There are two styles of combination washing machines on the market right now. One is an older style where the washer is a top load style but has the dryer physically attached over it so they are stacked. These machines are permanently fused and if you want, or need, to replace one they will both need to go. These machines are very efficient in small spaces however, and tend to be less expensive than buying two separate units. They are quite common to find in rental units and condos due to their narrow design and ability to save space.
The newer style of combo washers on the market right now looks like a front load washing machine but are in fact both the washer and dryer in one unit. This style of washer takes advantage of the technology that allows condenser dryers to operate and because of that it does not require a duct for the dryer. These machines are the absolute best in terms of saving space and can be placed anywhere in the home, because of these convenient features they are also some of the most expensive units on the market.
Top Loading Washing Machines
Top Loading Washing Machines are the traditional style and involve loading clothes from the top with a lid that covers the drum when running. Top Loading washers use an agitator in the middle to swish clothes around in the water during the cycle and can be very harsh on delicate items. The entire tub is filled with water for both the wash and the rinse cycle, making the quantity of water used quite high. Unless you purchase a combo machine, which has the dryer attached to the unit, you are not going to be able to stack your units and must place a dryer next to it; this can be a space issue for those with smaller homes. Offsetting these disadvantages however is the fact that top-loading machines are much cheaper than their front-loading counterparts.
Front Loading Washing Machines
Front Loading Washing machines are the newest style of washers and have proven themselves for being both energy and water efficient. Unless cost is an issue or your worried about the possibility of musty odors, a well-documented issue if you leave the door closed after a load, Front loaders are recommended over their traditional counterparts every time. Some of the more expensive models can include options for steam cycles and even 2-in-1 models which have a dryer built in are making an appearance on the market. Aside from the possibility of a musty smell a few disadvantages of this style of washer is that it can take longer to do some cycles and it can vibrate more on the spin cycle than the traditional style. The door will lock as soon as you start the cycle, so for those who forget and want to add just one more item to the load you will be out of luck.
High Efficiency Top Loading Washing Machine
High Efficiency Top Loading Washing Machines are a new comer to the market and were designed to give top-loaders some of the nicer features of the front-load design. HE Top-loaders do not have an agitator inside of them and can accommodate larger loads and are gentler on delicate items. They use less water than the non-HE version and straddle the fence in terms of costs between Top-loaders and Front-loaders. You will still have the issue with the dryer needing to be placed beside this style of washer but proper use to storage space with shelving should minimize this problem. If bending over or kneeling multiple times is an issue this might be the best style for you.