Splendide RV Washing Machines

I’m doing this review of my experience with the Splendide washer/dryers because I’ve had both kinds in my 15 years of RVing.  My first 2000 Winnebago motorhome had a combo unit (washer/dryer combined in one machine), but when I traded in for a 2012 Adventurer, it came with the stackable kind pictured below.

Splendide stackable washer-dryer

Splendide stackable washer-dryer

While I definitely prefer the performance of the stackable kind vs. the combo, I’ve had more repairs needed on the stackable in two years than I had with the combo in the twelve years I had it.

When I first started RVing, I would have never thought of a washer as an absolute necessity, but once I got used to the convenience and I was considering trading for a newer RV, I started a debate about it in the following 2012 blog post:

The Great Washer/Dryer – Laundromat Debate:

The comments and opinions on whether a washer/dryer was a necessary appliance in an RV was interesting to say the least.  Some people swore they were a waste of space, others said they’d never do without one.  Some suggested that washing clothes at local laundromats was an interesting social event where you can meet and converse with interesting people, and still others said their clothes were frequently ruined because of junk/bleach, etc. left in washers or dryers.  All I know is that when I can wash clothes in my own home while I’m doing other work I am grateful that I don’t have to go anywhere else to do it.  The times that I do have to use laundromats to wash larger/heavier items, I am never glad to be there, no matter how nice they are.  And that expense is not an insignificant thing, either, these days.

Splendide combo unit

Splendide combo unit

Gone With the Wynns – Easiest Way to Do RV Laundry:  They were happy with their combo unit and also give other options for doing laundry on the road.  They provide a little video showing capacity, recommended detergent, softener and settings.  She uses the automatic wash then dry option and says it works fine, although I didn’t have much luck with doing it that way with my combo unit.  Maybe this one is newer or different, I can’t say, but here’s my experience and opinion on the two types:

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Combo Units:

The combo washer/dryer I had in my first 2000 Winnebago was the evaporative kind (non-vented).  I had the same issue I heard from a lot of people about how long it took to dry and that clothes came out wrinkled no matter what you did.  While it was possible to set the dry cycle to come on automatically after the wash was finished, I found that didn’t work well for me.  The spin cycle worked great, so the clothes were all crinkled together, not the best way to start the dry cycle.

What I ended up doing was after the wash, I shook out all the clothes and then started the dry cycle.  Even so, it would take an incredibly long time to dry anywhere close to complete and the longer they dried the more the wrinkles, so I just would dry long enough to shake out the clothes a bit to release some wrinkles, then would hang up around the RV until dry.  Of course laundry days made my RV look like a true Chinese laundry, but I still preferred that to laundromats.

What is a ‘Condenser’ Dryer?  (I’ve also heard this called an “evaporative” type dryer.)  “A condenser clothes dryer is a machine that looks just like a conventional tumble clothes dryer, but which does not require an external vent.”  This report also talks about weather conditions and climates related to using these machines, as well as required maintenance due to not being vented.  I’ve also heard the process used by non-vented machines being that it “boils” the clothes.

I didn’t realize that they make vented combo washers – I thought all combo units were not vented, but here’s some info on that kind:

Westland (Splendide) White Vented Combo Washer/Dryer:  (Amazon Reviews) Of course they range from extremely happy to totally disgusted.

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Stackable Units:

Not only is the capacity greater in my stackable unit, the dryer actually dries great (it’s vented to the outside).  I used to have to wash my queen sized sheets and towels at the laundromat even when I had my combo unit because that machine just couldn’t handle that size load.  Now I can wash and dry my king sized sheets (top and bottom sheets in different loads), and my bath towels and I just love that convenience.

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My Problems:

But I was less enamored of it when the washer quit working and had to be replaced in June, 2015, when the RV was less than three years old. Thankfully, I had bought the extended warranty with my newer motorhome, so I only had to come up with the $200 deductible instead of over $1,000. At that time, the diagnosis was that the circuit board and the motor needed replacing and doing that would be almost the same amount of money as replacing the entire machine.  So I was pretty stoked that I got a new washer at that point.

But six months later, it quit working again. This time, at first the water would not start filling when turned on. Sometimes I would get an H2O error message, but not always – and sometimes it would work when I unplugged and plugged back in, but not all the time. Of course, when it happened, I was in the boonies by Death Valley and couldn’t find an authorized service center who could get and replace parts during the time I was there. Since I thought it was a water line issue, I tried changing the exterior water filter, changing the water pressure regulator, and cleaned the filter underneath with no luck.

It was suggested maybe a calcium build up or something like a coin caught in the line. I doubted if so much build up could have happened that quickly and I’d have to wait to get someone strong enough to heft the washer out to check the back water lines.

I emailed Westland (maker of Splendide) and asked if it was the circuit board again why would it have malfunctioned so quickly.  Darrell (National Service Director) replied, “We don’t have these kinds of issues with our new machines unless the power surges and takes out a board. Or there is a electrical problem stemming from the power it is plugged into.”  Since I bought one of the best Electrical Management Systems to prevent that kind of issue, I told him I surely wanted to know if that was it.

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The Fix:

Splendide circuit board I was not amused that an appliance that was replaced with a new one in June, 2015 needed a new circuit board in less than a year.  Dan at Mohave RV Repair here showing me the board, said that about 90% of the problems they come across with these washers are the boards.  He’s never seen any physical evidence like anything looking burned, corroded or weak solder.  They’ve never been given a reason for these frequent board failures, but when troubleshooting with Splendide, that’s what they say and just replace them.  He did say Splendide’s tech help is very good and responsive when they have a question.

Splendide filterSince there had been question about something maybe clogging the lines, he checked them for me and showed me how there are filters that help in that regard.  He also told me the new machines have a built in surge protector, so I don’t understand why Darrell suggested the new boards fail due to a power surge.

Dan said he sees problems from using too much detergent or loading it too full so that it vibrates violently and breaks the pulley.  I told him about the inconsistent info I’d seen from Splendide about the type of detergent to use and he said he’d been told by a tech there that they don’t recommend dry detergents.  (See Inconsistent Info on main Splendide page for that maddening issue).

For more details about this service and why I ended up concluding I’d never use them again, see my page:  Mohave RV and Marine Repair.

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What Else I Learned:

Splendide lint trapI am completely diligent in cleaning the lint filter before every single dryer load.  But I noticed that there never was very much lint on the screen piece that you remove for cleaning.  When I shone a flashlight down in the chamber, look at what I saw.  I’ve heard that dryer lint is highly flammable, so it concerns me that so much has built up even when the filter is in place and clean. So be sure to check this out and clean regularly if you have one of these dryers!

Dan also said don’t be afraid to use the washer/dryer frequently because the ones that sit without use have more problems from that.  He also recommended running a blank load (no clothes or soap) periodically.  I’ve seen some people advise to use vinegar to help clean it out.

As we watched it fill with water, I told him I always wondered if this machine filled up enough because I never see the water reach a level when I can really see it (and I hardly ever see suds at all).  He assured me that was perfectly normal and I later read that depending on the cycle used, it only uses 9-16 gallons of water per load.  See “Why Can’t I See Water Through the Door?

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Inconsistent Info:

HE detergentWhat kind of detergent?  Until I started researching because of these problems, I had never gone on the Splendide website, but I did read my Owner’s Manual.  To me, that should be the definitive guide. On page 12, it says you can use powder or liquid detergent.  While they caution against adding too much detergent, they never give the recommended amount.  It doesn’t specifically mention using High Efficiency (HE) detergent until later in Helpful Hints, where it recommends a low sudsing detergent, specifically the Splendide brand that does not require a separate fabric softener.

But on their website, under Detergent Use, it says “…you only need to use 1 to 2 tbsp. of a powder detergent to get laundry spotlessly clean.  Using liquid detergents in any front-loading washer is not recommended because they tend to produce too much foam. But, if you prefer to use a liquid detergent, DO NOT use more than 1 tbsp.”  They say basically the same thing in their Consumer Tips, except they don’t say there that liquid detergents are not recommended.

fabric softener collageFabric Softener?  Nowhere in the manual are dryer sheets mentioned one way or the other.

But on the Splendide website, under Fabric Softener, it says NEVER use fabric softener sheets.  Since I imagine people read the manual that came with it for most purposes in learning about their machine rather than your website, it seems this info should be consistent.  I posed these questions and got this response from Darrell:

“We have not encouraged the use of Dryer Fabric Softener Sheets in our combination machines since the sheet can find it’s way past the inner tub and into the water pump creating a potential problem and subsequent unnecessary service / repair. These sheets could be used if the operator were to put them in a delicate laundry bag made for delicate items. This practice would prevent the sheet from finding it’s way past the gap at the front lip of the stainless tub where it meets the rubber porthole diaphragm. Another thing about these sheets is they can contain 2/3ds more softener than should be used in this small drum. Many full time people tell me they cut these into thirds and then put one third into the delicate laundry bag per load. Most products you purchase at the store (detergent pods/dryer sheets) are made for home use and will contain more than what would be desirable in a compact machine leading to build up preventing the best result over time. IF your dryer is not a combination machine, the note about sheets is not there and you can use them without negative result.

“HE” detergent would be encouraged in all front loading machines. Over-Suds condition is counter productive preventing the machine from spinning at proper high speed to achieve best result in extracting water. All front loaders are sensitive to this condition and we do encourage the use of high efficiency detergent fro this reason.”

OK, so I get that the dryer sheets are ok for my stackable kind.  Whew, since that’s what I’ve been using.  On the other hand, that’s also what I used in my combo kind for years without any problems, so I lucked out there.

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Other Opinions:

This guy’s Amazon review was not impressed with the general attitude of Splendide: (although I think the frequent problems with the boards should be addressed by Splendide with some sort of new design, I’d never heard of machines starting themselves).

Full-Time RVers (Public Facebook Group) – After getting tips from Splendide techs, she shares info about amount of water, mildew smell, type of detergent, settings, how to clean, etc.

Vent hole in side of motorhomeSome of my RVer Facebook friends chimed in when I asked for opinions and I heard things from having had no problems in years and wouldn’t be without one to “a total waste of space.”  We talked about how it seems newer products are built with planned obsolescence in store instead of with an effort for them to last.

New Washer/Dryer Combo (Coastie Castaways blog): Another RVing couple who didn’t want to deal with laundromats, so they retrofit their motorhome with a Splendide combo and are happy with their decision.  Cutting the vent in the side of the motorhome would have been the scariest thing to me, and I appreciate their pictures and tips on the process.

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Wrap it Up:

Dan told me that Dometic recently started making these machines and they’re having worse problems than Splendide – that the dryer doesn’t dry well and they have even more problems with the boards.  Another friend reported same circuit board issue with a Westinghouse stackable set that another user swore by.

So I guess there’s no real way to predict how reliable each individual unit might be no matter what the brand.  Like so many other things, sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.  Courtney at Mohave RV Repair said, “Everyone has there own opinion on brands and such but we like working and selling Splendide units just because there a company that we can call and get technical help right away, they all for the most part seem really knowledgeable about there products and they are just really helpful. We will sell a splendide unit before anything else.”

In any case, I’m glad I have a washer/dryer, prefer the stackable kind, and hope this is the last of my problems with it!  Darrell has always been quickly responsive to my emails, however, and I certainly do appreciate that!

  • Rob

    Nice writeup! We had a 2005 vintage Splendide vented combo model on our previous coach and while it dried much more quickly than the ventless version (a friend had one of those) clothes still came out badly wrinkled. For the most part, in my opinion these combo machines work pretty well (especially the vented models) as long as you understand their limitations, keep the loads small, etc.

    We did have problems with the door latch on ours failing to unlatch. I did a writeup on our bog on how to bypass that function – http://myquantumdiscovery.com/splendide-washerdryer-door-latchlock-bypass

    Now we have separate stacked Whirlpool washer and dryer and after almost three years both have been trouble free and work well (knock on wood! ). They are much more like machines you would have in a house just somewhat smaller capacity. I am surprised that the Whirlpool 120 volt dryer (most home machines would be 240 volt) heats up as well as it does, in fact my only complaint really is that there is no low temp setting for it.

    We crossed paths in the Smokies In TN a couple years back but never met, hope to meet you down the road!

    Rob & Linda

    • Hi there!

      That’s cool that you could do the “temporary” bypass yourself. I just don’t feel that comfortable dealing with shorting wires – and no way would I have attempted that drum seal removal!

      You’re not the only one I saw posting about having to take apart at least a part of the cabinet to remove the washer. And again I say that’s absolutely ridiculous and unbelievably short sighted of a manufacturer to do it that way, knowing full well those units will have to be serviced at some point or another!

      I also hope our paths cross again at a time when we can actually meet up and swap more fun travel tales than washer/dryer issues. 🙂

  • AuntLordy

    I hope by the time I get my RV, they have come up with something that works perfectly. (Ahh, wishful thinking). I can’t imagine going without – a washer/dryer is def on the list of “must haves”.

    • Yeah, well, definitely wishful thinking for anything (especially RV related) to work perfectly! But I still agree that even if not a must-have for everyone, it’s a definite huge plus for me!

  • Of course I wish people would comment here instead of by email to me so that all can benefit from their perspectives, but some just don’t seem to want to do that. I’ll include some of those here myself, though, mainly because it makes me feel good to know what I’ve taken the time to write is of value to them. 🙂

    I’m a veteran rv’er and interested in almost all aspects of this. However, I’ve seldom come across any reviews and in-depth information on rv washers and dryers. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know all you can about the subject. We’ve never owned a rig with these appliances but it’s always useful to know all of this. I have lots of rv’ing friends and will pass on what I’ve learned from your article. Drew – 2/26/16

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