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
…Now for the other models in the 300-series that we'll compare to (again, click the images for larger versions).
SHE43RL2UC (white) – SHE43RL5UC (stainless steel) – SHE43RL6UC (black)
Comparison to the base 300-series:
You might consider the SHE43RL2UC to be the “plus” version of the base 300-series. It features hidden controls, a selectable “Sanitize” option, is even quieter (48dBA vs 52dBA), and has better racks (a 500-series on the top, and 300-series on the bottom). It does lose out on the “Rinse & Hold” option, but replaces it with a “Half Wash” option.
- Hidden controls
- Sanitize option selectable
- 4 wash programs – Heavy, Auto, Normal, Half-wash
- 48dBA (quieter)
- 500-series rack on top, 300-series rack on bottom
- Top rack is the “Rackmatic 3-stage” adjustable variant.
If you find the aesthetically-unpleasing buttons of the base 300-series to be an eyesore, the hidden buttons of this model are a boon. It maintains the recessed-handle, the energy efficiency, the digital timer, the stainless-steel-tub, and nearly everything else positive about the other 300-series model.
It's also 4dBA quieter. For reference, the way the decibel system works (for those who aren't in-the-know, it's a logarithmic scale) is that every 3dB increase means twice-as-loud. Now, there's no way to know quite how Bosch takes their measurements, but all else being equal, the 4dBA difference here should mean this model is a little quieter than half the volume of the other 300-series model (which is *already* considered by many to be quiet). So if you hate being able to hear that your dishwasher is on, the 48dBA rating should bring you a little closer to silence.
Beyond that, the upgraded rack is certainly a plus. Even for those who don't bother to adjust their dishwasher racks with each load, it's not uncommon for someone to buy a new dishwasher and find that the preset-heights don't jive well with their dishes as well as their old model's racks did. That extra flexibility, even if you only ever adjust it once can help put your mind at ease.
The only thing you lose out on (vs the base 300-series model) is the “Rinse & Hold” feature, though you get a “Half Wash” feature in it's place.
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