The Panasonic NA-140VZ4 is Panasonic’s top-of-the-range washing machine. It has a huge 10kg load capacity (approx. 50 T-Shirts), ideal for larger households, and is positively bristling with features to make it cleaner, greener and quieter. It claims to be 30% more efficient than the EU’s official A rating, boasts one of the speediest quick wash cycles on the market at just 15 minutes and features Panasonic’s ‘Sazanami’ drum – an innovative system where the drum skin is formed of smooth raised diamond shapes that best agitate the washing and improve spin efficiency.
This is also one of a new breed of machines to feature the option of steam action. You can add steam at the end of a small load wash cycle or use steam action as a simple ‘refresh’ wash. The theory is that the steam penetrates the fibres in your washing after the spin cycle so that your clothes do not come out so creased, which in turn helps to reduce the ironing time.
We contacted Panasonic about the temperature of the steam during this cycle, concerned about the effect of high temperatures on some fabrics. The steam is injected into the drum at over 100 degrees, albeit not in high enough quantities to really soak the fabric like a high temperature wash, so Panasonic suggested the steam cycle was best avoided with delicate clothes. Using the steam cycle on cotton shirts that were labelled for a 40-degree wash, we saw no shrinkage or adverse effect of the steam, and got some great crease-free results. More on that later.
In use the first thing that you are going to notice is the size of the door and the extra wide opening – no problem getting full size duvets in here. A clean and crisp LCD display adds to the modern look of the machine, but the look of the textured silver control knob is not quite in keeping with the sleek look and shiny chrome trim of the machine overall.
The 16 programmes is probably more than most people will ever need but it does ensure you have the right cycle for the job, no matter what the wash load is. The 3D sensor system, combines an accelerometer, load sensor and balance sensor, measures the load placed in the drum and visually indicates the capacity as a percent of the machines maximum load before kicking off the cycle. It also displays the wash time, although that proved to be more of a vague indication than an absolute.
Panasonic NA-140VZ4: What programmes does it have?
It has 16 programmes and these can be used on the automatic setting, or manually set if you need to change the washing temperature, spin speed or add any of the optional functions to suit your requirements. These can include an Easy Ironing option, which will gently spin your washing then intermittently rotate it for up to 30mins after the washing is finished, helping to reduce wrinkles. There is also a Stain Master function that lets you to choose from 23 different stains ranging from mud to make-up, or blood to beer. This extends the washing time by anything from 60 to 100 minutes.
Five programmes utilize the Steam function, ranging from a Daily wash, which takes place during the spin cycle that follows the Cotton wash, Shirts wash specifically designed to tackle grimy collars and cuffs, an Allergy Care wash to remove allergens such as dust mites and pollen, a Wrinkle care to reduce wrinkles in spun garments and a general Refresh wash, all using steam to reduce creasing.
Along with the main wash programmes there is a Sportswear programme for synthetic sportswear, a bedding cycle for sheets and duvet covers, and a delicates wash. For the busy consumer there is also a Quick 50-minute wash for lightly soiled items and a Rapid 15-minute cycle – one of the shortest cycles of any washing machine on the market – for a very quick refresh. This machine also boasts a ‘cold’ 15-degree low energy, low temperature wash for lightly soiled cotton and linen blends.
A brushless inverter motor (the same technology used in electric cars), clever noise-absorbing design and a deep, double glazed front door makes the Panasonic NA-140VZ4 one of the quietest washing machines on the planet. Even in our free-standing test facility we measured just 53dB on a wash cycle and 72dB on full 1400 spin, pretty darn close to Panasonic’s own figures of 53dB and 71dB respectively – only the Samsung WF90F7E6U6W Ecobubble betters these numbers in our tests.
It is likely to be even quieter crammed into the average space between kitchen cupboards. To put that in perspective, around 50dB is the background noise in a home environment and 70dB is no louder than most people have their kitchen radios. It is an incredible feat of engineering to get a washing machine this quiet.
We ran four different wash cycles to test this Panasonic machine; a 30- degree cotton wash with an 8kg (80%) full load at 1,400 spin speed, a 40-degree cotton wash with a 4kg (40%) load at 1200 rpm spin speed in both the normal and eco mode, and a refresh Steam action cycle for shirts with a 1.5kg load.
We did not use the maximum 10kg washing weight as manufacturers get a bit ambitious with capacity measurements and 80% is more realistic for most users. Moreover, 8kg of washing is a huge pile and will be even heavier when wet. For the first cycle we also included a test stain strip which that had ketchup, coffee, blood, red wine and used car oil dried onto it. We used a non-bio detergent to ensure there was no extra biological help in the wash performance.
The cycle complete buzzer can be turned off for late night laundry runs but, along with the countdown timer indicator, remains a handy reminder that the cycle has ended. That is actually very useful as the machine is so quiet running you are unlikely to notice when it has stopped. We found the actual run time on the first test cycle was 16 minutes longer than the one 1 hour 35 minutes indicated at the start, but the countdown timer self-adjusted on the way and got more accurate through the wash. After a maximum spin the 8kg washing load retained an extra 4.2kg ( 52.5%) of water. It coped very well with removing all bar one of the stains on our stain strip and the used car oil was definitely a stayer. To be fair, no machine without a biological powder will remove that type of difficult ground-in stain. Using an average energy price of 15p per KWh at time of review, this cycle worked out costing a frugal 14p per wash.
The next two wash cycles were 40-degree cotton wash with a 4kg (40%) load at 1,200 spin speed in both normal and eco modes. We could see no difference in the wash results but the eco mode was a whole lot longer – nearly three times as long. It ran almost exactly 1-hour on the normal mode and 2 hours 51 minutes in eco. Each cycle retained and extra 1.6kg ( 40%) and 1.7kg ( 42.5%) of water from a 4kg dry weight respectively but, true to its name, the eco wash used almost half the amount of electricity. This made the eco wash a very competitive 7p cost compared to 12p for the normal cycle.
To test the steam action we ran a refresh cycle, taking 25 minutes on 1.5kg of shirts. The maximum load during the steam action cycle is between 1.5kg and 5kg depending on the programme, so the use of this function does rather limit your wash load. The dedicated refresh programme gently tumbles the washing whilst while spraying penetrating jets of steam into the fibres to remove tangles and creases.
The shirts emerged damp and hot but if you hang them straight from the machine they will semi dry due to the residual heat. The Steam action certainly showed a significant reduction in post wash creases and with some shirts, particularly ‘easy care / easy iron’ material, you could get away without ironing altogether. Pure cotton shirts still needed a bit of light run over with the iron to get them pressed crisp, but the steam action certainly made the overall job a lot easier.
ALSO CONSIDER: Panasonic NA-148VG4
Based on average UK household use (200 x 30 degree 80% max loads and 40 x 40 degree 40% half loads with a 50/50 split on normal and eco programs), the Panasonic NA-140VZ4’s annual running cost is a very acceptable £32.57 – very close to the cheapest we’ve tested. Specific figures for power and water use are listed at the bottom of this review. These will vary from official EU energy ratings as they are based on UK-specific cycles and ambient water temperature of around 15 degrees. EU figures use water at a balmy 25 degrees and are based on 60 degrees wash cycles.
If you’re large family, it’s definitely worth spending the extra for the Panasonic NA-140VZ4. It rightfully deserves its place as the flagship washing machine in the Panasonic range and one of the finest machines available on the market today. Not only is it packed with programmes that are useful and labour-saving, it is incredibly energy-efficient and as quiet as a mouse in use.
Recent price cuts, a £60 cashback offer and six-year warranty (ends 31/03/2013) make it great time to buy one, too. Panasonic might not be the first brand you think of when it comes to buying a high-end washing machine, but the Panasonic NA-140VZ4 should certainly be on your shortlist.
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|Test||30C 1400rpm 80% load||40C 1200rpm 40% load Norm/Eco||Annual *|
|Cost to Run @ 15p/KWh||14p||12p / 7p||£32.57|
|Water consumption||75.4 Litres||48.9Litres / 43.7 Litres||16,932|
|Time to complete wash||1hr 51mins||1hr / 2hrs 51 mins|
|Noise During Wash||53dB||53dB|
|Noise During Max Spin||72dB||70dB|
|Moisture after max spin||4.2kg (52.5%)||1.6/1.7kg (40%/42.5%)|