the clothes), do a great job washing the clothes, be quality built for durability, be simple to repair, and in this case be able to operate on a Off Grid Power System. Just as a quick note, some washers require a sine wave inverter and will not run on a generator OR will void their warranty when operated with generator or inverter power.

The Staber Washer

We have lived off the grid for years and love the independence. We had a wonderful older Maytag washer and were thankful for it.  It worked great on our off grid power system, washed clothes well, and is durable. But it used VERY LARGE amounts of water and power. We determined to move to a more efficient washer when the Maytag died, but since that can take a LONG time to happen (those things are practically indestructible), we decided to go ahead and bite the bullet.

One washing machine we looked at long and hard is the Staber washer.  The reasons for this are:

  1. They are durable because they are built with much fewer moving parts, therefore less to go wrong.
  2. Do a great job cleaning clothes.
  3. Spin much faster than others, saving more energy in drying clothes.
  4. Use less than half as much water per load (15-20 gallons) as regular agitator washers.
  5. Are energy efficient using much less power, about 165 watts vs. 840 watts for our Maytag.
  6. They will wash 16-18 lbs. of clothes with 1 to 1.5 oz. of detergent.
  7. The Staber factory is happy to sell to Alternative Energy users.
  8. They are built so simply that they are very easy to repair.

Where they may be purchased

Staber clothes washers are not usually sold at typical retailers.  One source you should check out is Stoves & More.  These folks know what they are talking about and have reasonable prices.  They have a wealth of knowledge to share about non-electric living (Amish style).  However, it never hurts to go to www.google.com and type in “Staber Washing Machines” to get as much info as possible.

Repairs?

Most people have probably never heard of a Staber washing machine therefore one might ask where or how do you get it fixed in the event it breaks down? This is one of the beauties of the Staber washer.  Let us quote from www.staber.com:

“Parts are available factory-direct by calling 614-548-0098 between 7-3 ET Monday-Friday or by simply ordering below. If required, service is one of the benefits of our Staber washer’s design. It is designed to be end user repairable, even if you are not ‘mechanically-inclined’. We do not require authorized service technicians for service on our washer. There is total front access to the parts, no transmission to worry about, and fewer overall moving parts. If a customer has a service question, they call our service department at 614-548-0098 between 7-3 ET Monday-Friday and tell us the symptom over the phone. We can either help them fix it over the phone or if they need a part we send it via UPS or U.S. Postal Service. Service questions can also be sent via e-mail at support@staber.com

Lower Cost Alternatives Are A Better Option

As good as they are, Stabers are not cheap.  If a Staber costs more than you want to put into a washer right now, you might check out the newer electronic washers by Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Maytag and LG.  They also use much less power, less water, and less soap, but once again many of them require a sine wave inverter (which I recommend people buy anyway for their R.E. system), will not run on some generators, and void their warranty when used with some generators or non-sine wave inverter power (some may even void their warranty when operated with any off grid system). The salesperson should be asked about this when looking at their washers.

So if you are on a budget as we are, consider doing what we did.  Look for a basic, good quality washer that is as efficient as possible (check Energy Star for an extensive list of energy ratings).  Front loading washing machines have been a breakthrough in efficiency, but even some of the new top loading machines are amazingly efficient.  We located the least expensive LG front loader we could find and purchased it for a very reasonable price on sale.  When tested with our Kill-A-Watt meter, we were amazed at how incredibly efficient it is.  Believe it or not, our washer uses less power than a Staber!

So far we have had excellent results and have found it to be extremely efficient.  While it is not guaranteed off-grid and is not as friendly to being owner-repaired, it is around half the cost of a Staber.  We have friends who also live off-the-grid and have used this same washer for longer than we have with equally good results (using a modified sine wave inverter, which is definitely not recommended!).

Nick Meissner

Nick Meissner’s adventure with homesteading and off-grid living began in the late '90s with a less-than-bare-bones budget. Over the past 12 years, Nick has taught thousands of people about renewable energy, homesteading, water systems, and independence in general. He's deeply in love with his beautiful wife Lisa and thoroughly enjoys their two children.

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