With a loud groan the washer of the stackable laundry set in our ski house unceremoniously died one day last winter. Faced with wet ski garb and the mounds of towels and sheets that go along with a vacation home, we set out to replace the un-repairable 30-year-old set.
We found that even in a resort town with an abundance of small condominiums and chalets, space-saving stackables can be hard to come by. It seems that most major manufacturers treat these sets as entry-level appliances. The two basic white models available at our local big box stores looked and felt cheap, were too small to handle full-sized loads, and were overpriced to boot.
Ultimately, we opted to remodel a spare bedroom to accommodate the set's still-working dryer next to a new washer.
If we had more time, we might have considered Thor's Apex, a system that combines a 220-volt ventless dryer with a full-sized washer/dryer (also ventless). The Apex washing machine, with a 2.0 cubic foot capacity, also functions as a dryer. Add the separate Apex dryer and you've got twice the drying capacity, all in a space less than 24" wide.
An optional sliding shelf provides folding space in the stacked configuration (shown).
The machines can be stacked or set up side by side, although Thor only sells them as a set. Since both machines rarely break at the same time, this set carries the same drawback as other stackables. When one machine breaks, you also end up replacing the perfectly good mate.
Another downside of the flexibility in set up is the separate washer and dryer controls. When stacked atop the washer, the dryer controls would be out of reach of someone in a wheelchair. If the machines were placed on the optional platform, shorter users might need a step stool to reach the dryer controls.
But for the vast majority of consumers looking for a quality stackable laundry set, the Apex has some nice features.
Overflow control is one of them. A built-in sensor detects overflowing water and shuts off the water supply automatically. Thor's primary clients are owners of luxury motor coaches and condos, where overflow control is a necessity. But it's also a nice thing in a house with a second floor laundry room.
The dryer does not require an outside vent, so it can be installed places where outside venting is difficult. An internal condenser traps warm steamy air, cools it until it's liquid, and then pumps the water through a standard drain line. Many reviewers complain that the condenser dryers take much longer to do the job than standard air dryers. Thor claims that its 220-volt separate dryer rivals the performance of conventional vented dryers.
Despite the trend toward cherry red and other colorful appliances, Thor's Apex is only available in white.