What is the Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF?
If you have read our review of Whirlpool’s super ADP900IX freestanding dishwasher, but want that level of features and performance in an integrated model, check out the brand’s WIO 3T123 PEF. Designed to fit within a kitchen cupboard and hidden behind a furniture door, this built-in dishwasher boasts Whirlpool’s 6th Sense and PowerClean jet technologies.
Its A energy rating proves a little ambitious in reality, but there’s no arguing with its cleaning prowess. It consistently delivers one of the best cleans we’ve seen from any dishwasher, and is by far the best among integrated models that have graced our test bench.
Related: Best Dishwashers to Buy
Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF – What’s it like to use?
If your kitchen features built-in appliances, then your options for an integrated dishwasher have previously been both limited and generally far more expensive than freestanding models. Enter Whirlpool’s WIO 3T123 PEF integrated dishwasher, boasting much of the tech from the brand’s top-spec freestanding models in a neat, similarly priced and fully integrated package.
This 10-programme, 14 place-setting machine comes to the TrustedReviews’ test bench promising an A energy rating, frugal water consumption, and flexible racking and stacking. As befits an integrated, the controls are all along the top edge of the door and a yellow operation light shines down onto your floor – solid when the machine is running and flashing once the cycle has ended.
Fit and finish on the inside is superb, with a smooth stainless steel enclosure and baskets on plenty of rollers. There’s a sumptuous brushed-metal trim with embossed legends on the basket handles and contrasting red parts to highlight operational clips and fittings.
These include the upper basket height adjustment and tray-rest mechanism. At the rear of the compartment you can see the unusual shape of Whirlpool’s PowerClean jet system. This creates an intense blast of water and detergent that literally jet-washes items in the lower basket.
On this model the traditional cutlery basket has been replaced by a third basket/tray at the very top of the machine. Cutlery can be laid flat for better cleaning, easier loading and unloading, and safety. Do you know how many people end up stabbing themselves on upturned knives and forks in traditional dishwasher baskets every year? No, neither do we – but at Chez Stevenson it’s about once a month.
Detergent, rinse aid and salt containers are all traditionally placed and there’s no pre-wash detergent compartment on this machine. Whirlpool is confident that its 6th Sense and PowerWash cleaning technology makes pre-washing redundant. Bold claims, indeed.
However, unlike the top-spec freestanding model we tried, this integrated appliance doesn’t feature Whirlpool’s PowerDry system. It relies on more traditional heat and evaporation.
Door-edge control panels are never going to be as slick as fascia controls, but the WIO 3T123 PEF is pretty simple to use. You scroll through programme numbers (indicated by legends on the right of the door edge), select your options, and shut the door to start.
The simple display shows program number and red warnings for low salt and low rinse aid. The door itself is over-heavily sprung and stiff, but add several kilos of kitchen cupboard door to this mechanism and it will be perfectly balanced.
Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF – What programmes does it have?
This 10-programme machine is unlikely to leave you wanting for a specific wash cycle, even if the 10th programme is actually a self-cleaning mode. The first programme in the menu, and the one on which the energy label ratings are based, is the Eco wash. Like all Eco washes it sips water, uses very little electricity and takes some time to complete… 3hrs 40mins in this machine’s case.
Perhaps more exciting is Whirlpool’s 6th Sense programme. This uses a raft of sensors to detect how dirty the load is (by using a turbidity sensor that looks at the water during each phase of the wash) and adjusts duration, water consumption and electricity accordingly. It’s the go-to programme for great wash results, but chances are it will use a few more resources than the frugal Eco programme unless your wash is only very lightly dirty.
You get a hot (65oC) intensive programme for pots and pans; a Daily programme for basic plates and crockery; and a Silent programme for use overnight – or when you want a power-nap on your kitchen worktop. This mode reduces pump pressure to keep the noise of water sloshing around to a minimum.
If you’re pushed for time then a Rapid 30 programme promises a quick clean without drying in 30 minutes, while a Crystal programme is specifically designed to buff up a full load of glassware. If there was ever a post house-party wash cycle, this is it.
The final three programmes are add-on features more than full wash cycles in their own right. There’s a 12-minute Prewash programme to rinse off really dirty pots, pans and crockery, either before a normal cycle or handwashing; and a Self-Clean programme to clean the dishwasher itself. There’s also a 65oC Sanitizing antibacterial wash that’s ideal for baby bottles or wine- and beer-making equipment.
Programme options include Multizone cleaning that addresses any one of the three baskets individually, a turbo feature to speed up wash time, the PowerWash option, and a Tablet button that optimises the wash for multi-funtion tablets.
Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF – How noisy is it?
Bearing in mind we test noise of appliances in free space with no furniture door, you can expect any integrated appliance to be a fair bit quieter than our test results when installed in your kitchen.
That said, the Whirlpool 3T123 is no ASBO waiting to happen for noise, even out in the open. Okay, the energy label claims 43dB, but like every dishwasher we’ve tested so far, when you consider the sloshing water noise the reality is a lot louder.
Yet not a lot in the case of the WIO 3T123 PEF. Recording some slightly peculiar but very good measurements, in the first 30 minutes of the main cycle this dishwasher ran at an average of 47dB – but had four two-minute long peaks of 52dB. We assume this is the PowerWash tech kicking in. Yet, after the cycle had progressed past the first 40 minutes or so, the peak noise dropped to around 47dB.
We ran the sound tests a couple of times with the same result, so assume this noise pattern is the Whirlpool’s standard operational sound. It’s far from noisy, though, measuring comparatively well with good freestanding dishwashers at this price.
Get this machine fitted into a kitchen carcass with a door on the front and it will be virtually inaudible. A great result.
Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF – How well does it wash?
Baked beans, Weetabix, scrambled egg microwaved in a Pyrex bowl and red wine covers most of the food groups required for an active reviewer’s lifestyle. It also gives us plenty of bowls to test our dishwashers too.
We leave the dirty bowls and utensils for at least 24 hours to dry off to a concrete-like texture before fully loading the test machine with assorted daily crockery plus our test items. Using mainstream-brand salt, rinse aid and a dishwasher tablet on each load, we measure energy, water, noise and wash results for each test.
The first Eco programme wash turned in some surprising results. On the down side, the cycle used around 20% more electricity than claimed and the programme duration could be measured in epochs. Well okay, nearly four hours. Whirlpool claims 0.93kWh for this cycle, yet we measured around 1.2kWh on both tests, some of which can be attributed to fairly cold inlet water temperatures in November.
Conversely, water consumption was spot on or better, measuring just over 8.5 litres to the good book’s claim of 9.5 litres. As Eco programmes go, energy and water consumption would just about scrape into A-rating in our test. Good overall, but certainly not exceptional among mid-premium dishwashers in the A category.
On the other hand, cleaning results on Eco were outstanding. In fact, they were one of the best we’ve seen from any dishwasher, integrated or freestanding, running an Eco programme!
The Weetabix, red wine stain and baked beans were all completely gone, and the dried-on microwaved scrambled egg had all but vanished too. Just a couple of very small particles remained. A quick buff with a tea towel and we’d have been happy to put the bowl away, such was the cleanliness. That’s a fabulous result for our “impossible” test from any dishwasher running an Eco programme.
We ran the Eco programme test a second time in case our free-range chickens were laying particularly less-than tacky eggs this week. We got the same class-leading results. Moreover, the glassware in the same load was stunning; perfectly clean, buffed to a crystal shine, and not a streak or watermark to be seen.
The only slight flaw in an otherwise perfect result was that drying wasn’t quite perfect. As is usual for an Eco cycle trying to reduce electricity consumption, the upturned bases of tea cups still had light water pooling.
And so, we were quite excited to see the results of the more intense 6th Sense programme. In terms of cleaning, it didn’t disappoint!
Raising the buffing bar even further over the Eco programme, our test subjects were 100% clean – and even the scrambled egg bowl that we declared as “perfect” and ready to put away in the cupboard. A fabulous (and very rare) result.
As was the case with the Eco programme, drying was very good but some light pooling in water-traps remained. We missed the lack of Whirlpool’s PowerDry feature here.
The downside was that this sort of cleaning prowess does come at a price. While our measured 14.2 litres of water is a bit high, it’s still probably less than you’d use washing the same load in the sink. But energy consumption of over 1.8kWh is very high by modern A machine standards, and a couple of hundred watts more than that claimed by Whirlpool for this cycle.
Yet, let’s put this into perspective of the overall package. You have a fully integrated, well-featured machine that can do fairly frugal (Eco programme) with a very good clean…. or can do a seriously intense clean (6th Sense programme) on tough stains for a few pence of electricity and water more.
Frankly, I’d say that choice is having your cake and eating it. And being able to clean the plate afterwards.
Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF – How much will it cost to run?
This integrated sensor dishwasher will respond to how you use it and to how dirty the items in your wash load are. Commensurately, the running costs are something of a variable feast. Compared to some peer A freestanding dishwashers on the market, running costs for electricity are certainly higher, but not by a huge hill of (dried on) beans.
Using our standard 250 washes per year, split 50/50 Eco for standard loads and 6th Sense for heavily soiled loads, the WIO 3T123 PEF would use around £56 in electricity and another £9-£10 in metered water.
This is about £20 per year more than the likes of Whirlpool’s own flagship freestanding A-rated dishwasher. That difference doesn’t look insurmountable when you consider the WIO 3T123 PEF boasts among the best dishwasher cleaning performances you can buy, however.
Should I buy the Whirlpool WIO 3T123 PEF?
Built-in convenience, plenty of programmes, and one of the best dishwasher cleaning performances we’ve seen – whether integrated or freestanding – make the WIO 3T123 PEF a stunning performer.
By our calculations, running costs are about £15-£20 per year higher than some of the most efficient A freestanding models – but for integrated style and stunning cleaning results, the WIO 3T123 PEF sets the benchmark at the price.
Fantastic cleaning results and built-in style put the WIO 3T123 PEF among the very best integrated dishwashers you can buy.