I generally put a lot of stock into social recommendations and I incorporate them heavily into my product analysis. When we moved, we needed a new dishwasher, so I of course went to Home Depot and checked out their selection and settled on the GE GDWT768VSS, a high-end appliance with most features, including quiet operation and an innovative detergent dispenser that meters the exact amount of soap needed to get the dishes clean. Reviews were fine and most noted how quiet it was. In any event, GE is my favorite appliance brand, so it seemed low risk.
So, I ordered it. I should have known, I guess, when the first arrived broken. We got lots of apologies from the very friendly installation crew and the second arrived a week later. It was operable, but wouldn't get the dishes clean. At this point, I got a request to leave my own review on homedepot.com and I was happy to do so:
We called the very friendly GE customer service team and the repairman arrived another week later. He found that a part had been installed incorrectly and once he installed it correctly, the dishwasher ran more-or-less fine. The dishes were nowhere near as clean as the 10 year-old dishwasher it replaced, but we were told that was because of the EnergyStar requirements. The repairman advised us to use "added heat" and "steam heat" together to get the dishes clean -- I'm sure that's not EnergyStar recommended.
We decided that doing more dish pre-cleaning than we're used to was okay, but the dishwasher's automatic detergent dispenser uses five times more detergent than we used before. This can't be good for the environment and the gel detergents it requires are expensive!
Since we couldn't return the dishwasher (Home Depot only allows 48 hours for returns, we're told) we stopped using the automatic soap dispenser and lived with marginal cleaning quality.
Then the thing broke again! This time, it dumped water on the floor, but continued its cycle, baking food onto the plates. We called for the fourth service visit and four days later another repairman arrived. He found that the water sensor was stuck "on", so it shut the water off (though why it continued to allow us to run the heating elements without water is a mystery). He fixed the sensor, so the dishwasher operates again and he agreed that the built-in dispenser uses too much soap.
We're now on our fourth visit, so of course we're annoyed. The very friendly GE customer service people tell us not to worry, as it's under warranty and they will send a repairman in the "unlikely" event that it breaks-down again. Super. Just what we expect from a $900 dishwasher.
We also now see that this model has been discontinued by GE and no longer for sale by Home Depot. It seems like it's a fairly new model, so I wonder why it's no longer for sale and I wonder what they'll do if this one craps out?
Update June 8, 2012
GE is still working on this with us and we've now had a fifth visit. The installer had been on one of the earlier calls and the visit was brief. With help from the support line, he verified that the heating element was working and that water was flowing through the arms. Not finding anything obvious with the dishwasher he suggested the following:
- Water temperature at inlet was too low. He measured 110 degrees. I later measured 120 degrees, but whatever.
- Possibly we aren't loading the dishwasher correctly.
- Maybe we're letting the dishes sit for too many days before loading. We run the dishwasher daily, so I don't think this is the case.
He and the phone support had no suggestions for the excessive detergent use. Two times, we went through a 125 oz bottle in three weeks. Surely this is excessive.
Anyway, after he left, we increased the setting of the GE hot water heater to ensure that inlet temperature was at least 130 degrees. After that, we loaded the dishwasher and ran a normal cycle with added heat, without improved results. We also ran with added heat and steam.
I'm not sure what else we can do. We're basically pre-washing the dishes and still not using the detergent dispenser due to excessive consumption.
And here's one last before and after pic taken June 16:
Now that almost everything is internet-connected, serious consideration needs to be given to how to make them play well with your house -- it's no longer enough to place a wi-fi base station and connect everything to it. One user streaming a HD movie will saturate the network and will ruin performance for the rest of the users.
If you have a newer house with Structured Wiring (CAT 5 or better cable placed from each room to a central closet), you're in great shape! All you have to do is complete the wiring and this will only cost you a few hundred dollars in parts.
But, if you have an older house, the answer is much more complicated. You're going to have to consider several different solutions and you'll probably need to use all of them to get the best performance.
Wired Ethernet Network
Even though an older house isn't prewired for internet, a good start is to wire as much as the house as you can. In a single story house, or any house where you have access to a room's walls through the attic or basement, this is the best way to ensure a reliable, fast connection. There are plenty of sites that give the gory details on how to fish the wires. The only tips I have are to try the MagnePull wire fishing system -- I found it works better than fishing tape. Also, run more cable than you need -- it's just as easy to run three cables as two and it will save you lots of time if you ever decide you need another connection.
Expect fishing and wiring to take an hour or two for each outlet. Yes, this is time consuming, but each device you can get onto ethernet leaves bandwidth for the other alternatives, which are slower.
Something else you might try, but it is a long shot, is reusing your existing telephone wire. Older houses usually have telephone wire strung as a daisy chain, which means the cable runs directly from outlet to outlet and isn't in a home run. If the wiring is CAT3, it has eight conductors, like CAT5 and can be reused for ethernet, at the possible expense of speed. To reuse the wire, disconnect the wire coming from the target outlet from the other outlets and splice it to CAT5 or better cable in a convenient location (probably in the attic above the room).
It might go without saying, but make sure that your switch supports Gigabit Ethernet. This is the benchmark for wired networking speed.
For those rooms that you can't get to, you're going to have to consider one of the other networks.
Wired Network Over Powerline
Next up is Ethernet over Powerline (HomePlug AV), a network that runs over your household's electrical wiring. This setup uses two devices that plug into your electrical outlets -- one near your ethernet router and one in the room without access. The system works okay. In my experience, you can expect 20-30% of ethernet speed. Because of split-phase wiring, it's very particular about where the two devices are placed and this network's speed will depend on good proximity.
Probably the best part is that installation is dead simple. Plug the devices in and a few seconds later, they're connected. I'd use this network for desktop computers and other devices that aren't mobile.
Wired MoCA (Coaxial Cable) Network
One set of structured wiring that your house probably has is coaxial cable for television. This wiring has its own network called MoCA (Multimedia over Cable Alliance). It's pretty fast and the speeds are reliable, but the problem is that there's aren't many hardware choices. But if you have Verizon FiOS, good news! FiOS routers and DVRs have MoCA built in. Also, if you have TiVo, the newest TiVo Premiere Elite also has MoCA built-in. This is a big benefit, because it take high-traffic multimedia content and puts it onto its own network. In fact, because of the poor hardware choices, I have chosen to only use MoCA to network my DVRs.
And this leaves us with wireless networks. You almost certainly have a wi-fi router already, but you're probably due for an upgrade. If you live in an urban or suburban area, you're probably surrounded by other networks and you're likely sharing bandwidth with your neighbors. The best thing you can do is make sure that your router is one of the latest generation devices that supports 802.11n on the 5Ghz band.
If you have one of these routers, I would make the 5Ghz band (n) only and I would point as many devices as possible at this network -- this will probably be your laptops and this will ensure that they get the best possible throughput without interference from your neighbor's networks and with the advantage of having as much of the other traffic shed onto the wired networks.
Point all other wireless devices at your 2.4Ghz network that supports b/g/n protocols. I wouldn't expect the throughput to be great, but it will be way superior to having everything on the same wireless network.