Kenmore 13693 Dishwasher Review
This Kenmore just couldn't power through tough stains.
When it comes to dishwasher design, engineers aim for machines that achieve complete water coverage—that is, they try to ensure every nook and corner of the dishwasher gets a healthy splash of water. The Kenmore 13693 (MSRP $999) and its extra-wide PowerWave spray arm is one innovative approach to that challenge.
The 13693 has many of the familiar qualities of a decent, upscale dishwasher. However, repeated tests in our labs proved that PowerWave is not as effective as we'd like: items in the back corners of the upper rack simply didn't come out as clean as others. Electrolux’s SatelliteSpray and Samsung’s WaterWall delivered better results.
Since it’s a Kenmore, you can expect to snag the 13693 for far below the listed MSRP. But even with prices as low as $799, we’d recommend shopping around first.
Design & Usability
The color of the day is race car red.
From a purely design perspective, the 13693 is quite the looker. The logo-free, stainless steel front with thick, protruding handlebar makes the appliance indistinguishable from other brands, lending it a minimalist look. A small LED above the handlebar is the only pockmark that interrupts its otherwise-plain appearance.
The beauty of the 13693 is that once you crack open the door, the stark exterior gives way to a beautiful stainless steel interior. The Turbo Zone spray jets, the little nozzles on the spray arms, and the cap on the rinse aid dispenser are all painted an eye-catching race car red. The extra-wide PowerWave spray arm looks ready to dole out some heavy-duty water jets from its location at the bottom of the tub.
When it comes to usability, however, the 13693 is a mixed bag. The hidden control panel features responsive buttons and a useful LCD screen. We found space for 11 of our standardized place settings and a serving setting. However, the long, unadjustable cutlery basket takes up much of the real estate on the bottom rack, and there’s only one row of collapsible tines to make space for larger items. On the plus side, the top rack’s height can be adjusted, offering a small level of flexibility.
Highway to the Turbo Zone
It’s only fitting that a dishwasher with red trim would have a feature called Turbo Zone. Turbo Zone is a series of high-intensity spray jets meant for cutting through the toughest messes, and it’s available as a customization option on most cycles. It adds a bit of time and water consumption to the cycle, though.
Other, more familiar options are also available: Sani Rinse for adding a high-temperature rinse at the end of the cycle, High Temp to increase the overall wash temperature, Turbo Heat Dry to act as a regular heat dry cycle, and a Delay option that can postpone a wash start for 1 to 24 hours.
Cycle choices are also pretty standard. The usual Normal Wash, Pots & Pans, China Gentle, and 1 Hr Wash all do what their names suggest, but if you don’t feel like guessing which cycle best matches your load, the Smart Wash cycle uses the dishwasher’s soil sensors to figure out what your dishes need. Finally, Quick Rinse just sprays water on your dishes without any detergent—good for freshening up plates that have been gathering dust for a while, or keeping dirty dishes from getting smelly if it's a long time between washes.
The power is lacking.
Even though the PowerWave wash arm is supposed to ensure water coverage for the entire tub, we found some items that didn't come out quite clean. Across all the cycles we tested, glasses of dried milk stains loaded in the back of the top rack came out covered in soggy, gooey stains, while other glasses were virtually spotless. A similar story played out with the utensils we loaded in the cutlery basket.
We also noticed frequent instances of redeposit across all cycles. During a wash, all dishwashers repeatedly cycle the same supply of water over and over, filtering out food particles each time. In a perfect world, filters would catch every impurity and prevent the dishwasher from circulating dirty water. In the 13693’s case, we were left with spinach that had been sprayed onto other dishes instead.
Even though the Pots & Pans cycle did an above-average job tackling our tough burnt cheese and burnt sugar stains, there were still signs of redeposit. If you want the 13693 to turn out cleaner dishes, you’ll need to pre-wash a bit.
In terms of water and energy use, we found the 13693 to be average pretty much across the board. With an estimated annual cost of about $29.92 a year, this dishwasher is about as efficient as everything else on the market.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Before You Buy
Bold, but disappointing.
The 13693 has a lot to offer, but ultimately falls short in many ways that count. It includes some nifty mid-range features like Turbo Zone and upper rack height adjustment, but simultaneously disappoints with a crude, cheap cutlery basket and weak cleaning performance. Even if you find this particular Kenmore for $799, a hefty discount off MSRP, you still might want to consider other dishwashers in that price range.
It might be hard to find another stainless steel Kenmore with a hidden control panel unless you're willing to shell out a little more cash. But if you’re not particularly loyal to the brand, the Frigidaire Gallery FGID2474QS pretty much solves every problem this Kenmore has. Featuring a similarly logo-free front, the Frigidaire also offers an OrbitClean spray arm, which left no dish unwashed during our testing. Plus, its cutlery basket can be split into three for extra loading flexibility.
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