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Remodeling 101: The Ins and Outs of Dishwasher Drawers

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Remodeling 101: The Ins and Outs of Dishwasher Drawers

August 17, 2017

If you ask us, double dish drawers are the ideal dishwasher—together they offer the same capacity as a standard dishwasher, but with more flexibility and opportunities for space and energy savings. That said, they’re pricey, and they’re currently only offered by Fisher & Paykel. Are they for you? Read on.

Fisher Paykel Dishdrawer Wide DD36SDFX1 Remodelista
Above: The interior of a 36-inch-wide dishwasher drawer. Photograph courtesy of Fisher & Paykel.

Why choose dishwasher drawers?

Single dish drawers are a great solution for small kitchens and those with less demanding dishwashing needs. They typically occupy a small piece of cabinet real estate measuring 24 or 36 inches wide and a mere 19 inches tall. For standard-size kitchens, it’s worth considering double dishwasher drawers that fit in a standard dishwasher opening. Each operates independently and when paired, they have the same capacity as a traditional 24-inch dishwasher. But because each drawer operates on its own, you can wash small loads as economically as large ones. Water consumption (per drawer) is considerably less than a regular dishwasher, as is overall energy consumption. Each unit can also run a different cycle, so you can clean wine glasses on a delicate, short cycle and dinner plates on a powerful, longer cycle. 

Dishwasher drawers also take up a bit less space than the traditional pull-down door. They can be a great solution when a standard dishwasher door blocks a walkway, extends into a kitchen island, or is too big to open in a tiny kitchen. Another benefit is you can insert dishwasher drawers into a floating island for a clean look.

Are dishwasher drawers a new technology?

Fisher & Paykel innovated the dishwasher drawer in the mid-2000s. The first to come to the market, they are the last standing. The other manufacturers who forayed into dishwasher drawers, including KitchenAid, Maytag, and Kenmore, have abandoned their efforts. Does this mean the death of dishwasher drawer? If the expansion of models and advancements in functionality are any indication, Fisher & Paykel doesn’t think so. Nor do we.

Fisher Paykel Dishdrawer Wide Loaded Remodelsita
Above: Tall dishwasher drawers can accommodate plates up to 13 inches in diameter. Photograph courtesy of Fisher & Paykel.

What are the drawbacks to dishwasher drawers?

Some don’t like the 13-inch limitations in height (big platters are a problem) for most dishwasher drawers. The good news: Several of Fisher & Paykel’s latest models offer tall drawers. The new models also have a greater overall interior capacity, thanks to thinner insulation and other engineering advances, which have allowed a pair of drawers to hold the equivalent of a standard dishwasher.

Another negative: In the early years of the dishwasher drawer, there was criticism about the repair record of Fisher & Paykel. Our contacts in the appliance repair and sales industry confirm that the early models, like many new technologies, had some issues. We hear that Fisher & Paykel has addressed the problems and that dish drawer engineering has improved dramatically: Repair rates are down, and consumer ratings are up. As with all major appliances, be sure that the brand has service professionals available in your area.

Fisher Paykel Dishdrawer Double DD24DCX6 Remodelista
Above: Have a standard-size dishwasher opening? Most double dishwasher drawers can be installed into the standard 24-by-36-inch dishwasher opening without any modifications. This configuration can be especially useful when a traditional dishwasher door interferes with a walkway or extends into a kitchen island. Photograph courtesy of Fisher & Paykel.

Here’s our roundup of Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawer models to consider:

fisher paykel double dishwasher drawers
Above: Fisher & Paykel’s advancements in its line of dishwasher drawers include an increased interior capacity and a more flexible rack system. The Energy Star–qualified Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer Series Full Console Double DishDrawer in stainless with recessed handles can accommodate 14 place settings between the two drawers. It’s also available in black and white; $1,099 (as shown) at AJ Madison.
fisher paykel tall double dish drawer
Above: Looking to maximize capacity? The Fisher & Paykel Tall Series Double DishDrawer can hold seven places settings in each drawer and has added height on the interior of the top drawer to accommodate 13-inch plates and serving platters (without affecting the drawer’s exterior dimensions). The bottom drawer can hold 11.5-inch plates; $1,399 at Amazon.
fisher paykel single dishwasher drawer
Above: The Fisher & Paykel Single DishDrawer is a 24-inch-wide, semi-integrated dishwasher drawer that fits seven place settings and comes in black, white, and stainless steel; $649 at AJ Madison.
dcs double dishwasher drawers
Above: Fisher Paykel also makes dishwasher drawers under the DCS brand (which they own); it features the same engineering, but with the DCS front. The Fully Integrated DCS DishDrawer features a fully adjustable rack system and handles 14 place settings in the two drawers combined; $1,399 in stainless (as shown) at AJ Madison.

Dishwasher Drawer Recap

Pros

  • Double dish drawers offer the same capacity as a standard dishwasher, but with the flexibility to run smaller independent loads.
  • Energy savings.
  • Ergonomic functioning requires less bending to unload.
  • Space-saving for small kitchens.

Cons

  • Cannot accommodate extra-large dishware.
  • So-so repair history.
  • Pricey.

Had any experience with dishwasher drawers? We’d love to hear your findings in the Comments section below.

For more on dishwashers, see:

Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose a kitchen dishwasher in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Dishwashers.

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 8, 2014.

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