We begin (as usual), with brief specs & images of the base 300-series dishwashers. Click an image for a larger view.
SHE23R52UC (white) - SHE23R55UC (stainless steel) - SHE23R56UC (black)
As to the most basic specs, this is what we're looking at in the above SHE23R5xUC models:
- 52dBA sound level (loudest bosch model)
- 259hWh energy star rating
- 4 wash programs – Heavy, Auto, Normal, Rinse&Hold
- digital time display, front-facing buttons
- upper rack adjustable
- stainless steel tub
…And now we get to the 800-series, starting with the non-plus versions.
SHE68R52UC (white) – SHE68R55UC – (stainless steel) – SHE68R56UC (black)
Comparison to 300-series:
Where the 500-series primarily brings slight feature additions, the 800-series brings a lot more to the table and is more of a “true” (or “full”) upgrade. The base 800 model (the non-plus version) has hidden controls, a top and front LCD display, is more energy efficient, has 6 programs + 3 options, has a variable-pressure-spray, has the top-of-the-line 800-series racks, an improved filter, and is of course even quieter.
If you've looked at the 300-series and want something that's better in nearly every area, skip the 500-series. The 800-series dishwasher is what you want.
Here's what it's got over the base 300-series:
- 6 cycles – Heavy, Auto, Normal, Delicate, Express, Rinse & Hold (adds Delicate & Express to the 300 series)
- 3 options – Half Load, Sanitize, Delay Start (300-series only has “Delay Start” and can't force Sanitize)
- 234kwh/year energy star rating – even better than the (already impressive) 259kwh/year rating offered by the 300 & 500-series models
- Top & Front LCD display – while you can see the time/countdown display on the top (and adjust the wash settings at the top), the front has the time/countdown and a large LCD wash-progress indicator.
- Variable Spray Pressure – Bosch isn't clear on exactly how it functions other than that depending on the cycle, the spray pressure will adjust. Presumably, a heavy wash will use higher pressure than say… a delicate cycle. Whether the soil-sensor is used to determine spray pressure as well is anyone's guess.
- 800-series racks – Bosch's top-end, most adjustable racks, including the flexible (orientation/position) silverware basket.
- 4-stage filter (vs 3-stage in 300/500 series)
- 44dBA noise – quieter than the 300-series 52dBA, and even quieter than the 500-series 46/47dBA rating.
In terms of water consumption, Bosch lists the water, duration, and heat ranges of the 3 main cycles as being the same as the 300/500 series. Since the energy rating is better in the 800, one has to assume that they've managed to eak out a little more savings via the variable-pressure during the wash, better insulation to keep the water at wash-temp longer, more efficient components (besides the heater which is 100% efficient already), or that the water/duration/heat ranges listed aren't accurate.
In any case, it would be a challenge to find another washer anywhere close to the same energy-star rating as the 800.
In terms of options, they all exist between the various 300/500 models, though this is the first time they're all offered at once. Based on the documentation, they're all similar to the 300/500-series versions, though the 800 has the additional benefit of the variable spray pressure of course.
In terms of cleaning performance, unless the “variable spray pressure” can actually go *higher* than the default in the other machines, I'd expect actual cleaning to be similar. Bosch isn't clear here as to whether the intent is to enhance cleaning, enhance efficiency, or to be easier on delicate dishes.
All-in-all, the 800-series gives all the goodies contained in the lower-series, and then 1-up's things a little. It does come with a heftier price tag though – if you don't need all the wash options, the most versatile racks, the sleek/high-end look, and a dishwasher that's getting so quiet that you have to wonder if Bosch is 1-uping themselves simply to rub it in the other manufacturer's faces, you may want to consider one of the lower (cheaper) series.
After all, it's not like the 300-series is a Chevette, and the 800-series is a Lexus. It's more like they're both Lexus's, but the 800 is the one with all the extra trimmings.
And finally, the top-end of the 800-series, the 800 PLUS models, with all the bells and whistles… images going from the top model (SHE9) to the lower-end (SHE7)
Compared to the regular 800-series (non-plus):
We won't compare these directly to the 300-series, because that would be incredibly silly.
The 800 Plus models contain some of the ridiculous things some of you probably never knew existed in a dishwasher. They're also very expensive.
All 3 contain:
- a built-in water softener (yes, really)
- a 3rd rack & increased rack options/flexability
- increasing levels of quietness (all the way down to 39dBA)
- a “load” sensor (presumably in addition to the soil sensor that all the other Bosch models contain)
- “ActiveTab” Tray to optimize detergent dissolving
- increasing energy-star efficiency (all the way to 180kwh/year)
SHE9 – The SHE9-variant is the most quiet at 39dBA. Energy efficency is a remarkable 200kwh/year. Wash options are similar to the SHE8-variant, with 6 cycles and 5 options. Buttons are hidden at the top with an LCD display, and the front facing has a large display with text and icons.
SHE8 – The SHE8-variant is actually the most energy efficient (180kwh/year). Instead of the “rinse/hold”, it appears to take a “glass care” option instead, but otherwise doesn't appear to lose anything. It also picks up the “ECO” feature that one of the 500-series machines contained, though the value of this is debatable. Buttons are front-panel, but stylish (similar to the SHE7 version, but with more options). This model is only offered in Stainless Steel.
SHE7 – It's worth noting that the SHE7-variant is actually less energy efficient than the base-800-non-plus-series model (the SHE7 uses 259kWh – the same as the 300/500-series), and has fewer wash cycle options than the non-plus-800-series. It's essentially making some “trades” to obtain the high-end features. Buttons are front-panel, but stylish. This model is only offered in Stainless Steel.
For those who might be a little more curious about the “3rd rack”, and water softener system, I'll expand slightly in this area, starting with an image pulled from the manual so you can see where it is (click for larger version)…
You can see that the 3rd rack is thin, located at the very top, and designed for cutlery to lay flat in. Obviously, it:
- clears up room in the bottom rack (since there's no cutlery carrier needed there any more)
- has the potential to be easier/quicker to load, since you're laying down the cutlery in the slots, rather than putting it through holes in a typical cutlery carrier.
- reduces the vertical ‘space' in your dishwasher. By this I mean if you have *tall* plates/dishes, and *tall* glasses that just *barely* fit most dishwashers, they may not all fit at once anymore.
As to the water softener, you can see in the image above that it's not located in the door – rather, it's located fairly deep inside. To fill it, you'll probably have to pull the bottom rack, though fortunately water softener salt tends to last a while, so you hopefully won't need to refill it very frequently.
Of course, the larger issue is finding dishwasher water softening salt. It's easy to find the massive bags used for home systems, but a little tougher to find bags/boxes meant for a small dishwasher. Bosch is pretty clear that you're only supposed to use the “dishwasher” variant of softening salt, but personally, I'd be inclined to buy the big bags (still, meant for softening – I'm not talking about the other salts for melting/eating/etc) and transfer it to smaller containers. Regardless, the need for softening salt if you plan to use the system is something you'd want to consider.
For anyone who's unaware as to *why* you'd want softened water, you'll typically get away with less detergent, less JetDry, and have fewer water spots. In the event your water's already softened, there's a setting
In any case, if you must have the best, and have the $$$, these models are definitely where it's at.
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